Spring has come to the Woodland Garden. It is an ethereal garden where light plays around trees and spreads itself across layers of greenery. By mid March, beneath a canopy of native oaks, hickory, and pines, understory trees began to bloom, including redbuds, dogwoods, and a 'Jane' magnolia:
By the first week of April, the planting beds were bursting with new growth:
Beneath the trees are many shrubs, which offer a variety of textures, color and form:
A garden in the woodlands is a shady place, and that means green, but green is not boring! Deep forest green, olive green, chartreuse, jade, and turquoise blend and contrast to create a colorful, but refreshing palette.
This spring I added some camellias to the Woodland Garden. They provide an occasional pop of color to the greenery:
A path through the woodlands unites various spaces and adds form to the garden. A path should make sense, curving around interesting trees and providing views of plantings. A path can be bare or covered with mulch, gravel, flagstones, pavers, or just about anything that fits a gardener's fancy, as long as one can walk on it. The main path through my garden is covered in moss. The soft texture creates a hushed, peaceful atmosphere, and I think it is the one element that defines my particular woodland space. I began several years ago when I noticed moss growing naturally in the bare trail. I dug up additional moss from other places in the woods and transplanted it into the path. I kept the path weeded and raked fallen leaves away. Now the moss has almost completely filled in, and my weeding chores are far fewer.Last year I added a side path when I found some trilliums growing near an old trail created by dogs and children. I cleaned up and widened the trail. I planted spring bulbs, hostas, heuchera, and ferns to add importance to this new path. Pine trees shower the path with a nice straw cover which is easy to walk on and has a delightful smell. There always should be some wilderness left in a woodland garden. I cleared underbrush and obnoxious weeds but left some muscadine vines and other wild elements.
Many plants on the forest floor provide interest beside the paths of the Woodland Garden. Heucheras are wonderful for their foliage. Airy flowers that come later in the season will be a bonus:
I also added some tiarellas to the garden. These plants are similar to heucheras:
The Woodland Garden would not be complete without hostas, as snails and other munching critters would agree. These are a few hostas which are just beginning to emerge:Here are more plants along the woodland paths with great foliage and textures:
While foliage is the star of a woodland garden, there are plenty of flowers, often in white and soft shade of blue and pink. One has to stop and bend over to appreciate some of them. It is worth the effort!
A walk in the woodland garden should appeal to all the senses. Smell is important. I love the aroma of fresh earth and pine straw, but I also have planted some fragrant shrubs:
No garden is complete without sound. A bubbling stream or fountain would be perfect, but I have neither — yet! I do have wind chimes. I have them all over the place, and Lou says our yard sounds like a fortune teller's with all the tinkling chimes. But I love them, and I enjoy the music they make in the Woodland Garden.
Even more beautiful than the chimes is the sound of wild life. My quiet woodlands can be a pretty noisy place! The plants provide shelter and nourishment to many species, including this fat robin who let me take his photo:
A friend gave the highest complement when she visited me recently.
"The birds are so happy!" she said.
That makes me very happy, too.