Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden. The Woodland Edge is the fourth section of my garden I focused on creating in the Spring of 2010, though there was a little bit of groundwork before that. I inherited a not-so-lovely chain link fence along our property line when we moved into our home in Fall of 2007. I wanted to blur the [property] lines. Create a garden, even in our small space, that would buffer us from, and fade seamlessly to the “distance” – our neighbor’s property. To create this retreat and illusion, I conceptualized the “Woodland Edge.” To view a sequential slide show of the making of the Woodland Edge, simply click on the first image below. You will be taken to an enlarged viewing screen. Click the arrows on either side of each image to navigate, or use the arrows on your keyboard. (Please note the slideshow may not work properly on your mobile phone.)
The not-so-lovely chain link fence along our property line, the line I wish to blur. Early Spring 2008.
A little bit of that “groundwork,” my first tree, a Colorado Blue Spruce. I wanted an evergreen “anchor” for all seasons. Spring 2009.
More groundwork in 2009 – a very young Cardinal Dogwood shrub. Can you even make it out? Just to the right and below the bird feeder. Dogwoods are very attractive to birds. This one will have white flowers in the Spring, white berries Summer and Fall, and in the Winter its stems will turn a beautiful “Cardinal” red. The red branches will really stand out against the Blue Spruce.
Another one of my rustic structures. This trellis was built with a native Prairie Rose in mind. It is there, barely (root).
As much as I hate to cut down a mature tree, this Box Elder had to go. It was weakening and leaning precariously over our roof.
Snags and stumps are a high commodity in the wild world. I asked to keep the chipped mulch. Yes, I certainly asked for it.
My Summer 2010 project – the foundation for the Woodland Edge. Better get that wheelbarrow.
Spreading the freshly chipped mulch stage 1.
Still spreading the freshly chipped mulch stage 2 – layered on top of newspaper. Friends and family saved lots of newspapers for me.
Still spreading the not-so-freshly chipped mulch stage 3.
Made it! The mulch extends all the way to the shed by the end of Summer 2010.
Screening for privacy after the cut. Newly planted evergreen Fernspray Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Filicoides,’ will mature to 10′ tall x 4′ wide – more suitable for this space (unlike the Box Elder). Notice the growth of Cardinal Dogwood on the left!
Another rustic structure – the “leaf trellis” – adding another layer, and more privacy. A native clematis, Clematis Virginiana, was planned for this one but the rabbit thought it might be good for dinner. Plan B.
Spring 2011. The Woodland Edge is decorated with natural elements like this tree stump (the Box Elder lives on), with a ceramic tray for a bird bath.
Spring 2011. Goats Beard, Aruncus dioicus, and Brunette Snakeroot, Cimifuga ramosa ‘Brunette,’ transplanted well.
We had plans for our old, back deck as well.
It has become an enclosed screened porch that will eventually become a four-season room. The enclosed area offers more privacy from second story neighbors. I have created my own viewing room of the garden!
A woodland edge is a transition. To enhance this transition, I am layering a mix of plants with varying heights including: ephemerals, ground covers, perennials, grasses, vines, shrubs, understory trees, and large trees. Our native wild ginger, Asarum canadense, will make an excellent ground cover once established. Notice the interesting, rusty, triangular flowers evolved to attract small pollinating flies. Wild ginger is also an important food source for the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly.
I’ve let wild strawberry grow wild! It’s easy to do. This is an aggressive ground cover but I love its delicate white blooms come spring. Many birds, especially the Robins I’ve observed, like the berries. I do, too, if I can pick a few quick enough.
Spotted Dead Nettle, Lamium ‘Orchid Frost,’ is another care free ground cover. It’s silvery foliage compliments the Blue Spruce and blends into a patch of wild strawberry. This area is well covered.
Spring 2012. Daffodils continue to naturalize among Forget-me-nots in full spring bloom further back. Now to add more spring ephemerals to the mix. On the wish list: Virginia Bluebell, Bloodroot, Hepatica, Trout Lily, Trillium and Shooting Star (a second try). I’m crossing my fingers that the May Apples given to me by a friend last summer will emerge this Spring 2013!
The Prairie Rose today, no longer bare (root), trained as a vine, successfully disguises the chain link fence. The birds love this thorny, safe haven.
Virginia Creeper Vine just beginning to turn in Fall 2012, disguises the chain link fence further along the bed. Its berries are tasty to Downy Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Catbirds, Finches, and Warblers in my garden. It is also the host plant for the beautiful Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth, Darapsa myron.
Ostrich Fern is one of many types of ferns planted in the Woodland Edge. I’m hoping to establish drifts of newly planted Cinnamon Fern, Lady Fern, and Maidenhair Fern and I’ll be adding more varieties.
Jack in the Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, came to me from central NY where it volunteered in my mother’s garden. It has survived two winters and should begin to spread and become more established. It also produces berries. This plant will tolerate the juglone leached by the Black Walnut Tree.
Bottle Gentian, Gentiana andrewsii, can only be pollinated by bumble bees who are strong enough to pry open its closed flowers.
A stone path leading to another birdbath in a wider section of the bed. The stone path serves as access for maintaining the bed but will also hopefully attract amphibians and butterflies. Water drains freely through the stones in early spring and times of heavy rains. Our native Blue Flag Iris in the foreground attracts hummingbirds.
In 2012 the perennials and grasses are filling in and weaving into one another: Persicaria Firetail and Northern Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis.
Some may call this plant a weed but it is easily controlled. In fact “weed” is part of its name, Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, but I let this plant grow in my garden. Why? For one thing the hummingbirds love it. This patch is right outside my porch window and I love to watch the hummingbirds fly among its blooms – they always stop to take a sip. Another reason is because if you happen to suffer from poison ivy, the juice from the stems of this plant is a very effective remedy.
Great Blue Lobelia,Lobelia siphilitica, mingling with the next layer in the Woodland Edge, the shrub Flowering Raspberry, Rubus odoratus.
Flowering Raspberry, Rubus odoratus. I love this deciduous shrub with its large maple-like leaves and fragrant, rose-like blooms. The berries are edible but not as tasty to us as birds. Other shrubs planted in the Woodland Edge include Spice Bush, Lindera benzoin, and Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.
The Cardinal Dogwood stems turning in Fall 2012 against Blue Spruce, one of the tallest layers in this transitional edge. In the stark of Winter the stems are even more pronounced. I especially enjoyed watching Robins feed their young the berries of this shrub this year. I have a close seat from the enclosed porch.
Looking back towards the house in late Summer 2012. The fence is barely visible. When understory trees, Service Berry (to the right) and Pagoda Dogwood, mature, the layers will be even deeper.