Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Five Gardens: The Woodland Garden

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima formerly known as Eupatorium rugosum) is the star of my woodland garden right now. Standing about four feet tall, it is covered with hundreds of tiny white blooms that give the plant a very airy, delicate effect. I was nervous about planting white snakeroot. Like so many of the woodland plants I've researched, it comes with a warning: poisonous! Because I am a city dweller, and white snakeroot affects primarily grazing cattle and goats, planting white snakeroot did not feel like that big of a risk. I do worry about my cat and neighbourhood pets but so far, with the plant set well back from the street, there have been no problems. I am so glad because this plant has really charmed me. Any plant that blooms its heart out into the fall can't be all bad.

The Woodland Garden was a new addition this year. I tore out a large section of grass along the walkway to the front of the house and installed as many native and woodland plants as I could. The area is anchored by two serviceberry shrubs (Amelanchier Canadensis) and an eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis). The redbud bloomed beautifully back in spring as did the serviceberries. I chose them all specifically because they provide early spring colour, just when I'm craving blooms the most after a long, cold winter. They have thrived, especially the serviceberries. One of the shrubs put on what seems to be at least a foot of growth.

Among the other natives in the garden are some Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis). This plant has lived up to its reputation as an aggressive spreader. When I purchased them, the plants were only about an inch or two tall. Well, they have filled in very nicely, providing a carpet of green under one of the serviceberries. I have even had to weed some of the anemones to prevent them crowding out other plants that are still establishing themselves. The anemones produced only a few blooms this year. I attribute that to the timing of the planting and the young plants. I am already dreaming of the blossom show come next spring.

Another native that is doing well is the wild geranium (Geranium maculatum). Like the anemone, these plants were wee when I put them in the ground. They have filled in beautifully forming mounds of foliage about a foot across. The wild geranium did not provide a single bloom this year. I'm still hoping (September and October are both supposed to provide summer-like conditions) but if it doesn't happen, I'm sure the spring display will be fabulous.

This lone bloodroot (Sanguineria canadensis) leaf is still hanging on although its dry, brown edges suggest it has seen better days.  I planted eight bloodroot plants in spring and almost all went dormant a short time later. Like the redbud and servicberry, bloodroot feeds my need for early spring flowers. I saw seed pods on the plants and lots of ants earlier this spring (ants disperse bloodroot seeds) so I'm hoping to have a few extra next year. Colonize.  Colonize.  Colonize.  Go bloodroot go!

While the foam flowers (Tiarella cordifolia ) didn't produce any blooms either, I am especially pleased with how their section of the woodland is looking. Aren't they so cute, all cozied up to each other? They've even welcomed a wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) into their circle (The wild columbines, by the way, are naturalizing very well. But then they are columbines, I should have expected that.) I fell in love with foam flower last year after planting two in a shady section of the backyard garden. I have five plants in the woodland garden (I started with eight but three didn't make it thanks to evil squirrels and a few too many heavy downpours). I want more of these woodland beauties, a whole field of them.  

There's lots more in the woodland garden including ladyfern (so beautiful), wood lily (no blooms), toad lily (i'm in love), solomon's seal (very reliable), bugbane (can't wait for this one to reach six feet tall), wild ginger (it's really struggling despite what I thought were suitable conditions), starry false solomon's seal and running strawberry bush (haven't developed a smidge since I planted them), sensitive fern (great performer), phlox (I wish I knew what kind), blue cohosh, red baneberry, and plantain leaved sedge (I thought this would never grow but then it really took off). Like the foamflowers, I want more of all these plants. It'll take some time. One thing I've learned as a gardener is to have some patience. The payoff is almost always worth it.

1 comment:

Northern Shade said...

You have such a nice selection of plants in your woodland garden. They seem lush and green for their first year. The tiarella and lady fern foliage are both looking good.
I really value early spring blooms too. After being starved of blooms all winter, I cherish their generous colour.
Some plants look so pitiful when they are first planted, but then the next year they take off and flourish. With luck the bloodroot is just having a first year sulk.