05/09/2014

Working on the Woodland

I was recently offered the chance to preview eminent plantsman Keith Wiley's new book, Designing and Planting a Woodland Garden: Plants and Combinations that Thrive in the Shade.

If you are interested in creating a woodland garden, or even a woodland patch within your garden, then this book will become an invaluable source of information. The visual appeal is always important to me in a gardening book, and this one has it in spades (excuse the pun!), with plenty of inspiring photographs depicting wonderful and practical woodland planting combinations.  Keith Wiley offers his vast knowledge of woodland planting throughout, and an informative and extensive directory helps you choose the right plant for the right place. It really fired up my imagination to get out and make a few changes in my own little woodland border.




Now, my area couldn't be classed as strictly woodland, I'm not sure you'd find many bamboos on your Sunday stroll through the woods, although Keith does give them a mention in the book. The majority of the plants here do fit in with a woodland theme though. Of course there are ferns. Many ferns!







In fact, there are ten in this small area, and I was delighted during my recent garden revamp to discover three baby Cristate Male Ferns just behind the parent plant. I've potted these up and am looking forward to filling the space out with them (what little is left) when they're a bit bigger. It is definitely one of my favourite ferns thanks to it's tall, statuesque dark green fronds.

After reading Keith's book, I decided to move all of the Hellebores scattered around the garden to this area. I've always thought they looked rather out of place in the other borders but never knew what to do with them. They look so much more natural here, especially the tall Xsternii which was a bit of an eyesore elsewhere.



I've always been stumped by this shady little patch right of the bamboo, against the fence where it meets the patio. Nothing much grew here, and I've tried many plants over the years. I could have added another fern, but wanted something with a spark of colour that would cover the fence. Thanks to the book, I think I have now found the low maintenance solution...a Pieris!


This one was growing in my front garden, or rather outgrowing the raised bed it was in. I'm sure it will happily romp away here.


I let plants like Campanula and Hardy Geraniums have free reign in this border. They looked lovely in the summer.


Dianthus are slowly starting to spread out and clothe the border edges.


And hopefully the Brunnera will do the same. It seems that just as a new plant pops up, it gets destroyed by slugs and snails. I've already picked half a dozen nibbled leaves off the three that have survived from last year.



Not a woodland plant, but one that really adds some colour is Houttuynia 'Flame'.  It's planted in a pot in the ground here as it is incredibly invasive, I do keep a close eye on it too. It prefers damp soil, so being able to control the moisture in a pot is ideal.



Colour is what has been missing from this border during late summer, other than green, so I've moved all of my Japanese Anemones here and I have more growing on to go out next year. They should mix nicely with the earlier flowering plants that are already here.


And I love my Acer! This is Sango-Kaku. It has yellow/orange leaves in Spring that turn green in summer , change to pink and then yellow in the Autumn. So pretty! This is in a pot in the ground as it can have quite a large spread and I don't want it taking over.  It seems to be doing really well and I'm highly impatient for it to get a bit taller.



Natural ponds can appear in woodlands and my ones here in the border have matured nicely.  The frogs really appreciate having all the undergrowth to hide in and sitting on the bench and looking back on the woodland patch is relaxing.





I'll be adding some spring bulbs here and then I think it will be mostly complete. One border down, three more and a front garden to go!

I hope you enjoyed my little woodland patch tour. Keith Wiley's book will be published by Timber Press early 2015 and will be available from AMAZON. One to add to your Wishlist!

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44 comments:

  1. Sounds like an excellent book that gave you plenty of inspiration for your own garden. I did enjoy your woodland tour. Mine needs revamping too, so maybe I'll check this book out.

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    1. I'm sure you'd enjoy the book Alison, glad you liked the little tour.

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  2. I've become aware that I have fewer weeds that can grow in shade, so I've been developing some woodland gardens as well. Thanks for the book review and tour of your garden, lots of ideas!

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    1. Oh yes, definitely fewer weeds in my woodland area too!

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  3. Love your garden! And your pictures are awesome! I will see if I one day I find that book, I have some shady areas I would like to add some color. Thinking about chameleon plant, now that you mention it, love it's colorfulness!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, the Houttuynia is very colourful and certainly livens the area up, it seems to be doing quite well in the shade too.

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  4. I am delighted with the garden because it looks like a real jungle ! I love a thicket of trees and shrubs and your lovely decorations !
    And your photos are perfect !
    Have a nice weekend :)

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    1. It feels jungle like too Ela, very secluded. Wishing you a lovely weekend too :-) .

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  5. It sounds like an interesting book. I very much admire your ferns. I have a few myself and last year I moved in a "wild" area of the garden some brackens. As they grow profusely and even have a reputation to be invasive, I thought they would take over but no - very few survived the move! They seem much more difficult to transplant than regular ferns. Perhpas the few that put out a small leaf will get a foothold and eventually prosper.

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    1. Oh, what a shame Alain. Like you've said, maybe they just need some time to get going. Brackens are abundant here in the UK woodland and they do indeed seem to spread like crazy! Fingers crossed yours do too.

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  6. I love ferns too, they look great with Hellebores. I love your use of foliage and it must look good all year round. I will look out for this book.

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    1. It does look lovely most of the year Chloris. I'm sure you'd enjoy the book, it is choc full of inspiration.

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  7. Sounds like a good book. I enjoyed the tour of your woodland garden and especially loved the ferns and Coral Bark Maple!

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    1. Thanks Lee, I really can't wait for the Maple to get bigger.

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  8. What an interesting book. It sounds as though it has given you lots of inspiration already.

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    1. It has Jo and most gardening books don't so I was especially pleased.

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  9. Thanks for the book recommendation; I don't know that you could call my shade garden a woodland garden, but I certainly could use some inspiration for this area. I'm not familiar with Houttynia, but what a colorful accent in your garden! And I love the Japanese maple--such beautiful foliage.

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    1. The book would certainly help with ideas for your shade area Rose. The Houttuynia is lovely, I forgot to mention that the leaves also smell a little like oranges, another plus in my book.

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  10. A most enjoyable post, and wonderful pictures. Reading it I had to keep reminding myself that you've a relatively small garden. That sounds like an excellent book on what is, perhaps, a less common aspect of gardening nowadays. Flighty xx

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    1. I guess woodland planting isn't very common now Flighty, although that probably has something to do with the small size of the average back garden. It does hinder what can be planted.

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  11. I love your selection of woodland plants, and the book sounds good also. You have quite a collection of ferns, I have only three species that I know of.

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    1. Oh, there are so many more ferns that I'd love to plant but just don't have the room for. I did try growing some in my front garden but it was just far too hot for them there.

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  12. Very lovely ferns! They are beautiful and I think it makes the garden feels romantic ;-) Enjoyed looking at the pictures here. Thank you! they are all so wonderful!!

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    1. You've hit the nail on the head Stephanie, they do have a romantic quality don't they. All the better if you plant an evergreen variety that you can still enjoy in the winter as well, the fronds look beautiful with snow on.

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  13. It's always nice when a garden design book is actually relevant enough that it sparks our creativity. Don't you love when you can move a plant from one spot to another and have a whole new and improved look? It's (almost) even better than buying a new plant. I've got lots of plant-moving to do but it's been so dang hot here that I don't dare undertake it until the weather cools. Your woodland border is gorgeous. I love it.

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    1. I agree totally Grace, it was 'almost' better than buying new plants, definitely cheaper on the pocket too!

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  14. sounds like a useful book. I love ferns too, I think it's impressive that you use so many different plants, and from the photos they look lovely together. I think maybe establishing a woodland garden that looks really natural is the most challenging type of gardening you can do. It is for me, anyway. I find violets take over from everything else.

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    1. I was thinking of planting some Violas in the border Sue but decided against it. There's always that one plant that wants to take over isn't there. In my border I think it will probably be the Anemones.

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  15. Hello Paula, we have a "woodland" part of the garden that is made up of a row of large scots pine and beech running along the back. It's going to be quite a challenge to get things to grow there as it's dark and the trees suck every last ounce of nutrients and water from the soil but I'm hoping that ferns, hellebores, foxgloves and other woodland plants might be able to make a home there.

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    1. Oh, I'm sure they will Sunil. It's amazing the conditions some plants cope with, especially ferns, they seem to get by with very little help at all as long as they are in a shady spot.

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  16. I will have to check out this book. I live in the midst of woodland and love all your fern choices. Isn't it amazing that an ocean separates us yet so many of the same plants thrive both there and here.

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    1. I often think that when I visit blogs of other countries Layanee. Plants are pretty amazing things aren't they!

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  17. You have many nice plants in the woodland section of your garden. The books sounds interesting and so I will have to watch for it in 2015.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it if you purchase it Jennifer.

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  18. His book sounds like something I should read! I enjoyed a tour of your woodland. I think the pieris will do very well there. You and I share many of the same woodland plants, though I have never tried hardy geraniums or Japanese anemones. I would love some additional color in my own woodland garden, and that is something to explore. Your care with the houttuynia is well warranted! It is such a pretty thug. I have one planted in a pot sitting beside my woodland steps.Be sure you pinch off any flowers and look for any shoots coming up in other places.

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    1. Ooh yes, I will pinch off the flowers too. I certainly don't want it taking over. The Anemones give lovely colour in the woodland area, it would be very green here at the moment without them.

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  19. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy, too. A big portion of my garden is woodland. I tend to let the deep woods go wild, but the edges are open for adjustment. Your garden looks great!

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    1. You're so lucky to have such a large area of woodland!

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  20. Very nice! I used to have that Coral Bark Japanese Maple - such a beautiful tree! I have some woodlands on my property that I want to eventually develop at least so there is a pretty path through there. The book sounds like a good resource!

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    1. It is a lovely tree, I hope it will be happy in the border here and the pot will keep it restricted. A path through your woodland sounds like a wonderful idea!

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  21. I have loads of gardening books but an equal amount of shade so I'll need to check out that book. I need to add more color to my shade garden, too. Yours look beautiful!

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    1. Aah, there's always another book we need isn't there, lol!

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  22. I have a lot of dry shade in my garden. I love ferns and so many need more moisture than my garden has to give. I put some Houttuynia in my garden. Bad mistake not putting it in a pot. It is horribly invasive. I would definitely keep an eye on that rascal. Your woodland patch is quite beautiful. You have plenty of color there to me. I will be on the watch for the book you mentioned. It would interest me. Can't get enough pictures of gardens.

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  23. Oh I didn't know that Keith Wiley has a new book. Will look out for it :) Have you visited his garden at Wildside Paula? It's magical.

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