Let Nature Inspire Your Own Landscape: Suggestions for a Woodland Garden

Aug - 13
2019

Let Nature Inspire Your Own Landscape: Suggestions for a Woodland Garden

Forests, if Tolkien’s Lothl√≥rien or even the forests behind the schoolyard, maintain a magical unequaled. They envelop amicably, protect from view and shield from heat. Forests reveal themselves only slowly: The prospect of a fresh sight beyond the following group of trees is enough to keep us walking. While they are the cradle of our most cherished garden plants, forests have a thing or two to educate us about backyard design.

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Simply put, a forest is a sizable group of trees. While forests may be found all over the planet, their components vary considerably.

In the northern United States, conifers dominate; their compact canopies often restrict understory development. Elsewhere, deciduous forests offer you bright and spectacular springtime displays. In any case, there are plants which will flourish and satisfy the toughest gardeners.

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Most woodland gardens can be found between existing trees or at the shadow of surrounding structures.

At the University of British Columbia, the Asian Woodland Garden (shown here) rolls under colossal yet lean Douglas firs. Plants love them! Notice the layering of plants, from taller shrubs in the back to ground-covering perennials along with the mulch path. At the forefront is located a floriferous Polygonum (Polygonum bistorta), hardy throughout the coldest areas of North America.

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Even bigger is this Himalayan hemlock (Tsuga dumosa), photographed in Sikkim, India. The filtered light pops through this type of loose canopy is most valued by woodland plants.

An arborist can easily thin out trees that eventually become overly dense, greatly easing your backyard project.

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When blessed with mature trees, we are able to take advantage of the trunks to encourage a couple of choice vining plants, like this very hardy climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris). Ivy should not be considered — it is invasive and overly vigorous.

Additionally, if there are any dead trees that must be cut down, it is a good idea to leave 6 ft or more of the trunk position. Trunks make ideal supports for vines.

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When you have space to include new trees, consider flowering ones like magnolias and Japanese snowbells (Styrax japonicus, zones 5 to 8). In cool climates the dove tree (Davidia involucrata, revealed here) is a arresting addition. Its large inflorescences may be appreciated from below.

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In the coldest climates, larches, birches or poplars (like the crazy ones here) are great, fast-growing options to create a new forest atmosphere. Their colour, also, is not overly dense.

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Once the canopy is cared for, consider the intermediate tree layer. Choices are endless and if, of course, be synchronized to your regional problems. To ensure prolonged interest, start with a simple foundation of evergreens add seasonal elements.

All these rhododendrons, photographed at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, are particularly effective.

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In colder climes and to include elements of seasonality, consider deciduous shrubs, like this oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia, zones 5 to 9), as well as perennials and bulbs.

Spring is obviously the vital moment from the woodland, but fruit-bearing shrubs and autumn colors add interest before late autumn.

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There are many ways to lay out plants that are smaller. An especially rewarding and thoughtful way is revealed in this personal backyard in New York, in cold zone 5. Ferns, grasses, heucheras, oenotheras and a couple of vines are irregularly mixed together, blanketing the whole floor between bigger shrubs.

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No forest would be complete without ferns. Of archaic origin, ferns — deciduous or evergreen — add a classy touch to beds, all in frills and curls. This one, Blechnum spicant, is native to the moist and mild Pacific Northwest. There are, nevertheless, ferns accommodated to many climates around the globe.

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When some ferns boast foliage with patterns in silver and burgundy, others, like this royal fern (Osmunda regalis, zones 3 to 9), produce fruiting bodies colored just like cinnamon. Notice these echo the bark over the nearby tree.

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Many grasses and sedges are perfectly happy in the colour. This one, a variegated broad-leaf sedge (Carex siderosticha ‘Variegata’, zones 4 to 2), brightly sets off the omnipresent and famous hostas.

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People that have the collector’s insect is going to be entertained endlessly from the woodland garden. They can get and grow treasures of all kinds and shapes, like this cute primrose, sheltered under the lacy canopy of a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var dissectum).

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It might be due to its own contained, somewhat closed-in feel that the woodland garden accommodates odds and ends so successfully, individual plants instead of large sweeps.

This charming planting of various trilliums and spring anemones produces a jewel box of a backyard in Vancouver.

More in this series: Shape a Sea-Inspired Garden | Grasslands into Garden
Devise a Desert Garden | Mighty Mountain Gardens

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