Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Native woodland gardens

I've been working on a species list for plants to add in the understory of our ravine forest in the mountains.  It's much more moist than our created Piedmont woodland because of the slope and deep shade.  We've also added LOTS of leaves and mulch, to add to the existing fairly rich soil.

Piedmont front yard, 1993
In the Piedmont, we started from lawn, so our incipient forest (on the slope in the front of the house) is just now starting to be a multi-layer canopy of taller oaks (white and chestnut in addition to the red oaks already here), with tulip poplars, maples, beech, and sassafras, black gum and sourwood on the woodland margin.

Through the front gate, Fall 2008
With an mixed understory of redbuds, dogwood, rhododendron (deciduous and evergreen), fothergilla, paw-paw, and bottlebrush buckeye, it's an eclectic representation of an Eastern woodland forest habitat.

Out the front door in the Piedmont, 2009
The mulching has now gone on for over 15 years, so the soil is built up quite nicely, but it still isn't quite suitable for moisture-loving forest herbs, at least without supplemental summer watering.

Mountain ravine in winter
So I'm hopeful that our mountain habitat will be hospitable for many of our native woodland wildflowers (plus the understory shrubs such as Rhododendron calendulaceum, Flame Azalea and trees such as Fraser's Magnolia, Magnolia fraseri).


  1. Lisa, How exciting to have a garden to grow native woodland wildflowers and the beautiful understory shrubs and small trees! How excited the two of you must be to begin working up there! gail

  2. I'm working on a list of trees to plant (as a windbreak) so that I can have the beginnings of a woodland garden. Wish me luck!

  3. I am looking to put some native azaleas (like your Flame Azalea) and mountain laurel into my woods. Fifteen years of amended! Mine needs a lot of amending.

  4. What a great variety of understory plants. Your soil sounds rich enough for that wonderful mix.

  5. What a great variety of understory plants. Your soil sounds rich enough for that wonderful mix.


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