Blog: Gardening in the Woods

May 17, 2016
Woodland Garden
Photo by Pixabay

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Gardening in the woods can be a challenge, especially when you love plants and flowers. But the forest is where I choose to live; it provides great shelter for many birds and critters that we love to watch, so I don’t intend to clear the property of a lot of trees just to have a huge garden.

Instead, my ultimate goal is to create a series of smaller gardens that blend with the existing landscape, which is full of ferns, mosses, and evergreens, and to use this natural growth to enhance some of my favorite plants. My husband has cut trees selectively so that we have a few spots of 6-hour sunlight, and we have grabbed these spaces for a large patch of grass and an assortment of perennials, such as roses and daylilies and some flowering shrubs.

We had to study the landscape surrounding our house for an entire season to discover the best spaces for planting sun-lovers. Then we chose other, semishaded, areas for planting sedums, heucheras, hostas, astilbes, lamiums, fern-leaf bleeding hearts, hydrangeas, columbines, and a variety of other plants.

An instant garden was impossible. We had to bring in loam and spread it 8 to 10 inches deep, as the woodland “soil” was much too compact, but all of the work was worth it. In my 28 years’ worth of gardening efforts at this house, I have learned a lot about plant needs; my plants are doing well, earthworms are creating very nice soil for us, and we have discovered blueberry and raspberry bushes growing wild at the edge of the woods.

Overcrowding is something I hadn’t planned on, but my long-delayed project for this gardening season will be to find some new spaces for plants that are now squeezed and to relocate others that are once again in too much shade, not forgetting to leave space for toad houses, dahlias, and pots of colorful annuals.

My husband will be busy clearing crowded and overgrown areas, as we try to reclaim some lost space and that disappearing sunlight. The gardens are constantly moving and changing, and I love to watch it all.

It would be wonderful to hear about your garden—your goals, challenges, and experiences. Whether you garden in the woods or garden in containers, please share. Happy gardening to all of you.

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Your Old Farmer’s Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments!

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