Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Woodland (06 JUL 2011)

At the bottom of my garden is what I call "the woodland". It's not really ... but if you crouch down low amongst the bushes and think shady thoughts, you might think you were in a wood, I suppose.
The shade is offered primarily by my only tree, the cherry blossom. A couple of months ago, while the rest of the garden was so parched that there were fissures in the soil, this area remained slightly damp. The soil quality is better here too with a higher proportion of humus, which I would like to compare to a forest floor, but maybe that's stretching it too far. 

The woodland was in its prime in spring when the cherry blossom, wisteria, weigela, foxgloves, bluebells, aqueligias, heather and iris were in bloom ... but in June all that remained were cherry suckers and wisteria vines growing out of control; dried bulb leaves and dead foxglove skeletons. As the sight of the latter breaks my heart, I haven't paid much attention to this area of the garden recently.

weigela blooming in May
foxgloves died in June

Even though I generally take pride in being a laid-back, take time to smell the roses sort of gardener, the appearance of bindweed got me into frenzied action. Here's a video of what might happen if you ignore a bindweed problem : http://youtu.be/pfrQ5FHsht0

In my woodland, bindweed bloomed white trumpets while it strangled the hydrangea buds, but it helped the pale pink, scented flowers with floppy stems by strapping them to a rose bush.


At ground level, bindweed vines sprouted through the mulch of decomposing leaves, and criss-crossed between monster dandelions and other weeds which dared to encroach on its territory. Even the sword-like iris leaves succumbed to its advances.


I decided it was time for a clear out ...  All weeds were dug up by the roots, dead matter removed, and the ground raked to drag out straggling vines . Suckers were severed except the biggest which I planted in a pot. Bushes were pruned and the overgrown cineria silverdust with their ungainly yellow flowers were cut down to border plants again. This left the soil looking dry and over-sanitised, with the plants lacking cohesion ...

cherry sucker

 
cineria silverdust

over-sanitised ?
 














but it allowed the current highlights of the woodland to shine, free from strangulation ...

grape holly

 
sedum spectabile


 
hybrid tea & wild roses

















rhubarb
 


  foxglove replacements



hydrangea


















.... and in the dappled shade, I can read this poem again if I crouch down low. It doesn't feel so much like a wood at the moment, but hopefully it will fill out again (minus bindweed) in a month or so.




Gardens which make me wish I had more shade :

Carolyn's Shade Gardens

Alternative Eden



©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved.

24 comments:

Hanni said...

Oh my mercy...glad that you spotted the bindweed right away and conquered it before it conquered you!

I can just imagine crouching down and pretending you are in a wood! hee hee! I wish I had more shade - wait, ANY shade - to garden in, too. Maybe someday...

Glad to have you join in! Happy Hope Grows Day!

The Sage Butterfly said...

I have been in a frenzy at times when a weeding problem has presented itself. I always feel better afterwards when my goal has been accomplished. I like your photos.

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Bindweed is a problem here too. I feel for your efforts to rid of it. Your woodland plants are worth saving too. Love the foxglove and bluebells.

HolleyGarden said...

You did a lot of work! Congrats on getting the bindweed out. Laughed at your description of 'over-sanitised'! Looks like your woodland will again be a lovely garden of beauty.

Mark and Gaz said...

It's true a woodland garden tends to be on its prime in the spring, worth putting some summer performers to take over in the summer to fill the spaces.

Well done on the bindweed, with regular maintenance you can be on top of it. Our garden was festooned with it but found regular pulling does weaken the plant to the point of eradication in a few years. So keep pulling :) Lovely plants btw :)

Elephant's Eye said...

Your woodland is just as 'there' as mine is on our Woodland Walk. We have a few shoulder high trees, and some undergrowth, but if I am down weeding, I could, be in a woodland ;~)

b-a-g said...

Hanni - imagine having a garden that you never needed to water even in the summer ...

Sage Butterfly - Frenzy is not the ideal state of mind for gardening, but it certainly gets the job done quickly.

Donna - Unfortunately the foxgloves and bluebells died a while ago. During the few weeks when they were in bloom together, I was struck with awe in my own garden.

b-a-g said...

Holley - I wrote over-sanitised because the bindweed did some good work by joining the collection of plants together into one. They seem disparate now. However, I think it's a case of all or nothing with bindweed.

Mark&Gaz - it's reassuring to read your experience that it is possible to overcome bindweed with regular maintenance and no need for chemicals.

Diana - the difference is that when we stand up, you see two snow-capped mountains and I see suburbia.

Malar said...

I'm new to you blog!
You have so much of plant collection! Weeds are always there for us to tend. I feel evry satisfied once weeds are cleared!

Stacy said...

Love the photo of the bindweed "helping out" the floppy flowers--the silver lining in an otherwise black cloud. Congratulations on getting ahead of it--that video is really frightening!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Malar - You would expect that I would feel very satisfied when the weeding was over, but I was a bit sad because it didn't feel like a woodland any more.(The woodland is actually only the depth of my small garden shed.)

Stacy - It does amuse me that bindweed produces pure white, innocent-looking blooms while it's strangling any plant that it can get hold of.

PatioPatch said...

Great work b-a-g - that's one helluva manual job. Without knee-deep mulch, nothing much grows under base of trees in summer so your cleansed patch is not so surprising. Trees take water at top level too, especially when ground levels are low. Goes to show what a toughie Bellweed is. I see Sammy has a place in your poetic garden as well as your heart!
p.s. as children we would pick the bindweed blooms, squeezing the calyx so the flower would shoot out - to the rhyme 'Grandmother, grandmother, pop out of bed'. Now that's me!
p.p.s. many thanks for the shout :)

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Bag, What a nice compliment to be on your list. I am very happy with my shade, which preserves moisture and keeps down weeds. The only way I ever got rid of bindweed is to exhaust it by not letting it produce any green leaves. Carolyn

Masha said...

It is great to have an area that is so different from the rest of your garden, even if it ends up being so much work. I do hope it will come back and look even better than before!

Elephant's Eye said...

Ah ... let me explain. When I stand up, I see neighbour's roofs on all sides (we have a pan handle, I mean ALL sides). We drive a little out of town to see the snowcaps. I can see the foothills from our house.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Laura - I would like to say that I was thinking intellectual thoughts while executing the manual labour - but I wasn't. The rabbit statue was actually inherited from the previous owner. I saw it, right in the corner of the garden, when I first viewed the property and thought it was a good omen. I'll remember your rhyme if I see bindweed bloom again (hopefully I wont!).

It's a pleasure Carolyn - your garden is very inspiring.

Masha - I like this area of the garden so much that I want to extend it into the patio area.

EE - Thanks for the explanation. I would not complain if I had a view of foothills.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

I love your "woodland" - though I sympathise with you on the bindweed. Its a pernicious little monster, we had it in a border in the front, but FIL finished what I started and it is now clear. You have to admire how well adapted it is, the nests of white roots go down so deep, and regenerate from the smallest morsel. I'm sure you mini forest is thanking you profoundly for giving other things room to breathe.

PS Am only just getting my foxgloves flowering now, in July - very confusing.

debsgarden said...

Thanks for including me on your list! Your bit of woodland has some lovely plants, and your hard work has paid off. I, too, grow some vigorous weeds and have battled bindweed. It has been a difficult adversary.

debsgarden said...

P.S. I love your white rabbit; he should come visit my own garden rabbits!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Janet - I do admire bindweed. I would like to allow it to grow under strict control, but after watching that video I'm too frightened. I don't know how you tell the difference between invasive and non-invasive bindweed (if there is such a thing). Morning glory is a member of the bindweed family - I grew it last year and it didn't come back.

It's a pleasure Deb - you really do have a wood in your garden! The rabbit has obviously seen better days, but I decided not to throw away anything I found in the garden, because even though it was a bit neglected when I found it, it was definitely loved.

p3chandan said...

Lovely little woodland you have BAG minus the bindweed of course. I have the same problem with my morning glory who seems to have a mind of their own, strangling every plant including my veggies, on their path. I love your pink hydrangea, seldom seen here.

Alistair said...

b-a-g, we also have a rather modest area which I refer to as our woodland. Like most woodlands ours also looks best in the Spring.Fortunately bindweed isn't a problem this far north. One area where we had problems with weeds we planted Geranium macrorrhizum 'Bevan's Variety'as ground cover, it hasn't half worked and looks great.Your mahonia, grape holly! that was a new one on me, had to google it.

Esther Montgomery said...

So many pretty plants!

It think I must have been lucky with my foxgloves in that they flowered into July. I probably left them longer than most would because I like to see seeds. I cut most of them down a few days ago but even now there are a few flowers on the spikes I left.

Esther

b-a-g said...

p3 - I grew morning glory last year but not this year because I'm afraid it might learn bad habits from the bindweed

Alistair - One of the advantages of being a Northerner. My next post is about ground-cover, I'll be interested to know what you think about it.

Esther - Lucky you to still have foxgloves. Next year I hope to have self-seeded foxgloves which will germinate at different times, prolonging the flowering season.

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