Adding Color to Woodland Areas

Spring really brightens up wooded areas with lots of colors just bursting out a big “Hello!” I think that is what sparks us to want to add color to shaded areas. The artist part of us comes out wanting to splash color into our surroundings and the fun part is that it doesn’t stop with spring just as Claude Monet did at his garden in Giverny. He even planted hiswoodland areas with colorful plantsMonet’s pond garden as well was carefully planned by Monet himself. Over one hundred years old and his gardens still look as beautiful today as we can imagine that they did when he first painted them.                     

Here is a listing of plants from evergreen ground covers, to shade loving perennials, to spring flowering shrubs and spring flowering trees that will grow in shaded areas. Most will produce spring color while a few others will just add something special to the blend. Strategically placing plants with color can give a whole new look to your woodlands or shaded areas. It’s especially easy if you have a digital camera. You can take pictures of the areas you want to enhance with color or texture, print them out or just study them on the screen and you can visualize how you would like to see the woodlands as the seasons unfold.

Ground cover for shade:

Shade loving perennials:

Flowering shrubs for shade:

Trees for shade:

Don’t try to do your entire project at one time. Working on it over several years allows you to see that you are on the right track for what you want as the outcome.

Visit Greenwood Online Plant Nursery for shade loving plants.

And don’t forget about ways to move through your wooded area. Bark mulch walkways and stepping stones make great paths. Benches, whether wood, stone or metal, give excellent reasons to sit and enjoy from the inside out. Rocks of all sizes and even boulders look stately with moss growing over them and are right at home in wooded and shaded spaces.

I hope this has given you some ideas to build on to make your own woodland area as beautiful as a Monet painting.

By Cheryl D. Jones

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Planting Window Boxes for Year Around Beauty

Window boxes and other plant containers can be enjoyable year round.

Just because it might not be summer any longer does not mean those pots have lost their use until next year. Create some texture and color for winter box use. Below are a few ideas on what I mean. Remember: You are only limited by your imagination. I like the idea of finishing a window box off with moss for a more professional look, but is not necessary. Most all of these items can be picked up at your local market, greenhouse, garden center, or ordered from Greenwood Nursery.

Keep it simple and use what is available. For point of reference in my examples, I am planting a 30 inch window box liner.

In spring, swap out the box liner with another liner filled with spring/summer blooming annuals or perennials. Your winter collection can be kept as is for several years. After a year some of the larger growing plant varieties may need to be relocated to your landscape so their root systems can expand.

Example 1: 2 rosemary trees in gallon containers (one on each end), 2 blue rug junipers in center, and sprays of evergreens, boxwood and bittersweet from walking in the woods.

Example 2: 3 heuchera plum puddings centered in gallon containers, and 4 sedum Angelina on the ends to provide wonderful contrast. These colors would look gorgeous against a house with white or other lighter color siding.

Ornamental grasses are so versatile to work with. The smaller sizes are just perfect for containers.

Example 3: 2 hameln grasses in gallon containers in the center, one blue glow fescue grass in a gallon container on each end, with 4 pachysandra green sheen plants planted between the grasses.

Sweet and simple is this look. On each end plant one gallon size emerald green arborvitae, in the center plant two of the one gallon size acorus ogon grass adding 3 wooly thymes draping over the front.

Although the growth on most plants will have slowed during winter, without any regular rainfall, you may need to water every few weeks to keep all of the plants from drying out. Make certain that your planting container has several drainage holes. A few rocks, piece of tile or foam peanuts are good for placing over the drainage holes to keep them from getting blocked. Top the container off with moss or excelsior for a wonderful finished look.

Below is a listing of a few plants that in their young state, gallon containers and smaller, that work perfectly in window boxes and other containers. Don’t limit yourself to just these varieties. Use what is available in your area.

Junipers – Ornamental Cabbage – Rosemary – Arborvitae – Creeping Thyme and other herb plants

Pines – BoxwoodsPachysandra – Holly – Cool Season Ornamental Grasses

Small mum’s – Evergreen Ferns – Heucheras – Ivy – Miniature Roses

Hens & Chicks – Winter Heather

Remember to have fun with gardening projects and be creative. Bring out some of those old decorations from the attic or basement and put them into use again outside in the containers, such as a tiny artificial tree or those wooden spirally trees. They would look very festive and give them a new purpose.

Visit the Greenwood Nursery Online Garden Center for a great selection of plants for window box and container planting.

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Correcting Drainage Problems in the Garden and Landscape

french drains
Image by Indiewench via Flickr

This is a common issue, especially in new developments where the topsoil has been scraped away and the only thing left behind is compacted clay. There are actually some options.

Is the rain just hitting the ground and running off? Then, you need to be building up your lawn to make it healthier so the water is absorbed into the ground. Remember, weeds do not germinate in healthy soil. Lawns can be built up by tilling in organic matter, such as aged compost, aged manure mix, straw, etc. Aeration can also help water soak in. Sometimes it can take several attempts of aeration to see results. Soil softeners can help the ground absorb water. Like aeration, it often requires several applications before results can be seen.

French drains are made by digging deep trenches. In the bottom of the trench is placed a layer of rock, followed by black perforated piping covered with a weed cloth and then covering the piping with rock to the top of trench. French drains are (or can be) complicated issues, so a professional should be consulted to install them.

Dry creek beds are beautiful ways to direct excess water to where you want it to go. They are slightly dug out beds or paths, placing landscape fabric in the depression followed by pebbles/gravel/larger rocks. In some cases, the waters path is already clear in your yard, so use that to your advantage and create a dry creek bed and then landscape around it. It can be a great focal point as well as utility.

When working to alleviate drainage problems, keep in mind to route the water to an area that will not pose any further problems. One place is to your curb, but you should check with your development or city regulations first. Should you have a drainage ditch (common in most developments) bordering one side of your property, route the water to it. Never route drain water to a neighbors property.

Of course, if you can’t drain it, use it. Where the water lays, create a bog garden. Plants that will work in such an area are: vinca, spiraea, viburnum, goat’s beard, phlox, ferns (shade), daylilies, irises, bamboo (clumping varieties), red twig or other shrub dogwoods, acorus ogon grass, french pussy willow, nishiki willow, giant pussy willow, solomon’s seal, liriope, maples, green ash, bald cypress, river birch, elm, white pine, hemlock, sourwood, tulip poplar, blueberry, cranberry, red chokeberry, sambucus, holly, spicebush, oaks, red bud, serviceberry, hostas (shade), anemones, and gaillardia. If you have a really marshy area, check at your local fish store for pond plants.

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How to Garden With Physical Limitations

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...
Image via Wikipedia

Let’s talk about how to make gardening easier for those with disabilities, whether they have arthritis, are in a wheelchair or are visually impaired.

Maybe you or someone in your household has difficulty getting around in the garden. These steps can be taken to make it more enjoyable for them.

– Gardening in raised beds and planters. It makes the plants much more accessible to reach. About a 2-3 foot wide raised bed area (wider if access is on both sides) should work for most people and its height should be according to the person gardening in it. For example: a person in a wheelchair would want the height anywhere from 18 to 24 inches tall, while someone with arthritis may want to garden standing and could use a height in the 3 to 4 foot range.

– Use lots of pots or other containers such as window boxes low to the ground. To help reduce the weight, use Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom half of the containers and fill with soil. Anyone can plant everything from seeds, perennials, small shrubs to small trees in containers. For ease in moving the pots, use wheeled caddies which are available at most hardware stores. Locate hanging baskets at lower levels or on benches for easier reach.

– Garden up! Use trellises and other types of plant supporters.

– Walkways should be a minimum of 3 feet wide. Ramps should be out of a non-slippery material and a handrail maybe necessary. There are many possible surface materials for walkways. However, packed soil is one of the cheapest. Of course, it will be muddy during wet weather. Sandstone pavers and brick are also good options but will be more costly. Remember, wood will work, but will be slippery when wet.

– For those visually impaired, choose plants that offer bright colors, variety of textures and lots of fragrance. A wide assortment of perennials and herbs works wonders for the senses. Group large areas of plants according to colors for more impact, as those with only partial visual problems will be able to locate them easier.

– Use sound effectively. Add into the garden chimes, wind mills, fountains, and birdhouses to create soothing sounds.

– Who doesn’t like a sandbox? It brings out the child in all of us. Take an old barrel or other container and fill with coarse sand. It will make a great exercise for arthritic hands (or even feet if the barrel is low enough) and a perfect playground for children with physical limitations.

For further reading on how to remake a garden to be more accommodating for those with physical disabilities or limitations, check out these books at your local library, bookstore or Amazon.

Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, and Plants by Janeen R. Adil

Accessible Gardening: Tips & Techniques for Seniors & the Disabled by Joann Woy

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Protecting Banana Plants Over Winter

Musa basjoo
Image by Henryr10 via Flickr

Concerned about how to care for your Musa Basjoo (Cold Hardy Banana) plants for winter weather?

Visit Greenwood’s Musa Basjoo plant page for how to protect your ornamental banana plants during cold weather and frosts.

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