First Things First | The Woodland Garden

Today’s blog is about another area of my garden I have not yet mentioned and is an area which is still very much a work in progress: the woodland garden. The reason partly for this is because this area is right outside the back door and was previous used for storing all the stuff we removed from this house (we only moved here last Summer) and all the items removed from the brick shed also found their way all the way down the side of the house before we were able to get someone to remove it all for us! Here is what this area of the garden looked like before the rubbish was taken away and believe me, it also got much, MUCH worse than this too:



As you can tell from the above photo, we are in a built up terraced house area so there are some privacy issues from this area of the garden. So this is why I thought trees would be a good option for this area of the garden to offer some privacy. Additionally, this area of the garden is also not so much a part of the garden that we plan to sit in, but I want to utilise as much space as possible and this area of the garden is currently wasted just being paved over (yes, believe me, there are paving slabs underneath there haha).

Here is what the garden looked like after somewhat of a tidy up and you can actually see the old paving slabs:


The plants in pots are what we brought with us from our last home. All that had majorly changed in this area now is that we removed the concrete posts (you can see it peeking out the bottom left of the above photo). This shot below shows that the top section of the garden looked like before we built the greenhouse! Here is a photo after we removed the concrete posts:


These photos show a before and after shot looking up into the garden from the woodland garden. What a difference afew months makes!

We also removed a hebe and huge brambles and weeds from that area too as it was very over grown. I salavaged a small part of the hebe that was healthy, lush and young as the old growth has become woody and it has happily transplanted itself in another area of the garden and is flowering away happily. Here is a shot of that area of the garden from last Summer from the back door. The concrete posts are under there somewhere!


So this leads me on to my next point which some of you may be wondering about: why on earth are you calling this the woodland garden? Well, the sun rises from the East, so in the morning, the sun fills this area of the garden (see the first photo), but then as the sun travels to the South, this area of the garden is in shade for the day until the sun sets in the West and a small amount gets some sunshine. So I wanted to work with this aspect and I actually relish the opportunity to pick plants that need either full or semi shade like astilbes, bleeding hearts etc and so I began to consider the natural world and what plants would be suitable and as a result, the idea for a woodland garden that doesn’t bask in the sunshine all day but nooks down cosy in its shady surroundings really appealed to me. The rest of the garden is mostly in full sun which is great but it’s fun to be able to find different plants that I can’t plant in other areas of the garden. I also had to consider the type of planting that would suit the pond that we are putting in this year slightly further up from this end of the garden because I wanted a nice transition in the planting scheme.

Now a woodland is not complete without trees. However, you can see that we are close to our home in this area of the garden, so planting most trees in the ground unless they are dwarf trees is a no-no as far as I am concerned and I did not want to use dwarf trees as I want to increase the sense of privacy. We also have a water supply system running in the garden so I definitely did not want to risk planting any trees in the ground that were of any substantial size incase they caused damage down the line to pipes. Sooooo, what to do? Well, myself and Mr. Meadow both loved the look of silver birches and whilst their shape is graceful and lean, they can reach HUGE heights which means so would their roots. So the solution we have come up with is to build a substantial wooden raised planter that doubles as a bench (more for aesthetics than anything else though)  to house the silver birches. I plan on leaving paving slab beneath the wood planter that we build and putting drainage holes in the bottom of the planter to contain the roots of the trees. If any of you have knowledge of trees can you tell me what you think about this idea and if a huge (and I mean HUGE) planter will be enough for trees in the long term. Alternatively, the trees could live there in the short term and if they are getting too large, they could always be removed. What do you think?

After doing some research, I also found that silver birches like to be planted in groups and naturally as in all planting schemes, good garden designs follow the rule of odd numbers, so three trees it was! So we purchased three bare root silver birch trees from wilkos for about £4 each the other week (what a bargain!) and they had been sat in the greenhouse before I got chance to pot them up. They will sit in their pots before we get around to building the raised planter. Here is what the trees looked like when I had potted them up; they are all just coming into leaf and their bark is not yet white because they are young:


To make this area feel even more woodlandy, we are planting on planting evergreen grasses (for structure and to soften the wood planter) and we also both would love to plant a huge drift of blue bells to naturalise themselves and come up year after year! I imagine that would look dreamy! We will still keep the path running through the space to allow access from the back door to the back gate, but we may decide to run the path through the woodland garden to encourage more interaction and not make it such a walk through area. We need to get those paving slabs lifted soon and start working the ground as it will be very compacted, but the planter is the first job!

Let me know what you all think about our ideas! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have any of you planted silver birches before? Let me know in the comment section below. Don’t forget that you can follow my blog so that you don’t miss my new blog posts! Until next time, happy gardening!


Written by Bethany Wright at The English Meadow blog

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