The Sunny Woodland-GBDW*

april-14-2009-009-2There is a space in the far corner of the property that used to be the shadiest spot in the garden.
Shown above is Variegated Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’april-12-2009-016-2Then the very large shade giving tree, Ferngully, died and sun now comes streaming in.
Shown above are Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’ and Hosta ‘Sun Power’april-14-2009-016-2A replacement tree was planted before the big maple was cut down for we could tell by the damaged trunk that it did not have long to live.
Shown above is wild columbine, Aquilegia canadensisapril-14-2009-010-2But the woodland plants had already been planted in what we refer to as the wildflower corner.
Shown above is lily of the valley, Convallaria majalisapril-12-2009-027-21Shrubs, tall perennials and seedling Dogwoods, Cornus florida have been added to provide as much shade as possible but the sun will not be denied.
Shown above is emerging Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides backed by blurry Primula verisapril-14-2009-033-2Local gardening experts were asked for advice as to what could be done to keep the woodland plants alive until the young trees grew and provided more shade. The answer in a word…water.
Shown above are what was sold as English bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, but they are not that. More likely a cross with H. hispanica due to the upright flower stalk. True English bluebells have a nodding stalk and downward hanging flowers.april-14-2009-005-2Sprinklers were set up and run faithfully.
Shown above are Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica overlaying Japanese maple ‘Peaches And Cream’, Acer palmatum ‘Peaches And Cream’april-14-2009-008-2The years trolled by, and each summer became drier until the last two years our area has been proclaimed to be in extreme drought, the worst level.
Shown above, Epimedium (NOID)april-5-2009-more-047-2Extra watering as needed cannot be done in the face of such conditions.
Shown above is they tiny emerging Polypodium virginianum with an Antennaria wildling to the leftapril-14-2009-014-2But some of the plants have bravely endured sun and drought, alive if not prospering.
Shown above the unfolding Southern maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-venerisapril-14-2009-015-2Waiting for the shade to grow with the trees.
Shown above is a more advanced unfolding Adiantum capillus-venerisapril-14-2009-019-2And the rains to return.
Shown above is yellow wood poppy, Stylophorum diphyllumapril-14-2009-066-2This past moist winter and rainy spring has been a boon to the woodland wildflower corner. The plants are getting the required regular soaking for the time being. It is hoped their roots will run deep to sustain them through the warm months ahead. The canopy of leafed out young trees is spreading wider. Our new rainbarrel, a Christmas present from The Financier is full to the brim. Watering cans and plastic milk jugs are at the ready to provide extra water from the barrel to this special corner of the Fairegarden.
Shown above is Fritillaria meleagris
*This post is part of the Garden Bloggers Design Workshop sponsored by sweet Nan Ondra and the gang at Gardening Gone Wild. The topic for April is Water Wise Gardening.
Just a note to let you all know that on Monday, April 20th there will be a special posting as we join with several other bloggers across the USA, all posting about the same topic. Stay tuned!

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40 Responses to The Sunny Woodland-GBDW*

  1. Janet says:

    Good morning Frances, I really like the close up shots you do of the blooms. The spiral of the Maidenhair Fern (the first shot) is so unusual. I need to go back to our Learning Garden with fresh batteries in my camera. Our Virginia Bluebells are great now, but it is funny– our Lily of the Valley is just showing the buds now, yours is already opening. Funny how different plants are ahead and some are behind in another location.

    Hi Janet, thanks so much. The maidenhair fern is a favorite camera subject here, very photogenic at all stages, but the unfurling fronds are always nice. I was surprised to see blooms on the lily of the valley too, for they just now showed themselves. I have to be careful where I step in that bed, for there are many delicate things that are nearly invisible to my poor eyes.

  2. cherry says:

    Miss Frances each of these are beautiful but the Southern maidenhair fern picture is fabulous love, love, love it…
    hugs, Cherry

    Hi Cherry, thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Joy says:

    Frances .. you have such a flare for cloe up pictures girl ! I have variegated Solomon’s Seal too .. and I can’t wait to see it .. hopefully it has grown larger and taken up more room for itself .. I had Miss Sharples Maiden Hair .. but I seemed to have misplaced it while relocating it .. there should be a special guide (like a metal detector .. but program the plant you are searching for in it) to find these replanted babies ? LOL

    Hi Joy, thanks so much. HA, I lose the maidenhair fern too, and it emerges somewhat later than the others. Hope yours reveals itself to you soon. The solomon’s seal is easier to find, the rhizomes kind of stick up out of the ground.

  4. Les says:

    I am curious as to which trees you have planted to replace your lost shade. We have two Peaches and Cream for sale at work, and they are spectacular right now (with an equally spectacular price).

    Hi Les, well let me think. The large ferngully was a red maple, and that is the replacement, a free tree from the arbor society for buying some things years ago. It is getting taller but I have limbed it up so much that the shade is just now beginning to help. The Peaches and Cream was so much larger, ordered from Wayside years ago, but the late freeze of ’07 nearly killed it, one tiny branch remained alive. The shade would be much better without that disaster. Dogwood seedlings that are all over the place here don’t offer much, they are so small. We added a coral bark maple last year and that is growing a little faster. There is a tall perennial rudbeckia that self sows all over that we have planted near every little ephemeral and some joe pye weed too. But both of those are quite flat right now, offering no shade at all. Later in the summer the rudbeckias are ten feet tall and that helps, but they also suck up the water.

  5. ourfriendben says:

    Hi Frances! Gorgeous photos as always! I have many of these in my own shady wildflower garden and shady creekside garden, and I’ll admit, that variegated Solomon’s seal is a true fave. But you’re quite right, many of these plants can take more sun than people think—a huge surprise to me when I first started planting them!

    Hi OFB, thanks. I envy your creekside shade, it must be nice and moist there. With our sloping property, moist can only come from rain and lots of it. We were at one time in the same rain measurement as Seattle! That is our normal, or was. We took it for granted that the rainfall would always be here for us with the plantings that were done early on. We are now much more xeric in our choices for new plants, but they struggle with the clay we have too. Shade and water are a great mix for these plants to be healthy and happy. We have neither but somehow they are still alive.

  6. tina says:

    Wow, they are all so pretty! I do hope their runs grow deep and happy and sustain them, but like all optimistic gardeners-I hope you don’t have to do supplemental watering-may the drought end! Here and now!

    Hi Tina, thanks. It is getting better with all the things we have planted finally growing some. I have added the tall sunflower everywhere in hopes of adding more shade, but worry about their greedy roots robbing the moisture from the smaller things. We hope for more rain this summer, but fear it will not happen. If the forecasters are correct.

  7. Teza says:

    I used to try and decided which part of the garden I would like to get lost in….. now I have my answer. Absolutely divine!

    Hi Teza, thanks. I do think you would like that area of the garden, is used to be the shadiest, and still offers more shade than most of the rest. I love to sit back there and pull tiny weeds from the moss on a hot summers day.

  8. Sunita says:

    Absolutely beautiful plants, Frances. It seems almost catastrophic when a tree in a garden dies. 2 years ago a big cashew tree in my garden died while we were away. The entire environment in that area has drastically changed and I’m still struggling to plant another one in the same spot.
    That Fritillaria has to be one of the most dramatic looking plants ever!

    Hi Sunita, thanks so much for stopping by. The death of a large tree is heartbreaking, to humans and to the plants that enjoyed its shade. While waiting for the replacement to grow, I won’t live long enough to see it reach the size of ferngully, even with proper exercise and diet, we have struggled to offer enough shade and water to keep the little woodland plants alive.

  9. Aha! I too have wood poppies! I just didn’t know what they were. Now I’m eager to go find out who else lurks in my woods. I’m sure there’s a wildflower book around here somewhere.

    Hi Jill, good deal on the poppies. They are also called Celadine poppies, another reason to use the latin names when doing the research. Good luck with the wildflower book. They are an excellent resource, as is google. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Such a beautiful spring in your garden! I’ve not tried the non-scripta bluebells, so I don’t know the difference between those and the hispanica that I grow (both are available at Van Engelen where I buy my bulbs.

    We had frost last night! We covered up a lot, but I had to go out and hose down the roses and the outer gardens before the sun hit the foliage this morning.


    Hi Cameron, thanks. I buy my bulbs from Van Engelene too, among other places. I like to spread the wealthe. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Non Scriptas are the wildflower in England that is being choked out by Hispanica. Why that affects me, I have no idea, but it made me choose the smaller ones to help keep them going, even if it isn’t their homeland. You have hummingbirds and frost back to back, the season cannot make up its mind at your place.

  11. lynn says:

    Hi Frances, I really suffered last couple days not being able to see your garden photos..what a treat they always are! That Christmas fern stretching for the sun..awesome! Your GBBD post, I couldn’t pick a favorite…love the dark purple iris, the toolbox planter, the pink and orange tulips..and I glimpsed the red tree peony bloom! Thank you, thank you!

    Hi Lynn, thanks, I am glad you are now able to view the site. No favorites need be picked either, I would have a hard time picking them myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hi Frances

    I love the look of the unfurling fern croziers.

    I’ve an area shaded by a lime tree which is filled with ferns.

    I think woodland areas are the most interesting at this time of the year.

    As a kid, I remember English bluebells carpeting the woods. Back in the UK they have been a bit under attack from the Spanish variety which is more vigorous.

    Beautiful photography as ever. Into the sylvan…


    Hi Rob, thanks so much. The sylva calls my name also. We just don’t have very much of it here, we are quite open and sunny on most of the slope. We have to root for the underdog Non-scriptas, that’s why I planted them instead of Hispanica, both are beautiful though.

  13. Gail says:

    Good Morning Frances, The woodland garden is lovely and you’re growing some of my favorite flowering plants. It was autumn when I visited so this garden wasn’t even on my radar…but I would love to see it in full bloom. We have had a wet winter and spring…maybe this summer won’t be as bad as it has been! We can dream and hope can’t we! Have a good weekend. I will of course be reading the special posting on Monday! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. Next time you visit I will make sure you check out the little bit of woodland we have, even if it is sunny. It is where the fairy gazebo lives also. Today is just perfection, I cannot stand to be in the house! Hope yours is the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Dave says:

    We have been lucky with the rain this spring! It seems we haven’t had a row of sunny days in a while. Good for the plants, not so much for the gardener who wants to get outside and work! Beautiful pictures.

    Hi Dave, thanks. We certainly have been rained on and it has remained so cool too. The plants are loving it, even if some of us would rather it be sunny so we could work. Today is the most gorgeous day this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Hi Frances, I think woodland flowers can handle a little more sun than we think; most come up before the trees are leafed out. Even some heuchera can handle the hot afternoon sun in my location. I love the Christmas fern, it looks so prehistoric. I also love the fritillaria–I’m starting to suspect that either a) the groundhog ate it or b) the bulbs that were supposed to be fritillaria are instead chionodoxa as I don’t have it blooming.

    Hi Monica, they can, especially where you live. Here, they start to burn up and disappear in another month or so. I always think they are dead, but they are just resting, until the winter rains refresh them for another show next spring. Let me tell you about the fritt though. I see that two groups of 24 bulbs were planted in 2007. Out of those, one bloomed last year, and two bloomed this year. Not very good showing is it? I guess the only thing to do it wait some more years. But I will not buy more until there is a better return. The little hoopskirt daffs are the same. Only a couple blooming from the 50 planted. I might try and divide those, or put them in more sun. Maybe the fritts need more sun too. Who knows? ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Phillip says:

    Frances, what a gorgeous post! Just what I need for my Friday! Is the fritillaria easy to grow? I would like to try that. It is very pretty and unique.

    Hi Phillip, thanks so much. I have to say, like I told Monica, the fritt is not producing well for me. They may need to be in another location, or maybe just need several years to become established. They are touted as great naturalizers. It is a very cool flower though.

  17. commonweeder says:

    Frances, your posting is gorgeous as always, but I am frantic. what did I miss? What are we all blogging about on april 20? It isn’t quite Earth Day, but . . . Help!

    Hi Pat, thanks. You didn’t miss anything. This is a group that was chosen by the Southern Living gardener extraordinaire, Steve Bender, the Grumpy Gardener to participate in a blogathon on April 20. I don’t want to give away the surprise, but see that it has already been mentioned elsewhere. I hope you will stop by to read about it then. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. mothernaturesgarden says:

    You have a botanical wonderland going there, Frances.

    Hi Donna, thanks so much. There is quite a variety here. Your comment got me to thinking about that. Ten years of buying plants, all kinds of plants all the time, on travels, locally, some given from friends and neighbors, makes for a diverse group of plants! ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Brenda Kula says:

    That last one looks like it’s made of gingham or plaid! How interesting. My heuchera is blooming like yours. I didn’t even know they bloomed till this one. You do have a piece of paradise there, Frances. But then you know that!

    Hi Brenda, thanks. That fritt is also called a checkered lily for those markings. It is pretty but has not been a good bloomer. Out of 48 bulbs planted year before last, there are only two flowers. The native heucheras are sending up spikes now, and will seed around too. Now is the best time for this garden, still cool and rain has blessed us. The summer will not be like that and the woodland plants will struggle, many go dormant then.

  20. The same thing happened to my Mayapples, as their shade tree had to be cut down. It’s going to be a long time before the little Oak is big enough to cast shade on them. But like your tough little wildflowers, it’s hanging in there.
    I really like Epimedium NOID. Nice shot of Stylophorum diphyllum.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I am so sorry for your tree loss. I keep planting more things to provide shade until the maple gets big enough to do the job. They can be removed as needed. I finally went with the wild tall sunflowers, Rudbeckia lanciniata, they are nearly a weed here, but can be moved around to provide shade in the summer and fall. I was hoping someone would ID the Epimedium, it might be E. young..something. The wood poppy was very difficult to get a clear shot of. It is so pretty in person.

  21. Catherine says:

    All of your plants look so pretty! They sure look happy with the amount of water they are getting.
    We had a vine maple fall over years ago, everything under it was specifically planted there for the nice shade it received. I ended up moving quite a few since I couldn’t keep up on the watering. Now we have a Japanese maple that is slowly beginning to give the shade back to that area.

    Hi Catherine, thanks. They have been getting good rain recently, but my mid summer things will look much different. We are hoping to have closer to our normal rainfall this year. That is sad about your tree falling too. We had no other place to move things, so they just had to tough it out and I keep planting things to help create short term shade while the red maple grows. It is slow going, as you know.

  22. Shirl says:

    Hi there Frances, I just adore your sunny woodland. Great to hear youโ€™ve a water butt ready and full too! Sorry I havenโ€™t been by in a while ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nowโ€ฆ what a show you had for Bloom Day too. I loved seeing the bigger shots of your garden too. Most of my tulips are at bud level at the moment but I am thrilled to say that my late planted โ€˜Ice Folliesโ€™ daffs have appeared through the gravel now. Yours looked great so I canโ€™t wait to see mine in flower ๐Ÿ˜€

    Have a wonderful weekend ๐Ÿ˜€

    Hi Shirl, so nice to see you, thanks for visiting. We are filling the gallon milk jugs while we still are getting good rains and the rain barrel is full in preparation for the dry summer ahead that is racing towards us. Good deal on your bulbs ready to bloom. Ice Follies is such a pretty one, but aren’t they all? ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. What ever survives the drought will grow so well in the future. I hope the drought breaks soon. Lovely shots.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for those good wishes. I do believe the survivors are strong and worth saving. The milk jugs are being filled with the rainwater from the barrels to use this summer. We are hoping to continue getting sufficient rain too.

  24. All beautiful! I love English Bluebells and have them in my yard, they are almost ready to open up. I really need to divide them as they are in a narrow bed between cement and my garage- very over crowded- a lot of them are right around my clematis, and I’ve heard clematis don’t like their roots messed with, so I haven’t done it yet :). I love the color- just a perfect spring color, if you ask me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Tessa, thanks. I think the bluebells here need divided also, like many other patches of bulbs. I believe you are right about the clemmies though, you will have to be a brain surgeon to remove them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Tuija R. says:

    I must say again, I LOVE YOUR PHOTOS. And itยดs nice to find many same flovers here and my ouwn garden.

    Hi Tuija, thanks so much. That is fabulous that we both have the same flowers. Gardening certainly makes the world smaller! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Rose says:

    Frances, the photo of the unfolding maidenhair fern is fantastic! Your pictures are always wonderful, but the detail on this one is really striking. I’m glad you had a lot of moisture this past winter and early spring. Weather seems to go in cycles, so perhaps your drought is over, and the woodland garden will really flourish this year.

    Hi Rose, thanks. The unfolding fern photos are among my favorites also. The stems are almost human like, turning solid black later on, nature is an artist. This spring has been nicely wet, even though we are more than three inches below normal for this year already. I am saving water in milk jugs from the rain barrel while it is still full for intensive care watering this summer.

  27. cheryl says:

    Yes ! Solomon’s Seal has to be one of me faves in the shady garden. Mine have yet to appear but I long for them. Unfortunately the Red Japanese Lily Beetle has taken a liking for it after decimating the lilies so I’m out at dawn and sunset with pail of soapy water picking those nasty critters off. Loved your photos Frances, soon my landscape will be full of life as yours ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Cheryl, thanks. Solomon’s Seal is a hard worker and can take quite a bit of sun it seems too. In fact it offers shade for some of the smaller ephemerals and never seems burnt by the direct sun either. I don’t know that insect, and am sorry to hear of your troubles with it. Soapy water is good for so many pests though, good for you and your efforts to protect the prized plants. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. wiseacre says:

    It’s good to see most things are tolerating the lack of shade. I lost a tree this year and my shade garden is going to be in full sun now. AT least I don’t have to worry about adding water with my own well.

    Have you thought of using drip irrigation or soaker hoses?

    Hi Wiseacre, thanks. Even with soaker hoses, it is still water from our city that should not be used for gardening. If any part were to get the soakers, which we do have, it would be the veggie bed that is the most worthy. Let us hope for rain water from the heavens. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Racquel says:

    I’m glad our wet spring is reviving your native plants & wildflowers. It is hard to lose a large shade tree, the poor plants really go into a state of shock. We lost a large maple in 2004 & my mostly shady backyard went to part sun conditions. It was a challenge to say the least. The rainbarrel is a great way to water wisely during dry spells. I have 6 in my yard. I bought 2 years ago & then hubby made me 4 more a couple of years ago. They really help!

    Hi Racquel, thanks for visiting. We need more of those barrels, they can fill up with one rain event with our metal roofs. The runoff goes to a bed with hydrangeas though, we are hoping for some blue flowers from them with the extra water. Challenging is the word when a large tree goes down. There was nowhere to move the plants too either, but most have survived and the shade has gotten better with all the planting adjustments too. Now we just need our normal rainfall and all will be well.

  30. Lola says:

    WOW, What fantastic flowers you have blooming. It sure looks like paradise. Yes, hopefully it will rain enough this summer to sustain your lovely garden. What beauty beholds your eyes each morning when you arise.
    It was beautiful across Tn. week before when I traveled. I was so lucky to see it.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I am so glad you got to see some of our beautiful state too. It gladdens my heart to be able to live here. I never tire of gazing at the garden, no matter the season or weather.

  31. MrBrownThumb says:

    That Fritillaria meleagris is pretty cool.

    Hi Mr. Brownthumb, so nice to see you here and thanks. I only wish this fritt would bloom more, out of 48 bulbs planted two years ago, we get two flowers. There may need to be an adjustment made in the placement. I don’t know what else to try, beside just waiting.

  32. joey says:

    Delightful, Frances … I have many of the same stars waiting to shine in my garden. Isn’t spring grand!

    Hi Joey, thanks. I can’t wait for your friendly flowers to return to greet you too. Spring is my favorite time of year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Sweet Bay says:

    Beautiful shots Frances. My favorite is the unfolding Maidenhair Fern.

    Hi Sweetbay, thanks so much. I like those shots too.

  34. Kathleen says:

    Hi Frances. Wonderful post, as usual for you. It looks like your woodland plants are doing pretty well to me despite the drought you’ve been experiencing. You have many beauties. I think the English bluebells are one of my favorites. I was wishing for a rain barrel the past couple days for I know it would have been full. I’ll be back tomorrow to see what you’re up to on the 20th!!! Happy Sunday.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks so much. The woodland plants look good now, in early spring. It is later in the year that they crisp up and blow away in the summer winds. I am happy to have the rain barrel, and have been filling milk jugs with extra water for the coming dry months. Good thing we drink a whole lotta milk! Hope you enjoy tomorrow’s fun!

  35. I understand about losing the shade tree. That happened to me too at our last house and in the middle of the drought. It is miraculous how these plants can survive. Looks like you have a good many that came through–yippee.

    Hi Anna, thanks for visiting. It is so sad to lose a large tree, isn’t it? There are some that appeared this spring that had been given up for dead, so hooray and yippee!

  36. marmee says:

    what beauties all your flowers are. i just love seeing how you put things together. glad some of the seedlings have decided to make it despite our last dry years.

    Hi Marmee, thanks. Seedlings seem tougher than potted planted, don’t you agree? It is raining here again, hooray!

  37. ryan says:

    The fritillaria looks great. The native ones are blooming in the hills around here, not nearly as showy. It’s tough when the shade goes away, but interesting to see which plants survive.

    Hi Ryan, thanks. The fritt is nearly invisible here too, the camera makes it look like a star.

  38. Susan Hubert says:

    Hello Frances, This is Susan from Ontario, yes Shari’s friend. I am in awe! Your garden is unbelievable, absolutely beautiful. I wish we had your climate and you here to help us.
    I remember (sort of) what it was like when you first started….how it has evolved.
    Trying to pick 6 favourites would be impossible. Today I bought a Climbing Lily and a Helleborus….wish me luck.
    The frit I have is a larger varity….and smells like skunk. Looking forward to hearing from you….S.

    Hi Susan!!! I am tickled to hear from you and that you have visited my blog too. I remember how pretty your garden was, but know it is probably better now with a little more age on it. The new plants sound good. Other Canada bloggers have hellebores and with you in the banana belt, it should be fine. Thanks for visiting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. hayefield says:

    Ah, Frances, absolute eye candy, yet with an important message, too. We can follow all the “rules,” choosing plants that are suited to our site, but who ever expects that their site could change so drastically? (Well, those of us who have no trees are seldom surprised by suddenly having shade, unless a high-rise goes in next door. But still, it could happen….) Thanks for sharing this angle for this month’s GGW Design Workshop, and for being such a dependable participant!

  40. The Plant Lady says:

    Wow, stunning pics! And I love how you turned the sad death of Ferngully into the fresh opportunities it does represent…life springs anew.

    Hi Plant Lady, thanks and welcome. Plants just want to grow, don’t they? ๐Ÿ™‚

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