Woodland Garden
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

We’ve started re-planting the woodland garden, as mentioned in a previous  blog. All the previous planting was removed – Pip the dog had already made a  start (we’ve had words about that), and several tonnes of topsoil were  added.

The beds were then raked into nice curvaceous mounds and organic matter  added, followed by a liberal sprinkling of blood, fish and bone. We didn’t try  taking out the Tetrapanax papyrifer. It wouldn’t like it and its doing so  well.

Hopefully with this addition of new soil the plants will feel much more at  home.
We’ve placed Acers and Bamboo (Fargesias), which enjoy the shade, as do  the various ferns, Heuchera, Brunnera and Bergenia that we’ll be re-planting.  Three Pittosporum tobira standards take pride of place in a prominent position  at the front of the border.

These are the magnificent, thick trunked standards we found in Spain in  February – never seen anything like them before and unlikely to find them again.  Pittosporum tobira is such a versatile shrub. It’s usually planted in a sunny  position but looks much more exotic and succulent-like in shade. Another shrub  that we’ve placed, which would normally be planted in full sun is Eriobotrya  japonica (Loquat). Exciting things happen to Loquats in the shade. They become  transformed from Mediterranean to Jungle plants, producing ridiculously large,  dark green glossy leaves. 

A couple of Pittosporum ‘Tandara Gold’ really lifts the composition. We’ve  never tried these in shade, although they’ll only be in part shade here. Its  possible they might be a little thinner than if planted in full sun – we’ll try  them and see how they cope. They may have a surprise for us like the Loquat.

Over the last couple of years we’ve been propagating Prunus laurocerasus  ‘Magnolifolim’. As the name suggests it’s a laurel with huge, Magnolia-like  leaves and it loves the shade. 

Our large, sunny border took a big hit  this winter. Dozens of red cordylines, Dodonea and Grevilleas – gone. Even the  Phormiums looked sad but have made a full recovery now and just need a little  manicuring. The Olives that lost nearly all their leaves are starting to look  amazing and have put on a ridiculous amount of growth in the last few weeks. Its  time to give them a trim and it’ll be fun shaping them.

Yucca ‘Colour Guard’ producing flowers.

Oxalis (supposedly a tender houseplant) wandering and weaving its pretty  little dark purple leaves through everything.

Phyllostachys aureosulcata f. aureocaulis sending up a satisfying crop of  fresh new culms.

And finally – In a nearby border Phyllostachys vivax aureocaulis, planted in  2005 is at last producing some meaty culms.

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