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I tend to go on a bit here about taking stock of your garden so you can make changes next year, but that’s because I still think it’s one of the single best things you can do. Plus, I find it to be a very optimistic activity. In the middle of a season of decomposition, I find it quite enjoyable to think about what comes next.

This is the fall view of the wooded area. The ferns have all died back, and the Viburnum ‘Mariesii’ is starting to change color on the left. I’d like to make the entire edge where the woods meets the grass an informal shrub border.

Many garden designers advise that you should start your design process inside, and I agree. Make what you see when you are in your house looking out the best it can be from that view. Beyond our kitchen, the next place I spend the most time looking out the window is, believe it or not, our upstairs bathroom. Because we live in a fairly secluded area with neighbors that aren’t too close (and have lost any cares we might have about it anyway) we enjoy the view out the bathroom window from the glass shower as well as when I’m standing there drying my hair and getting ready in the morning. So it’s an important view, even if it’s probably the last place you get to if you are strolling through the yard.

Big strides have been made in this area over the years, but it’s a slow process. The area that abuts the wooded area is most in need. We love the woods and the ostrich ferns that take over, but the edges of this area get taken over by jewelweed, which is not a plant I care for.

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ has been allowed to grow into a large, free-ranging shrub. It’s putting on nice fall color now.

A few years ago (maybe four), I planted Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ on the edge of this area. It’s a lovely shrub that can get quite large—10×10 or so—and I wanted to make sure it had all the room it would need or want. I recall thinking at the time I planted it that I could also add other shrubs in the area. For some reason I never acted on that idea.

After a lot of studying of that area (like, every morning), I’ve doubled down on that plan. There are a lot of fabulous older shrubs that I don’t have the space to grow elsewhere, but a shrub border along the woods would be the perfect location for these. Don’t get me wrong, I love so many of the new cultivars available now, many of which are more compact than the species and they fit in well in much of my garden, but there is a certain statement that can be made by a large specimen.

At the far end of the wood’s edge we planted a  Cercis canadensis (Redbud) ‘Forest Pansy’ last year. It struggled a little this summer, but its leaves are so beautiful.

I don’t have any shrubs in particular in mind and that is exciting to me. I can’t wait to get stuck in researching shrubs in winter to design this area. Shrubs are not inexpensive, so it’s probably something I’ll install over the course of several year, and pick up things as I find them, or even better, as I find them on sale. And I hope to be able to incorporate a few somewhat unusual shrubs to keep it interesting and to satisfy the needs of my suppressed plant collector.

2 Responses

  1. I think our V. Mariesii was about 10 ft. or maybe 8' wide at maturity. Checkout Rare Find nursery in N. J. Lots of unusual stuff and they often have different sizes for sale. Klehm's had a more vertical Witch Hazel that caught my eye as well as one that tended to lose leaves before flowering. I keep looking at Enkianthus and Kalmia. Am trying Pieris this year. We will see if they make it through the winter.

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