Sunday, 14 April 2013

Stealing ideas from nature

It's true confession time. When gardening, I steal most of my best ideas from nature. When walking through Views (William) Wood near my Manor Park home I see many pretty sights.  One of my favourites is the mossy old stumps and coppice stools surrounded by dainty wild flowers and ferns.

Wood anemones around the foot of a coppice stool, photographed 14 April 2013
I wanted to make something similar in my garden. Wood anemones, bluebells and wild arum grow naturally there. Maybe the woodland once extended as far as the location of our 1960s home.  

Here's one I made earlier, photographed 14 April 2013
We asked a professional gardener to remove some laurels, giving us a clear space in the shade of our tall birches.  Next, I bought a couple of old coppice stools from Wilderness Wood. My family are always amused by my habit of buying manky old bits of wood but I find they make good garden ornaments without the worry that some light-fingered so-and-so will take a fancy to them.  I got most of the plants by taking pieces of what we already had in the garden. I transplanted seedling wild arums and sprinkled seed from bluebells, cuckoo flower and foxgloves. I supplemented these with ferns, hardy geraniums and a red campion-like plant that I bought from local nurseries and open gardens. I don't stick rigidly to native plants. Sometimes I choose garden species that are similar to local wild flowers. I find that these cope just as well with local conditions, including greedy deer, and extend the options available to me.

The final step was to wait. It will be a year or two before the bluebells are flowering properly but the other flowers and leaves are giving plenty of interest. So that is how I designed my little woodland garden.

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