Reimagining the Serenity Backyard | Jean’s Backyard


After I created the serenity backyard a dozen years in the past in a tucked away house on the fringe of the woods, I imagined it as a quiet, secluded, calming retreat. This was my first woodland planting, and I eagerly consulted my backyard reference books, selecting simply the fitting crops for this particular place. I chronicled the imaginative and prescient, planning, and creation of this backyard right here, right here, and right here. That is the unique plan for this planting.

Serenity plan 2011

From the start, this planting by no means lived as much as both my imaginative and prescient or its identify. It turned out that the mix of my native sandy soil and the competitors for moisture from pine tree roots left too little moisture for lots of the shade-loving crops I had chosen. Of the unique crops, the one ones that thrived on this location had been the columnar boxwood ‘Inexperienced Mountain,’ goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) and the fern Athyrium felix-femina ‘Woman in Purple.’ Some crops, like Anemone hupihensis, Heuchera x ‘Raspberry Ice,’ Iris reticulata, Geranium x ‘Patricia’ and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), disappeared fully inside a number of years. Others, like Actaea, Lycoris squagmera, and Amsonia hubrichtii, put up new foliage every spring, however by no means grew any bigger and by no means bloomed. Different crops began out effectively, however grew smaller and fewer more likely to bloom over time. These included Astrantia main, Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Goldheart,’ the 2 hostas, the hellebores, the crocus bulbs, Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso,’  and Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’ Two of the three shrubs within the authentic planting, the Viburnum cassenoides and Pieris x ‘Brouwer’s Magnificence,’ additionally struggled on this location.

Over time, I’ve tried new crops to interchange the sad ones on this planting. Many of those proved to be simply as sad because the crops they changed, however a number of had been successes. One 12 months, I dug out the miserable-looking Viburnum cassenoides and changed it with Viburnum acerifolium, a plant that grows alongside the aspect of the street in my neighborhood and that has grown fortunately in one other a part of my backyard. This turned out to be a sensible choice. One other 12 months, I got here dwelling from a “Plant Propagation” class on the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens with a chunk of a small epimedium. I divided it into three micro-divisions and planted them within the serenity backyard, the place they’ve fortunately unfold and bloomed. When a buddy gave me somewhat piece of her Iris cristata, I planted it the place the Iris reticulata had been as soon as meant to develop; inside a number of years, it has grown into a big clump that places on a short, however spectacular, floral show every spring.

After I took a sequence of backyard design courses on the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens final 12 months, I made a decision to work on redesign of this problematic planting as my class undertaking. The course teacher gave me some excellent recommendation about enlarging this planting to vary its form and point of interest. After I got here dwelling after class, I attempted out this concept by outlining the brand new form on the bottom with clothesline, and I appreciated what I noticed.

This 12 months, I’ve been engaged on realizing the redesign. After I talked about to a buddy final 12 months that this planting, with all its issues, has by no means made me really feel very serene, she mentioned, “Possibly it wants a brand new identify.”  So, it’s being reimagined because the “woodland retreat,” which captures its location set off from the remainder of the backyard and wrapped round by woods on three sides. I did a solar examine of the enlarged website in late spring (after the deciduous timber had leafed out) after which developed a planting plan:

Woodland Retreat plan 2023

In current weeks, I’ve eliminated vegetation and ready the soil for the redesigned planting, including natural matter by forking in compost and dehydrated cow manure. The few authentic crops that thrived the place they had been planted can be left in place, as will the substitute viburnum. Crops that won’t stay within the new planting have been eliminated.

woodland retreat new focal pointOn this expanded planting, the boxwood that was initially on the fringe of the planting turns into a part of its point of interest. I’ve moved the “rock spinner” sculpture that was dwarfed by the large pine timber to a brand new location in entrance of the boxwood, which exhibits it off to a lot better impact. The glad epimediums have been clustered across the base of the rock spinner, and the large clump of Iris cristata has been divided into three clumps. I had initially deliberate to take out the bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata) in the back of the planting as a result of it has bloomed solely sparsely most years. However, on this 12 months’s very moist June, the plant bloomed profusely, which led me to not solely maintain it, however so as to add one other one. (Local weather change predictions are that this a part of the nation will turn into wetter.) I made a decision to maintain the struggling Pieris x ‘Brouwer’s Magnificence’ in the interim; I’ve pruned it again to wholesome progress and added natural matter with a hoop of compost round its roots. The struggling Hosta nigrescens has additionally been saved, in hopes that it’s going to do higher in a brand new location with newly amended soil.

All the things else on this redesign is new, knowledgeable by a a lot better understanding of my soil situations and of crops than I had twelve years in the past and by statement of what has finished effectively in woodland-adjacent plantings in my entrance backyard. The addition of two extra Viburnum acerifolium will assist tie this planting to the woods behind by echoing the foliage of deciduous timber. In an identical approach, the dwarf weeping hemlock (Tsuga canadensis ‘Cole’s Prostrate’) will reference the numerous hemlock timber that develop close by. The 2 mountain laurel (Kalmia) crops are a threat, as a result of I’ve by no means grown this genus earlier than; however my analysis means that they need to be well-suited to this website.

Woodland retreat ready to plant

Earlier in the summertime, I collected ripe seeds from native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) crops within the entrance backyard. I’ve direct-sown a few of these on the entrance of the brand new planting; as an insurance coverage coverage, I’ll sow the rest of the seeds in six-pack cells and overwinter them exterior utilizing directions from the Wild Seed Mission. After that, all that is still is to purchase the brand new crops and get them into the bottom. I’ll plant as many as I can this fall, including the remainder in spring. With luck, I can be having fun with my new woodland retreat subsequent summer time.