The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Chapter 11 Wood and shrubbery edges

Woodland edge planting

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Opportunities for good gardening are so often overlooked that it may be well to draw attention to some of those that are most commonly neglected. When woodland joins garden ground there is too often a sudden jolt; the wood ends with a hard line, sometimes with a path along it, accentuating the defect. When the wood is of Scotch Fir of some age there is a monotonous emptiness of naked trunk and bare ground. In wild moorland this is characteristic and has its own beauty; it may even pleasantly accompany the garden when there is only a view into it here and there; but when the path passes along, furlong after furlong, with no attempt to bring the wood into harmony with the garden, then the monotony becomes oppressive and the sudden jolt is unpleasantly perceived. There is the well-stocked garden and there is the hollow wood with no cohesion between the two�no sort of effort to make them join hands. It would have been better if from the first the garden had not been brought quite so close to the wood, then the space between, anything from twenty-five to forty feet, might have been planted so as to bring them into unison. In such a case the path would go, not next the trees, but along the middle of the neutral ground, and would be so planted as to belong equally to garden and wood. The trees would then take their place as the bounding and sheltering feature. It is better to plan it like this at first than to gain the space by felling the outer trees, because the trees at the natural wood edge are better furnished with side branches. Such ground on the shady side of the Scotch Firs would be the best possible site for a Rhododendron walk, and for Azaleas and Kalmias, kept distinct from the Rhododendrons. Then the Scotch Fir indicates the presence of a light peaty soil; the very thing for that excellent but much-neglected undershrub Gaultheria Shallon. This is one of the few things that will grow actually under the Firs, not perhaps in the densest part of an old wood, but anywhere about its edges, or where any light comes in at a clearing or along a cart-way. When once established it spreads with a steady abundance of increase, creeping underground and gradually clothing more and more of the floor of the wood. The flower and fruit have already been shown at pp. 20,21.