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Advice on creating a woodland garden

RobmarstonRobmarston south walesPosts: 311
I have an area of land at the bottom of my garden that is overgrown with trees as in the picture below  
I am getting it cleared next week and all that will remain  is the 7 large trees, 4 of which are magnificent oaks.  This will let a lot of light in as they are to the South of the garden.  I want to fill the area with various plants such as Lily of the valley, daffs and crocus  etc.  I have a couple of questions that I could do with some help with before I begin. 
1.  The area is covered in ground ivy.  I like it but will the flowers be able to poke their way through it or will it stop them from coming through?  Should i remove most of it? 
2.  I would like to plant Lily of the valley, bluebells, daffs, crocus, wild garlic, anemones and many others.  Would this be feasible or would they all compete with each other and one take over? Anyone got any suggestions of less common spring flowers that could go in there too? 
3. My ideas for planting seem to all concentrate on spring flowers.  Are there any low growing summer bulbs that would thrive in this spot and follow on from the bluebells etc? 
4.  I have also thought of running some climbers up the oaks.  I've always fancied a rambling rector and a few clematis.  My concern is that the oaks are huge! Would they all scramble to the top and be problematic to maintain or prune because they'd reached so high or is this a good idea? What would be some good climbers to send up there? Of course scent and year round interest is always a bonus. 
The soil is acidic and free draining and the area slopes downward away from the garden.   I'm very excited about this spot and it's potential so any advice or suggestions overall would be great.  The fence there will stay to keep the dogs in as the wood is not secure and there's a cesspit at the bottom of it.  I'm hoping that the fence would become invisible as your eye would just look through it at the wonders beyond and the view that will present itself after the clearing.  However any ideas of a better invisible fence will also be appreciated.  Can't wait to hear your suggestions  Thanks  



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,656
    Hi Rob. I'd remove the ivy, which might not be easy, but will give plants a better chance of surviving. 
    Providing there's adequate light, most of the plants you mention will grow. However, you'll need to ensure there's enough moisture in the soil for many of them. If you get plenty of rainfall when the trees are dormant, that may be enough, but it's worth improving the soil considerably where you want to plant. Take a look at some of the online specialists who have plants for shade. They'll give you an idea of other plants that will suit. Long Acre has loads. I'd need to have a think about what might grow through summer.  Once you have the tree canopy, it makes it trickier :)

    I think you'd struggle to get clematis or roses growing. The soil will be too dry, especially once the foliage creates an umbrella. They'd need to be planted outside the tree edges in a decent spot. Montanas would probably be ok - once you got them established. Not sure about roses, but  someone else who grows them will know about those. Honeysuckles would suit, but again, they need loads of moisture to thrive, so you'd have to plant them where they'd get enough moisture, and guide them in towards the trees. I don't know how easy that would be. It'll be a question of trial and error, and getting the soil well prepped, and then being vigilant after planting. Good mulches will help. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • RobmarstonRobmarston south walesPosts: 311
    It gets plenty of moisture as the rain runs through it. We’re on the side of a hill in the welsh valleys. The trees that are removed are going to be chipped. Would that be a suitable mulch?
  • tessagardenbarmytessagardenbarmy York,North YorkshirePosts: 346
    Just be a bit careful  with the wild garlic as it's lovely but a bit of a thug once it gets established . What about trilliums? 
    Also.GW last week showed a plant nursery specialising in unusual  woodland  plants can't  remember  where it was but might be worth  looking at on i player.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160
    am I right in thinking Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea, rather than Ivy, Hedera helix? Bulbs will come through Ground Ivy
    Crocus would be inappropriate for a woodland setting, Cyclamen hederifolium would be great
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 68,141
    edited August 2018
    Native primroses if the soil is damp enough  :)

    Honeysuckle along the woodland edge ... it'll want its feet in the shade and its face in the sun. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,127
    I’m also trying to establish a woodland border in my garden. It’s not as large as yours (maybe 20m x 15m) and it has 2 mahoosive mature trees in it (copper beech and an ash) and also has a mature beech hedge on 2 sides.

    It doesn’t help that I’m in dry E Anglia but, whenever there’s a dry spell, the whole area dries really, really quickly - despite 2 truckloads of compost and a thick bark chip mulch.

    Quite a lot survives, but not much really thrives. Things which have done well in the conditions are bulbs (spring & cyclamen hed.), sweet woodruff, red campion, a common spiraea, euonymous, rosa rugosa (thrives!) and quite a few hardy geraniums (nodosums & phaeums especially).

    How would it look if you tried to train some of the ivy through the fence to make a sort of ivy hedge?
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • RobmarstonRobmarston south walesPosts: 311
    This is the ivy nutcutlet. No idea which one it is but it does seem to be happy covering the ground. 

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160
    It's Ivy, Hedera helix.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 68,141
    You may well find that once the clearing of scrub etc has taken place some dormant seeds from plants that grew there before the scrub will spring to life.

    Native foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) will be happy in sunny spots among the trees. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,247
    foxgloves and cyclamen grow no matter how dry (or wet) it gets. Crocuses get eaten by mice and squirrels. Bluebells can be slow to get going but are impossible to get rid of once established (which is generally a Good Thing) - just make sure you get English not the Spanish type. I find Lily of the Valley quite difficult but that may just be me. I have a small clump but it keeps trying to die. Wholeheartedly agree with the primroses suggestion. Common honeysuckle (sometimes called woodbine) copes with most situations but needs some sunshine. Wild garlic will take over completely if it's happy. The ivy needs to be controlled as much as you can, but is a great wildlife plant too
    “It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it.” ― Terry Pratchett
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