Shade Gardening forum: Newbie needs some hand holding....

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Name: Jay
Norman, OK (Zone 7a)
pearson1662
May 31, 2017 4:29 PM CST
I don't know what I'm doing..... What I'm trying to do is create a semi-natural woodland type space in this neglected area of my yard that is dominated by a large oak tree to the west, a large, beautiful Chinese Pistache on the east, bordered on the south by a 40+ year old hedge of euonymous, behind it a fence and a whole lot of very poor, sandy-clay soil. I had these five hostas in the front yard next to the east facing front porch ('giant blue' hostas that I picked up at Lowe's about four years ago). They looked great but they didn't tolerate the sun or the heat and so I transplanted them thinking they would look cool and be less exposed if I created a semi-circle of them around the little volunteer redbud under the expanse of the oak. They're shaded from the sun by the Oak and to a lesser extent by the redbud. They're about 4-foot in diameter and about two feet tall. I transplanted a few little hostas that survived (though neglected) a previous, half-hearted attempt to beautify this spot, (several years ago) in front of the larger hostas. I transplanted the English Ivy (that also survived) in the soil that I built up to attempt a perimeter. Since I took this pic (about 6pm central time), I've taken out the blocks that I put in to retain the soil (on the camera side) from the hostas and the mulch. The soil was heavily and deeply amended with garden soil and potting soil to try to keep the hostas moist. If you notice the sun on the leaves is an afternoon sun, as opposed to a morning sun. They only get about two hours or less a day and I'm actually hopeful they won't get too scorched like they did on the front porch. The erect 4x4s are a pull-up bar I put in for my son, and which I used to tear my rotator cuff! He's no longer at home, so it will come down when I get a round tuit. The new plant under the oak is a climbing hydrangea. I had to raise the bed with garden soil surrounded by walls of clay-soil and firewood, in order for it to have some soil to get started in as the roots of the oak were too prominent to expect the hydrangea to establish quickly or well in such thin soil. I planted more of the ivy around the base of the raised bed. There's also a patch of volunteer ajuga behind the little redbud which seems pretty happy and a dead hydrangea (that I probably drowned) in between the ajuga and the euonymous.

What I'm interested in are suggestions for perrenial companions to the big blue hostas, preferably natives, (I know the hostas are not) and something that might compliment the poorly thought out arrangement. Like I said, I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm asking for your help.

I'm interested in and appreciative of your ideas.
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
May 31, 2017 4:33 PM CST
pearson - that's a sweet area. Where are you located (so that we can make the correct plant recommendations)?
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Rose
Oquawka, IL (Zone 5a)
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Rose1656
May 31, 2017 6:43 PM CST
That does look like a nice start. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good idea as to what you're doing with soil prep and current plants. I don't do native plants, so I'm no help with suggestions. I do hope you post pictures of your progress with this bed!
Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Heucheras Echinacea
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NJBob
May 31, 2017 8:44 PM CST
Your location would help . And watch out for the English Ivy in no time it will over run the whole garden.Mayapples are one of my favorite shade natives. Ferns , Trillium, Coral Bells, , Ginger and Tiarella are some others
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
May 31, 2017 8:50 PM CST
Jack in the pulpit would be a nice touch.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
May 31, 2017 9:12 PM CST
Welcome!

NJBob said:Your location would help . And watch out for the English Ivy in no time it will over run the whole garden.


I want to stress the importance of what NJBob said about needing your location (in general, not your street address) and about the ivy. Get that ivy out NOW before it's too late. It won't just take over your garden but will take over your oak. My brother's house has a brick wall that ivy keeps clinging to. I bet there are some pictures somewhere that show what that innocent looking plant can do.

I'm a firm believer (a convert actually) in using native plants. Can't recommend any without knowing where you are. But what you've done looks very nice.

Oh, dear. I just reread your post and looked at the picture of the oak and the hydrangea again. That oak doesn't want to have anything growing with it. And I hate to tell you this because I'm sure that you worked so hard, but you probably need to remove some of the soil that you added there. It's better for the tree to leave its root flares exposed. It looks like a wonderful oak and I would encourage you to keep its health first and foremost in your mind. I have 2 red oaks that are at least 75 years old and I'm very protective of them.

Anyway, we will be happy to give you some hand holding.
[Last edited by tx_flower_child - May 31, 2017 9:28 PM (+)]
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Name: Jay
Norman, OK (Zone 7a)
pearson1662
Jun 1, 2017 8:00 AM CST
Doggoneit! I intended to put that information in there! I'm in Norman OK. Zone 7A.


rabidgardener
Jun 1, 2017 8:57 AM CST
I agree, take the ivy out pronto! I had ivy around my house when we moved here 20 yrs ago. I worked hard to remove every shred of it . We live on an acre and a half lot part of which is wooded with a creek in back. I threw that ivy back in the woods just piled it there along with liriope which I also worked to eradicate. Within 3 yrs. ivy had grown all over and the liriope too. It is a mess and should be outlawed. It is slow getting started but in 3-4 yrs. is impossible to remove. A real pest!
Name: Jay
Norman, OK (Zone 7a)
pearson1662
Jun 1, 2017 10:41 AM CST
"It's better for the tree to leave its root flares exposed. It looks like a wonderful oak and I would encourage you to keep its health first and foremost in your mind."

TFC:
Thank you for the warning! I'll address this immediately. I'd never heard of "root flare". I did a google search for "oak root flare" and the page from Aborilogical Services Inc., of Dallas TX, gave a nice explanation for the reason why it's a problem for the tree.

Craw:
I read up on the "Jack in the Pulpit", what an interesting specimen and it should work well with the hostas! Thanks!

Name: Jay
Norman, OK (Zone 7a)
pearson1662
Jun 1, 2017 1:06 PM CST
Mayapples, coral bells, trilliums are tiarella are all interesting ideas. The Mayapples don't get very tall and make a compelling groundcover, the coral bells are colorful, and there must be a hundred different tiarellas, many with foliage that is interesting enough even without a flower! Not sure what to think about the trilliums.... My understanding is that they tend to go dormant in the heat of OK summers???

Will Gingers survive OK winters? We had two days of -1F low temp for a few hours in my neighborhood.

Any favorites among the ferns?

If I yank out the ivy, what would you recommend to stabilize the miniature berms?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jun 1, 2017 2:42 PM CST
Wild ginger (Asarum canadense) survives my zone 5 winters. Never notice the flowers since they're pretty insignificant. Mayapples (wild - not planted) survive here but they will look pretty ratty by the end of summer. You might want to look into bloodroot (Sanguinaria) always has perfect daisy-like flowers in early spring.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jun 1, 2017 3:35 PM CST
Native plants will always reward you. It only makes sense that if they are native to your area then they obviously like to grow there. I'd give you some resources but I'm about ready for a nap. But wait! Check out the Ok Native plant Society. http://www.oknativeplants.org
And if you want to cut to the chase, then that site has this:
http://www.oknativeplants.org/...

As you're surfing around in general or paying attention to some nice plants recommended here,
if you see something you like, then there are some databases (not just here) that will tell you native or non-native. And watch out for anything that's indicated as invasive.

I have no idea what ferns might be native to OK, but I can tell you some by their common names. (sorry, not that helpful. best to know the botanical names.)
I love Autumn ferns because they are evergreen here in Zone 8a and because their new growth always has a coppery color that does eventually turn green. Oh, let me think about it and will post again later.

I'm glad that you read about the root flares. Aborilogical Services has an excellent reputation.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Jun 1, 2017 3:39 PM CST
Wild Ginger does well in Z4b, blood root is spectacular, especially like the var multiplex
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Carol Roberts
Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10b)
Sunset 24
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CarolHB
Jun 1, 2017 7:54 PM CST
Is the bloodroot you're talking about also called iresine? I can't remember how to transfer an image from the database, but if you go to "Plants Database" in the header at the top of the page click on Plants Database (duh, helpful info), you can enter the name and find a pic of the plant. Iresine is called several blood-somethings, so it may not be the same plant at all. Grows here in coastal SoCal like a weed, roots in water and its wonderful, especially backed up by its green version. Well, that's what I'm trying to achieve - it actually looks really good in my mind.
Can't complain too loud about how the ball bounces when I'm the one who dropped it.
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Jun 1, 2017 8:19 PM CST
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex)
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Carol Roberts
Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10b)
Sunset 24
Container Gardener Foliage Fan Annuals Dog Lover
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CarolHB
Jun 3, 2017 12:24 PM CST
Whoooops. Definitely not the same plant at all. Someday maybe I'll get the hang of checking the database first (or not).
Can't complain too loud about how the ball bounces when I'm the one who dropped it.
Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
Cat Lover Butterflies Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Daylilies Plays in the sandbox
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conniepr27
Jun 27, 2017 5:51 AM CST
Sweet Woodruff would look nice between the hostas.
(Zone 8a)
RobinM
Jun 28, 2017 7:37 PM CST
Jacob's Ladder would look lovely next to the hostas.
He who plants the seed beneath the sod and waits until it pushes through the clod, he trusts in God.
Name: Bea Kimball
Little Rock, Arkansas; (Zone 7b)
Hellebores Hummingbirder Butterflies Irises Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Buzzbea424
Aug 2, 2017 7:38 PM CST
Definitely get rid of the ivy. Sometime in the past, people in my part of town decided that English ivy would be a good way to control erosion. Maybe so, but they never considered how invasive it would be. Every year of two I pay someone to strip it off the brick on my house. and hack it back a yard or two. It appears to be impervious to Roundup.

Unfortunately the ivy has taken over many of the trees in the neighborhood. Many younger trees have succumbed and majestic oaks are suffering. I have tried peeling the ivy off the trunks, but the ivy has developed into vines that are several inches thick and almost cemented onto the trunks. I fear that many of these beautiful trees are doomed.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Aug 2, 2017 10:36 PM CST
Sorry but this is a little OT (off topic). I was rereading this thread and saw where @CarolHB had said that something actually looks really good in her mind. That is just too funny. And I sometimes have the same tendency,

BTW @pearson1662, I have a brother (the one with the ivy) who lives in OKC. If you have any specific questions I can always grill him or his SO. I do know that they have a lot of sun because they grow vegetables all summer. But they also might have some shaded areas too.

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