Our columnist Kevin Lee Jacobs shows how he created a shade garden and a bit of woodland reverie in his garden, complete with an outdoor "dining room," and edged with three seasons of flowering plants.
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Clearing the Way
Now, before this thicket could perform its Cinderella act, it had to be cleared of weeds and debris. By “debris,” I mean hubcaps, old tires, beer cans, and other trash deposited there by the previous owner. I also removed from the site about 80 wild sumac trees. Sumac, if you have never encountered it, is the weediest of all weed trees. But sumac is soft-wooded and shallow rooted, and therefore not too difficult to saw down and then dig up.
What remained after this thorough cleaning were native shade trees, including maples, oaks, and catalpas, and native shrubs, too, including the wild honeysuckle pictured here. Usually considered a nuisance in a manicured place, wild honeysuckle is delightful in a woodland setting. The shrub has three great attributes: a fountain-like shape, pink or white flowers in the spring, and red berries for birds in the fall.
Wild honeysuckle is shallow rooted, and transplants very easily. I relocated several shrubs in order to screen the woodland from the more formal parts of my property. This gave the “new” garden a secluded feel. If you have wild honeysuckle in your woods, by all means, cherish it!