When I arrived, the courtyard garden was overly crowded and a bit of a mess. A couple plants dominated the space, making it feel heavy and dark.
I’m intent on creating a woodland garden with dappled light–something to provide shade in the heat of summer, yet present a compelling scene to draw the eye. I chose a woodland garden theme because I love the wild pacific northwest and wanted to bring that into my landscape. I also wanted to use native plants that thrive with little maintenance.
Over a number of months, I researched native plants, collected design ideas and prepared the garden. I moved plants out (the largest ones taking some time and effort), removed weeds and conditioned the soil. After finding some large rocks in the garden bed, I positioned a few into a small berm and added mounds of soil around it for added visual interest. I also moved dozens of small rocks from the soil to the edge of the bed to help drainage and enhance the look.
For a focal point, I decided on a Vine Maple (along with the berm). There are a number of these surrounding my property, and I fell in love with its airy structure, bright green leaves, and the dappled light it provides. For groundcover, I decided on Irish Moss, then added ferns, grasses and shrubs to flesh out the space. Another plant I fell in love with is the Hebe–a small shrub with an almost geometric precision of regular leaves that grows in neat little mounds. There are many varieties and I included three of them.
- Blood Grass
- Fern, Autumn Fern
- Hebe, Champion
- Irish Moss
- Vine Maple (tree)
- Clover, Trifolium Isabella
- Fern, Limestone Oak Fern
- Fern, Korean Rock fern
- Hellebore, Christmas Tree
- Wire Vine
As a backdrop, I introduced a couple tall, slim shrubs and a couple mounded shrubs in varying heights.
- Euonymus, Green Spire
- Fern, Western Sword Fern
- Hebe, Buxifolia
- Japanese Holly, Ilex C. Mareisii
- Japanese Holly, Northern Beauty
- Salal (gaultheria shallon)
I also wanted a bit of seasonal color, so I planted some flowers flanking the windows that will be visible from the family room and every time I walk by the courtyard.
- Achillea, Voilet
- Avens, Totally Tangerine
- Gomphrena, Carmine
- Hebe, Red Edge
- Ixia, Pink
It looks a bit sparse at the moment, yet I’m looking forward to watching it fill in. This spring I will see the Vine Maple leaf out for the first time since adding it to the landscape.
Here is the plan I designed to help map out the space and develop my ideas throughout the process. It will also help me track the specific varieties and how they perform.