Creating shade garden from dead oak

Dead oak tree

A medium sized oak tree shaded the southern exposure deck last year. . . until it suddenly died mid-summer.  I felt so bad about losing that tree.  Then I realized it was an opportunity to plant some other native trees in that part of the landscape.

Last year I read Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy.  The basic premise is so simple and obvious — native plants support native wildlife (including bugs and birds) while non-native plants can be “bug-resistant” and therefore our bugs and birds die from lack of food.  After reading this book I knew I wanted to focus on adding native (North Carolina mountain) plants to the land.

Today I opened a coning with the Deva of the Garden along with the Deva of Tree Haven Resource Center to discover what might be the best trees, shrubs, etc. to plant in the area where the oak had grown.  I wanted trees which would stay moderate in size — to shade the deck and not shade any solar panels on the roof.  This simple replacement project has expanded to become the creation of a new shade garden. To begin with, I am to plant two taller trees (Fraser magnolia and black willow) along with seven understory trees/shrubs.  The smaller trees and shrubs include:  red buckeye, serviceberry, Carolina allspice, sweet pepper bush, Carolina silverbell, witch hazel and spicebush.

Native shrubs

I was able to locate and purchase six of the smaller trees today.  Upon returning home, I began clearing the space for them. There were wild blackberries and dead paulownia trees (which I had pulled up and cut down last year), along with lots of black locust shoots, to be gathered together and put in trash containers. I worked around the self-planted blackberry lilies.  There were a lot more of those hiding in the brush than I realized.

Shade garden space

While clearing, I was thrilled to find a good-sized dogwood tree sprawling horizontally.  I pulled it upright and clipped off a couple small branches which were starting to root.  The rooting branches went in another part of this area to help keep the steep slope from eroding further.  I love dogwoods, especially when they grow and bloom with redbud trees.  Thankfully, a redbud tree began growing nearby a few years ago, too.

Some spring onions were entangled with a blackberry lily. They became part of tonight’s supper, along with more asparagus from the garden.

There is a lot more clearing to do before the area will be ready for planting. I am eager to find out what the Deva of the Garden suggests as each plant’s location.

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2 Responses to Creating shade garden from dead oak

  1. Pingback: Spicebush | Garden Conversations

  2. Pingback: Fraser magnolia | Garden Conversations

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