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big changes - from sun to shade

Posted by campanula UK Cambridge (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 13, 13 at 11:07

 photo Picture310_zpsc2459849.jpg

Dunno if this will work but, I suddenly have 5 acres of poplar plantation and no money (after all my gardening adventures have been on my flat, open, sunny allotment - but now being eyed by developers) - my only hope is seed sowing or maybe a few stock plants and vegetative propagation. What seeds would you recommend for a nice light canopy over deep sandy/peaty alkali soil? Have already got many foxgloves, aqulegias, hellebores and hardy geraniums germinating.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

how do you 'suddenly' have 5 acres.. lol ...

my biggest problem.. when moving to 5 acres.. was providing water ... especially with my mineral sand ....

it does not matter what else you dream up.. if you cant water them.. it wont work ... [of course.. you are in the UK.. doenst it rain every 6 hours or so??? .... lol ...]

after water.. just start collecting things .... seeds... pieces ... etc ....

ken


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Congratulations (I think)! That's a lot of space to work with.

In the spirit of constructive criticism, are you even at the point where you can think about planting? I'm assuming the photo shows what you have to work with and that looks like a whole lot of digging, removing and otherwise prep work before you're even at the fun part of planting - like maybe a couple of seasons?

Unless you have a huge staff to work with which is probably so. As you know, we Americans are addicted to Downton Abbey, so we know how many staff you Brits have on your payroll. (snicker)


Kevin


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

First question is what happens if you do nothing? What plant life is already growing under the trees, how ornamental is it, is it going to change as the trees grow?

Second question is how much time, effort and money are you willing to spend to change that?

Then you can start thinking about exactly how you are going to go about making exactly what changes. Unfortunately, most of us are going to be very little help because we have no clue about answers to the first question.


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

We had a small inheritance which was sitting around gaining zero interest. We were just a bit paralysed because it was a funny amount of money - absolutely nothing like enough to buy a house, or even a houseboat (we do not own our home). However, our allotments are very likely to be sold off over the next few years and our tiny home garden is minuscule. Seeing this bit of land at an auction kickstarted us into a simultaneously mad...and also very sane, course of action.....so we bought 5.19 acres of Norfolk for 32 thousand pounds.
Anyway, despite fantasies of arboretums and such, we believe ourselves to be custodians rather than owners so we intend to work within a fairly limited framework of naturalised species. Natives are woefully sparse in the UK because we got cut off from the main landmass of Europe during the Ice Age. Yep, Mad Gallica and Kevin, we are not at any point of planting - there will be a long hard job to fell some of the older poplars, replant, create hedging and fencing, clear brambles.....but, thinking ahead, I can keep the allotment for at least another few years so it can turn into a nursery site for stock plants. I will be raising whatever I can from seeds, including trees, so this is going to be a lifework for us, our children, our friends and families, local people and anyone wanting to visit our woodland garden.
We do not have much money, but we have time and enough to persuade a good tree surgeon to come and stay for a day or so and teach us about chainsaw safety as well as doing a survey of the woods. Between us, we have a range of skills and strong enthusiastic sons.
We will be living in a horsebox as there are strict land-use rules in the UK where it is not possible to build dwellings apart from temporary ones relating to forestry work. My sons are hoping to set up their pole-lathes and get involved with green woodworking and I just want to grow a garden.
So, since some seeds can take years to reach maturity, sowing seeds is something I can do while the heaps of preparation diminish slightly (hopefully).
A thrilling, but terrifying prospect.


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Hi Campanula,
congratulation.
First question about the soil:
is ist sandy or peaty? And peaty would mean acidic, would it not? Just confused.

To make your start easier I would recommend to prepare the whole area (flatten out, collect stones and dead wood) that it can be mowen/mowed? with some larg mower thing (the one with 2 wheels, rather from agriculture) and start lasagna beds that could be planted this fall or next spring.

Planting under populus canopy is tricky because of the root competition.
Some European native stuff or hardy species should work. They grow like weed and selfseed or spread, so you could get a small stock and propagate them yourself:
Salvia glutinosa
Lamiastrum galeobdolon
Galium odoratum
Geranium macrorhyzum
Avenella flexuosa
Lithospermum purpurocaeruleum
Aruncus dioicus

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those grew well in Berlin on sandy soil, with dry summers.

and tough garden perennials, that did great on dry sandy soil:
Polygonum amplexicaule
Polygonum polymorphum (Johanniswolke), could have been renamed
Carex morowii Variegata (no winter sun, can be divided an directly replanted)
Viola labradorica
Corydalis lutea (best to transfer seed pods, transplants rather badly)
on sunny spotts oriental Poppy

and for cleared ares, cover crops could be usefull.

Well, have a great start,
bye, Lin


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Campanula - can you gather any wild flower seed from round about? I have grown cowslips, primroses, meadow sweet, water mint, crosswort, knapweed, campions, etc from wild seed and transplanted to my wood. My biggest success was common spotted orchid, which I gave up on, stuck something else in the pot, and then of course it germinated. I have not put in any non-natives because I see my responsibility as not introducing aliens up there. But over the years people have dumped garden rubbish there and there are snowdrops, coloured primroses and various narcissus which don't do much harm. I also grew dog roses, spindle, dogwood and some oaks.

I would certainly never plant Lamiastrum galeobdolon there but I do have the native yellow archangel.

Have you seen it through an entire year yet? There may be things in there which you haven't found yet and which you could bulk up from seed.

The area in the picture appears to be open and dominated by coarse grasses and perennial weeds/wild flowers. If you could mow it and remove the grass you'd have the beginnings of a meadow. You could then plant your seedling natives as plugs and get yourself (with regular cutting) a lovely hay meadow.

By clicking on your picture I inadvertently got into your Photobucket album and I see several nice natives there - are they on your land? If not could you get seed eg the meadow cranesbill, Hypericum etc?

Ken - I don't think there'll be a water problem. I think I can see some Phragmites australis in there??


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Well, if I were to have such a property I don't think I could resist all the native terrestrial orchids available. I know GB has a number of them, but you could also consider those native to other parts of Europe with a similar climate. The possibilities would be wondrous.

But that wouldn't fit into your plans for seed starting. You would have to acquire plants and that could be expensive. At least around here, all the great natives seem to go for much $$.

Kevin


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

start by building with a 50 by 50 bed ... and have it done and prepped for fall and winter seed sowing ... you have all summer to get it done ....

then as your plants mature ...you can start moving them around the area ...

you can do magical things.. simply with a lawn mower.. mowing in paths ... and leaving large area unmown ... i have a half acre area.. i call the prairie ... it is kind of cool.. what the native grasses and weeds can do on their own ...

start cleaning up woody debris ... and thinking about the various uses of the area ...

there are some neat conifers in the back of your pic.. is that still your property ????? any idea on the story with those ???... if they are seedlings.. there are probably other smaller ones around.. for you to move ....

ken


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

"... start cleaning up woody debris ...". I'm swimming against the tide here. I don't know what Campanula's ultimate goal is but 'tcleaning up' woodland is one good way to remove the biodiversity. And flower beds? In a wood?? Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh. But I'd definitely go with the mown paths.

I don't see any neat conifers, Ken. I think you are seeing the tree trunks covered in ivy. And before you tell Campanula to rip it all off, it is a native here and a very valuable wildlife habitat. It does the trees no harm.

I'd be dead set against the introduction of any non-native species except possibly long established naturalised ones like Aquilegias. Not even other European species. But I am seeing this as a natural habitat, not a garden. How are you seeing it Campanula?

Have you surveyed the current flora? The birds? The mammals? The invertibrates?


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

"... start cleaning up woody debris ...". I'm swimming against the tide here. I don't know what Campanula's ultimate goal is but 'tcleaning up' woodland is one good way to remove the biodiversity. And flower beds? In a wood?? Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh. But I'd definitely go with the mown paths.

I don't see any neat conifers, Ken. I think you are seeing the tree trunks covered in ivy. And before you tell Campanula to rip it all off, it is a native here and a very valuable wildlife habitat. It does the trees no harm.

I'd be dead set against the introduction of any non-native species except possibly long established naturalised ones like Aquilegias. Not even other European species. But I am seeing this as a natural habitat, not a garden. How are you seeing it Campanula?

Have you surveyed the current flora? The birds? The mammals? The invertibrates?


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Campanula, what a wonderful opportunity. I am so happy for you!

I am not sure how many you would be able to start from seed, but wouldn't it be glorious to naturalize small spring blooming bulbs on your new property? Think of drifts of naturalizing Eranthis hyemalis, Scilla siberica, Crocus tommasinianus, Galanthus nivalis, different color forms of Anemone nemorosa, etc. Even Convallaria majalis (you certainly have enough space for it now!), cyclamens and, of course, English bluebells....Then if there is enough sun after the trees leaf out later in the spring, maybe Gladiolus byzantinus, camassia and Allium sphaerocephalon. And this is not even touching on many of the later blooming bulbs like lycoris and colchicums which could thrive in your wooded setting.

Many of these would be so inexpensive to get started, and most would die down in season to give other wonderful plants of your choosing their due space.

I wish you the best of luck and I hope you keep us updated on the progress!


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

I agree with flora re being careful about 'cleaning up' the woodland. I made that mistake in one area here the first year - and paid for it by weeding like crazy the next summer as all the weed seeds were now exposed to light and germinated and grew like mad! Now all leaf litter and pine needles are left to rot down in place, creating a natural duff layer that the woodland plants love. Large downed limbs or tree trunks become 'nurse logs', sheltering and feeding seedlings and young plants. So, be selective in cleaning up the woodland - i.e. remove or remediate hazards like limbs or dead trees that are at risk of falling , or tangles of underbrush that make it hard to walk about, thin out/remove unwanted splindly saplings and undesirable trees - but leave the leaf litter layer that plants and critters depend on.


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RE: big changes - from sun to shade

Oh great stuff here. Will try and answer. Firstly, soil - it is weirdly both peaty....and sandy. It was originally an open field as late as the 1940s till early 50s, growing sugar beet. A fatal accident occurred in a drainage ditch and the original owner was grief stricken, selling it off to a company called Crown Estates, who, looking for a low maintenance crop, planted hybrid poplars. By the 1970s, the market for matches had died away and the plantation was abandoned. A later owner had the land for several years but was roundly chastised after dumping masses of hardcore and digging out a huge artificial fishing lake. He was ordered to clear the mess (which he largely did) but then left the plot for another 8 years.....when it came to us.
The land is on marshland which is vulnerable to tidal flooding (although old photos during high tides show the river inundations stopping at the woodland edge). The whole area was once dug out for peat beds and is now part of the Norfolk Broads - a huge system of man-made waterways. despite the peat, the underlying geology is chalk and consequently, is more alkaline than I would have imagined (compared to Thetford forest and the Brecklands which have thin, sandy and very acidic soil).
However, Flora, while I am keen to preserve existing biodiversity, there is very little apart from at the margins of the woodland (including, to my joy and amazement, snowdrops). Moreover, it is not really woodland by any stretch but is actually a neglected plantation of a monocrop......which gives me a degree of freedom to plant naturalised, if not entirely native species. And, in all truth, this will be my sole garden and I know I will have neither the discipline nor the passion to maintain a purely natural pallette of planting....but this does not mean I intend to run amok. Our countryside reveals the terrible evidence of irresponsible plant and animal introductions, so while there will (I hope) be hellebores, english bluebells, cow parsley, foxgloves and cranesbills, there will be no place for plants which are highly bred, sterile, or of little utility for indigenous wildlife. I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified.
The treeline starts 10metres in from the south facing boundary streams and accordingly, I have ordered white willowherb, various umbellifers, campanulas and foxgloves to make a start on what I hope will be a small hay-meadow. Unfortunately, apart from a very few tree species, there is not an abundance of local seed to collect (although I have knapweeds, scabious, silene, agrimony and meadow rue). There is a very good chance I will be able to have a stand-pipe for water as my farming neighbour grazes rare breed cattle on the marsh and has a farm next to us - with water and electricity. I can also pump water from the ditches and even the river (amazingly, I have private access to a small amount of river frontage).
Mr.Camps has had to give up work so we have time, if not money. We are both around 50ish and hope that this woodland will become our life's work, for us and succeeding generations......so we are in no hurry to do much this first year except observe, plan and sow seeds. I do have my allotments (a handy stock area) where I have my main collection of perennials and (my main love) wild roses but they are likely to be sold during the next few years. When I leased them in 2002, they were guaranteed free of development until 2012.....which seemed like an impossibly long time in the future - but here we are - developers circling and our city council is both craven and corrupt.
Without sounding overly dramatic, gardening is my life (apart from my beloved children and grandaughter, obviously) - the impetus to grow and nurture is profound and the desire for a patch of our own land surprised me by an almost visceral level of intensity. I certainly don't care for bricks and mortar to the same degree- I can face up to losing my home and living in a horsebox with equanimity, whereas a house without a space to grow is no home at all.
I thank you all for your generous and thoughtful responses and good wishes.


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