woodland gardening--mostly qs

One of my favorite topics to ponder is wooodland gardening. My property abuts an area of woods, and I am letting part of my property go back to nature (pretty much). I am going down there to weed out the obvious noxious weeds (which I am defining as things that have shown a propensity for taking over the universe if left unchecked). I have also been putting in some plants, semi-randomly. Therein lies some questions. Would you put in nice woodland plants to speed up the process? Would you put them in fairly randomly, on the grounds that they would appear that way in nature? I seem to be gravitating toward things that have white blooms, some variation in leaf color, some attraction for wildlife.
Any suggestions for good plants, keeping the above in mind, and the fact that the area gets partial sun at best (more this year because of the d--ned caterpillers that I mentioned a while ago) and is a bit damp--even collecting some water in the winter. The soil is acidic--and it is very rocky. (Therein lies another question. I would REALLY like to find sources for tiny seedlings, because it is VERY hard to plant bigger plants back there.) I am in zone 5, but like plants to be rated down to 4, because of the brutally cold winter we had the year before last.
Thanks.... BTW, I do keep doing searches, looking at Paghat's (wonderful) site, etc., and I am sort-of inching along.... I did find a nice little vine at a nursery this week and had to come back here and check it out before I bought it. Methinks it will be glorious.
--
Jean B.

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last.
You might want to look at the search feature at Bluestone Perennials http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/b/bp/adv_search_mod.html
They sell rather small plants. Also, many of the plants they recommend for zone 4 shade/acid soil can be easily propagated from seed. Thompson and Morgan sells a wide range of seed that you could start yourself. I think one issue might be the fact that it is wet. Standing water in the winter will do-in most plants.
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Vox Humana wrote:

Thanks! I should say there is a varying degree of moisture. There usually is not standing water/ice anywhere, but it is possible at the rearmost part of the area in question. Other parts just don't get really dry--which I view as a good thing for some plants.
This is gonna sound stupid (and it feels stupid), but I have a black thumb and am not even sure I can sprout seeds, so I prefer tiny plants. I am trying to get past this block though, since it opens up so many more possibilities.
--
Jean B.

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for
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I understand about the fear of propagating plants from seeds. A few years ago I found some seeds at deep discount so I gave it a try. Nearly all of the seeds sprouted, and I only lost a dollar or two on the seeds that didn't. The return on investment was enormous. This time of year you will find stores clearing out their seeds. You can get some sterile potting medium and sow the seeds in a margarine tub. You don't need a lot of equipment and since it is warm and sunny outside, you can just start them outside and skip the lights and mess indoors. That said, there is nothing wrong with buying plants. Bluestone Perennials and Springhill Nursery both sell very small plants (in cell packs or bare root).
You might check your region for botanical gardens. Taking a few trips to these gardens will give you some good ideas about design and plant selection. Conservation of wetlands is an a hot area of interest. You might have some bogs in your area that are open to visitors. That would be a good resource for areas that constantly wet.
A third resource would be a library or large bookstore. You can browse the garden section to find books on woodland gardening.
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Vox Humana wrote:

Well, I did buy some seeds, and I will try to think of them as an experiment. I had the brilliant idea (or not) that plastic egg cartons would make nice little greenhouses....
That said, there is nothing

Hmmm. Have been looking at Bluestone. I forget how folks rate Springhill and will check that out first....

For better or for worse, this is probably not quite a wetland

I do need to do that more and not just keep getting out my favorite book on the topic, which I am going to bite the bullet and buy. It's lucky I like to research things before I do them, or today I would have planted something that was much too invasive.
--
Jean B.

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years
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Springhill gets bad remarks. They had some problems a few years ago and were associated with some other bad companies under the umbrella of their parent company. The whole outfit went bankrupt and the employees bought Springhill. I live near their facility and buy from them without any complaint. They have a liberal refund policy. The other issue with them is that their catalog shows full, mature plants. They sort of paint a fantasy of how wonderful your garden will be with their plants. In reality, they ship very small plants that will take three or four year to get close to the size shown in the catalog. Of course, many of the trees and shrubs will take even longer. People who expect to receive huge plants are often pissed when a tiny bare-root plant arrives. Dormant, bare-root plants appear to be dead to the uninformed and sometimes people think they have been swindled. The plants from Bluestone are the same size as the ones from Springhill, but Bluestone is more candid in their representation of the plants they ship. Springhill is having their huge annual catalog clearance sale starting this Thursday. Everything that didn't sell in the catalog will be available at their main facility for $1. I have a yard full of plants from both the Springhill and Bluestone clearance events (Bluestone had theirs two weeks ago - all you could fit into a flat for $25.

to
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Vox Humana wrote:

Well, I want small plants, but I also want to know they will be small. It is pretty hot here, so I wonder how wise it would be to order any plants now? It sort-of sounds like I am going to have to wait until Spring (or maybe try to grow some things myself), so I have quite a while to gather information. While one can plant in the fall, the plants would obviously have grown a lot bigger over the summer, and hence they would be harder for me to plant.
--
Jean B.

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Mail-order houses grow two crops, one for spring shipment and one for fall. That is why both Bluestone and Springhill have clearance sales in June. They empty their greenhouses and start over. If you order plants for fall planting, you won't be getting plants that have grown over the summer, you will get plants that are being started in the next couple of weeks.
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Vox Humana wrote:

Great! I'll keep my eye on the offerings, then.
--
Jean B.

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years
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I like the clear plastic clamshell container that strawberries come in. Sometimes you can buy them from the grocery store as they are used for take-out salad bar containers and come in many sizes.
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Vox Humana wrote:

I am starting to accrue containers. Just one more mess.
--
Jean B.

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You'd think so, but they are shallow and tend to dry out quickly. Too bad.
Styrofoam cups, with holes in the bottom, in gallon ziplock bags (with slits in the bottom for drainage) make for good greenhouses. Just open the ziplock for ventilation so you don't fry the seedlings.
Growing from seed is a lot of fun and pretty easy once you get used to it.

I like Bluestone for the perrenials. Don't expect a lot until the second year. I'd pass on the shrubs -- too small and will take years to get going.
Swyck
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com wrote:

My recent Bluestone order arrived with one completely dead plant (not bare root, just dead. And two of the three "spotty" dianthus I ordered turned out to be a different variety and not anywhere near as pretty.
I was underwhelmed with the packing they arrived in--long twisted plants packed in a box with plastic peanuts. More than half the stems of my Trollius were completely crimped and had to be cut off.
My experience with Spring Hill was much better, though I quickly learned that I could buy the same plants in much larger versions in local nurseries for the same money.
I only mail order now to get things I can't find locally.
I'm experimenting with rooting bits of things I already have and want more of now. Too soon to tell if it will work.
I started a bunch of perennials from seed this spring using a little kit from Christmas Tree Shops that came with the tiny plastic greenhouse and six packets of seed (For less than $5. Who could resist?). I've now got 6 columbines, 2 lupines, and a bunch of shasta daisies and foxglove growing quite happily in my woodland garden. I moved them to peat pots once they germinated and gave them a lot of time in the shelter of my deck before planting them in the garden.
I just hope they're pretty. All too often when I buy plants where it isn't clear what color they're going to be, they turn out to be something ugly. I just pulled out four of the most disgusting Siberian irises I've ever seen--brown with greenish yellow highlights-that came in a mixed iris collection I bought last fall.
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wrote:

I would call them. I'm confident that they will either refund your money or ship you new plants, if available. Since they just cleared out the greenhouses to make way for their fall production, they probably don't have anthing left to ship right now. All the people that I have met at Bluestone have been very nice. Seriously, I would call them and let them know what happened.
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Vox Humana wrote:

I called about the dead plant on arrival and they gave me a refund. The I planted the damaged plants and 2 of them look pretty good, though the blooms are literally 1/3 the size I was expecting them to be.
I will call about the dianthus. They only just flowered and the foliage looked the same, so I only just learned that the two plants were a different dianthus.
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Jenny wrote:

Hmmm. Sounds like Springhill might deserve a chance--that they have changed their ways. I'll check them out--and try to see what recent comments are like (as vs. a compilation over the years).
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Jean B.

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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com wrote:

Yes, I think I am already seeing that. Actually, right now I am trying to root some esoteric grass seeds in bits of sponge, having read some comments on that....

I'll try that.

Obviously, it would be a good thing to master, since it opens up a lot more possibilities--and is cheaper than buying the plants.

Oh too bad! I guess I will just have to buy that nice shrub I saw and somehow dig a big enough hole for it.
--
Jean B.

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My eggsperience is the egg cartons work okay if you turn them upside down so that the soil is in the top. If you do them right side up, I also found they dry out too quickly, the soil volume is lacking and they blow away easily if it is windy. You can cut up little pieces of milk/juice carton plastic for dividers if you really need/want to seperate the seeds.
My favorite seed starter is a clear plastic 64 oz. juice bottle. Drill holes in the bottom and in the sides near the top. If you cut a mouth wash bottle in half, it makes a good funnel for the soil. Cut the juice ottle open when it's time to get the plant(s) out. It's practically idiot-proof.
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Salty Thumb wrote:

I had to ponder this for a while. Luckily, I accrue a fair number of the water bottles, so I can try this. Thanks!
--
Jean B.

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On Tue, 21 Jun 2005 05:48:49 GMT, Salty Thumb

Well idiots are extremely clever, I can vouch for that.
I cut around most of the juice bottle about 4" from the bottle, leaving just a little that I can hinge back. That makes it easy to hinge back and add the soil and seeds. I then seal the bottle with duct tape until the seedlings are ready to get used to the outdoors. Then I take the tape off and let it hinge back more and more with time.
Swyck
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