Two years ago it closely resembled a jungle of foliage. A quick referral of the gardening journal reminds me that it was a wet, cool summer – the perfect combination for a shaded woodland inspired garden. These first two photographs perfectly capture the essence I had hoped to achieve when I set out to transform this narrow space between mine and the neighboring house. A somewhat mind boggling inventory of well over one hundred plants ensured that it would be a lush, multi-textured green oasis! A year later brought a decided shift away from the jungle like effect of plantings that were in truth somewhat claustrophobic! With barely room to step between the plantings, I found that I was risking not only their well being, but my own safety as well. Watching me trying to navigate the length of the Shaded Walk was humorous, and downright nerve wracking at times. Always an advocate of texture and layering, it was time to do some serious thinning out! Many visitors are shocked at how narrow the space is between the two houses. It truly is a ‘reach out and touch someone’ width at best! It was a slow and painful exercise – parting with some of my first purchased plants, such as a stand of Ligularia ‘The Rocket’ – but it allowed me to add new elements [not necessarily of the plant kind] that I’d always wanted, such as a large reflecting bowl that added the important element of water to the garden.
Many of the plants had simply outgrown their home! Others were shuffled off to other homes so that I would have the space for newer,rarer and more exciting ‘kids’ in the coming years! Not that any of them were ‘replaced.’ They all hold a special place in my heart of hearts – some just more so than others! In the final photo, taken two weeks ago, one can notice a great deal of bare soil…… this is something that I am still experimenting with. I have had numerous friends ask if they can come and visit the garden, and in order to achieve this request, I needed to create a defined pathway first! Go ahead and laugh! Everyone else is! I am now confident that a total stranger would be able to navigate between and around the majority of plantings that make up the Shaded Walk! I also had to severely coppice Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’ and in removing one of her arterial branches, I have achieved the effect of it now looking like a tree as opposed to a shrub which she was five years ago when I planted her!
It has been a big adjustment for me. I still find myself wanting to run out and grab a dozen or so new and exciting plants to fill in the ‘gaping holes’ but have promised myself that in this specific case, especially where the health and prosperity of my beloved plants are concerned that LESS is definitely more! Of course you’re talking to a self professed hoarder/collector here, so we’ll see how long this philosophy lasts! Anyone wanting to hedge a bet?