Once an overgrown thicket, this lush shade garden is now home to numerous plants that thrive in its damp, humus-rich soil.
As often happens, inspiration comes when you least expect it. Driving to work one day, I spotted a man clearing underbrush on a wooded lot. I stopped and we talked, and before I knew it, I'd hired Russ Walters to clear a similar patch of woods for me.
Russ set to work on an area about 75 feet long and 20 feet wide at lower edge of our property. It was so overgrown with brambles, nettles, vines, skunk cabbage, and weedy shrubs that you could barely walk through it. And to make matters worse (or so I thought), the soil was perpetually moist. I'd used the area as a dumping ground for garden refuse, leaves, and broken branches. To disguise the mess, I planted a screen of butterburs (Petasites japonicus) and variegated grasses (Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'). Both of these plants are vigorous growers and had spread with abandon through the area.
If you have a similar "trouble" spot on your property, consider looking at the site with a fresh perspective. There are many beautiful plants that thrive in damp soil. If water naturally flows through your property, as it does in this area of mine, it's a wonderful opportunity—coveted by many a gardener who must settle for an artificial pond or water feature. Spreading beneath the cool canopy of mature trees, this shady, wet stretch of ground has become my most treasured garden area.
Hiring Russ Walters was the impetus that got my project under way. I'd highly recommend getting some good, strong help to anyone tackling such an area. While Russ pulled out the shrubs, brambles, and vines, my husband, Skip, and my son, Steve, dug up the big clumps of grass and replanted them in various areas of the garden. I set to work digging out the butterbur and skunk cabbage.