My name is Lydia Grupinski, and I garden with my husband, Ray, on the shores of Lake Norman in Mooresville, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. Being located right on the water in a protected cove, we are in Zone 7b/8a. I am an avid gardener, plant collector, and former landscape designer. I started my Pura Vida Gardens in 2013. Today I am submitting photos of my woodland garden. In 2013, all that existed was a stand of mature shortleaf pines (Pinus echinata, Zones 6–9) and one lone baby yucca. I envisioned this area as my future woodland garden. I started by installing a functioning dry river bed to move rainwater from the front of the property through the pines and away from the lawn. I installed two flat stone bridges over the dry river bed to allow access to various areas of the woodland garden. I then began to install plants.
I now have a collection of approximately 26 Japanese maples throughout the property as well as many unusual and hard-to-find woody and herbaceous specimens. I use only organic fertilizers and do all the weeding by hand. I employ an IPM approach, using synthetic pesticides and herbicides only as a last resort. If a plant is too prone to diseases or pests, or if it struggles in our climate, I don’t grow it. My passion for plants and love of all my gardens runs deep and has certainly been underscored during the past year of quarantine! Ray and I feel very blessed having this property to take care of as well as being a beautiful, tranquil and safe space to spend time outdoors. I am happy to share a peek into one part of Pura Vida Gardens and hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
By the house, a southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora, Zones 6–10) shows off its glossy evergreen foliage and huge white, fragrant flowers.
The woodland garden’s paved path guides visitors under the canopy of mature shortleaf pines.
The tall pines in the woodland garden provide bright shade that allows many plants to thrive.
Farfugium japonica (Zones 7–10) has sprays of yellow foliage over big, bold, glossy green leaves.
The trunks of the pines provide a beautiful vertical accent throughout the garden.
Flower spikes of a pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa, Zones 7–10) make an unusual and long-lasting statement.
In early spring, hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, Zones 4–9) bloom under the soft yellow, fragrant flowers of an edgworthia (Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 7–9).
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beautiful garden! Would love to see this one as a feature in Fine Gardening. After reading Lydia's description, I was hoping to see the dry creek bed and bridges. Thanks for posting!
Love it. I too garden under pines but don't have the success you do. Can you share what you did so all those lovelies would grow?
Forgot to ask if you do you water very much.
I agree and would love to see more information and more photos of your beautiful garden and setting. Interesting for me in zone 6 to see what works in your 7a/8b area, e.g. the pineapple lily. Thanks for sharing!
What a beautiful setting you have created. Extraordinary!
Did you limb-up those pines or had that been done before you acquired the property? The bright shade seems to work perfectly with all your shade plants. How did you manage to plant all of those plants and shrubs underneath the pines? I am always concerned about underplanting mature trees for fear of disturbing the roots and changing the ground level.
Oh such a fabulous woodland garden! Beautiful design, and great plant choices! Seeing through the trunks of the pines is so pretty to see, adds so much maturity and height....I have seen so many gardeners cut down trees to make a garden...when they should do as you have in making a woodland garden.
Wow, this is "my kind of garden" for sure!
Wonderful! I live in Waxhaw, south of Charlotte so opposite of where you live in Lake Norman. We, too, have woodland property but with mainly deciduous trees rather than the pines. I have limbed up trees and we removed some of the very small ones to allow dappled sunlight. I've been slowly creating my own woodland garden and am inspired by yours! We put in a pool just over a year ago and I have created beds all around it as well. They are looking good this first Spring after being planted. Thanks for sharing your lovely property with us.
A beautiful garden. You make the world a better place
Very, very beautiful! I love the tall pines as a backdrop, and your plants are amazing!
I really love this kind of place. This is my dream garden. Hopefully, we can build this year.
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