Articles, Blog

Woodland Garden | Volunteer Gardener

November 5, 2019

– Landscapes are often
thought of as being viewed, but gardens really are
thought of as being lived in. And that certainly is the
case with this garden. We are about 45 minutes
west of Nashville in a two acre garden
that is built on a beautifully wooded hillside. The ultimate goal is for
the homeowners to have complete enjoyment with as
minimal maintenance as possible. And even in a two acre setting,
when the garden is complete, it should be able to
be maintained in just four to six hours per week. I think one of the things
they’ve managed so beautifully in this garden is the way the
garden itself is arranged. You can see that
there are large areas that have been dedicated to
low ground-covering shrubs and other mass plantings,
and then the garden itself really has been designed to
be in these small vignettes that are easy to maintain. So you have large areas of
ground cover or massed shrubs that help keep the weed
population under control and take up a lot
of physical space. And the gardening can
be done more intensively in smaller areas. Even the hellebores have begun
reseeding themselves around, there are beautiful
stands of May apple, and the perennials
themselves have been planted in groups of five
and seven and nine, so you get large,
massive displays that are easily viewed
from the house and it just gives a really
nice overall effect in the larger landscape. Well, the current homeowners
do have a little bit of help in their garden right now,
and that help is Mitch Hampton and his crew of people. You might remember Mitch’s
garden a couple of years ago on the show, a beautiful
woodland garden out in the Dixon area. Mitch, thanks for joining
us and tell us just a little bit about how
you’ve sort of reconstructed and helped this garden along
a little bit in the last couple of years. – Okay, great, kinda
what we’re doing, Troy, this was a real nice,
formal garden at one time, and it just got a
little outta control, certain plants moved
a little faster than what everybody was
expecting, things just, it really just
got outta control, so I stripped it back
down to just the shrubbery and then we’ve actually
collected material off of the site, you know,
the stones aren’t actually off the site but it’s a
Tennessee field stone. You know, found a lot
of really beautiful art in the woods, this is actually
a part of an 80-acre farm. And there was just a lot
of beautiful material and, you know, even stuff like this
reclining Saint John’s cross, it’s a beautiful plant that
blooms in the summertime, it’s really tough, and I
found it just kinda growin’ out at the edge of the fence. And we’ve tried to pull
stuff like that in. We’re trying to get the
property to the point to the homeowner can
actually take care of it. It took me about a
year to go through it and actually get it back
to the bare bones again. This’ll actually be the
beginning of the third year. – Sure. So did you come in
and prune trees– – Yeah, actually we did. – Lighten the canopy? – We raised the canopies,
I’ve deadwooded stuff, I’ve still got stuff left, but
I wanted to feature this area because it’s kinda the
center of the garden and I just kinda opened
it up a little bit, didn’t really hurt
anything but just pulled the canopy way up so that all
this other stuff can fill in. So eventually that
same kind of look. – And this is a
combination of native and non-native species. – Yes. – Mostly non-invasive,
as far as the things that are not native here. – Right. – Things that will sort of
stay put and behave well in this garden. – Sure. – But that will thrive in
kind of a dappled shade, dry sort of hillside setting. Is there irrigation here? – I do have drip-line
running it right now while we kind of just
establish the garden, but the overall goal is to
kinda get the natural cycle going again, get
the soil rebuilt and pretty much
all of it should, if we have normal weather
conditions and stuff– – Yeah, and as all of us
who are gardeners know, there are going to be times
where we do have to supplement, whether it’s supplemental
food with a little fertilizer or supplemental watering
during a drought or whatever it might be, but
there certainly will always be times when we have
to supplement a bit. But more or less, your goal
here is that the homeowners– – Will be able to
maintain this, yes sir. – On their own. – Yeah, and it’s about two
acres so it’s a lot to– – A sizeable garden. – Yessir, and it can be done,
you just gotta kinda know what you’re doing. Just one interesting
thing as we walk by, a friend of mine had some
property and it was cut over, and these azaleas were
all out in the woods so I went and did like
a plant rescue. And this is actually a local
provenance of material. – And it’s–
– It’s 25 miles from here. – We talk a lot about, you know,
kind of discouraging people from digging things
out of the woods, but in a rescue situation, you’ve kept these
from being destroyed. – Exactly, you’ve
saved the gene pool. – [Troy] So I see a lot of
stone used around the garden for bed edges, for paths,
and tell me about your choice of stone and how much
stone you’ve moved because there’s a lot of it. – Well, I try to use what’s
called a field stone, which most of the
time comes within about a hundred
miles of this area. I like it ’cause
it’s very dense. It doesn’t break easy, I have
a real high canopy here– A sandstone, you know, if
it’s hit from 70-80 feet up with a large branch, it takes
a chance of cracking it. Another thing, it’s
just a local product. It’s very hard to deal
with, it’s very heavy. There’s about probably
400 foot of walkways total and it’s probably about
80,000 lbs of stone. And I laid every
piece of it myself. – Wow. – So, but it really was
something that’s big, you need something really
bold, and I just didn’t– I wanted a definite
line through it. – It does a great job of leading
people through the garden. – Right. – Mitch, you mentioned
about lightening the canopy and kinda limbing these trees
up, and you can really see a great example of that on
some of these tulip poplars. And I would assume that that
has also made it so that in the areas of the
garden where you have a little bit more sun, you
can do things like this path where you’ve got all
these beautiful sedums and things growing. – Yeah, I wanted to use sedums
here because this is really, I wanna make it kinda
harsh for the weeds and I’ve used a paver
base mix to put, actually there’s probably
about three inches underneath the stones, and
then we pack it in between ’cause the sedum will
grow a little bit in between the stones but it
really won’t run down the edges like this, because on the
edges I’ve used PermaTill which looks pretty
close but really it’s a different product. The paver base is real alkaline. The PermaTill doesn’t
really affect the pH one way or another. And it’s a great product not
only for putting sedum or, you know, Phlox subulata,
or something like that. But it also works great for
if you’re planting trilliums or something in an area
where you have voles, it’s really good to
pack underneath that. – [Troy] It’s kind
of a sharp little– It’s actually, I think,
and expanded shale product that’s kinda been baked
almost like perlite or the little white stuff
you see in potting soil. But this has kind of sharp edges so if you have vole problems,
you can actually use it, and they don’t like
to dig through it. – [Mitch] Exactly, exactly. – [Troy] Well, you’ve
obviously been very successful in these sunnier areas with
a lot of different kinds of sedum, both native
and non-native? – [Mitch] Yessir, most of the
sedums I use in the sunlight are non-native sedums. Most of the ones I use in the
shade are the native sedums, so I, you know, it’s kind
of a combination of– I like using the hen and
chicks and the Phlox subulata, I use another one
called Phlox bifida, there’s just a
lot of neat stuff. It just has to be
real drought tolerant. You could probably use
something like thyme, maybe, if you water just
a little bit extra. It’s not quite as
tough as the sedums. Yeah, it’s just
anything that’s kind of an exerscaping-type plant
will work for the edges. – [Troy] So if the upper
part of the garden is the little bit more
manicured portion with the, you know, stone paths and
sort of directing people where you want them to go,
you’ve got these little vignettes set up that you
sort of reach a destination. Then this is maybe the little
bit wilder and more native part of the garden
down here in the front. – Yeah, usually I’m so busy
with the top of it anyway I don’t really have time
to get down here on it. It’s got some weeds and stuff. You know, this is pretty
much what it does. I’m slowly gettin’ all
the weeds under control and eventually I won’t have
to really do anything at all. – [Troy] So you’ve got
columbine that reseeds itself, you’ve got celandine poppy,
and these plants really are just allowed to– – [Mitch] Do their thing. – [Troy] Travel
and do their thing. – [Mitch] Yeah, I’m just, I’m
trying to keep the, you know, put a little bit
nicer trail thing in. I’m gonna use some of
the material actually when we cut that tree down,
I’m gonna do a really nice wood embankment thing
around it and plant actually in the log itself. – [Troy] So you have
kind of a big dead tree that needs to come down and
you’ll utilize that trunk and everything as part
of the garden art. – Sure, and it actually
recycles everything the tree’s absorbed while
it was in the garden. – Right, well we can’t look
at this part of the garden and not mention this
enormous clump of trillium that’s down here. – [Mitch] This is
probably my favorite plant in the entire garden,
believe it or not. I’m really a big hiker and
stuff, and you just don’t see big trilliums like
this much anymore. You know, it’s just
a special plant. It’s probably, you
know, that’s probably 50 years old, really. It might be a little quicker
than that ’cause I know how to grow ’em, and I mean,
you can actually, you can keep these plants
up like any other perennial. They cannot ever get dry. ‘Cause if they get dry one
time, it instantly kicks in a dormant. – [Troy] It’s time
for me to go dormant. It’s summer drought, and it’s
time for me to go dormant. Which is the way with a
lot of spring ephemerals. – [Mitch] Sure. – [Troy] And that’s the
way they’re designed. – [Mitch] Exactly. And why these are so big, I
can push like three or four seasons every year
into a trillium. They come out of the ground
quick when you do it like that. – [Troy] Right. Creating a garden on this
scale and of this magnitude obviously requires
choosing the right plant for the right place, and
I think that can be seen very easily in the
hellebores, the plum yews, Christmas fern, plants
that are deer-resistant like epimediums and
even our native plants like the columbine and other
things that we’ve seen today. I think it’s so important
to choose that right plant for the right place to cut
down on the maintenance that’s required by
those individual plants. And eventually, as
everything fills in, as the leaf mulch gets
a little bit deeper, and as the plants
truly cover the ground, this really will be a
low-maintenance garden. (upbeat guitar music)


  • Reply William Shaw April 6, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    Nice garden! I looking for a house in Dickson TN with about 25 to 55 acers. Did you say that garden was 2 acers or is that all the land that came with the house?

  • Reply Michael Karr April 18, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Very nice and a hard worker

  • Reply Bull Smith November 9, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I see a lot of non native plants. Such a shame and irresponsible.

  • Reply Kathy Sullivan May 12, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Beautiful work! Very interesting how he has rejuvenated the area into an authentic low-maintenance woodland. His information applies to those of us with smaller scale gardens as well. Thanks for an excellent video.

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