Once in a Pink Moon.

Pink Super Moon and Church Tower

Once in a pink moon is how often I seem to post lately. But I am still here my friends, working ever more obsessively in the garden. But I cannot let spring slip through my fingers without writing about some of the choicest of spring floral treasures which are the woodland flowers which do their stuff before the canopy of leaves blocks out the sun. However dedicated we are we cannot create anything as beautiful as nature lays out for us every year in the remnants of ancient woodlands. I grow wood anemones of course, but I cannot produce anything as startlingly beautiful as this. Carpets of wood anemones like this one are indicators of ancient woodland.

Anemone nemorosa

Bluebells are another indicator of ancient woodlands. Here in the UK we are particularly proud of our bluebell woods and justly so; we have 50% of the world’s population of bluebells. A walk through the woods in April is an unforgettable sensory experience, the whole woodland floor is shimmering, misty blue and the delicate fragrance fills the air. It is not surprising that bluebell woods were considered the domain of fairies.

Hyacinthoides non -scripta

And here and there if you know where to look for them are little pools of Early Purple Orchids. Add to the mixture swathes of white wild garlic and stitchwort, the yellow of celandines and patches of wood spurge and you have pictures that no gardener can hope to emulate.

Orchis mascula

Readers of my blog will know that I have been busy with new projects in the last months. At last I can show you one of these projects which is the creation of a new woodland garden. There were plenty of trees here and cow parsley and brambles underneath, along with self seeded elders, oh, and nettles, lots of nettles. It always looked untidy and messy.

I had the tree surgeon come to clear all the trees and lower the hedge right down so that we have a view of the countryside.

When he had finished we realised we had been missing the blaze of autumn colour of the wild cherry trees in the little nearby wood.

And now of course they are a froth of blossom. It’s a pity about the neighbour’s poly tunnel but apart from that we have a lovely borrowed landscape. Instead of nettles I now have a lawn with tulips.

But back to my woodland garden; I have kept two huge horse chestnuts, an oak and a large field maple and had all the lower branches removed. I got rid of quite a few pine trees but kept a few as their tall straight trunks give a cathedral- like feel and their fallen needles provide an acid soil for azaleas.

In other new parts of the garden I simply put a membrane down and covered it with wood chips to avoid the tedious job of clearing away the weeds first. But here in my woodland I want plants to seed and make carpets so I have had to clear it by hand. Oh dear, I don’t think I will do it again. Cow parsley has long tap roots and if you break them they simply regrow. Also the ground is full of seeds just waiting to go so I have to hoe regularly. It has been a painstakingly laborious task and makes me think nostalgically of Roundup. I have made a wood chip path to wind through the little woodland garden and now I just need to wait for a few centuries for it to establish. Here is the work in progress.

And here is the finished path.

The beds look very bare but I have started planting; luckily I have lots of woodland plants in other parts of the garden so I have moved them here. I am going to have a wait for it to look well established but at least I have made a start.

I have a variety of different wood anemones; some are double, others are pink, blue or palest yellow.

I don’t have any native bluebells in my woodland but I have plenty of chunky Spanish interlopers which are everywhere and I have given up the impossible task of trying to get rid of them. I can at least stop some of them going to seed by picking big bunches for the table.

Hyacinthoides hispanica

Of course I am not restricting my palette to native woodlanders because the North American treasures are particularly delightful. I love trilliums and I have a particularly fine clump which has travelled around with me and delights me every spring.

Trillium chloropetalum

Also from America, I have the delightful double Sanguinaria ‘Flore Pleno’ which blooms and then disappears completely until the following year.

Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flore pleno’

Another North American woodlander which I fell for is the dainty Anemonella thalictroides which is a bit like a wood anemone but perhaps even prettier with bronze-tinted leaves.

Anemonella thalictroides

Unfortunately, the Vicar has run out of snakes’ head fritillaries to graze on and he decide he’d like to try these as a change. He doesn’t actually eat them, just tosses the heads about. I think such an ecclesiastical-looking gentleman should behave with more dignity.

The erythroniums are not native here either but no self-respecting woodland garden can be without them. And they seed around if they are happy. They are so beautiful with their recurved petals.

From China we have epimediums which soon spread into carpets. You have to remember to remove their leaves in winter or the delicate flowers will be hidden. ‘Pink Elf’ is still sitting in the gravel round the pond but when we get some rain I shall move it to its new home. In fact the lack of rain has rather brought planting to a halt which is a shame just as we are now vaccinated and feeling that perhaps it is safe to put our noses out of the door and go on nursery trawls.

I have put quite a few tulips on the sunny edges of the woodland garden but I am absolutely besotted by the woodland tulip Tulipa sylvestris which has fragrant blooms and is happy in light shade.

Tulipa sylvestris

I have also planted some little clumps of small narcissi but my absolute favourite which I have put at the entrance to the woodland is the diminutive, but perfectly formed Narcissus ‘Segovia.’

Narcissus ‘Segovia’

I could go on, I haven’t even mentioned the primroses which I have a special passion for and of course are an essential ingredients of the woodland garden but this is getting rather long so we can come back to it another day.

But before I go, whilst I am I indulging my fantasies of woodland gardens, I must show you my one blue poppy, a recent purchase which is sheer self-indulgence. I know it is hopeless to try and grow blue poppies here in Suffolk as it is far too dry, but just for this year I can enjoy this solitary Meconopsis ‘Branklyn’ and if I squint at it I can imagine a whole sea of exquisite blue poppies, just as I have to squint at the moment to see carpets of wood anemones and other treasures in my new woodland garden. But give me a year or two.

Meconopsis ‘Branklyn’

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34 Responses to Once in a Pink Moon.

  1. What a treasury of spring beauties you have, starting with the Anemones and Bluebells. I envy your Trillium patch, that is a very choice flower that rewards those possessing a good deal of patience. Very glad you took the time to post, and well done on the new projects.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jason. I might have another go at growing Mertensia virginica after seeing yours looking so fabulous. It would be perfect for a woodland setting.

  2. Heyjude says:

    Well you might not be posting often, but when you do it is well worth the wait! Your project looks amazing, not to mention hard work, but you are going to have a stunning woodland area in years to come going by that lovely selection of plants. The Sanguinaria ‘Flore Pleno’ is a favourite of mine, not that I have grown it, but when I see it I think immediately of a water lily on land. So beautiful when in a clump.

  3. I used to find many of these tiny woodland treasures in pine forests in the Deep South, but not so much here, perhaps because the winters can be quite harsh. Narcissus ‘Segovia’ comes up in my spring garden, on the other hand, along with the usual bulbs. Now, tell me, what is a “pink moon”? Your lead photograph intrigues me; the moon itself appears oval instead of round. Quite a picture!

    • Chloris says:

      There are two ‘super’ full moons this year where the moon appears bigger and brighter than usual. The next is on the 26th May. The April
      Super Moon is called a Pink Moon because it appears when the spring pink flowers of Moss Phlox appear according to Native American tradition. I’m afraid the oval moon is because of a shaky hand. But I thought it was quite atmospheric shining brightly over the church tower. And an owl was hooting at the time. Narcissus ‘Segovia’ is delightful isn’t it?

  4. Kris P says:

    My ideal garden is a woodland garden, which of course is impossible in my climate. I tried some woodland plants, Epimediums and Erythroniums among others, in my former cooler, shadier garden but they weren’t happy there and my current location, just 15 miles south, is even less hospitable. I admire all the effort that’s gone into the project and had to chuckle at the Roundup mention as I had something of the same feeling when we were removing all our sod.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, a woodland garden is magical. I am a bit worried about it being too dry with all the tree roots, but I have incorporated lots of leaf mould.The trouble is April has been so dry, we usually get lots of rain. I have never been a great fan of weed killer but I wouldn’t dream of using it now, specially as I am visited nightly by a family of badgers.

  5. Cathy says:

    I guessed this was the sort of project you were involved in, and although I work hard to stretch my boundaries they will never stretch as far as yours! It’s astonishing to me just how HUGE your reclaimed area appears to be, and having the borrowed landscape is a huge asset in this respect. All that new planting space to take advantage of, and with woodland plants too – you must be in your element and I am trying not to be too envious … 😉 Do let me know if there is anything I might have that would help fill some of your space, although I guess it is unlikely. What a pretty selection of wood anemones and epimedium you have – and you have reminded me that I have this Sanguinaria or at least I did last year and must try and remember to check it out tomorrow. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring post Chloris, worth waiting for a pink moon for…!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Kathy. Yes, I think to expand any more you will need a second storey. I was astonished how big my reclaimed area is and I have another enormous stretch the other side of the garden which once cleared made me gulp when I saw how big it was. I still have a few odd wild corners hidden away but I really must concentrate on what I have for the time being.

      • Cathy says:

        I suspect ‘for the time being’ won’t be as long asit sensibly might be!! 😁 But in the meantime how exciting is it to have ‘another enormous stretch’ of garden to think about and plan for…?

    • Chloris says:

      Whoops, I wrote Cathy with a K. Sorry, a slip of the finger.

  6. Your woodland garden is breathtaking and I can imagine fairies hiding in the flowers.

  7. The moonlight is in its full glory here..though no woodlands quite like yours. I traipsed through a dry prarie here and the wildflowers create a similar fairyland. I had native Bloodroots and Trilliums in my former garden and loved them; your Bluebells and Cow Parsley are exotic to me. The new garden is coming along and I love the rustic pathway, looking forward to progress photos. Enjoy spring!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Amy. We have bluebells and wood anemones and cow parsley of course but it must be wonderful to come across trilliums and sanguinaria growing wild. Of course alĺ native wild flora is exciting. I would love to see your dry prairies

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Your new garden path in the woods looks wonderful, Liz. And as always, so does the rest of your garden!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Eliza. I am looking forward to seeing what the new woodland garden looks like in a year or two when the planting has filled out a bit and the empty soil will be covered.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    You must be thrilled to have brought your plan this far and to see it looking so beautiful—full of possibility. I’ve never seen a double Sanguinaria. Really spectacular.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Susie, yes I have got great plans for my woodland garden. Right now I have to wait for some rain, it didn’t rain at all in April and everything is bone dry.

      • pbmgarden says:

        April was completely dry here also except for one brief shower. The Irises have had a nice long show and I wondered if they might have enjoyed no rain.

  10. tonytomeo says:

    I had to look up field maple. I thought it looked like a horse chestnut in your picture, and then realized that it is a horse chestnut in your picture.

    • Chloris says:

      Field Maple, Acer campestre is used a lot for hedging here, I think my tree must have been a seedling from the hedge long ago as it is quite a size now. Yes, I have two huge horse chestnuts.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Now that you mention it, and after looking it up earlier, I remember that it is Acer campestre is also known as hedge maple. I should have realized that. I am unfamiliar with it, but it is what horticulturists of the Pacific Northwest compare to hedged vine maple, Acer circinatum. It is a completely different species that looks rather shabby and stays rather small when hedged. I just like it because it is a maple that is not Japanese.

  11. gardenfancyblog says:

    Chloris, Your woodland flowers are so beautiful — thanks for sharing them! And your new woodland area is looking well-planned and executed. I’m sure it will be a delight to you (and us) as the plants fill in over the coming seasons. I hope you are enjoying a beautifully warm springtime in your gardens. Best, -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Beth. Our May weather so far is cold and windy but I hope it will improve soon because the May garden is a magical place.

  12. Anna says:

    Oh your new woodland area sounds so exciting and full of promise Chloris. My favourite type of garden 😄. I imagine that you must want to be out there all the time and of course there is so much to do at this time of year. I would be more than happy to gaze upon a neighbours’ polytunnel for that view! I listening to a talk by Jimi Blake the other evening extolling the virtue of epimediums and my wish list has grown. Hopefully the rain promised for most of us on Monday will find it’s way to you and you can go nursery visiting soon. I missed out on that fabulous moon – one disadvantage of living in a hollow surrounded by trees.

    • Chloris says:

      I love epimediums, they come in a big range of colours, the flowers are so delicate and they spread nicely. Yes we have had some rain and awful windx too.

  13. Cathy says:

    What a wonderful project Chloris! It is already looking beautiful and with your green fingers I know it will flourish! You are lucky to have such great trees that provde a good canopy, with a few evergreens mixed in. I am extremely fond of Epimediums, but lack the right spot for them. We have planted lots of trees, but it will take a while for them to throw enough shade. The pale yellow wood anemone is a real treasure. And the use of slender tree trunks for edging the pathway is such a nice idea. Well done!

  14. snowbird says:

    I loved the atmospheric, almost gothic pic of the pink super moon and church tower, along with the wood anemones and bluebells, nature knows what she is doing! Oh my….WOW! I can’t believe what you have achieved in your new woodland garden, utterly astonishing. Love your new view and I have no doubt that you will have carpets of Himalayan poppies and other beauties there before you can blink. That must have took an age to achieve and a hell of a lot of effort, well worth it though. I bet you can’t stop looking at it!xxx

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