The Woodland Garden is an informal and relaxed garden with a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. A good number of the trees and shrubs planted in this area were collected by ‘Chinese Wilson’ (perhaps the most extensive collector of them all) and are beautifully represented in this true ‘Plantsmans’ garden.
There are many exciting and valuable examples here, from larger specimens such as the ‘Pocket Handkerchief Tree’ Davidia involucrata, a quick growing tree whose distinctive bracts are produced even on relatively young specimens, to low growing groundcover gems such as Epimedium. At any time of the year this is a pleasurable area with something to see and savour.
Whilst Newby is generally an alkaline garden we are fortunate there is more acidity here allowing Rhododendrons and other acid loving plants to thrive.
A lovely clump of Himalayan birch Betula utilis var. jacquemontii with snow-white boles dominates the heart of this garden. Other rare and interesting shrubs grown include Trochodendron aralioides, with leathery fig-like leaves and green flowers in racemes. Halesia carolina, the snowdrop tree is nearby. Of note above the Birch stand is a striking snowbell tree, Styrax hemsleyana, covered with hanging white bells in late May flanked by Sycopsis sinensis with yellow flowers and red stamens showing its relationship to witch hazels and the unusual intergeneric hybrid X Sycoparrotia persica.
Following a devastating gale in 2008 the ‘Bryant & May’ bed (named as a joke after a bonfire went out of control) was created. For the very long term a Fagus sylvatica ‘Asplenifolia’ was planted, after being donated by the National Garden Scheme. Other woodland trees and shrubs include Oak, Betula, Halesia and Hamamelis. The intention for developing this border and the adjacent area (described below) is to extend the Woodland Garden considerably.
Adjacent to the ‘Bryant & May bed, a very difficult environment greets us – CLAY. We generally have a light sandy soil but we do have seams of clay running throughout the gardens. Most of these areas have been used for tougher protective plantings such as Portugal Laurel, allowing the more favorable soil to be used for choicer plants. To develop and extend the Woodland Garden we have moved into this unfamiliar ground. Thankfully all the trees and shrubs have done really well (we did put some drainage in). Oak, Liquidamber, Magnolia and Nyssa are represented as well as more unusual specimens such as Chionanthus virginicus.
As these areas mature, the Woodland Garden range will extend from the Herbaceous Border to the Curving pergola and from the Middle Walk to the River Walk, proportionally a much better size.