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Tracey Cole

Tracey Cole

Landscaping Cape Town Landscaping

How to create a tranquil Woodland garden

Creating a calm and shady woodland garden takes time but is achievable in any size garden. Basically it’s a cluster of trees, under planted with shade-loving plants which will give the feeling of being in a forest glade

Trees that will do well are Keurboom (Virgilia Oroboides) and the Wild Peach (Kiggerlaria Africana) which will grow to about 3-4 metres in height in 2years. Much slower varieties of tree are White Stinkwood, Cape Beech (Rapanea Melanophlonos), Yellow Woods ( Podocarpus Lalifolius and Podocarpus Falcatus), also Cape Ash (Ekebergia Capensis).
Plant the trees in blocks of approximately 3 or 4 to a square metre, adding a Keurboom or Wild Peach in each block. The leaves and seedpods of the Keurboom will make a fantastic mulch covering any bare soil.


For the underplanting use Clivia nobles, Clivia Veltheimia bracteata. Bulbs can also be planted such as Lachenalia Babiana, Sparaxis and Ornithogalum. Protea Repens, Wild Sage (Salvia Africana lutea) and Wild Rosemary (Eriocephalus Afrcanius) will all do well in a woodland setting, as will Foxgloves, Ferns, Primulas, White Arum, Tree Ferns, Plectranthus and Violets.
If you have a small garden, tall upright growing trees are more suitable as you can prune them into a canopy. Silver Birches are ideal as they will create dappled shade.
A mulch of bark chips or organic matter will ensure moisture is kept in and around the woodland area. Once the trees are established their dropped leaves will provide plenty of organic rich compost.

There are some herbs and vegetables that you can grow in a shady garden:
Root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, yacon, beetroot, turnips, garlic, onions and radishes will thrive as will some herbs, namely coriander, sorrel, watercress, lemon balm, chives and oregano. Shade-tolerant spinach, kale, Pak choi and various chard varieties will also grow happily. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of vegetable to grow in your woodland.
As a rule fruiting vegetables tend to require more sun as the fruit needs to be exposed to sunlight to ripen, consequently tomatoes, chillies and sweet peppers won’t like a shady, dappled light.
As shady area don’t dry out so quickly they will need less watering and less feeding.

Enjoy your wonderful woodland garden!

More advice and articles :

Village Gardens – 

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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