Before continuing down the hill, I want to turn to the space between our driveway and the neighbor's pasture.
There's the slightly raised bank of the ditch, the ditch itself, then a narrow strip that widens and becomes a sloping hill past the vegetable garden. I'm using these photos from last spring because the "undeveloped" areas are in the background.
In the right lower corner, south of the young redbud, is an area that I have struggled with and have sown with Bidens seeds. It's rampant with native bamboo. Our native bamboo doesn't get that big -- rarely more than 5' -- but it's ugly and keeps coming right back up through any amount of mulch that I put on it. I would just bushhog it or mow the area every week, but the area is very uneven and has several tree trunks in it. Eventually I may put understory trees and native azaleas there.
Because of the trees near the neighbor's pasture -- loblolly pines, sweetgums, and a large red maple the area can be classified as -- gulp -- dry shade.
Can anything grow in dry shade, you ask? Well, there's a bumper crop of Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, red maple seedlings, devil's walking stick, greenbriar and poison ivy. About ten years ago the stand of devil's walking stick was rather striking, but then it became enshrouded in honeysuckle and had to be chopped down. As you can tell from this plant list, this is not completely brutal dry shade, just periodically brutal dry shade.
At the bottom of the small hill are wild highbush blueberries, sorrel trees (Oxydendrum arboreum), and wax myrtles. The sorrel trees are all rather young and the chance seedling offspring of a mature sorrel tree at the edge of the neighbor's pasture. Apparently they do not like being flooded, because they start popping up just uphill of the floodplain stake. They are beautiful trees, but from what I have seen not the easiest to make or keep beautiful. I have seen many sorrel trees on banks next to roads denuded of leaves and covered with bagworms -- on the other hand, I've also seen sorrel trees about a 100 yards off highway 40, magnificent in their autumnal scarlets and still sporting their flower bracts from spring. I've read that they can be sensitive to pollution, so perhaps part of the problem with the sorry ones I've seen is their close proximity to the road, which of course is not a problem here. Mine flower, and color in fall (often very early), but the leaves tend to spot too. They don't look perfect (and will probably get better with age), but are still beautiful and I'm very happy that they are there. The soil is quite lean where they are, so I'll probably throw some compost around them this year.
In the interest of full disclosure, here is a series of decidedly un-glam shots, taken today at midday:
The new beds between the house and the big perennial bed, seen below on the left, will be the subject of the next post.
For the upper portions of the hill, I have some ideas:
I have tried and killed mapleleaf viburnum already (not at this location), but would love to try it again. My FIL has mapleleaf viburnum all over his forested property, and the hype about its fall color isn't just hype. It's truly extraordinary, a mix of rose and raspberry pinks and purple. Yes, you read rightly, purple. A stained glass violet-purple kind of purple.
One of those native azaleas that likes craggy places, like pinxterflower and Alabama azalea.
Rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) -- check them out at Gail's.
More Highbush blueberries
Sparkleberry, a relative of blueberry that does not produce edible fruit, but likes it dry and has the same beautiful fall color.