We have acquired a woodland area at the bottom of our garden (formerly a green belt). Would like to plant woodland flowers , shrubs etc. but not sure how to keep unwanted weeds and grass at bay. Also interested to know how Monty Don maintains his 'copse' area, but can't work out out how to get this question to him!
Hi woodlandgardener. On the Monty question - in one of the Spring tv Gardener's World's - think it was 20th April, he was planting in his woodland area and talking about most of the ground cover and plants being weeds coming up or some plants smothering others - I think. I'd need to look back. But he was discussing planting 'into' the existing growth so that the plants he was planting would thrive and the ones he didn't want so much would be stopped from taking over the new ones. It was something like that. Someone else might remember this. It made sense at the time - if you track the programme down it might be of help to you.
@woodlandgardener this is the email address that the BBC give to send questions to the production team of GW, they do appear to answer questions on the show, so it may be worth a shot.
Hopefully the area already has a good diversity of wildflowers but I expect there are too many brambles and scrub type stuff if the it hasn't been managed for some time. Best to dig these out as best you can then try a woodland wildflower seed mix. There are plenty of on-line places but I use http://www.naturescape.co.uk/acatalog/index.html. It's also good to grow some of your favorites in seed trays and then on into plugs for planting next spring as these will take better if the ground is still too fertile/ grassy.
It is also worth contacting your local Wildlife Trust and Local Biodiversity Officer (at your district council) who may be able to give you some advice about local species of interest.
I once bought some Yellow Rattle seeds as the plants are supposed to suppress the growth of grass. I put them in the wildflower bit at the end of my garden but I'm afraid nothing happened. I obviously did something wrong.
But, maybe you could try and get better results. I believe either Tichmarsh or Monty were talking about Yellow Rattle just recently - but I have many senior moments these days and cannot remember the programme.
It is best to plant decent-sized plugs rather than sowing seed - if the area ia already established, there tends to be too much competition for seeds to thrive.
Forgot to say that many woodland plants - e.g, foxgloves, wood anemones - thrive on the edge of woodland rather than in it - areas under trees are often quite barren once the trees are in leaf.
I have a woodland walk I planted myself about thirty years ago which is a dekight and less work than any other parts of the garden but this I started from flower beds so i did not have your trouble. my spinney is more like your situation and i just tackle the brambles , etc when i have something like a new nut tree i want to plant in it. Local flora are a great idea as they will suit your soil. i have just bought a Sorbus Bristoliensis which only grows in the Avon Gorge to give it a good home in my part of Bristol.
You might find this link describing local native plants useful:
Well thankyou to everybody for this useful info including how Monty might have done it!. Incidentally we are in the Scottish Borders. Clearly a few options to consider. The area is very shaded and low growing creeping buttercup, shepherd's purse and nettles grow but not vigorously mixed in with some grass. I think because of the light issue most plants struggle. We cleared a number of birches but the trees have to remain as part of the ownership of the strip; nuthatches and woodpeckers visit so of course we want to retain the woodland character.