Ten years ago, tired of the tuck-under garage and the many steps up from the basement to the living area, we decided to build a new house 100 yards to the north in our two acre woods. As the inexperienced 3rd man, on the three man building team, I worked 10 hour shifts, much of it as a "gopher." In addition, in the evenings, I took on the job of saving some of the many plants surrounding our old house. A trench was dug to run a water line from the new well to the old house to mitigate the nitrate problem. In the process, a huge number of limestone rocks were dug up. .I decided that rather than return the rock to the trench, I would use them to build a retaining wall and lay out garden paths throughout the woods on the south side of the new house. Ouch... my aching back.
Year One: limestone pathways, some ground up branches from the city "tree dump", plant rescue from the old property (the new owners were not interested in gardening) , some grubbing of gooseberrys and prickly ash.
Year Two: more grubbing and selective weeding, trying to preserve wildflowers and shrubs, planting hostas and ferns donated by a kindly neighbor.Year Three: Wildflower seeding and intensive weeding plus more planting of nursery stock.Year Four: Read several books on eco-friendly self-sustaining shady gardens. More intensive weeding and additional planting.
Year Five - Although each year would require a little extra fine turning, the north Shady Garden was a success. Many visitors from town and "groups" from various organizations have requested tours. Fortunately, the garden speaks for itself as "senior moments" seems to strike me when I am asked what a particular native plant is called. I have never been too focused on names like I should have been. If I like something I plant it. It's the impulse method rather than the carefully designed and coordinated plan but I'm happy with the result. Since then I've added new gardens to the north (more woods) and the west, semi shade with afternoon sun.
Some of the native spring wild flowers now living in the shady south garden