A neighbor asked last summer whether I had discovered Forest Lane Botanicals.
She told me that it is a small family operation, a Virginia certified nursery specializing in ferns, hostas, Azaleas, Japanese Maples, various shade loving perennials, and some native plants.
Intrigued, I made a mental note to find them. One thing led to another, and their season ended before I found time to visit.
But I determined to find them this spring, and yesterday my partner and I visited for the first time. The gardens are open to the public between March 12 and July 5 this year, from 10 AM until 4 PM on Wednesdays through Saturdays.
What a treasure! This beautiful wooded property, near York River State Park, is tucked away along country lanes, in a residential area.
Owners Wendy and Alan Wubbels were away at a show in Richmond, but we visited with Cathy, who greeted us warmly and showed us around.
The gardens exhibit the love and care with which they are maintained.
A peaceful and romantic woodland garden, the tremendous repertoire of plants blends seamlessly from one vignette and bed to the next across several acres.
Garden art, sculpture, flowing fountains, fairy gardens, novel planting containers, and unusual cultivars of familiar plants make this an intriguing garden to wander as one absorbs idea after idea for developing a woodland garden.
A true partnership between man and nature is evident as one strolls through the beds.
Native May Apples, Podophyllum peltatum, pop up at will in paths and beds, most now in bloom with their shy Hellebore like flowers tucked safely under the umbrella leaf.
The large green leaves of this spring ephemeral march along the forest floor, springing up from underground rhizomes early each spring before leaves fill out the forest canopy, and then disappear by late summer.
Tiny Acer seedlings also escape the boundaries of beds, springing up beneath their parents in odd places.
A creeping form of Tiarella marches down a slope, awash in white blooms.
Azalea shrubs are just bursting into flower as fronds unfurl to announce the presence of re-emerging ferns.
Amazed at the many tasty plants, such as Hostas and Azaleas, which suffered no apparent nibbling from deer; I asked Cathy how the Wubbels protect their garden from grazing.
She indicated the many Boxwood shrubs throughout the garden. Apparently, deer detest the aroma of Boxwood. Along with a variety of sprays used on a regular basis, the Boxwood help deter deer from visiting the garden.
A lovely garden, made all the more attractive for gardening fanatics like me because pots and pots of little starts of these lovely plants are lined up discreetly around the edge of the garden, and in a retail display area.
I came looking for ferns, and left with three beautiful Lady Ferns, Athyrium felix-femina “Lady in Red.”
Stands of Columbine by the drive, and emerging daylily foliage, hint at the beauty still to unfold here as the season progresses.
My partner and I anticipate making a return trip very soon. There is this lovely variegated Iris we have just the spot for…..