Re: Clearing a Wooded Lot / What to do next?
Most woodland plants will enjoy the leaf cover which insulates in the winter and breaks down into a rich humus as it decomposes. I would leave the leaves, at the most, just push them aside when you plant. I’m not sure what the larger context is (urban, suburban, rural) but I must say I would hesitate to put in something such as Japanese pachysandra or periwinkle. To me, these plants scream cultivated garden rather than ‘naturalized looking wooded space’. Why not look to some native ground covers, there is a native pachysandra- Pachysandra procumbans, which I think is even prettier than Pachysandra terminalis, although it probably will not be evergreen for you in Mass.
Also check out Margaret’s 4 toughest groundcovers.
I particularly think that Geranium macrorrhizum would be a good choice.