Plant Your Own Woodland Garden
Passionate garden designer Edmund Taylor shows you how to welcome warmer days with drifts of woodland flowers
Give them Light
Woodland flowers grow best if given some sun. Heavy shade permits little to grow, while dappled light is ideal. To improve existing conditions, limb up mature trees and thin crowns if canopies are dense.
Improve Your Soil
Begin with a soil test. Though these flowers will live in acid conditions, many thrive in nearly neutral soil with a pH range of 6.5 to 7. These plants want loose, friable soil with good drainage (especially in winter). Add organic matter. Edmund layered 6 inches of composted leaves and wood chips several months before planting.
Crowns should be just below or right at the soil line. “More woodland plants are lost due to deep planting than any other mistake,” says Edmund. In nature, wildflowers grow on top of the mineral soil in the duff of decayed leaves and twigs and their roots spread out horizontally, not vertically. Finish by mulching. This insulates roots, conserves moisture, smothers weeds, and looks nice too. Shredded bark, decayed leaves, and pine straw are good choices.
Edmund’s flowers have responded well to good fertilizer and water. Slow-release plant foods such as Osmocote and cottonseed meal make a difference when flowers start self-seeding. Fertilizer is instrumental in stimulating young plant growth, shortening the length of time prior to bloom.
Here are some great options for your woodland garden.
'Pagoda' Trout Lilly
This elegant plant is a reliable bloomer. Don’t move it once it’s established. plantdelights.com
(Anemone blanda)Easy to find, this common spring tuber produces spreading mats of color. Plant in fall. hollandbulbfarms.com
(Sanguinaria canadensis)This iconic woodland flower has attractive, near evergreen leaves. Responds well to fertilizer and water. we-du.com
(Dodecatheon meadia)Enchanting flowers best viewed up close. Plant where they can be appreciated. Good cut flower. easywildflowers.com
This plant is early-emerging and fragrant. Edmund says that fertilizer and a soil pH of 6.5 encourage carpet-like coverage. swallowtailgardens.net
'Vestal' Wood Anemone
(Anemone nemorosa ‘Vestal’)It’s rare but worth seeking out. arrowhead-alpines.com
'King of Hearts' Bleeding Heart
(Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’)
Great plant for more experienced gardeners. Blooms for months. Pair with wild blue phlox. swallowtailgardens.net
(Stylophorum diphyllum)Deer tolerant. Great for beginners. easywildflowers.com