A woodland garden is a fairytale-like yard space, inviting to pollinators and welcoming to wildlife, filled with color and ethereal beauty. There’s nothing quite like setting up a wooden bench and relaxing with a good book as the sunlight trickles through the canopy above you and a few singing birds flit around.
Unfortunately, a woodland garden won’t design itself in your backyard, leaving the choices up to you. So, what plants are best for creating that welcoming, whimsical paradise in your backyard? Learn all about the most beautiful plants to add to your woodland garden, as well as some care tips for each.
Erythronium oregonum, also known as the Oregon fawn-lily, is a perennial herb with long thin leaves and a singular large bell-shaped flower. The stunning white flowers are pink-tinged with dark purple bands near the center of the bloom and the petals are normally swept back to reveal the developing seeds. The flowers bloom in the spring and prefer moist, well-draining soil with full sun to partial shade.
Primrose (Primula) is a beautiful spring flower that grows well in moist soil and low-light conditions. While there are over 450 species to choose from, the care process generally remains similar. They grow in clusters in a variety of bright colors and are often used in pots, flower beds, and along borders. They can also withstand cooler temperatures, making them a great choice for your winter container garden.
Lily of the Valley
A beautiful flowering plant perfect for bouquets and floral arrangements, Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is another winter-hardy perennial that will survive in snow. The plant boasts simple, dainty white bell-shaped flowers that drape from an arching stem and exude a sweet scent when they bloom in spring. Lily of the valley thrives in full sun to partial shade in well-draining, moist soil.
A unique and small tree or shrub to make your landscape stand out, Magnolia is available in around 125 species that are deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen. Some varieties have a small star-shaped flower while others are much larger. With that said, they are all favored for their showy blossoms and glossy foliage. Plant them as patio trees, container plants, or even hedging. They thrive in acidic, well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a beautiful, unique herbaceous perennial that produces eye-catching tubular blooms that grow from a large spiky stem. The flowers are attractive to pollinators, though bumblebees tend to approach them the most. Also, the plants generally bloom in the summer, but you may notice flowers a bit later into the season. Grow in full sun to partial shade in light, moist soil that is high in organic matter, such as compost.
English ivy (Hedera helix) is a popular evergreen vine that easily climbs for a very whimsical and natural look. It tolerates a variety of soil conditions and different lighting and is very hardy no matter where you plant it. Ivy also attracts deer and other wildlife, perfect for creating a woodland garden.
Ivy is weedy and invasive in some areas, so it is important to do your research before planting. Instead of planting it in the ground near your other shade-loving plants, plant it in a container and allow it to climb up the walls of your home, gazebo, or pergola.
Wood anemones (Anemonoides quinquefolia) are a simple yet dazzling five-petaled white or pink flower surrounded by a whorl of dark green leaves. Blooming in early springs and spreading easily through rhizomes, the flower is an attractive ground cover and ideal for filling in your woodland garden. Developing blooms in summer, the perennial prefers dappled sunlight or partial shade and acidic soil high in organic matter.
Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is most popular for its large, bouquet-like cluster of flowers, typically available in a variety of shades of pink and blue. They are best kept in flower beds or containers, adding a touch of vibrancy and whimsy wherever you plant them. Hydrangeas prefer well-draining soil, morning sun and afternoon shade, and require winter protection.
Pro Tip: Alter the pH of the soil to change the color of your hydrangeas. Keep the soil between 5 and 5.5 for blue flowers and above 6 for pink flowers.
A woodland garden is an oasis, and the plants you include should reflect that. Unique florals, colorful blooms, and climbing vines are the best choices. But you also need plants that thrive in low-light conditions since you likely have a large canopy or shade tree above the space.
Do you have any tips for creating a whimsical woodland garden? Share in the comments below! And as always, pass this list along to anyone who may find it interesting!