Make a Woodland Garden

Bluebells in Woods
First Steps

  • Think through your short term and long term plans. Woodland gardens are likely to last and last.
  • Ensure you have the right space, location and environment for a woodland.
  • Work with nature not against it.
  • Make careful consideration of the type of garden you are aiming for and think in 3 dimensions at the planing stage.
  • Keep your first designs and plans basic so you canĀ  make changes after the key plants are in place.

Tips for making a woodland garden

  1. Trees are the framework and backbone of your woodland garden.
  2. Plant some evergreens to provide structure through winter
  3. Lift the canopy of trees regularly to allow light through to the plants below.
  4. Introduce brightness to shady spots with golden leaved plants and shade tolerant varieties.
  5. Spring will be OK with bulbs and wild flowers but introduce plants for summer interest
  6. Provide varying light levels to increase the range of plants grown.
  7. Avoid hard landscape and make design features simple and natural.
  8. Mulch and consider ferns, Rhododendrons and Cornus if the soil is on the acid side.

On a hot summers day (what is that ? ed.) there is nothing better than a woodland walk with its distinctive scents and surprising colours. Well spaced deciduous trees often provide the best displays as the filtered sun helps develop then highlight the woodland growers.

  • Aconites are one of the earliest woodland flowers and do well under trees
  • Bluebells are an favourite but can expand rapidly in a garden.
  • Anemone nemorosa or Wood anemone grow well under shady trees as long as they can get some moisture.

  • Low growing Red Campion flowers May to June on the woodland margins with it’s small delicate rose pink flowers.
  • Foxgloves grow tall spikes of flower June to September.
  • Rhododendron ponticum grows wild in some acid soiled woodlands and produces large colourful shrubs. They are now thought to be too invasive in some areas.

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  • Sorrel, Purslane, Wild garlic and Celadine are other plants to look out for during early summer.
  • Primroses flower in woodland when the shafts of sunshine help the plant light up the area with the bright yellow flowers
  • Dog Roses, Blackthorn and Hawthorn are all native plants that can feature in mixed woodland.


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