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Bulbs, shade-loving perennials, biennials and ferns form the carpet of your woodland garden. With the right soil conditions and light, plants will self-seed until the area is covered with flowers in spring, especially if you grow native wildflowers such as English bluebells, wood anemones, primroses and foxgloves. Remove weeds and add copious quantities of compost or leaf mould to impoverished soils before planting.Rustic doesn’t suit every garden, but the basic principles of woodland gardening are the same in a more sophisticated setting and can transform a shady town garden from a problem into an asset. Use a restrained palette of greens or shades of a single colour for ground cover planting. Carefully trained or cloud-pruned trees can form the canopy and topiaried box the understorey. For features and hard landscaping, use modern interpretations of traditional materials.
When a woodland garden is large enough to wander through, it needs a path to prevent ground-cover plants from being trampled underfoot. Keep the design fairly simple with bark or woody shreddings, edged with logs to define the route. If the path winds beneath trees, it is best to avoid stone, brick or sleepers as they can become dangerously slippery, while gravel or stones look rather messy once the leaves begin to fall. Whether your woodland garden is large or small, it is best to plant the earliest spring flowers close to the path so that you can admire them close up without having to get your feet wet and muddy. Wood hyacinth or Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is a bulb that will grow in light shade, partial shade, or full shade, and does well planted under trees. The tiny, bell-shaped flowers appear in late spring, in white, light blue, blue-violet, or pink. Wood hyacinth is poisonous and can cause skin irritation when touched by sensitive individuals. It is deer-resistant.
Wood hyacinth can be invasive in some areas, including the Northwest US and the UK. It is native to southwestern Europe and northern Africa. US Zones 3 - 9.)For a cool and shady place, this white Bugbane plant is a real star. It has a clump-forming habit with elegant, branching stems. Its green buds open in autumn to showcase long snowy-white, flower racemes. These flower heads can each reach up to 13 cm long, transforming into a lovely lime-green seed head later in the season. Its leaves are long and elegant, easily reaching 1 meter tall. Plant these in damp soil in a partially shaded site.Woody plants are not all that necessary for a woodland garden, but they will provide shade, protection, and some leaf litter. They will also provide food and habitat for other animals and insects that make up the entire woodland community. If you don't have trees, you can use the side of a building to create needed light shade. The north or east side of a house or garage is best for understory woodland plants since they require only 15 to 20 percent full sun per day to flower and maintain themselves. (Source: www.chicagobotanic.org)