ColumbineColumbines, are great woodland plant that grows wild in woodlands and mountain areas. Columbines have a wide variety of colors and grow quite easily. One of my all time favorites these flowers are great to bring in color to the woodland garden.

Columbines Culture And Care

Columbines grow best in rich most well drained soil combined with some morning sun and afternoon shade you have a formula for the perfect location.

Columbines should be planted at least a foot apart to allow for lateral growth as they will quickly fill in, Mulch around the base of the plants lightly to help keep in moisture and keep the roots cool. Columbines do not like heat.

You can grow columbines from seed but the seeds need a cold period of at least 3 to 4 weeks before they can germinate so you will need to store the seeds in the refrigerator before planting them in the spring,A better solution is plant them in the fall and let nature take it’s course when spring rolls around.

Soil should be kept moist and the seed covered with just a dusting of fine soil. Germination should take about 30 days.The plants are biennial so will not flower till the 2nd year. The key is do not let soil dry out.

Plants should be dug up and split every 3 to 4 years to keep healthy new growth. A columbine will die off after about 5 years so then you will need to start with new seeding if you are not splitting the plants regularly.

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Bergenias are perennial flowers’ also known as pigsqueaks.Producing clusters of bell shaped flowers on a 12 inch spike  in early Spring in colors from pale pink to ruby red these flowers only last for a couple weeks. With rounded evergreen leaves that can grow up to a foot long that change color in the winter to reddish or bronze color. Originally from Siberia these evergreens perennials can withstand cold temperatures and survive very well.

Bergenias Culture And Care

Bergenias prefer light shade and good moist soil high in organic matter, making them good plants for the edges of a woodland garden area. During dry periods provide plenty of moisture to prevent the plants growth from slowing down.

Common uses are in sloping areas or as outside border plantings. While these plants are easy to row the leaves do damage easily. There big rounded leaves make them a good contrast went planted amongst Irirs and Ferns.

Propagation is by division or from seed. The best time to divide Bergenias is in the spring after the plants have finished flowering. After about 4 years the plants start to get crowded and it is time to divide and replant.

Bergenia seeds can be sown directly into the garden in late fall or early spring, or you can start seeds indoors in early spring. Indoor temperature in the growing medium should be 55° until germination, which takes between 15-20 days.

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Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Bleeding HeartBleeding hearts are make great plants for the woodland garden. It is easy to see the origin of Dicentra’s common name of bleeding hearts these whimsical plants with the bracts of heart shaped flowers with a single drop of blood hanging below are a candidate for a specimen plant in the woodland garden.

Bleeding Heart Culture And Care

If there is one draw back to Dicentra it is that after flowering the foliage dies back to the ground. By offering supplemental watering you can delay this process for a while but by early summer they usually fade away.

Bleeding hearts do best in moist well drained soil in shade to part shade but will tolerate a little sun.
They will grow in zones 3 thru 9 and are relatively deer resistant. This perennial plant appears each spring and will grow from 1′ to 3′ wide.

When planting bleeding hearts in the woodland garden a good design tip would to be to plant it amongst ferns other shade loving perennials or hostas that can fill in the holes when the plants dies back.

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Astilbe Culture And Care


Astilbe are shade loving plants that do well in shade to partial shade and astilbe will grow in damp soil. Doing well in zone 3 thru 9 the feather plums of flowers appear in late spring to early summer in shades of white, pink, red, and purple.

The dark green fern like foliage of Astilbe  contrasts well with Heuchera, Hostas, and Ligularia and once the flowers have faded  and dried they may be left on the plants for interest or removed. The plants will die back to the ground each fall

Astilbe are best propagated with root divisions in the spring and are a perennial that should be divide every 4 to 5 years. They prefer a rich and moist humus soil. A little compost each spring will help the plants to grow to full large clumps.

Astilbe are relatively  free of pests and do not seem to be bothered by deer.  The most important thing to watch out for is soil moisture dry soil will quickly cause their demise


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Designing A Woodland Garden

Designing a woodland garden waterfallWhen designing a woodland garden it is important to turn to nature for design clues for layout and plant selection. By following a few easy steps you will be designing a woodland garden of your own in no time at all.

To get started visit woodlands in your area and observe the types of Trees, Shrubs, and Plants growing there. Take note of the soil is it rich humus or sandy and does it drain quickly or is it moist and soggy all these clues will help with your design. These notes will be important latter.

Look around the woodland you will notice that in nature everything is planted in layers starting with your high canopy trees moving down to your mid canopy trees then understory plantings and finally ground covers. Each of these different parts plays an important role in the woodlands design. You will also notice that things do not always line up exactly so when it comes to your design be sure to keep this in mind.

Designing A Woodland Garden In Your Yard

Now you will take note of the wooded area on your property and how it compare to those natural areas you have visited. How does your wooded area compare to the ones you visited. Are you dealing with a highly shaded area or do you get moderate light, soil type and moisture, and the existing native plant material. Based on these observations decide what native plants would do best under your conditions and the area you have to work with.

Preparing The Area For Planting

The first step is to prepare the area for planting which will require you to layout your planting beds and paths. The easiest method is to take a garden hose and use it to outline the perimeter of your bed. One you have your desired shape mark it with some marking paint and then clear out all debris and unwanted roots and vegetation. Wear appropriate clothing and beware of poison ivy and poison oak taking proper precautions in their removal and disposal. Trim out heavy lower growth from canopy trees to open the area and allow more light.

Once the beds are ready layout any stepping stones or pathways that you want to run through the area perhaps a clearing for a bench to sit and enjoy the woodlands. When designing a woodland garden always start by putting in the smaller plantings first then add in any understory plantings. If you leave your plants in the container you will be able to move them around and play with the design until you get it just the way you want it before you begin the plantings.

Planting Your Beds

When putting in your plants it is a good idea to mix some humus or compost into the planting holes to get the plants off to a good start. Be sure to water the plants in well then add a layer of mulch around them to conserve water and insulate the roots.

Choose a mulch that is complementary to the area like shredded leaves, pine needles, or bark so that it blends instead of standing out to give you a more natural look.

Up until now we have talked about using native plantings in your woodland garden and aside from keeping them watered the first year until they become established there is really little maintenance required after that aside from an occasional pruning.

There are many perennial flowers and plants that can be added when designing a woodland garden while they maybe not natives they will certainly add color and texture to your woodland garden. Just remember that even shade plants will need some sun to perform their best so if you use perennials they may need to be in an area that receives dappled sun light.
Here Are Some Plants That Will Work Well In Most Areas

  • Astilbe
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Bergenias
  • Columbine
  • Coral Bells
  • Corydalis
  • Epimediums (Barronwort)
  • Fairy Bells
  • Ferns
  • Foam Flower
  • Foxglove
  • Hostas
  • Lady’s Mantle
  • Lenten Rose
  • Ligularias
  • Lilly Of The Valley
  • Lungwort
  • Phlox
  • Primrose
  • Rodgersias
  • Snakeroot
  • Solomons Seal
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Toad Lilies
  • Violets
  • Yellow Wax Bells

These will all add some interest and  I highly recommend you consider using some of these when designing a woodland garden for your own yard.

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