Forests have a way of capturing the imagination. The peaceful feeling one gets while walking through the dense woods is healing for the soul—it’s no wonder why camping is such a popular pastime!
If your favorite summer days are those spent hiking through the woods, a woodland garden may be for you. The concept of a woodland garden is to capture an “enchanted forest” effect with your choice of plants, furniture, and garden decor. Here’s how to achieve the look.
Outdoor Furniture for a Woodland Garden
Woodland-themed gardens are rustic by nature, and they call for furniture that borders on primitive.
A wooden bench makes a perfect place to sit in solitude and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
A wooden swing hung from a high-up tree bough adds a further layer of whimsy, though it may be difficult to have one put in around now. If you already have such a swing in your garden, designing your woodland garden around it will turn it into a natural focal point.
For enjoying your breakfast or morning coffee outdoors, a picnic table or antique bistro set carries the theme. How lovely would it be to start your spring and summer days surrounded by flowers and foliage!
Woodland-Themed Garden Decor
Depending on your personal taste, you can create some magic in a woodland-themed garden on any budget.
Rustic stepping stones are inexpensive and are excellent for creating informal paths through the garden, leading the eye through your plant displays.
Garden gnomes have recently come back into fashion, and you can find them in any style, size, or price point online.
Antique or antique-look items, like barrels, urns, and wagon wheels, add a touch of folksy charm to a garden nook. Introducing moss to items makes them look like they’ve been there for decades and blends the items with the lush, natural scenery.
The crowning jewel of many woodland-themed gardens, a water feature, adds an additional natural element to the area. For a low-maintenance option, you can buy or build a simple fountain made from several stacked pots or antique-looking buckets. Alternatively, adding a more permanent fixture (like a pond or waterfall) enhances the overall look of your garden and attracts nearby wildlife.
Plants for a Woodland-Themed Garden
Many classic woodland plants are spring-bloomers, which means the majority are planted in the fall. However, there are some on-theme options that can be planted now (depending on your state) for a colorful show in the late season.
Summer-Blooming Woodland Plants
Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ - Heuchera, or Coral Bells, are well-known for their colorful foliage. For a woodland garden application, this more subdued variety adds some dimension to the colors in your garden beds with its silvery-green, red-veined foliage. You’ll get some added seasonal interest with its cream-colored blooms in late summer, and orange fall foliage.8”-20” tall, winter-hardy to zones 4-9.
Pulmoniaria ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’ - Add a pop of color to the scene with this woodland plant, also known as ‘Lungwort.’ Favoring cool shade and rich, moist soils, this European native plant features white-speckled green foliage and clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers in a bright shade of coral pink. 10” tall with a spread of up to 24”, winter-hardy to zones 4-9.
Athyrium Ghost (Ghost Fern) - This hauntingly beautiful shade-loving fern is a quintessential woodland plant, with its purple stems and soft green fronds that look nearly white in the shade. 24-36” tall, winter-hardy to zones 3-8.
Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley) - The nodding, sweetly fragrant bell-shaped flowers of Convallaria add a touch of brightness to a shady woodland garden. This Northern-hemisphere native works well as a “shoes and socks” plant for trees, shrubs, and taller plants in the garden. 6”-9” tall, winter-hardy to zones 3-8.
Spring-Blooming Woodland Plants
These spring-blooming plants are available for pre-order in our Fall Planted catalogue.
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) - These star-shaped flowers naturalize beautifully in woodland settings and come in a variety of pastel colors, from periwinkle blue to pale pink. 3-7” tall, winter-hardy to zones 3-8.
Hyacinthoides hispanica (Wood Hyacinths) - These classic woodland perennials fill the garden with rich blue, nodding, bell-shaped flowers. 10-12” tall, winter-hardy to zones 4-10.
Tulipa sylvestris - This woodland tulip has a special place in my heart; its cheerful, sunny color, easy naturalization, and sweet fragrance make it a must-have for a woodland garden. 8-12” tall, winter-hardy to zones 3-8.
Geranium tuberosum - A woodland geranium that blooms profusely with mounds of deep rope to vivid violet flowers. 7-12” tall, winter-hardy to zones 5-9.
Adding woodland elements to your garden can be done gradually, as many woodland plants are hardy by nature, and the grown-in, slightly unkempt look is part of the theme’s appeal. With these beautiful, tough plants growing in your yard, it’s easy to experience that woodland magic without venturing past your property line!
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