Woodland Garden Ideas

Written by tina musial
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Woodland Garden Ideas
Bleeding hearts like the shade. (wet bleeding heart image by Michael Cornelius from Fotolia.com)

A woodland garden takes a little bit more planning than a regular garden does. Typically, a woodland garden gets less than 50 per cent of sunlight during the day time hours, meaning only certain plants will do well in it. Not every plant thrives in shady, damp conditions, but there are a few plants that do.


The most common and well-known plants that love shade are the fern family. Since there are more than 12,000 different species of ferns, there should be one suitable for your woodland garden plan. Ferns are one of the oldest plants on Earth. They probably covered the forests when dinosaurs roamed the planet, if not before.

Ferns typically do well in shady areas, ranging from dense shade to partial sun. The can live in damp or even wet soil and tolerate wet or rainy conditions for extended periods.

There are ferns that produce flowers, some with very little leaves and others that are huge bushes. Ferns range in colour from a light, mossy green to a dark, forest green colour. The most common looking fern has large leaves with a spine down the centre. On each side of the spine are hundreds of smaller petals.

Woodland Garden Ideas
Ferns date back to the dinosaur days. (green fern image by yurik from Fotolia.com)


Placing a birdbath in your woodland garden will bring live visitors for you to watch. If you have a bench in the garden area, place the birdbath at least 4 to 8 feet away, so you can still sit and watch the birds without scaring them. The bird bath might also attract butterflies, squirrels or chipmunks.

Birdbaths also bring a different shape, colour and texture to the garden, where there would normally only be plants. It adds visual stimulation, all year round if desired. If you live in a winter zone, there are small heaters, which can be purchased and placed inside to keep the water from freezing.

Woodland Garden Ideas
Birdbaths will attract birds to your woodland garden. (rustic bird bath image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

Bleeding Heart Bush

A bleeding heart bush not only brings colour to your woodland garden, but it is a great conversation starter. People touring your garden who have never seen one before will ask about it. The heart-shaped flowers get the attention of a close observer.

A bleeding heart will bloom in the early summer and continue to produce blooms until the late summer. When fall arrives, the flowers and the leaves will drop until the following spring. A bleeding heart bush needs very little maintenance during the year, unless you want to keep it trimmed to a certain size. The bush will flower year after year.


The hosta is loved by humans and deer. If you decide to plant hostas in your garden, prepare to do battle with the deer herd. Deer will jump fences just to eat the tender leaves and stems of a newly growing hosta plant. If you can nurse your plant until it is in full bloom, the deer don't like them as much and will leave them alone.

Hostas are solid green, light green, dark green with white edges and a variety of different blends. Some hostas produce flowers. The flowers range in colour from white to pink to light purple.

Woodland Garden Ideas
There are hundreds of species of hostas. (hosta image by lesley marlor from Fotolia.com)

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