Woodland / Shade Gardens

WOODLAND GARDENS offer shade and reprieve from the heat of summer. They rely on the canopy of large deciduous trees or conifers to provide shade, with sunlight peaking through at certain times of the year or day. If the tree canopy is very dense, it may have to be thinned to allow for more light during the dark winter months. Woodland and Shade Gardens evoke a peaceful and calming atmosphere. Informal trails can invite exploration.

PLANTS: A rather restricted plant palette for each season usually works best, and provides a sense of visual continuity, simulating nature. Many indigenous plants are appropriate for this style of garden, supplemented by suitable non-native plants. Small trees such as Japanese Maples, Flowering Dogwoods and Magnolia, and shrubs such as Mock Orange or Redtwig Dogwood form the woodland’s understory. Ferns, Hostas, Epimediums, Native Ginger, Fernleaf Bleeding Hearts and Solomon’s Seal planted in larger sweeps and colonies shape the tapestry of the ground layer. They are best repeated throughout the garden or border to mimic nature. Shade-loving bulbs add spring color, e.g. Scilla sibirica, Chionodoxa forbesii or Leucojum aestivum. During periods of summer drought the soil can become quite dry, as ground covers and perennials compete with tree roots for moisture and nutrients. Rain, if present, does not always reach the ground. All of the above-mentioned plants, while relatively drought-tolerant, will require supplemental irrigation during the summer months and into fall.

OTHER COMPONENTS: Large, moss-covered boulders can enhance the natural appearance and add visual appeal. Bark mulch applied as a top layer around the plants retains moisture and resonates the woodland theme. A birdbath or water feature attracts birds, and the sound of trickling water adds to the ambiance.

Woodland Garden

This peaceful woodland garden is situated high up in the hills at the base of Mt. Adams in Washington State. The existing back landscape consisted of beautiful mature Douglas Firs and deciduous trees, resulting in dense shade for most of the year. Large, moss-covered boulders offer striking accents. The owners handled the majority of the installation on their own, with Mount Hood Gardens providing the design, plants and guidance during the installation.

 BEFORE PHOTOS
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East-facing view of the shade garden, prior to planting in early April

East-facing view of the shade garden, prior to planting in early April

…and during planting in late April

…and during planting in late April

The future site of the pond and streambed

The future site of the pond and streambed

 AFTER PHOTOS
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Seven years later, lush plantings light up the woodland garden

Seven years later, lush plantings light up the woodland garden

Birds love the pond and flowing water

Birds love the pond and flowing water

Delightful sunken patio surrounded by Hostas and other shade plants

Delightful sunken patio surrounded by Hostas and other shade plants

Abundant shade plants border the path to the west gate and street, seven years after planting

Abundant shade plants border the path to the west gate and street, seven years after planting

 

Shade Garden in The Dalles

In arid The Dalles, shade is a most welcome feature, and this beautiful plant lover’s garden embodies it to perfection.

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A serpentine flagstone stepping stone path tempts garden visitors to explore the lower part of the garden, late May

A serpentine flagstone stepping stone path tempts garden visitors to explore the lower part of the garden, late May

Doublefile Viburnum brightens this shady setting, late May

Doublefile Viburnum brightens this shady setting, late May

Emerging Hostas, Ferns, and other shade perennials form the ground plane in late spring

Emerging Hostas, Ferns, and other shade perennials form the ground plane in late spring

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