Woodland Wonders

I’m always interested in plants that can handle low-light and low moisture with ease. Plants that are happy in dry shade and show it by looking perky and healthy even on the driest of days and in the heat of summer. Plants that don’t seem to be bothered by disease, insects or deer. While it may not be a long list, here are some of my favorite woodland wonders.

Corydalis lutea is a delicate beauty in the dry shade garden. I transformed a pile of rocks in the back of my property into a yellow river by planting Corydalis there. A few plants from my parents’ garden have multiplied over the years and now I not only have a river, but also several tributaries! I particularly like how the plant self-seeds into the crevices of rocks – a stunning look and a wonderful example of what happens when you put Mother Nature in charge of landscape design.

Corydalis thriving in the shade
Corydalis self-seeding in the crevices of rocks

I always look forward to the dainty yellow flowers that emerge on my Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ in the spring as well as the red-veined foliage. While a standout early in the season, I find Epimedium to be a “neat and tidy” plant that looks good from spring to fall. All you have to do is cut the spent leaves to the ground in late winter and like magic its tidy foliage emerges from the ground after a long winter’s nap, prepared to repeat the stellar performance year after year.

Epimedium leaves in the spring
The neat and tidy foliage of Epimedium

Who would have thought that you could grow vegetables in the shade, but Allium tricoccum, commonly known as ramps, are all the rage! You’ll see them on many gourmet menus these days as the combination of garlic and onion flavor is appealing and accents many foods. I love them because of the allium-like flower. I’m lucky because I didn’t plant the ramps in my woodland garden. Mother Nature did (I just love her). Leaves appear in the spring followed by gorgeous blooms that burst like fireworks on bare stems.

The amazing shade vegetable – Allium tricoccum

Erigeron Pulchellus ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’ is a flowering plant (think miniature daisies on long stalks), but what I find most appealing are the tight rosettes of furry foliage that add an interesting texture that is impenetrable to weeds. Plant Delights Nursery describes this plant as a carpet with a 10-year stain resistant warranty! This selection is very attractive for the front of the border – a great ‘fill in’ plant.

The stain and weed resistant carpet of Erigeron
The flowers of Erigeron Pulchellus

Calycanthus floridus is a delightful, fragrant addition to the woodland garden. Its waterlily shaped flowers combine the scent of strawberries, banana, and pineapple if you pick the right cultivar/plant. It’s like a fruit salad on a shrub! How can you beat that?

Calycanthus floridus in bloom

I hope you’ll consider adding some of these special plants to your dry shade garden. From my perspective they are ‘tried and true’ options that won’t disappoint.

No Responses

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *