The Beauty of Woodland Gardens

By Kerry Ann Mendez

Woodland gardens can be a very beautiful addition to your overall landscape picture and restore a sense of balance and calm to your home. They are also usually low maintenance, which will further reduce one's stress level.

Design Ideas

When designing a woodland garden, use nature as your template. Forests are composed of trees, understory shrubs, perennials and groundcovers all growing together in a natural flow and not stiffly orchestrated. Start with selecting larger plants first such as trees and shrubs, then fill in with perennials and finally weed-smothering groundcovers and spring blooming bulbs. When possible, use plants native to your area.

Planting Tips

To create your piece of paradise, remember to work in plenty of organic matter (i.e., compost, rotted leaves) to the soil. To reduce transplanting shock and promote strong root development, use Bonide Root & Grow in planting holes. Apply a nutrient-rich mulch, such as Feeding Mulch, to help retain moisture and reduce weed competition. Finally, all newly installed plants should be soaked in well (even those labeled drought tolerant) and then watered every few days for the first couple of weeks (or longer), depending on natural rainfall.

Plant Suggestions

Below are some lovely woodland beauties for Maine gardens that Estabrook's will be carrying this year:

Smaller Trees



  • Ferns - Plenty to choose from including Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum, native), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides, native) and Red-Stemmed Lady Fern (Athyrium filex-femina, nativar)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia) - We have many varieties including canadensis, a lovely red and yellow flowering, native columbine.
  • Foamflower (Tiarella) - There are many great choices! Those in the cordifolia species are native. 'Running Tapestry' is one that acts like a groundcover a nice alternative to Pachysandra and Myrtle.
  • Hosta - Of course!
  • Coral Bells (Heuchera) - Those in the villosa species are tolerant of heat and humidity and are native to the Eastern U.S. Cultivars include 'Caramel' and 'Bronze Wave'.
  • Grasses - Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechola), Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium, native)
  • Sedge (Carex): We have 4 stunning varieties in the EverColor series plus Oak sedge (appalachica, native) and 'Blue Zinger'
  • Groundcovers - Wintergreen (Gaulthera procumbens, native), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum, native), Windflower (Anemone canadensis), Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)
About the Author

KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at Estabrook's consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more. Plus, don't miss her Garden Webinar series!

Kerry Ann Mendez