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What to plant in a shaded woodland area please?

We have a long woodland area at the end of the garden, walled both sides, which we've never really been sure what to do with (picture shown):I've spent the long Easter weekend hoeing up the weeds and we're left with beautifully crumbly earth - earth that has never had anything planted in it. It does have wild garlic and bluebells and a few shrubs at the entrance to it, but the rest is bare and the weeds in this part are a constant problem. Someone suggested weed membrane, but would that kill off the weeds permanently? Any advice on the types of plants that might survive would be much appreciated.
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  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,262
    Ferns would look good and be in keeping, English bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, violets, pulmonaria, sarcoccoca, hellebores. Winter flowering jasmine against the walls, maybe some variegated ivy? Looks a magical place.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336
    I think what you need there is a selection of shade-loving ground cover plants, such as Heuchera, Vinca minor, etc.  Some here:
    and here:
    I wouldn't use membrane as that will slowly reduce the fertility of the soil and wildlife in general.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,730
    Just popping in to say I'm jealous
  • Lizzie27 said:
    Ferns would look good and be in keeping, English bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, violets, pulmonaria, sarcoccoca, hellebores. Winter flowering jasmine against the walls, maybe some variegated ivy? Looks a magical place.
    Ferns! Yes, I like that thought very much. Yes also to the snowdrops, primroses, hellebores etc too. Thank you! We also wondered about daffodils. I have to confess I will have to Google Pulmonaria and Sarcoccoca. 

    I see you're in Bath. What a lovely coincidence; this "magical place" is in Bath too  :smile:
  • I think what you need there is a selection of shade-loving ground cover plants, such as Heuchera, Vinca minor, etc.  Some here:
    and here:
    I wouldn't use membrane as that will slowly reduce the fertility of the soil and wildlife in general.



    Thank you so much, and thank you for the links. Interesting about the membrane; I have to say I'm not a fan but someone I know seems to be. The soil is beautifully dark and crumbly, so I wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardise that :) Thanks again.
  • Just popping in to say I'm jealous
    Thank you. It's a lovely oasis of calm, but oh the weeds!!  :D
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,000
    edited April 2021
    Careful with the daffodils, you don't really want lots of big yellow ones dominating the scene. Pale ones show up beautifully in shady spaces. The later flowering Pheasant eye ones are scented and there are dozens of charming little dwarf ones to choose from, some of which are also scented. Also other small bulbs  - crocuses, scilla, chionodoxa, winter aconites,  cyclamen coum for spring and  c. hederafolia for later flowers, trilliums. All bulbs, even relatively expensive ones, are good value because planted in the right conditions they return every year and multiply with minimal care.
    For perennials, Astrantia,  Brunnera, try silver leaved 'Jack Frost', Heuchera for some winter colour, Roscoea and primulas of various kinds except the real bog-lovers. Kierengeshoma flowers later than most and is a beauty.
    Nicotianas are annuals but don't mind shade and are night scented to attract moths - N. sylvestris is lovely. That and some foxgloves would give you summer flowers and some height as well and it looks wide enough for a small shrub or too, maybe squeeze in a Hamamelis...
    That lot should keep you going for a while :D
    Shade really isn't the problem people think it is, it's a great opportunity :)
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,106
    Hostas too, if it's not too dry. And foxgloves - the white ones would look particularly good there.
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 14,076
    edited April 2021
    It would be nice to have a 'destination' at the end - some art, or a structure, shed or somewhere to sit, if it gets any sun. Both Monty and Adam Frost have shaded wooded areas in their gardens. It might be interesting to look at what they have done with them.

    What type is the big tree?
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 5,668
    That’s really lovely! It would be nice to create a curved path, maybe with some irregular natural stones. If you had some taller ferns and such near the path so you can’t see the end, you could create a more mysterious feel and heighten the sense of wandering through the woods, with a shady seating area at the end. A few old logs, maybe some sculptural branches... ooh I can see it now!

    To control the weeds, mulch heavily with wood chippings that will gradually rot down, darkening and blending in.

    I can’t add much to the planting suggestions, but what is magical in the shady woodlands around me is carpets of white-flowered anemone nemorosa and the odd patch of delicate lilac hepatica.
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