When we bought this house 25 years ago, I had no idea how important the little bit of woodland would become to me as I made a garden here. To start with we had the ancient trees with lots of brambles and nettles, bit by bit I managed to reclaim the woodland floor and as the years went by, more and more bulbs and spring flowers were added. I was aiming for a tapestry of flowers and leaves that would cover the soil and make it more interesting as the months of the year went by. Little spring ephemerals are plants that creep around on the woodland floor, flowers that come and go, they grow, flower and set seed before the leaves come onto the oaks, ash and chestnuts and make the woodland too dark for flowers to shine.
I think one of the first plants I bought was Anemone sylvestris, the wood anemone. This is now spreading nicely among the snowdrops in the leaf mouldy soil that I have built up over the years. You would think that after a couple of hundred years of leaves falling in the woodland that the soil would have been beautiful, but no, the same heavy clay as in the rest of the garden. I don’t know if the previous people had used the soil from here in the couple of beds that they made in the rest of the garden, but I spread leaf mould as a mulch every year and the soil is becoming nice and friable now.
Cyclamen repandum is a fairly recent introduction, the ants are spreading the seeds of this the same as C. coum and C.hederifolium. They have beautifully patterned leaves creating interest when the flowers are over.
Euphorbia robbiae is on the banks to the ditch, I’m just so pleased that something will grow in the soil which is full of tree roots, yes it spreads, but so far is quite well behaved.
The wild primrose is very much at home in the woodland, this plant has now been completely stripped of all its flowers, like a lot more of them in the garden, thanks to Mr P! I have managed to save my fritillaries but at the cost of lots of my primroses!
A tiny Veronica is happy amongst the ivy which I should really pull out.
Pulmonaria longifolia needs rescuing from the campanula before it gets strangled! The leaves are long and thin and the flowers a beautiful blue.
Forget me nots, Myosotis, are now spreading nicely and filling any gaps in the planting.
Pachyphragma is at the far end of the woodland on the slope, in previous years it has spread quite a way, but this year the patch is much smaller, I wonder why?
Claytonia is a tiny little creeping plant, but it never seems to come up in the same place twice! Little pink/white flowers are so pretty, this year they are edging the woodland path, the leaf is nice and shiny too.
The wild celandine is ruthlessly weeded out in the garden but a few are allowed to remain in the woodland where the flowers twinkle against the dark ivy leaves.
Erythronium Pagoda is looking beautiful at the moment. I always say, don’t go on holiday at this time of year or you will miss it! The flowers are over very quickly, but they are so beautiful, just like miniature lilies.
Anemone William Robinson is a blue form of the woodland anemone and is gently increasing amongst the snowdrops.
Honesty which I grew from seed, has come up in white and lilac, which was a very pleasant surprise as I thought they would all be lilac.
Tulip sylvestris, a species tulip, which I thought had to be a woodland flower with “sylvestris” in it’s name, apparently not, it will grow in the sun, but mine seem happy here. They start out with their heads bent over but straighten eventually. They also send out long runners underground and you find the odd tulip about 6 ft away, they are all welcome!
Adiantum venustum, the hardy maidenhair fern, is a fern which creeps about on the woodland floor, looking so delicate in the sunshine. All the new growth is coming through in a pinky brown colour, they will all soon turn green and make a weed suppressing mat for the rest of the year.
Oh no, Mr P is attacking my tiny Anemone blanda! It seems nothing is safe from his great big beak!
As well as the usual wild violets, we seem to have aquired a pink one and…
…….a pale blue one. I don’t mind the nibbles on the leaves as once I found that violets were the larval food for the Orange Tip butterfly, they are welcome to eat them!
I have planted Viola labradorica in the woodland and it is spreading it’s seed about, the pale green foliage in front is from Meconopsis cambrica, the yellow Welsh poppy which will be flowering soon, adding more yellow to the woodland and other borders.
Corydalis solida is on the side of the ditch with its lilac coloured flowers……
……but these are the seedlings from it. The one on the left has come true, the one on the right looks like C. Beth Evans and the one in the centre could be like C. George Baker. These seedlings will be potted up for putting elsewhere in the woodland in the autumn.
The main period for flowers in the woodland are Jan/Feb/March/April for snowdrops, crocus, hellebores and narcissus, then March/April for the fritillaries, soon there will be foxgloves flowering, but all the while there are tiny little flowers flowering in between the main flowers adding extra interest right down at floor level before it becomes too dark. Reading Beth Chatto’s books “The Green Tapestry” and “The Woodland Garden” has been such a help in deciding which little treasures would be happy on the woodland floor.