Friday, January 10, 2014

Woodland Flowers in May

Woodland Poppy or Celandine Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum

Common, humble flowers will always have a place in my garden, but I am always on the lookout for interesting, more unusual plants.

These aren't necessarily new varieties. On the contrary, they are sometimes old favourites that have, for whatever reason, fallen out of fashion. Many times I find they are just plants that I have simply overlooked. Then I will see it in some fresh garden setting and think: wow, isn't that nice! 

I am not sure which is more fun: the hunt or the new discovery. 

Woodland Poppy or Celandine Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum Height: 30-45 cm, Spread: 45-60 cm. Prefers moist soil and part to full shade. Beware it is a good self-seeder in the right conditions (although young seedlings are easy to remove). Zone: 4-9

One weekend in early spring 2013 the warm, sunny weather seemed like the perfect excuse for a drive in the country and a visit to a local nursery I haven't yet seen. 

Plant Paradise Nursery has a number of display gardens, but in mid-May, it was the flowerbeds that skirt a tall stand of pines caught the attention of my camera most.

As you can see from the pictures, this is a shaded area with dappled sun.

Foam flower, Tiarella wherryi

Does it get more delicate or pretty than these sweet little Foam flowers? 

These plants make a great groundcover in a moist, shady border or woodland garden. The cloud of starry, white flowers appear in late spring and continue into early summer.

Foam flower, Tiarella wherryi. Height: 20-30 cm, Spread: 25-30 cm Moist, shady conditions.

Creeping Speedwell,  Veronica 'Waterperry Blue' Height: 3-5 cm. Spread: 25-30 cm. Zones 4-9.

I like the dark reddish stems and tiny mauve flowers on this groundcover. New foliage can also have a bronzy-red cast. As you can see from the picture, it was in a somewhat sunnier spot (Full sun/part shade). 

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, 'Alba'. Height: 70-90 cm, Spread: 70-90 cm. Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. You can refresh the foliage after it flowers in early spring, but even so, it will go dormant by late summer. Hardy: Zones 2-9.

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, 'Goldheart'. Height: 60-90 cm, Spread: 60-90 cm. Part or full shade. Average to moist soil. Will go dormant by late summer. Hardy: Zones 2-9.

Every spring I add a Bleeding Heart plant or two. I just love them! The white variety is my favourite, with 'Goldheart' a strong second. 

As the name suggest 'Goldheart' has the most amazing golden foliage (even more buttery-yellow than my picture shows), but I find the pink flowers clash a little with the leaves. My only wish is 'Goldheart' had white flowers!

Silene, Rolly's Favourite Height: 40-45 cm Spread: 25-30 cm. Full sun/part shade. 
Average to moist soil. 

I have often admired this plant and must put it on my wish list for spring. (Note: It is not a woodland plant and needs a bit more sun.)

Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata 'Blue Moon' Height: 30-45 cm, Spread: 30-40 cm. Part shade. Fragrant flowers. Zones: 4-8.

Isn't this lovely? Like groundcover Phlox, Woodland Phlox blooms in spring. It looks happy growing in dappled sunlight at the nursery. I made the mistake of planting mine in too much shade and it eventually perished. Fortunately for me, it managed to re-seed itself in a slightly sunnier location.

There is also a fragrant white variety, which I tried out last year. Sadly, it too died and I will have to give it another go this spring.

How I wish Brunnera were not so darned expensive! There are so many nice cultivars.

I have resolved to try to add one new one each year. Here are a few of the varieties on display at the Plant Paradise Nursery:

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' Height: Spread: Heart-shaped silver leaves. Blue flowers in 
spring. Part to full shade. Moist soil. Zones: 2-9.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata'

Brunnera macrophylla 'Variegata' Height: 30-40 cm, Spread: 30-45 cm. Sprays of blue forget-me-not type flowers in spring. Part to full shade and moist conditions. Zones 2-9.

Sedum 'Jose Aubergine'  Height: 48 -70 cm, Spread: 50-70 cm. Full sun. Zones: 3a- 8b

I like the greyish foliage of this sedum I spotted at the nursery. The plant has deep rose flowers in late summer.

Our stunning provincial flower: Trillium grandiflorum Height: 20-50 cm, Spread: 30-50 cm. Part shade to full shade. Rich, moist, well-drained soil. Zone: 4-8.

Cowslip Primrose, Primula veris 'Sunset Shades' Height: 15-20 cm, Spread: 25-30 cm. Moist soil and part shade conditons. Zone: 3-9.

My success with Primula is modest at best. Harsh winters and dry summers are not ideal for these cottage garden favourites, but I keep trying. Here are just a few of the charming Primula growing in the shade of the Pine trees at the nursery.

Primula 'Gold Lace'

Cowslip Primrose, Primula veris 'Sunset Shades'

Cowslip Primrose, Primula vers 'Sunset shades'

Have a great weekend everyone! 

P. S. Please click the link if you want to see the nursery's display garden in summer. I promise to have the winner of the 66 Square Feet book draw up next.

More Information and Links:

Plant Paradise Nursery, Garden Centre & Display Gardens is located in Caledon, Ontario. The nursery website. Lorraine, the nursery co-owner's book: A Receipe for Continuous Bloom. Sign up for the monthly newsletter. The events and workshops for 2014. Visit Lorraine's blog


  1. I am counting the days til spring!
    Beautiful photographs, Jennifer. I especially love that poppy. I've not seen that variety.
    Have a fantastic weekend!

  2. Gorgeous flowers, love the bright yellow in the first ones! :-)

  3. These pics cheered up my day Jennifer!
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful garden.
    Last year I planted Primula and can't wait to see what they look like this Spring. I hope they make it.

  4. Beautiful flowers. I'd like to have all of them! We got some snow here in Finland - finally.
    Happy Saturday, Jennifer!

  5. Thank you for all the lovely summer photos on a day when it's snowing to beat the band... love the primulas!

  6. Wow ... Jennifer girl this was lovely ! ... Have you tried King's Ransom brunnera ? .. I think you might like it's foliage and of course the flowers .. I lost a special one last year (can't think of the name of it now, but it is very hard to find !) .. YES ! Goldheart .. if it had white flowers now that would be something .. I still love that wow factor it gives and I have it with some other gold coloured plants to blend with (Dream Catcher Kolkwitzia ) it blends well with Mountain Fire pieris believe it or not too! LOL ... I have a few primula as well, and they do seem to scream SPRING when they bloom don't they?
    Gorgeous post to see on such a dreary rainy day here !

  7. What a delightful post, how wonderful look at these pics in the winter, very cheering. I loved the little foam flowers

  8. What a lovely woodland garden! I love woodland flowers too, and my parents used to take us for extremely long walks through the woods to look for the first signs of spring (I grew up alongside the Niagara Escarpment, so lots of woods around then). I just love the foam flowers ... how sweet they are close up, and a great impact together ... must mark that one down and perhaps put some in with our fern garden. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blooms, I guess it's not too early to start planning your spring garden? Wendy x

  9. Lovely, especially on a dreary winter day. Love love love that Celandine Poppy. I wonder if it is too hot for it here... Most of the really pretty spring flowers (primrose, brunnera) do terribly here.

  10. Je viens de découvrir votre blog suite à une visite sur un autre blog et je suis ravie de voir votre beau jardin. J'ai vu plusieurs de vos billets qui sont très intéressant et que dire de vos photos qui sont superbes. Belle découverte!

  11. It's primula time here, but too rainy for me to go out and look for them - winter on Vancouver Island.
    I enjoyed your post - lovely ideas for our woods.

  12. I have a soft spot for woodland flowers, such an unassuming collection - nothing too garish or overblown - delightful.

  13. A wonderful edge garden! So many beautiful flowers!

  14. You have inspired me to put garden and garden centres on my to do list. Over on Vancouver Island there are two lovely woodland gardens open to the public. Poring over catalogs is pleasant but field trips are so much more exciting.

  15. So many great plants here Jennifer! I pinned the poppy immediately! What a super plant! And I am a huge fan of Jack Frost. My mom has several that have more then doubled their size...they have really made a statement in her shade garden. Thank you for all of the inspiration!!! Hope you are having a lovely weekend! Nicole

  16. you've listed so many of my favourite flowers here! Trillium, brunnera. Tiarella is amazing, so many different varieties and some with red colour in their leaves too. Shade plants are what I started gardening with so I'll always have a soft spot for these I think.

  17. Lovely woodland plant post. The Trillium grandiflorum is stunning but it won't grow in my garden, tried it twice. The pictures of the Tiarella wherryi are beautiful and than the Stylophorum diphyllum, a nice fresh yellow flower but invasive in my garden, I started with a give away from a friend and now there are too many of them

  18. What a lovely collection of woodland beauties! Some were new to me - woodland poppy, Silene - it's always fun to stumble upon interesting new plants to try. Thanks for a touch of summer in winter!

  19. I have a few of these, including Rolly's Favorite - a very tough plant. I really love those trilliums. I wish I had the conditions for them.

  20. I think the straight species Brunnera are not as expensive, personally I like it as well as Jack Frost and the other cultivars. And I love Celandine Poppy, I have lots of it!

  21. You had me drooling over all those woodland plants! I am planing to plant more tiarella as well as woodland phlox. I also planted primula for the first time last year, though I did not think it would grow for me. It was beautiful! I am waiting to see if it reappears this year. If so, I will add lots more!

  22. Great collection of woodland plants Jennifer. I'd love to have Trillium in my garden as well. I grow brunnera in full sun didn't know it's a shady plant. Will replant it in spring.
    Have a nice week!


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