Garden Photo of the Day

Kristi’s Raleigh Garden

Making a garden in the woods

winding path cutting through the garden with lots of yellow flowers

Hi, I’m Kristi and I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. When we moved into our house 10 years ago, the backyard was heavily wooded. We loved it at first, but over time we realized that wooded does not necessarily mean low-maintenance. Eventually, we wanted some sunlight and to be able to go outside without the ground being muddy. We also had a deck that was starting to rot and a roof with moss and algae growing on it. So over the years we had several large trees removed that were close to the house and had a screened-in porch built. That’s when I caught the gardening bug. A lot of people want their decks and patios to feel like an extension of their home, but I wanted ours to feel like it was plopped down in the middle of a cottage garden. So I got to work. I started with creating the pathway and over the last three years have learned a thing or two about the importance of plant placement and choosing the right plant for the space. I rely mostly on perennials for this partial-shade garden (multiple phlox varieties, coreopsis, foxgloves, coneflowers, hardy geraniums, and hydrangeas, to name a few), but I also pop in different annuals each year. Over the past two years I’ve been working on two woodland garden areas. Both are pretty heavily shaded, so I use lots of hostas, ferns, oakleaf hydrangeas, and understory trees such as dogwoods, red Japanese maples, and redbuds. Although they aren’t necessarily the “stars” of the gardens, I’ve also made a point to add in lots of native trees, shrubs, and perennials. Every year I make new (and old) mistakes, but it’s been fun learning as I go. I’ve also enjoyed connecting with other gardeners online through Instagram (

shaded garden with orange and purple flowersBoth these plants—a blue Phlox divaricata (Zones 3–8) and a yellow coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata, Zones 4–9)—are North American natives that bring a lot of color to the garden.

winding path cutting through the garden with lots of yellow flowersThe yellow coreopsis blooms are a repeated theme in the garden.

garden bed on the edge of woods full of foliageAs the garden moves into more shade, the flowers are replaced by the foliage of hostas (Hosta hybrids, Zones 4–9), heuchera (Heuchera hybrids, Zones 4–9), and pulmonaria (Pulmonaria hybrids, Zones 3–9).

plants with bright pink flowers in the shadeImpatiens (Impatiens walleriana, Zones 10–11 or as annuals) bring pops of color into the shade.

garden bed full of different foliage plantsJust foliage alone can make for a wonderful planting, with a wide range of colors and textures.

gravel path through lush garden bedsA crisp gravel walk leads you through the informal cottage garden–style plantings.

garden bed near the woodsThe more-cultivated perennial beds are backed up by the beautiful woodlands behind.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 06/01/2022

    A garden from heaven. Well done. You worked hard to get such a uniquely beautiful spot. Congratulations. Nothing nicer than a shady garden being enjoyed from a screened-in porch.

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      Thank you for your kind words!

  2. User avater
    JanetInCwood 06/01/2022

    You have done a great job. Lovely to see the pictures. Nothing nicer than a crisp pathway like you’ve done. Thx.

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      Thank you so much. I really enjoy doing the work.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 06/01/2022

    I love that graceful curved gravel walk going through your pretty woodland garden!

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      Thank you! That curve has been tweaked more times than I'd like to admit 😩 😄

  4. jos29803 06/01/2022

    Nice job. Love the curves, textures and gravels paths make for a nice feel.

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      I appreciate that, thank you.

  5. btucker9675 06/01/2022

    Lovely - we have a 'woodland' section of our backyard south of Charlotte - we took down some of the scrawnier trees to allow a dappled sunlight to come through. Also have areas in full sun. I'm with you on the cottage garden style - it's the best! And coreopsis are like little clumps of sunshine!

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      I couldn't agree more on everything you said! I'm so grateful for the mature trees and coreopsis has become one of my favorite flowers/ground covers. Thank you for the kind words!

  6. Maggieat11 06/01/2022

    Lovely! And I like the "hill" in your garden for multi-level plantings. Mature trees in the background, sweet. Nice job.🌿

    1. user-7522312 06/01/2022

      Thank you! I have to admit, that I've really come to appreciate living in a bit of an incline.

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