My favorite springtime destination at my workplace, Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin, is our lovely wooded Wildflower Garden.
Oaks, maples, and shagbark hickory form a canopy of dappled shade, while birches and aspen thrive adjacent to a pond. Witch hazel, pagoda dogwood, redbud, spicebush, and pawpaw are dotted throughout the understory, but the real stars are the spring-blooming ephemerals and woodland natives.
Natural gardens like this one are best managed with a light touch. As soon as snow recedes, large branches and debris are picked up, and we might tidy up path edges or redistribute piles of fallen leaves. We sometimes divide and move plants from well-established clumps, or thin plants that fill in aggressively, crowding out more delicate companions. The well-established plantings are so dense that little weeding is necessary. I highly recommend incorporating some of these lesser-known woodland gems into your shade garden. Unless otherwise noted, all…
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