This week found me building a new woodland garden full of native woodland plants in Glens Falls, NY, which is ten minutes south of Lake George. The garden beds that were filled sit underneath the shade of two Sugar Maples most of the day, but not so close to the Maple trees to dry the soil out. The shade is classic woodland conditions, moist and dappled sun part of the day, which, coupled with native plant selections, is a seamless recipe for shade gardening success.

Our vision for this garden design was to stack a taller layer against the back outside corners, which will frame the porch nicely. We used Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh) and Caulophyllum thalictrodes (Blue Cohosh) to achieve this height. Next to that, Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple) and Geranium maculata (native Geranium) give a nice second forest floor layer feel in the garden on both sides.

Planting the two Trillium luteum (yellow Trilliums) was a spaz. Any encounter with Trillium is always breath taking, whether they are stumbled upon in the wild (and left untouched) or purchased from a reputable Trillium nursery. These two yellow Trilliums will bloom within a week, brightening the whole street for awhile.

Two species of Viola were planted as border groundcover, Viola pedata and Viola triloba. Viola is a butterfly host plant for the Fritillary species butterflies; it’s wonderful to add Viola to shade gardens because the Fritillaries are a federally listed endangered and protected butterfly family. Many of the other plants in this woodland style shade garden behave as host plants to other butterflies, and at the sunny edge of the porch we planted nectar rich Phlox maculata (native Phlox) and Scuttelaria incana (Scullcap) which will draw the adult butterflies in.

All the butterfly activity in the new woodland garden will be delightful for everyone in this Glens Falls family.