Where shade is most dense we often assume that nothing will grow there.  The classic area is the ground below a well-established stand of trees, especially hardwoods like oak, maple and ash.  A walk in the woods proves that there are many ground dwellers that thrive very nicely in dense shade.  

Apart from plant selection, it is important to ensure that the soil that you are planting in is full of humus - the stuff of well-rotted fallen leaves (again we take our cues from the trees themselves).  Spread new soil that is enriched with peat or compost about 20 cm thick and plant your new woodland plants right in it.  

When shopping for woodland plants be sure ask if they are nursery grown, vs. dug from the wild.  Obviously you will be looking for the nursery grown stock.  

  • Canadian Ginger.  A classic, ground hugging plant that grows to zone 4 (Ottawa / Montreal). Look for glossy foliage: heart shaped leaves that hold their shape for most of the summer.
  • Trillium.  The official flower of Ontario is widely distributed across Central Canada and the Maritimes.  Look for red and purple varieties in addition to the typical white ones.
  • Lily of the Valley.  The toughest of them all.  Hardy to zone 2 (Edmonton).  An aggressive little mite, that grows to 20 cm tall and produces a fragrant white, bell shaped flower late in spring.

For more native woodland plants to go www.markcullen.com.