Designing and Planting a Woodland Garden by Keith Wiley: A review

Designing and Planting a Woodland Garden: Plants and Combinations that Thrive in the ShadeDesigning and Planting a Woodland Garden: Plants and Combinations that Thrive in the Shade by Keith Wiley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Keith Wiley is a gardener in the U.K., where he is a regular contributor to horticultural and lifestyle magazines and has appeared on many television programs about gardening. Over the last ten years, he and his wife have created a new garden from a bare field and they now run their own nursery there. His book is mostly directed at gardeners in his own country, but the principles he discusses, as well as many of the plants, have applicability in the U.S.

Woodlands are popular places in Nature the world over. They evoke a powerful response in people. The colors, textures, interplay of shade and lighting of such a place can impart a sense of peace and tranquillity which is extremely restful to the spirit. Thus, creating a woodland garden can mimic the atmosphere of that natural setting, which might help to explain why they are so popular.

Wiley explores the characteristics which help to make a well-designed woodland garden. Such a garden would certainly contain towering trees but could also have moss-covered stones and pockets of shade where colorful blooming bulbs can flourish. It might even contain a quiet water feature.

The key to a woodland garden, and indeed the key to any successful garden, is probably first of all the soil, but second, surely, is the choosing of the appropriate plants that will thrive in the setting. Much of this book is given over to a listing of woodland plants from trees and shrubs to ferns, grasses, and grass-like plants with a discussion of what is needed for their proper care and cultivation.

Wiley explains about the need to combine plants that enjoy similar conditions in order to create self-supporting colonies. He gives us his hand-picked selection of interesting, often less well-known, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, ferns, and grasses that will mingle easily with familiar favorites in order to create the woodland effect in a naturalistic style.

The principles which the author discusses are applicable whether one has a postage stamp-sized garden or several acres. His book should be a useful tool for anyone seeking to design and plant a woodland garden and see it grow and succeed.

(A copy of this book was provided to me free of charge by the publisher for the purposes of this review. No other remuneration was received and the views expressed here are entirely my own.)

View all my reviews


  1. Thanks for this review, it's a must have book for me!

    1. Amazing! I actually thought about your garden as I was looking at this book! Some of the pictures reminded me of ones you have posted. I think it is probably a natural fit for you.

  2. I think I need this book. Our yard here is not as large as the one we had in Florida, but it presents some interesting challenges of its own. I want to plan things carefully before I start planting.

    1. If you are interested in creating a naturalistic setting, this book might be very helpful to you. It's always a challenge to begin anew in a different setting, but this book does have very practical information and advice.

  3. Oh to have a woodland! That would be my dream.

    1. Well, according to this author, you could have one! Just takes planning and execution.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

Overboard by Sara Paretsky: A review

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review