Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Photo: Scott Woodbury

Shady Haven

You may not have a true forest on your property, but you can mimic a cool, woodland garden with native shrubs, trees and perennials.

The garden design shown here is a partial or high shade planting that allows some light to filter through and allows woodland edge plants to thrive along with true shade-lovers like Wild Ginger, Jacob’s Ladder, Celandine Poppy and Virginia Bluebells. The suggested trees and shrubs offer both seasonal color and food and cover for wildlife. Add a bench for relaxing and to provide a sense of organization and purpose.


  1. Crested Iris (Iris cristata)
  2. Wild Sweet William (Phlox divaricata)
  3. Woodland Spiderwort (Tradescantia ernestiana)
  4. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
  5. Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
  6. Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
  7. Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)
  8. Wafer Ash (Ptelea trifoliate)
  9. Copper Iris (Iris fulva)
  10. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
  11. Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
  12. Golden Currant (Ribes odoratum)
  13. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  14. Indian Cherry (Rhamnus caroliniana)

Native landscaping isn’t just for the back yard! If you want to establish a formal native shade garden for your front yard or other area, this  plan can help you. This Front Yard Formal article by Scott Woodbury from the spring 2019 issue of the Missouri Prairie Journal is a companion to this plan, and contains photos of many of the featured plants. Learn more about plants featured in this plan from this audio file from Scott, and learn more about the plants’ growth habits from this audio file from Scott. The following practices apply to plantings where some degree of control is desired. That is, these design elements will help produce a garden that looks as though it was thoughtfully designed and planned as opposed to a naturalistic meadow or recreated prairie where plants grow more randomly.

Shady Haven