Our property borders an old area of woodland, with a stream running down next to our drive on the far side. There are already some bluebells but we would like to add more flowers, however we would like to be sensitive to the area... in our garden itself things like tulips and crocuses and daffodils are planned but in the more wild area I don't want non-native species.

All I have thought of so far are bluebells and snowdrops, which we plan to plant ASAP as autumn is here in Northern England. Are there other spring/summer/autumn flowers, particularly bulbs, I should be aware of?

The right hand side of the drive is where I'm talking about... our garden proper is on the other side of the long wall:

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  • Northern England woodland made me think of bluebells - which you already have! Definitely keep and encourage those. Their range is becoming more limited and there are fears they will suffer from climate change (their blooming time has already changed a week or two from when I was a child)
    – winwaed
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 14:27
  • Would a ground cover such as Iberis sempervirens be out of limits? Please, never ever use periwinkle. Pachysandra terminalis (also the Chinese species) would be lovely. Most 'au natural' flowers are sporadic. Here and there, not masses nor homogeneous.
    – stormy
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:06
  • Violets if they are native to the area?
    – padma
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


This isn't a full answer, but if you have some English old-growth woodland to look after, then Richard Fortey's The Wood for the Trees is a good read. Fortey was a trilobite expert at the Natural History Museum, and he had a TV series about geology. With the proceeds he bought a few acres of beech woodland in the Chilterns. The book covers 12 months of the woodland including organism surveys (he has lots of contacts of course), history of the woodland, etc.

The geology of your woodland is probably different, but with climate change your climate is probably not far from what Fortey's woodland has experienced in the past few centuries. I don't know if you have beech, but he also has bluebells. Looking through the plates, many of the flowers are trees (cherry, hazel, holly) but there are also orchids (Monotropa and Ghost Orchid) and the Lesser Celandine. Cultivating chlorophyll-free orchids is probably virtually impossible, but it might be worth looking for Celandine and any other flowers you find in the book?

  • 1
    Just think twice before introducing lesser celandine - it can be pretty "encompassing" (aka "invasive").
    – Stephie
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:32
  • 1
    Fair enough. It isn't a flower I'd actually heard of before, and my recommendation of the book was more as a starting point.
    – winwaed
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 20:28

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