A woodland garden provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Sunlight filters through dappled leaves, highlighting flowers tucked beneath the trees. A meandering path beckons you to find out what's around the next corner. Unless you happen to own an acre or two of natural forest, woodland gardens don't just happen. They require planning and care.
A woodland garden wouldn't be complete without a pond or babbling brook. No one needs to know that yours didn't occur naturally. There are vinyl pre-cast forms you can use, or dig your own shape and make it waterproof with a poly-vinyl liner. The challenge is getting a water source to the pond to replace water that evaporates. Ponds in nature become balanced naturally and don't require filters like man-made water features. With planning and diligence your gardener-made pond can achieve that natural balance as well. Surround the pond with bog plants. Add oxygenating plants to keep the water clear, along with a few floaters like water hyacinth and water lilies for interest.
Contact the agricultural extension of your local university and find out what wildflowers are native to your woodland areas. The extension will most likely know of several legitimate seed sources, too. Don't pick wildflowers or take their seeds unless you absolutely know it's permitted. Some are protected species. Never take more than a few seed pods from any one plant group. Spread the seed where it would grow naturally--sun-loving flowers in patches of sun and shade-tolerant flowers in the shade.
Create a bird sanctuary in your woodland garden. Provide water for drinking and bathing with a birdbath, fountain or water feature. Research the birds that live in your area and find out what they prefer to eat. Don't forget to look into migratory birds that pass through the area. Put bird feeders where predators can't easily get to them--cats can climb and wait to pounce on a feeder hung from a tree. Plan the garden so there is a steady supply of natural bird food, with plants and seeds throughout the season. Winter can be tough on our feathered friends, so remember to fill feeders on a regular basis.