Gardening with Woodland Plants, By Karan Junker

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Review by Erik van Lennep

©2007 Timber Press

Coming from the East Coast of North America, a region still largely forested and given a chance, quick to revert to trees, I have a long and happy association with woodland habitats and shade gardens. Woodland plants are among my favourites, and books on woodland plants outnumber the rest in my own library. I am always interested to see how the woodland garden is interpreted in the European context, and Karan Junker's encyclopedic treatment of the subject did not disappoint me. I found it a little disconcerting to navigate her purely alphabetic listings as she dispensed with the customary divisions by tree, shrub, perennial, etc. But this was only a minor annoyance for me, and others might not be inconvenienced by this at all.

Woodland plants are in many cases synonymous with shade plants, and there are many situations where they will do, even without the ovrestory of trees to protect them, But don't be daunted by lack of forest cover, Karan provides a good explanation on how to establish your woodland canopy. With the need to sequester masses of carbon now, many are advocating tree planting. While this will not reverse climate change by itself, there are plenty of other reasons for planting trees, creating woodlands and nurturing forests, from protection of biodiversity, to mitigation of severe weather, and simply enjoyment of the human habitats and subtle beauty found beneath the canopy.

Karan Junker has been growing and propagating woodland plants for more than twenty years. With her husband, she owns and runs Junker’s Nursery in Somerset, England, specializing in lesser-known trees and shrubs, many of which adapt well to woodland cultivation. Her articles have appeared in Gardens Illustrated and the Garden, among other leading magazines and newspapers.

See excerpts of this book online