Just off Azalea Way, the Woodland Garden features two quiet ponds connected by a seasonal stream running through a small valley. The ponds and stream are framed by naturalistic stonework and an impressive variety of woodland plants. Originally designed in 1938, the Woodland Garden has matured into a layered mix of plants that thrive in a wooded setting.
Here you’ll find one of the largest Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) collections in North America. Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira,’ ‘Scolopendrifolium,’ and ‘Seiryu’ are just three of the more than 70 cultivars in this garden. Many cultivars were imported from Japan in 1940 and 1941 from famed nurseryman Koichiro Wada. Many others have been added in the decades since. Here you will see all the variety the species has to offer. If you’re thinking that autumn must be a great time to visit so many maples, you’re right! But the brilliant foliage of the redvein enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus), witch alder (Fothergilla major), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), and the Japanese spicebush (Lindera obtusiloba) shouldn’t be missed either.
The Woodland Garden is also lovely in spring when the Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is in bloom and new fronds are unfurling along the stream connecting the ponds. In summer the Lavelle hawthorn (Crataegus x lavallei), a small ornamental tree, displays glossy, dark green leaves, which are followed by abundant orange berries. The oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) blooms for several months, followed by other hydrangeas. And in winter the burgundy stems and swollen, claret-colored buds of the willow, Salix fargesii, will catch your eye. The swamp lanterns (Lysichiton americanum) of late winter and the delicate, fragrant blossoms of witch hazel (Hamamelis species) announce the spring is again on the way.