Uvularia grandiflora – Woodland Merrybells is native to eastern North America and an important pollen source to wild bees (Mason, Bumblebees). The pendulous bright yellow flowers (1.5-2″ long) with slightly twisted petals appear mid to late spring, but usually go summer dormant. This Award of Garden Merit winner can be divided in early spring. Grows 24-30″ tall and 12″ wide. Zone 3.
Cyclamen coum – This hardy cyclamen blooms late winter into early spring, with variable flowers of white, pink or magenta. The small rounded foliage may be primarily green or highly decorated with silver variegation, forming rings or patterns. This perennial grows from small tubers and can be very slow to establish, it also goes summer dormant. Grows 2-3″ tall. Hardy to zone 5.
Arisarum proboscideum – Mouse Plant is probably my favourite woodlander, much in part to its unusual spathes that look like a tiny purplish-brown and white peanut, with a long curly tail. These appear in April but are almost always obscured by the dense foliage of glossy arrowhead-shaped leaves – still, it’s fun to go looking for them. Grows 6″ tall and 15″ wide. Hardy to zone 7.
Arum italicum – Cuckoo Pint is a strange little perennial with boring greenish-white spathes in early summer followed by spectacular drumstick seedheads of reddish-orange. The attractive dark green foliage (often with creamy-silver variegation) does go summer dormant, but reappears in fall and lasts through winter. Grows 8 to 12″ tall. Hardy to zone 6.
Dicentra spectabilis (renamed Lamprocapnos spectabilis) – Few shade plants are as reliable and showy as the old-fashioned Bleeding Heart. This tall perennial is very cold hardy and tolerates a fair bit of sun here in coastal BC. The pendulous chains of rose-pink heart-shaped blooms with white accents appear in May-June. Usually goes summer dormant. Grows 36″ tall. Zone 3.