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Fire in the Wild Woods

The above photo is a shot taken of the woods across the road from my house. Beneath these tangled limbs is where my woodland garden is located. The fiery glow fortunately comes from the setting sun, approximately 93 million miles away, and my garden is quite safe!

I took that shot with my telephoto lens zoomed to its max. Below is the same view, taken with less zoom:

Another shot, across from my house, with the sunset reflected in the upper woodlands:

Earlier in the day, before the sunset, I took this photo of the woodland trees, viewed through the arch near my patio. The shrubs in the foreground are azaleas and yaupon hollies:

Winter, stripping the leaves, reveals the thickness of the wild woods. The forest has begrudged me a few paths and planting areas, but when I am gone, vines and woody tentacles will quickly reclaim the land I borrowed. There was an old saying that a squirrel could enter the state of Alabama on its northern border and travel from tree to tree, all the way to the coast without touching the ground. I believe a modern squirrel could do the same, though he might have to be creative in choosing his route.

I like the woods. They shelter my garden, and they provide homes for an abundance of wildlife. I love when the birds come out of the woods to visit my bird feeders. Below are a cardinal, a white throated Sparrow, and in the last photo, a black-capped chickadee, who seems to be asking the sparrow if he can have some too!

In a couple of months the bare branches will all have fresh new leaves, and the tangled mess of limbs will look simply lush. Every chance I get now, I walk the property to find signs of spring. But the evergreen plants that have persisted through the dreary winter catch my attention. The nandinas are spectacular. Note the white berries a single nandina in the woodland garden produces. All the others have the more common red berries.

And here are a few other plants that continue to provide winter interest:Top row: Variegated pittisporum; Autumn fern. Bottom row: Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'; Azalea.

The urn in the lady garden still contains the remains of last year's Boston fern. The vignette, with the rusty bicycle in the background, has winter appeal:

Spring is coming, but when I see my wild woods lit up in the burning sunsets of winter, or when I admire plants that provide interest when others are dormant, I do not mind if this season lingers for a few more weeks. Yes, I said weeks!


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Reader Comments (20)

Good Morning Deb! You caught my attention with the word FIRE!! The sunrises and sunsets are quite gorgeous this time of year. Love seeing the fire through your trees! Lovely! I am watching lots of birds coming out of the protection of a large white pine . . . all heading right for the crabapple orchard. I cannot hope for signs of spring for sometime yet! It is OK though, as I have so much to catch up on before more work comes my way. Enjoy your spring search. I love your White-throated Sparrow and your last photo with its graceful shadow of what was your fern.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Beautiful photographs, Deb! I am glad it was the sun and not fire firing up your woodlands. We've had some scary leaping flames in area woods a couple times this past month, as we are in fire season here. We are having the loveliest spring weather and so much new growth here right now. I hope winter has passed on for the year.

Your bird captures are so lovely!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

Ah! You had me with that first photo! Great lead in ;) Happy birds have been a delight to watch this winter...the little chicadees are so skittish and humble compared to the sparrows!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCat

I love your first shot! There's nothing like that sunset glow is there?

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSweetbay

Oh, what amazing photography! I just love your first fire photo...so many times a photograph doesn't capture what the scene really looked like if you had been there - but this photo certainly does. thanks for sharing!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Gardening has taught me to pay more attention to winter and to enjoy it more - I think because gardening has taught me to pay more attention to the natural world in general and to see beauty where I might not have before. The sun's fiery light shining through the winter landscape is stunning.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

This weekend was fabulous Deb! I really am planning a trip to your garden this spring! Everything looks SO beautiful. That lens seems to be doing very nicely! I love that white nandina!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEve

I thought your woods were on fire! Great trick and beautiful sunset. I'm glad the garden is safe and sound. :o)

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Beautiful bird photos!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMcArtor

You had me worried there for a moment. I love the sun through the trees. I get the sunrise through mine and it is a great way to start the day. Your photos are beautiful. I am anxious for spring too but a few more weeks of winter is doable. I guess we will find out tomorrow what we are in for.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

Love the bird pictures. It's as if they are trying to tell us something.....Ha.....
The final picture is beautiful. Love the urn.....

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Hi Deb. How pretty. It does look like the woods are ablaze. You have some great foliage and winter interest plants ans shrubs in your garden. I need more of that but I fight for space here. I love the berries in winter.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLona

That's the only sort of woodland fire I ever want to see! It's beautiful though, and such a lovely warm glow for mid-winter. That said, spring is closer than we think. I love your bird shots, you're right, that chickadee looks to be approaching the seed with a little trepidation. Love the yellow eyebrows on the sparrow...I don't see any like that here.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Deb, I love your woods that shelter many. It's a place that I enjoy spending time in... admiring nature and its wonders.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOne

Woods/wildlife/blazing sunsets ... as good as it gets, Deb!

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoey

Dear Deb - you had me there for a moment as it really does look like an inferno through the trees. Fire can be a great purifier of woodland in its destructiveness but glad yours in still intact and glowing with winter colour. Nandinas have been on my wish list for a while - are they part shade plants? Beautiful post

February 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura @ PatioPatch

I'm glad that forest isn't really on fire! Your photographs are beautiful and I think that sparrow facing the camera is beyond adorable.

February 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEliza @ Appalachian Feet

Loved the bit about the squirrel crossing the state.
Thanks for this special view of your garden at this time.
I think all times in the garden are precious - there is always something to see - cliche, but true!

February 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

Beautiful photo! it really is fire

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfer

Beautiful. There is something so magical about woodland. How wonderful to be able to carve paths through it and enjoy it, I think the sense of the ephemeral, the knowledge that the plants will quickly reclaim those paths, just adds to the experience. And what gorgeous birds!

February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

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