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The Secret of My Woodland Garden

Leaves swirl in the breezes of November, glory fading in the last weeks of autumn. Thick piles of them blanket the woodlands where I have raked them from the moss paths onto adjacent natural areas. It was not hard work. Wet leaves are easier to rake than crumbly, dry ones, and rain for the previous two days made them easy raking. Golden sunshine, along with invigorating but not too cool temperatures gave my spirit a lift as I pulled at the sodden leaves. A lightweight, very wide rake helped, too.

I never tire of examining foliage in all its manifestations and stages. I love the shapes, the textures, the shadings and the way light plays against the veins. Below is an assortment of fall leaves:

November brought wonderful colors to the woodland garden. This photo is from the road, at the edge of the woodlands:

There is a secret ingredient to my colorful woodlands. I think it is what makes the woodland garden special. Can you guess what it is? I will tell you at the end of this post!

After raking leaves I enjoyed a stroll through the woodland garden. The little bridge is one of my favorite features: I take too many photos of it! Here are a few more, taken over a couple of weeks: Acer palmatum 'Orido Nishiki' turned from green to brilliant red almost overnight.

Weeping Deodar cedar 'Feelin' Blue' is a beautiful accent in the woodland garden year round, but its blue color is especially intense this time of year:

Here are some more images of the November woodland garden:The old birdhouse hanging in the trident maple tree is due for a refurbishment!

So, what is the secret ingredient of my woodland garden? 

It is the color blue! Look at all the woodland scenes above and imagine them without the blues of the deodar cedar and other plants with a blue tint to their foliage. Imagine the turquoise blue bridge gone. No faded blue of the old concrete bench. No blue-green birdhouse. Throughout the year the blues offer counterpoint and contrast to other colors in the woodland. One may not think of blue as a fall color, but I can't imagine the reds and golds without it!

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Reader Comments (25)

I am so like you. I love finding colors and textures in all the foliage plants in all stages of life. Nice photos of the leaves. I did see all the blues in your woodland. Blues are a less common color in nature and really pop when used like you have done. They make a nice foil to the warm colors of Fall and in Spring work well with those fresh greens too. Your woodland looks like such a peaceful place, Deb. It is really beautiful.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Just so beautiful, we just dont have anything as beautiful as that here in Tasmania.
Great job with your photography.


November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdeb

I would love to take a stroll in your woodland garden and walk over the turquoise bridge and then have a seat on the bench and take in all the colors and sounds and smells :-) What a beautiful setting :-)

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterToni - Signature Gardens

Photos of your garden are always stunning. Now I know why. Thank you for revealing one of your secrets...

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOne

I wrote an article recently on using blue foliage in the garden and how it shows off other colors to advantage. Your post was a great reminder to practice what I preach! My woodland garden is still under development and so far I haven't done that apart from adding blue hostas. Time to go shopping!

I've always coveted 'Feelin' blue' cedar too - I've used it in several designs but never my own; ANOTHER reminder to go shopping!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

You are an artist Deb! I was out a week or two ago raking my wood path of the leaves, thinking of you. There is moss growing and I was sure to heed your advice from previous posts. Sadly my wood path is still that. Just a path! But the future is calling to it everyday. It will come, no doubt! Thanks for all your wonderful inspiration!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEve

I'm not a fan of blue (except skies that is). I don't know why, just an odd quirk of mine. However, even I have to admit that the cedars bring more depth and color to your woodlands. Our woods are primarily all a similar shade of green. It's pretty, but rather monotonous, and I often wish there was more variation, more visual interest. As for your turquoise blue bridge, I really do love it. There's something about the bridge that really makes the color of your 'Orido Nishiki' pop! The last photo of that tree with the bridge is simply gorgeous! Perhaps I like blue after all :)

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

By the way, I love your new blog colors, and the new header too!

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

The photo of Acer palmatum 'Orido Nishiki' and your bridge is stunning. What a lovely place to stroll through and contemplate the beauty that surrounds you.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I wouldn't want to visit your garden (virtually) without the blue bridge. You can never have enough photos of it :-).

Your blue bridge has a corner of my heart. And the blues sing most gloriously with the blazing Japanese maples.

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElephant's Eye

Deb - every time I see pictures of your gardens I can't help thinking of a Monet painting. I know I've said that before, but it's just so true! The weeping cedar just stops you in your tracks.

Your little bridge reminds me that I need some 'color' for my gardens during the fallow time of the year. It looks very monochromatic here right now - though I won't complain about the 'warmer than usual' temperatures here in the Midwest. :)

November 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShyrlene

Beautiful photos. I love the bridge, the stone bench, and the use of blues. It's a fine compliment to all of the other colors -- and even makes them brighter. A living rainbow. Nicely done.

Yes it certainly does make your woodland magical Deb- blue makes the yellows young again and cool contrasts thefiery reds. The heavenly Weeping Deodar cedar looks huggable though I guess might be prickly?

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura @ PatioPatch

Hi Debbie, I'm able to enjoy a passion for a woodland garden I just don't have, yours is beautiful. I agree, blue is a wonderful compliment to greens in summer, but especially to the pinks, reds and yellows of autumn. your post would be perfect as it stands to join in my foliage meme, on the 22nd november (my post is up already) Do join so others can enjoy your woodlland as much as I do. Christina

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Deb - Sorry I had to check out the secret before the photos. Scrolling back, I see your point.
Everytime I come to your blog I think I've seen you garden at its best. Surely it can't get better than this ?

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

You're absolutely right! So simple and so effective. Something to keep in mind. Thanks, Deb.

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

So true - blue is the accent that makes every other color stand out (I think it is also true inside the house - a little blue accent goes a long way(, and your colors are so beautiful. This is why autumn is my favorite season.

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

Your blue cedar really stands out and shows your other beautiful trees to their best advantage. Your woodland always looks so beautiful - now it is stunning !

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

I love 'blue' coloured plants. So much so that it is the colour scheme of one of our new borders.

'Romantic' is the word that springs to mind whenever I see photos of your garden, lovely! :)

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Wow, your bridge is so charming, and I love the moss all around it. Such gorgeous scenery!

The weeping cedar is a lovely blue. It really does complement those reds and golds beautifully!

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

What a beautiful woodland! I can only hope my little strip of woodland edge will mature into a sliver of what you have. I was attracted to a bright turquoise tray to use as a bird bath and now I know why! And my BLUE spruce does have the same effect! Thank you for the revelation and just love that Weeping Cedar.

November 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthevioletfern

Hi Deb, I can see why you take lots of pictures of your little bridge with its turquoise blue handrails. it is a nice feature and as you say, the blue color is the perfect counter note to the other warmer woodland colors. The Weeping Deodar cedar 'Feelin' Blue' is beautiful. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

November 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I love your blue notes and the gorgeous color of your Japanese Maples. Beautiful golden fall color too! Your woodland garden looks wonderful.

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Wow thats beautiful

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertim
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