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New Woodland Entrance

Gardens change just as the seasons come and go. Ever since there was a woodland garden in the little valley on the other side of the drive leading to our house, its entrance trail was marked by several ancient dogwood trees.Colorful fall foliage of dogwood trees marks the entrance to the woodland garden in this fall, 2009 photo.

Some of the same trees are on the lower right in this March 2011 photo of the woodland garden.I have known for several years that the ones leading directly into the main part of the woodland garden were slowly dying of old age and accumulated years of stress, but I still hated when Lou sawed the last one down this winter. Though I am comforted by the three small ones that have sprouted nearby, it will be years before they grow as tall as their parents.

So what is to take their place? Can anything take their place? I ruled out another tree because I want to give the preexisting baby dogwoods room to grow, but I needed some vertical accent here. 

Here is my solution:

After Lou installed this new birdhouse for me, I thought the post was not substantial enough for the space, so I moved the stone rabbit from the other side of the path. The winter woodlands look so bare, but I know that soon the new birdhouse will be surrounded by foliage and flowers. I am eager to dress up the post, but, because it is pressure treated, I have to wait several weeks before painting or staining it. Patience! I am also thinking about putting a decorative bracket on the post with some sort of garden sign hanging from it.

The woodland entrance looks different now, but I am happy with it. At the front of the entrance trail, there still remain three of the oldest dogwoods, their curving trunks joined at the base. They are seen in the lower left photo above. They look healthy for now, but I know they too are probably beyond their life expectancy. I can't imagine how I could replace them, but that is a problem for another day.

Meanwhile, since I was in the redecorating mood, I also moved several pots to make a grouping across from the entrance. These are frost proof pots, which stay out all winter. I probably will put plants in a couple of them when spring arrives, but I like their empty appearance:

Before I close, how about some February flowers? Above left: Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection' is growing in the woodland garden. It is young but already appears to be a heavy bloomer. Above right: In a January post I showed Daphne odora 'Marginata' when it was covered with buds. Look at the blooms now! Winter daphne needs excellent drainage. I can guarantee its requirements only in the controlled environment of a pot. Usually it sits in the garden at the top of the hydrangea walk. However, because of the amount of rain we have through the winter, I have moved it temporarily to the patio, where it sits under the shelter of the eves next to the glass doors to the kitchen. A bonus is that we get to watch the blooms as we eat breakfast each day.

Have a great week!   Deborah


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Reader Comments (34)

That birdhouse is a fantastic idea, instant vertical height and accents/demarcates the entrance :)

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Hi Deb.....OH, I just LOVE your woodland garden!! I love how the path winds through it and how you have the rocks outlining your beds. The birdhouse is a fabulous addition. I have been trying to find an upright rabbit exactly like yours. So far no luck, but I will keep searching. We have some woods at the very back of our property (past the meadow) and I've been thinking of making a woodland garden. However they are pretty far from the house, so it's still in the "maybe" phase! Thanks for a wonderful post!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

Your woodland has such an elegant, quiet look in its winter state. It changes everything when a large anchor tree comes down, like that dogwood, but as your are finding now, it gives you a chance to redesign a little bit. The bird house can't replace the tree, but it does a different job of anchoring that entrance, and it does it beautifully!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

What a beautiful woodland you have. I love your new entry. And camellias! Lucky you. The botanical garden near us is having its indoor camellia display. Wonderful post!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercommonweeder

What a delightful place. I do like what you have done with your bird house and the rabbit. It makes the area look so inviting - a little sign would add to that effect!
A beautiful Camellia and Daphne. Good luck with choosing what to put in your pots - those are gorgeous and deserve something spectacular in them!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

It's always sad when a plant has to go and worse when it is a tree, but you've solved the problem of height beautifully, as I was reading I was going to suggest a tall grass, but I think the bird box is more in keeping with the woodland. The light looks wonderful. I thought the Daphe needed moist rich soil. Christina

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Lovely entrance to your woodland, makes you want to explore further. The perfume from your Daphne must be wonderful at the moment!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

Hi Deb - oh the trauma we go through when our gardens change without our consent! I think you've done a great job already. Love the rabbit beneath the birdhouse. What about clustering some Carex or Heuchera at the base - perhaps the rabbit can peek above some H foliage? It would strengthen the ground plane visually and add some extra evergreens there.

I know you didn't ask for ideas but it's that gardening gene within....! Take care

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

Hi everybody! I appreciate your taking the time and thought to comment, and each of your comments means a lot to me. Karen, I am always thankful for suggestions, especially from a gifted designer like you! I already have woodland phlox and variegated Solomon's Seal planted in the area at the base of the post, but I was planning to add some additional plants. I think heuchera or carex is a great idea! Deb

February 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

The birdhouse on a post looks great there! It looks good with the little rabbit, and I'm sure it will look fabulous come spring when you get to play with some flowers! That daphne is gorgeous!

February 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Hi Debs - I have always liked your woodland. Often we make changes just for the sake of it and other times like this its essential.

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

Hi Deb! I'm sorry for your dogwood trees (Cronus mas or kousa or what?) but I'm very impressed with the 'replacement'! I love that house, even though I have no clues on what a pressure treatment could be (never mind). I'm not a fan of garden 'sweet' sculptures but I really like that rabbit and it looks perfect in there.
I'm glad you can see the daphne during breakfast and I guess the scent shall be fantastic too (of the daphne, not the bacon).

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

What a wonderful space you have! I love the birdhouse solution, too! Jeannine

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

Deborah what a stunning entrance now...love the bird house and description of how you will transform it....

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I like what you've done, Deb! Rabbit figurine helped a lot!

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

It's absolutely enchanting, Deb! The birdhouse and the rabbit add extra magic. Nice job!

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

Everyone is talking about their blooming camellias and I think I'm jealous. Not hardy for my garden where we are still under a blanket of snow. I love your birdhouse addition and your woodland path.

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersensible gardening

I'm so pleased you've given those dogwoods space to grow. It is sad when we have to say goodbye to plants, but with the departure of a plant comes an opportunity - and you have seized it!

Your woodland garden looks like a lovely place to be and your Daphne odora looks very happy despite the rain.

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Gardening Shoe

Alas I have decided there is no room in my small garden for a woolland area. But love yours.

February 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercatharine howard

I loved walking through your garden with you. I purchsed two bird houses this past fall and plan to put them up this spring. I appreciated your comments on how you used yours. Thank you fro sharing.

February 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

I agree, a sign hanging on the post would be a good idea and different too. Camellias would be a nice touch too. It looks like a pretty entry already.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I love your woodland garden...and so wish I could have something like that here...we don't have woodlands in a hot climate..so I need to dream of them instead.
It must be such a pleasure to walk through there and look for wildflowers.


February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Good-looking renovations, Deb. And, I vote for leaving the pots empty as long as you can; they make interesting art. Cheers.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLee May

Everything is lovely in your woodland garden, the fragrance of daphne is wonderful isn't it? What is the lowest temperature that you get over your way. In winter we can get down to 0° c a few times, but usually it's around the 5 - 10 ° c mark.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Deb - The new birdhouse is a wonderful addition to the woodland garden as was the rabbit. I also like the idea of some sort of "junker" garden-theme sign hanging on the post or directional signs (think Alice in Wonderland). I would really really like to know how you got that moss to grow in your pathways. We have some of the property but I have no idea how to encourage it to grow more.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Jones

The birdhouse provides a great vertical accent, and those paths call to be wandered down!

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Deb - Thanks for directing me to your posts that explained how you got the moss pathways started. I think I ended up reading 4 or 5 different posts on your woodland gardens. Your search feature is kinda hidden -- I was looking for a search BOX.

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Jones

I love the birdhouse, too. I also think a bracket would look great. I'm not sure if this is your style, but if you go to the Seeds of Change website and click on the gifts tab. They have signs for sale made from old license plates. One says GROW and the other says I LOVE TO GARDEN. Just a thought! I bought one of each for my garden. :)

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

I'm imagining you eating breakfast as you view those sweet daphne blooms... crack open the window and take a deep breath for me. Love the scent of daphne! Our summer's are too hot to grow them here. Your birdhouse is the perfect solution for that spot and the bunny steals my heart.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

A garden is always changing, but it must be hard to lose your treasured dogwoods. The new birdhouse looks terrific and I like the idea of adding a sign post.
P.S. I am glad that your book arrived and you are enjoying reading it.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

It's always amazing how something as simple as a bird house can serve to help anchor a space. I agree, the vertical element is perfect for drawing the eye. I love the little copper roof too. Will you paint the post the same color as the blue bridge that's further back in that field of view?

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

The new birdhouse looks great. Why not grow a vine on the post? I am always looking for places to put vines!

May I ask what type of camera you use for the close ups of the flowers? Your posts and photos are lovely - I have been enjoying them for some time now.

February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCecilia Duval

How lovely to eat breakfast in winter while looking out at daphne blooms.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJean
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