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Stone Stairway to the Woodland Garden

I have a new entrance to the woodland garden. I am thrilled about this, as I have dreamed of it for years. The older, main entrance is quite a way from the house. One walks down the road and enters from the lower part of the front lawn. You can see this entrance in a recent photo from within the woodland garden. Look past the birdhouse, and you can see the path that leads from the lawn:Summer in the woodland garden

While I usually used the main entrance when touring folks around the garden, there was another way into the woodland garden. It was directly across from the house and was much handier, but it also involved walking down a steep slope on precarious homemade steps and tree roots. Earlier this year Lou watched as I maneuvered my way down the hill, and then he announced it was time for me to have a proper stairway. I think he was worrying about my arthritic hip.


Here is what the top end of the woodland garden looked like:If you squint, you may see one of my homemade steps in the distance.

Here is the same view, with a portion of my recently completed stairway visible in the background:A distant view of the new woodland stairway

I had to wait a few months for Paul, the stone guy, to get to my project. He finally showed up the very morning I was scheduled to have my hip replaced, about thirty minutes before I was to leave for the hospital! After all that waiting, I could not believe the day he chose to come. (It happened that I had talked to him a few weeks before, and there was a miscommunication about dates.) I asked Paul to wait until I was at home and on the road to recovery. He was very understanding and agreed to come back at a later date.

The wait was worth it. Here is a closer view of the new stone stairway:The rustic stone stairway is a perfect entrance to the woodland garden.

You can see that the stairway includes some planting beds along the sides. Frustration! I am three weeks into my recovery and in no shape to be planting anything. However, my friend Janet came over and kindly moved potted plants from various areas of my garden to give the stairway a more completed look. I have often used potted plants for instant gratification whenever I needed something in a particular spot, but for whatever reason was unable to plant it directly in the ground.

Here are some closer views of the potted plants I used:

Top: Variegated ivy; Stromanthe tricolor. Middle: Two types of plectranthus; Variegated plectranthus is in the green pot on the right. Bottom: Birds Nest Fern and Voodoo plant are on the left; Asparagus fern is on the right. At the top of the woodland stairway is a pot with Chamaecyparis 'Blue Boulevard'.

I had better get well in a hurry, so that I can keep the woodland garden worthy of its new entrance. If you have followed my blog for long, you may recognize the following scenes, but I thought you might like to see the views as one comes down the new steps.

Clockwise are shots taken from the stairway directly ahead, to the right, and to the left:

My physical therapist was right when he said my garden was its own therapy session. That is especially true now that I have a stairway to practice on, though very carefully!

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Reader Comments (25)

Now that is an elegant stone stairway, looks perfect for its spot!

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Oh how beautiful! Those stairs add so much to that space... fit for a queen. And you, my dear, are the queen... enjoy your beautiful woodlands... slowly and grandly.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

I love, love, love your new stairway! What a difference it made in looks, even though the biggest difference is in safety. And so smart of you to place some potted plants along the pathway to give it a "completed" look. Nice of your friend, too. I hope your recovery continues to go smoothly. I agree that gardening is wonderful exercise.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

Perfect, the steps will make life much easier and safer for you, you could also design a handrail to make them even safer. The woodland is lovely as always. Take the recovery gently, and take all the offers of help that you get, sorry I'm not closer ot I'd come to help! Christina

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

The steps make such a difference and will make it so much easier for you to continue your rambles round your woodland. Do take care and try not to do too much too soon. How lucky you are to have a good friend to do the planting round your steps, they look lovely.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpauline

That is a handsome stairway! Paul the stone guy did a wonderful job.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

Amazingly beautiful. I remember you telling me to be careful when I was going down the slope on my visit. Your garden is really special.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim

With or without plants along the edges, the stone steps are great. He did a nice job making them fit into the woodsy natural look. They are not only functional (especially for a bad hip), but they are also a pleasing hardscape feature as you enter the semi-wild shadiness of your woodland garden. Just beautiful!

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

Congratulations! The stairway looks fantastic, and is certainly a vast improvement.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjason

The stairs turned out beautifully. Paul does nice work. Hope your hip is doing well. It can be painful, as I am also in need of surgery. Good days and bad, so I keep putting it off. My neighbor had a hip replacement and hasn't walked right since. Has a lot of pain after surgery too, so I thought I would wait until I just can't..

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Oh yes, I would say it was worth the wait! It's beautiful, Deb! You must be pinching yourself--not believing it's really finished? It looks like one of those fancy landscapes that are featured on garden TV shows or in gardening magazines. Congratulations! And I hope your recovery is speedy!

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

I love it!! Send your stone guy over to my house. :o) It's just made your beautiful garden even lovelier and I didn't think that was possible.

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Wow -those steps are amazing! Paul the stone guy rules! And the whole woodland is exquisite.

Looks wonderful, Deb. Glad to see the new addition and to hear that you are progressing through recovery. Just go out and sit and enjoy until the hip is ready to do more!

August 23, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

What a wonderful new entrance! Even with temporary plants, it looks great. I'm envious. I have an even steeper slope at the back of our property and although my husband kindly installed a make-shift stairway to make it more accessible (after I fell on my behind a few times), it remains somewhat treacherous. One day, I'll either need to invest in an upgrade or convert that section of the garden to a maintenance free zone.

August 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

It looks fantastic. It's the sort of project that I would attempt to do myself, but your photos prove that it's best to get the professionals in sometimes.

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

The stairway will no doubt be a welcome improvement and make it so much easier to access this part of your garden. Though the potted plants look great, I can imagine what a nice feature the plantings on either side will become someday.

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

I am glad to hear that your surgery went well. What a nice husband to suggest the new stairs. They are quite beautiful. We have been having stonework done in our gardens this summer too. The results are so satisfying because they are relatively permanent and maintenance free.

Deb, I've always loved your garden, it's dreamy...and now with those breathtaking steps..sigh...oh be still my gardeners heart.


August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Congratulations on your new stairway. It fits in wonderfully as do the potted plants that you added. I'm envious again! LOL!

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBom

Your stairway is gorgeous. I aspire to nice stairways but my DIY stairs are more like dogtrots and the dog does enjoy them.

Take it easy during your recovery period, glad your progress is good. It's a good time to practice butterfly photos. We all discard a dozen for every good one. Just sit and they'll eventually come to you, but they won't cooperate: "Oh, you are about to snap the shutter? Here, I'll just make this little leap straight up out of what you have so carefully framed." I despair of ever getting another Red Spotted Purple photo. I am willing to settle for RSP on the dirty dog bed but he just taunts me..

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNell Jean

Deborah what a fabulous stairway and it will make your healing so much sweeter...so glad you are doing well!

August 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Hi Deb
What a gorgeous new stairway! I love the stones and whole layout. I'm glad the stone mason waited until you were able to watch the installation. And now it is not just beautiful, but helpful for you and your healing hip.

August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

beautiful steps Deb. The stones are lovely, the curve perfect for a natural informal garden like yours. I'm glad the surgery is over - good luck for the rehab - I am sure anything related to the garden is therapeutic.

August 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

I know that uneasy feeling of a slope, We had a steep 45 degree garden in Camps Bay. Now we have a couple of careful steps here and there. The next garden slopes gently, and will probably be lightly terraced, in time.

September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer
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