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Changes to the Woodland Garden: A New Sitting Area!

I have been busy in the woodland garden the last few weeks, work that involved a lot of muscle and a bobcat. I have long wanted to add a sitting area adjacent to the fern glade, and now it is done! It is not a large area, just big enough for two small chairs. The metal chairs are quite heavy and surprisingly comfortable, and the new area creates some badly needed structure in the space.

First, here is a before photo of the area.

This is what one now sees from the same spot. The sitting area is tucked to the right side of a large rock, which marks the entry to the sitting area and the path overlooking the fern glade. There is only a hint of the new space from this angle.

A trail leads from the main woodland path toward the fern glade and the new sitting area.

Here it is!

Did you notice the frog?

Plantings around the sitting area include native Phlox divaricata, Hosta Aureomarginata, Gumbo Azalea, Heucherella 'Yellowstone Falls', and some colorful Coleus. There is an old magazine rack, put to use holding potted New Guinea Impatiens.

I turned this rock on its end to create a more defined entry to the round space. Lou thinks it looks like a tombstone!

My fern glade has, at last count, 87 ferns, added over the past few years. Many are deciduous and are just now emerging from dormancy, so they are not very visible in these images. The concrete bench overlooks the glade. The fern glade is a large semicircular area, and I still need to add more ferns. I will have to publish another post on the fern glade when all of them are up and growing. 

At the opposite end of the fern glade from the sitting area is a group of evergreen Autumn Fern:

There is a small 'Butterfly' Japanese maple in the pot, and there are also several fragrant native azaleas in the area.

From the sitting area one also has a view of the new woodland path that started it all, back in 2010. Since I published that post, I have eliminated most of the mahonia and nandina in the woodland garden. Both proved to be horribly invasive, and I still pull seedlings every year.This project is a good illustration of the snowball effect! You may also enjoy reading my post Planting a Fern Glade, published in 2012, to get a perspective on progress in this part of the woodland garden, as well as My Decision, in which I write about eliminating the mahonia and nandina. I enjoyed going back and reading these old posts, then looking at what my woodland garden has become. 



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Reader Comments (20)

Your woodland area with new seating looks fabulous! I love how you defined it with the rocks. It definitely makes a statement yet keeps with the natural flow of the area. My husband would be so envious at the number of ferns you have! We are always adding more ferns and hostas but haven't gotten to your numbers yet. I think your woods look fabulous!

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarin/Southern Meadows

Your new seating area is lovely - I really enjoy the circular aspect! Inspired by your gardens I'm currently working on a "mini" fern glade - a very small area in my woodland garden. In fact, that's what I'm off to do now!

Nicely done. I particularly like the way you used the rocks -- even the tombstone rock that defines the entry! It all looks natural -- not like an 'Installation" -- but structured and geometric. Such an inviting, surprising place to rest during a little walk in the woods : )

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

That is really lovely. Makes me wish I had some woods on my property.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermel

Love your new sitting area, it looks so peaceful in amongst your beautiful trees and ferns, I hope you use it lots!

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPauline

Very nice!

Just out of curiosity, was the Mahonia species M. bealei (The Chinese one)? I've heard that is supposed to be quite invasive. I believe there are a couple of species native to the Pacific NW (M. aquifolium, M. repens) that are supposed to be non-invasive in the Southeast, but I'm steering clear away because I'm trying to focus mainly on natives these days.

Also, how fragrant are those native azaleas? Do you have to put your nose in the flower to catch a whiff of perfume or does the scent drift all the way through the woods? (Or somewhere in the middle?)

You've created what looks like a beautiful, peaceful, relaxing place. Kudos!

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Dalton

It's a standing stone (like Stonehenge)

I have a whole 2 ferns. But as I can make shady space I will add a few more.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

You have created such a lovely spot in your garden to just listen to your thoughts, the pictures are gorgeous...In one of my gardening classes we built a berm and dug a pond for a rain garden; the instructor made each of us use the bobcat, it was such amazing fun.

Hello, everyone! The weather has been so gorgeous, it has been hard for me to get inside to my computer! I do appreciate each of your comments. Aaron, yes the mahonia probably was M. bealei. And those native azaleas are quite fragrant; their sweet smell definitely drifts through the woods. I think they all are sweet-smelling, but some native azaleas are more fragrant than others. I chose mine with fragrance in mind. Best wishes to you all! Deb

April 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

It's such a charming little spot Deb. I especially like the little frog peeking out. I have a similar frog, and now I think I'll need to find somewhere that he can peek out at me. Thanks for the idea!

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

You have such a beautiful natural area, Deb! You've touched it lightly and struck just the perfect note with your new additions. I love all the little touches. It looks like the perfect place to spend quiet moments.

April 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

It looks wonderful! I love Phlox divaricata - the scent there will be heavenly!

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

You've achieved something which is actually much more difficult than it sounds. Integrating an area into the woodland which is an attractive place to sit but doesn't detract from its natural surroundings. The only thing I might have done differently would have been to add a bench rather than two chairs but that might not have been as comfortable. Enjoy the labour you've used by sitting there often!

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Your woodland spot is wonderful. I would really enjoy spending some time there . Very tranquil.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Hello Deb ... I would give anything to have such a beautiful wooodland area such as you do !
It would be as if I were a kid again playing in the woods but this time I would have much better knowledge of plants and how to create a magical place as you are doing.
Well done you ! it is beautiful : )

April 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

So lovely!!! What a great idea, and it turned out so beautifully! I just love the frog, too. I can't wait to see it surrounded by ferns!

April 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Deb what an especially lovely setting for this sitting area....and I love how you created the semi circle and entry....so many views and spots to sit and rest. You have created a special spot!

April 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

I love this! It creates a destination for what Julie Moir Messervy calls a "stroll journey" to your fern glade, and then a place to sit and enjoy a "mind journey" through the glade. It's amazing how a cleared space and a couple of chairs can change the way the garden is experienced.

April 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Oh how lovely! I can think of nothing nicer than taking a stroll in your lovely woodland garden and coming upon this little sitting area. You have done such a beautiful job with it - just perfect! I loved the stone at the entrance and as someone else said, it does remind me of a standing stone at Stonehenge! I loved the little frog too. This is going to be such a special area for you as it matures.
- Kate x

April 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

I really like the circle of rocks around the seating area; the woodland phlox, Florida azalea, ferns, and Heucherella make a wonderful combination in a natural area like that.

April 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

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