Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Creating a Secret Woodland Garden

I've got a big woodland gardening project going on right now. This is how it began back in the 5 acre wood:

Grams: "So, see that area in the woods there? Where there is a big clear area and all the trees fell down? I want to put a secret garden there."
Me: "That area where all those fallen trees are and covered in salal? (looking at impenetrable wall of salal hiding a good 15+ fully grown fallen fir trees)
Grams: "Yep. We cleared that once 20 years ago, but it's all overgrown. I want it right there."
Me: "How big do you want this thing?"
Grams: "Oh, you know, just from the edge of the trees over there to the trees over here."
Me: "So, what, a 40-50 foot circle?"
Grams: "Yep, that sounds about right"
Me: "OK. Um...Where do you want me to start?"
Grams: "I dunno, maybe about here (pointing to thicket of brush, blackberry brambles, and twisty fallen treebits)" Just start making a trail in right here and then we'll see what we have once it is cleared out"
Me: "Okee-dokee".

And so it began. This is actually a really brilliant idea. Brilliant, I tell you. I LOVE this idea. I think it is awesome. But while I am cutting my way through the forest, I am silently cursing Grams for this. But it's gonna be AWESOME when it's done. It's much work. Thank God for the muscle-y husband and Gramps with the big-ass chainsaw.

We've been working on this the last couple days from dawn to dusk. Actually, we have gotten a whole helluva lot completed in 2 full days. We busted through brush, cut out 10 or more fallen trees and burned up 2 giant piles of brush. Here's what it looks like so far:

This was once an impenetrable thicket of salal and fallen trees. I'm lining the entire space with logs from the fallen trees to define the woodland garden area. That middle bit there is a huge nurse log/rootball covered in ferns and other woodlandy bits. We decided to keep it and make it the center piece of the garden:

A closer look at the moss and ferns:

The left area of the garden is pretty much cleared out:

There were all kinds of completely rotten logs in this area and I just broke them up into bits with the pick axe and raked them across the ground after I completed some leveling of the forest floor. It makes a wonderful natural mulch for the floor of the garden.

The log that sits across the left area in the photo above became a bench. We cut it off on both ends to make sure it was safe. The root ball was still attached and those can randomly flip the tree back up and kill you if you aren't careful and the conditions are right. We had one flip back up earlier in the day on us that was down the hill a bit after we took all the load off of it by pulling other trees off it and trimming it down. (We were aware it would flip back up, so stayed quite clear of it until it did so on it's own. Now it's a nice woodpecker tree). Clearing forest is not something to be taken lightly.

Here's the natural log bench:

Behind the bench I will be planting some rhodies. This is a true woodland garden and there are deer. Lots of them. That means no deer salad plants like hosta, heuchera, or iris. But deer don't like rhododendrons as they are poisonous; they might stomp on them, but they won't eat them. So those will go in the space behind the bench here:

I'll be tucking ferns in here, there, and everywhere. I made a flower pot in this corner where the logs meet and moved one of the ferns we pulled out into this space:

On to the right side of the garden. This side is still a huge work in progress:

As you can see, there is a wall of salal still being cut through and several big logs to cut and move:


The house terrier, Tabby is having a great time. She caught a vole and tried to eat it while we were working. Gross:

The entrance and exits to the garden are in progress. Here's the entrance. I'm thinking of lining it with solar lights, but not sure if it would get enough sun to really make that effective. I'll have to test it out with a couple solar lights and see what happens:

Here's the exit. The plan is to put in some stairs in this spot with some old concrete blocks and sand we have lying about:

Many of the logs we have been cutting up have groovy fungi on them. I placed these next to the back entrance. They can stay here, slowly become nurse logs, and grow more fungi, therefore becoming more nifty looking as they age.

Here's a bit more fungi on a log placed in the center fern garden:

So that's where the woodland garden creation is right now. This weekend Gramps will be taking down several widow makers (dead trees looming over the garden space) and we'll get those outta the way. Once that is done I can work on cleaning up the rest of the space, and planning where to put woodland plants and other garden features.

Today is rest day. My muscles are tired and I need a break. Plus, I need to do some wash:

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