Thanks for the kind words, Millie! We’ve let the landscape determine where the paths lead and the shape of the beds. This land was a clean slate when we claimed it, so we carved out around the Dogwoods, Rhododendrons, and other natives (we’re very fortunate to have some of the best navtives of the Southeast on our property).
Yes, the paths are bare earth. The BEST investment we’ve made is for a top-of-the-line Stihl leaf blower. When we were first starting out, this baby would cut through many layers of matted leaves and we were able to draw the lines of a new path pretty quickly. Once the lines are there, we go through with heavy loppers and manually remove any roots or saplings that absolutely can’t stay. I’ve taken great pains to do all the work here by hand. Other than using the Stihl blower (and occasionally a chainsaw), this garden is completely hand-hewn.
I keep the weeds down with daily hand grooming and occasionally applying Round-up. Maintenance is a breeze with the blower, and the more you blow off the paths, the more packed and polished they become. I can go through the full garden and pathways in maybe 20 minutes every weekend or so.
It sounds like you have a nice piece of land as well. Making a woodland garden can be tons of work – and I’m nowhere near done. So far, we only have about 2 of the 5.4 acres cultivated as you see in the two -photos I posted. All the best on your cultivation, and keep us posted!
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.