Log slices, twig spheres, and other natural art in garden of Debbie Friedman: Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling

Though she lives and gardens in Maryland, Bethesda designer Debbie Friedman told us that she uses log slices, granite stones, and other natural accents to evoke the spirit of Mount Desert Island, Maine, where she enjoys vacationing. I visited her suburban garden during the recent Capital Region Garden Bloggers Fling, where a scrim of Verbena bonariensis rises from a shaggy carpet of grasses to color a welcoming stone patio accented with a wooden-slab bench and bird’s-nest-style side table.

A wider view shows how Debbie lines her front walk with ornamental grasses for a textural, naturalistic approach to her house, with the wooden bench and copper Craftsman lantern as a focal point.

There’s nothing fussy or formal about this entry garden, just meadowy charm.

A bouquet of giant black-eyed Susans decorated the porch steps.

The front walk is paved with flagstone accented with flat, round beach pebbles.

Heading around to the back garden, you pass through an inviting picket fence, with interesting columnar sweetgum trees on either side of the gate…

…and a pretty combo of hydrangea, caladium, and other shade lovers.

A paved area at the gate threshold reveals itself to be made of sliced wood rounds — a hint of things to come.

As you enter the back yard, a green lawn framed by deep shrub beds opens before you. Like giant acorns on the lawn, a trio of large twig-and-metal spheres makes a natural sculptural accent. I love these.

In a shady nook, two airy red chairs nestle among white-flowering hydrangeas.

But what stole the scene, for me, was this: a deep-shade area in an expansive back corner, which might easily have been neglected or ignored, but which Debbie has turned into a unique space for exploration and relaxation.

Sliced log rounds make a fun path through block-planted grasses, ferns, and other shade-loving groundcovers.

Laid on edge among the plants, hollow log rounds become surprisingly effective garden art.

The log-round path curves around to a hammock strung between two trees, with a swooping bamboo-pole “fence” defining the hammock patio, which is paved with more log slices.

From shade to sun — a sunny deck and stone patio provide garden access and hangout space at the back of the house.

Bedheaded bee balm adds hot color near a contemporary fountain.

Rustic-modern style is created with a contemporary Adirondack loveseat (Loll maybe?), galvanized deck skirting, and an edging of massed grasses.

A purple clematis is trained up the galvanized skirting.

The sun-washed deck features a wood-block side table, pretty succulent dish, and orange-and-turquoise elephant-motif pillow (love).

On a dining table, tillandsias and succulents are tucked into what looks like a cluster of seedpods. If any other bloggers learned exactly what this is, I’d like to know. Update: It appears to be sepals from a coconut palm. Thanks for the ID, Helen Battersby!

What a charming space from which to enjoy the rest of the garden.

Up next: The whimsical woodland garden of Ellen Ash. For a look back at Jeff Minnich’s Southern Gothic-infused garden, click here.

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10 Responses

  1. A charming garden for sure. The hammock is quite inviting there in the shade. Interesting use of wood.

  2. Some one in a near neighborhood from me has used wood circles as a fence, more symbolic than anything but very interesting. I need to stop and take a photo.

  3. shirley johnston says:

    I saw the same dried stalk at a small airport lounge in Batesville, Ark. Is it a Yucca bloom stalk? I asked while I was there and no one knew. Said the designer put it there.

  4. Kris P says:

    Seeing how Debbie used tree slices as paving in this garden had me kicking myself for not holding on to sections of the 2 trees my (now former) neighbor bullied me into taking down. As usual, you found something I utterly missed on my tour through that garden – that wonderful seedpod with the Tillandsias!

  5. Gaye says:

    Do you know how the wood was treated to prevent rot? After having a tree cut, I tried using slices as steps, and soon ants and bugs began to pulverize them into dust. I know there is a treatment, but don’t know what it is. Amazing to get some much visual territory out of an urban/suburban space. Thanks for posting.

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