Wednesday Vignette – gardening as set design

One of the many things I miss about Sweden is the sight of spring, when carpets of white Wood Anemones (Anemone nemorosa) cover the yet to leaf out woodlands – especially when the trees are birches. In most of the images I googled, in order to show you, the trees weren’t birches, as my imaginary image is, but still; Here is a borrowed image from Wikipedia Commons, to show you what it can look like:

vitsippsbacke from wikimedia commons

About couple of months ago, part of a large birch blew down on my freeway exit ramp. I drove by it for a couple of weeks, thinking I need to grab those branches (which in the context of my little garden would be the perfect scale for actual trunks). I finally did, and dragged them all home. My neighbors probably thought I was nuts (if they didn’t already) as I proceeded to, with the help of rebar, erect these “trunks” in a dark corner of my garden, tucked under our giant, evergreen Magnolia. Beyond ferns, not much is happy there anyway, so I figured I could brighten it up with some artificial birch trunks. Now I just have to procure the white Anemones, which are readily available from the dear folks at my cherished Joy Creek Nursery. Once those are in place, I will have my own little vignette of Swedish spring. This is my progress, so far:


And yes – that blooming Sarcococca adds a fragrance dimension unheard of in the real thing. Makes my fake, mock-up birch grove even better, I think!


Edited to add a photo my mother just sent me of her bike, casually parked in the kind of dreamy landscape that served as my inspiration. Case in point – thanks Mom!

mammas cykel med vitsippor

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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23 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – gardening as set design

  1. hb says:

    That’s lovely! I would have grabbed those birch branches, too. The rust screen (fence?) in the background is fabulous, too.

  2. fernhaven says:

    Wonderful idea Anna! Absolutely love it! 😀💚

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Oh, how funny. I needed to cut down another dead birch tree, and someone stopped to take the limbs. Then someone took the firewood. There was not much debris for me to take away. The same happened to another tree in the same spot not too long ago.

  4. annamadeit says:

    Yeah, they need those cold winters and lots of moisture to thrive. Here, they tend to get none of that, so birch borers move in and make a swift job of them. Glad someone took it for fire wood. As every Swede knows, there is no better fire starter than birch bark, and the wood itself burns hot and clean, without sparks flying everywhere. Much better than all the resin-rich firs!

  5. Tina says:

    Brilliant! I’m sure your little birch heaven will give you much pleasure. The bike against the tree is a postcard!

    • annamadeit says:

      I thought so too! 🙂 I’m putting a bench under the magnolia so I can sit there in the shade during the worst hot months and look at all that cooling white… There are other things growing there too that will provide some interest during the rest of the year – white bleeding hearts, a white Thalictrum, white Japanese anemones, a Hosta or two, a couple of Trout lilies, and maybe a couple of other things in there as well. Fingers crossed – we’ll see how it turns out…

  6. Kris P says:

    You could have fooled me! I’m glad you’re able to recreate a little bit of home. If you were back in Sweden, I suspect there’d be things you’d miss about your garden here too 😉

  7. Ruby Moon says:

    Love the look but hope you checked for birch bark beetlles

  8. Peter Herpst says:

    Glad to see these used so beautifully instead of being hauled away. They look marvelous in your garden!

  9. Excellent arboreal recycling

  10. I love the white-barked birch trees .They are not easy to grow here. I love how you have used the birch branches in your garden. Judy once made me drag the cross-cut section of a maple tree into our garden.

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