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setting up a natural stage or amphitheater

 
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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There are a couple pieces of our property that have the feel of a natural stage or amphitheater.  It will be at least a year before we start offering workshops/classes, but I will start developing these areas this year.

Our climate is zone 7-ish with rainy winters (some snow) and strong sun from May through October.

The stage areas (several of them) are on a west facing slope that easy to access from the parking area and is naturally terraced with rock outcroppings that are well suited to hold a group of ~20 or so each.  Scattered throughout the area are young doug-firs, madrone and pines for the upper story, small to large native hazels for the lower story and mostly ferns and moss for ground cover.

My initial thoughts for these would be to set up stable benches using fairly young (still solid, but fully dry) dead-fall in the area and begin adding in some herbs throughout the area.  Rosemary, lavender, fennel, dill along with lemon/lime balm, other mints and lemon verbena for their smell and tea options.  Figs and thornless trailing blackberry can be planted in between the stage areas to provide a visual break (and a snack, in season).  I think a weather-proof cabinet for supplies would also be helpful, and maybe a blackboard as well.

The amphitheater is down in the valley overlooking the creek, still facing west.  There is less rock here and more young oregon white oak along with madrone and pines.  There is not much of a shrub layer here, and grass is the dominant groundcover.  The soil stays more moist in this area, so there are a lot more options of things to plant.  I'd like a good diversity of berries to occupy the shrub layer (blueberries, currants, everbearing raspberries, etc).  This area has quite a few native mushrooms, and we will be adding culinary/medicinal ones as we go using log and stump culture.  The hardscaping will be a bit more work without the natural terraces, so I am wondering if benches can be built in to the hillside in some way (stone and fallen logs).

Any thoughts on the setup that you have seen at other workshops that you liked, or even that you haven't seen, but you think would be nice are welcome!
 
Posts: 231
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Hi Kay!

Did this project ever take off? I see it's an older posting.

I love this idea and ever since attending my cousins wedding outdoors in the woods at a state park, I've had renewed interest in this type of thing. That area was was sloped downward toward the front with benches for seating under a full canopy of mature hardwoods. A wooded slope along a lake provided a backdrop.

One thing we noticed is that they trenched in electricity, this enabled music on an amplified acoustic guitar to fill the area.

I could see this going so many places especially over time with planted tree and shrub species and taking advantage of unique natural materials of the area. This type of project is only limited by the imagination!
 
steward
Posts: 5740
Location: Missoula, MT
1117
books food preservation forest garden hugelkultur purity
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Kay, I'm curious, too, if you were able to set up an outdoor stage or amphitheater - were you?

S, do you have pictures of the state park where that wedding took place?

My friend just visited a lovely place over the weekend that is used for weddings a lot - so much so that you might also call it an outdoor sanctuary, not just an amphitheater. My friend was kind enough to share some pictures, so I'm posting them here.

These were taken at Wellspring - "a woodland retreat and spa at the base of Mt Rainier." (Mt Rainier is in Washington State, over an hour south of Seattle for those who might not know.)

I think it's just gorgeous. Well done, Wellspring!

wellspring-amphitheater.jpg
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Wellspring amphitheater or outdoor sanctuary
wellspring-alter.jpg
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Wellspring alter
wellspring-steps.jpg
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Wellspring steps
 
S Haze
Posts: 231
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
12
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Beautiful looking place!  It reminds me of church at Boy Scout camp only a hell of lot cooler looking!

Here's one photo of the "chapel" at Big Island state park in MN.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Location: Missoula, MT
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S Haze wrote:
Beautiful looking place!  It reminds me of church at Boy Scout camp only a hell of lot cooler looking!

Here's one photo of the "chapel" at Big Island state park in MN.



Thanks S! I was trying to find a way to get the image address for that, and it wouldn't let me, so I did a quick screenshot so we could have another picture for this thread.

This is a type of amphitheater I've seen at campgrounds before and I really like them!
myre-big-island-state-park.png
[Thumbnail for myre-big-island-state-park.png]
Myre-Big Island State Park woodland amphitheater
 
pollinator
Posts: 667
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Here is the amphitheater from Kaw Point Park, which is the location for one of the long encampments of the Lewis and Clark expedition at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. On each of the placed stones you'll see the inscribed name of the members of the expedition. The rest of the amphitheater seating is the limestone shelves behind. I love the fact that they didn't clear the trees out for sight lines.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Wow, Dan, it looks like there will be no need to replace those benches! I like how the sides of the stone seating, just under the etching, looks roughly hewn.
 
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