Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let There be Dung

It was a little cooler today. Not cold enough to slow down 'Jelena'. I'm not seeing any cold on the horizon either. I don't like late spring in January.

Preparation for spring has begun in the meantime. A new layer of dung is being added to the roadside vegetable garden. The melon department is also getting fresh additions of poop. I sure wish I could get a load of wood chips for mulch. Wood chips are so much nicer than the bagged stuff.

My work days are short and to the point these days. That leaves time in the afternoons to wander if I want. I need to start chopping and dropping as I wander. The bulbs could get ahead of me if this keeps up.

The beasts are still acting like it is winter though. The thrill of being outside seems to be in short supply. Must be the wet.

It is certainly time for snowdrops. They would be coming up no matter what the temperature was. I should go on a snowdrop tour one afternoon.

'Jelena' #1 is now in full bloom. With these warmish days they don't mess around. I have spotted a couple of newly emerging suckers below the graft on a couple of the Witch Hazels. Those will need to be cut off because the root stock will out grow the grafted part in one or two seasons.

Winter? I keep thinking about checking in with the boys at my favorite local independent nursery. I could at least do a scouting mission and place an order if need be.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is It Winter

It was 62 degrees today down in town. I can't complain too much about this not winter weather since it is allowing me to get some paying kind work done. I stopped in at one garden today just to check on pond scum and the daffodils were coming up big time. This is the one garden where I leave the perennials standing all winter and plan the chop down for around February 1st to stay ahead of the rising bulbs and avoid stepping on them.

I wasn't quite prepared for the chop down today. I may need to go ahead and do it a bit early next week.

I have been able to enjoy some extended quality viewing time with the evergreen Under Garden of winter interest. There has only been a singular snow cover event in this not winter. Plenty rain which is nice. All the wet should help make up for the fall drought deficit.

The color I am getting out of this baby Under Garden in the not dead of winter is pretty impressive. It is exactly what I had in mind. I was not expecting so much help from nature. Even in Polar Vortex winters, nature contributes that green. That is equally impressive.

The Witch Hazels are supposed to bloom now, weathers depending. I expect that. What may happen with this warm not winter is that it could be over in a flash. In the cold, they can drag out the bloom for weeks.

'Diane' #2 joined in today. I have five of the Hamamelis x intermedia cultivars in the garden so far. I considered planting more near the chimney and never got around to it. Maybe this year. The chimney did get a fall blooming baby Hamamelis virginiana a few years back. It survived the transplant, but has been slow, like most things, to settle in and grow.

It was a fine day for winter gardening. I had another high priority item on the list that needed tending to first. Then when I got home I went out to pick up trash along the scenic byway. There have been some very piggish people driving the byway of late. All the extra trash was getting on my nerves.

My new truck is officially ready for work with a spray on bed liner. The plastic insert bed liner would have been a bed decomposing nightmare for a gardener's truck in a temperate rain forest. I had it removed before I even took possession of the truck.

That brand new shiny truck bed lasted one day of work before it was scratched up. After three weeks of work, it wasn't new anymore. The spray on bed liner in my old truck lasted the entire 189,000 miles. I hope to get that and more out of this truck.

It's been a low chills winter so far with a few extra frills.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

In The Barren Time

In a vast expanse of open ground, most everything is visible from my front porch perch, or so it would seem. Life stirs slowly in this barren stillness. A closer look reveals much more.

The baby Witch Hazels are growing, but have not reached a size to be seen from the front porch.

The snowdrops are multiplying quite nicely. Their numbers are not yet sufficient to make an overly visible white showing from a far distance. They are not even fully awake yet.

'Jelena' #1 which gets more sun has grown taller than J#2, but the bloom this year is more subdued. Maybe 'Arnold' will be visible from the front porch this year. He is loaded with buds.

The Under Garden can also be appreciated from more than just the aerial view.

In the barren time my garden is a completely different concept. It toys with the notion of being a proper garden even while being of unusual design.

It was grey and wet today with multiple passing showers. I spent two hours picking up sticks in the ridge top garden next door then chopped and dropped the meadow annex below the garden in the utility easement. Editing for wild flower production in this section has begun since it is very much the backdrop of the entire garden during the time of vegetation. It needs to be brought fully into the picture.

J#2 is in full bloom on a wet, near sixty degree January day. I got so warm and sweaty at one point, layers had to be removed.

Way back when I knew a major goal of my new garden had to be making it a garden with year round interest. The barren time here is near half the year. That goal is coming to fruition.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Witches On The Wolf Moon

Prepare yourselves, the witches have arrived with the full Wolf Moon. You will be seeing a lot of them in the next month of winter, not that winter seems to be happening. 'Jelena' was the first to arrive. 'Diane' and 'Arnold' will follow.

It is time for me to get busy with two and a half more acres of chop and drop. At best, weathers depending, I may only have four weeks of a limited work load with clients. There is much on my list for here. I have this feeling it won't all get done.

My part of the wild cultivated gardens gets easier to tend by the year as the garden becomes more planted and more established. There are fewer decisions to act on. Routine maintenance for me is very routine. It is also a bit easier when the idea of weeds does not compute. I edit. I don't weed.

'Jelena' along the driveway was the first to open.

There has been steady growth in three years. The tiny twig stage has passed. Now it is a baby bush. One day it should be 8x6. One day.

I have to be satisfied with slow incremental growth. The wild garden method, high elevation and lack of pampering means that is what I get.

It is getting there. It is quite a bit slower than many of my client's proper beds all mulched neat and tidy in plenty sun. It is vastly different than the tropical rampage of growth I worked with on Maui.

Look at 'Arnold' in the foreground. The first witch planted is near four feet tall.

I am satisfied with the progress. That is all that matters. The winter Under Garden is beginning to make an impact. Come spring it will get some more plantings to kick it up another notch.

I'll have the witches to enjoy while I wait.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

All Gone

It melted in the night with a light rain assist.

The Under Garden makes a return.

My day was spent elbow deep in cold pond scum with a dash of dung at the end. It seems more and more fish ponds are falling into my care. There are two ponds at my destination tomorrow. Right now I am not responsible, but I look at them and think, come spring I am going to give them both a good scrubbing and make them work right again.

Pond scum could easily turn into a fine second career for my decrepitude.

The snow melted and it hit fifty degrees, but a strong wind was blowing in a still wet and misty world. Conditions were not optimum. They were good enough for the snowdrops to forge ahead.

They were good enough for the second 'Jelena' Witch Hazel to start opening blooms. Next week is looking weirdly warm for January. That will really get the Witch hazels going.

Is winter done already? Portland, Oregon got a foot of snow last night. That is kind of unheard of. What will that do when it gets here?

I had been noticing this fungus in the barren of late. Turns out it is edible or so someone online says. It looks right to be Grifola frondosa, Hen of the Woods. I'm not that adventurous though. Someone like Mikey will have to try it first.

With wet, warmish and no snow in the diagnosis for the next week and all the client's gardens put to bed, there is bound to be some time for me to start the chop and drop and tend to a few other chores around here. Let me see, what's on the list.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Melting Is The Hardest Part

Caught between air that is warm enough to work in

And ground that is covered in too much cold to work on.

Nothing to do but nap and wait.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Walk In The Snow

The sun came out.

The wind slowed to a whisper.

The melting point was achieved.

No, they all did not go for a walk. Button followed during one leg of the journey.

The melting point is still well below minimum operating temperatures. Like with me, 45 works. Without wind it can be heavenly.

There it was, beautiful sunshine feeling warm and relatively fresh snow. I know from experience that these pleasant windows of opportunity can be all too brief on a cold winter day. Don't dawdle. Go.

The Witch Hazel knows.

I trudged through snow with only one set of determined beeline tracks that had passed before. Fox, bobcat? It was tall enough that its belly wasn't rubbing an imprint. I never looked close enough to see if it was hoof or paw.

Snow is an assist to the chop and drop in the big bowl that is the sunny utility meadow. I will begin my efforts at the end of the month.

The chimney in snow.

Bright glaring sunshine on white snow is not the best lighting conditions for pictures. I do my best.

The now annual tomato cage shadow.

Hale Mana does snow. The only shoveling is a path to the top.

With a blue door.

Walking the garden this winter has made the progress of the Under Garden in all its expression quite evident. I am well on the way to a functioning year round garden.

Some of the perennials are left to stand for added interest.

No need for snowmen.

Even the deciduous baby trees and shrubberies are taking on more presence in the winter garden.

The snow very much enhances that stature.

Every season has it charms. I see no reason not to bundle up, get out there and enjoy them. It sure beats filling out a wad of tax forms.

I know you can't miss it. There are those couple of hours on sunny mid-afternoons when archeological quality stones walls that speak of the ancient call up to the scenic byway on a cold winter day.