Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Color Purple

Yucca filamentosa and Symphyotrichum oblongifolium.

Elephantopus carolinianus

Vernonia noveboracensis or V. gigantea? Purple.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Almighty Bits Of Green

I keep planting away, in and around the Almighty Falls.

In such a large space with a monolithic construction of rock, the greenery is just tiny specks.

Much like the baby fishes are currently but tiny flecks of color in a big pond.

I am planting for the long term.

Instant gratification is taking a back seat to mature size and as close to no maintenance as a garden can get. I'm getting old and that slope is not going to get less steep over time.

Defined and tidy will have to do while the greenery is growing.

Operational overflow continues with the spring feed into the pond. The water mechanics has been a big success. The sound isn't so bad either.

I keep mulching away too. That is making the bits of green show up a bit better.

This morning another twenty four bags of mulch were toted up the hill and spread. I finished planting the 'Streib's Findling' cotoneaster in the section closest to the Almighty Falls above the old retaining walls.

It is already looking better, more a part of the garden than some behemoth lurking on the far edge of the yard.

I still give it two years to lush up. Next year will be the first real growing season. It will look fuller by the end of that year. By the middle of the second year, the pond plants will be filled in and the surrounding garden will have become something of substance. I am really looking forward to seeing how the 'Tiger Rye' Staghorn Sumac performs. I have not used this plant before. If it does what is advertised, it will be stunning.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Tale Of Two Bloom Days

I am a day late for Bloom Day. I ran out of energy last night and nothing would come out once the pictures were uploaded. I have been picking up branches and sticks since Tuesday afternoon after Irma was done doing the deed.

I took a few pictures in a client's garden that was completely spared the wrath in case the Tall Flower Meadow wasn't up to Bloom Day.

Here we have asters and ageratum.

It is amazing what a proper bed in a proper garden will do for asters.

There are pink anemones

And white anemones. If any plant could get wind whipped it would be anemones. I don't understand how we got beat up on one side of the county and on the other it was just a couple of nice rainy days.

Does this hydrangea look like it got hit with high winds and steady rain?  That thing should be shredded. Less work for me, so I am certainly good with it.

The Tall Flower Meadow blooms on. Considering how much crap fell out of the forest trees, the meadow stood up pretty well.

I've been picking up sticks since Tuesday afternoon and making piles in the pathways for later removal. There are stick piles all over the garden.

Most of the hosta survived intact. One group was a bit mangled from the big branches that landed on top of them.

I still have plenty of bloom in the meadow although it is way less perky and does not show as well from above.

The white snakeroot and snapweed, the native impatiens, will just have to finish things up slightly bent. Most things won't be standing back up. The may rise a little. That is the best I can hope for.

Some things flop hurricane or not. The New England Aster here is quite lovely. It just falls over the moment it goes into bloom. At five to six feet tall that is a problem. I pull it relentlessly. The supply is endless.

I prefer the Blue Wood Aster. It is a bit less floppy and at three feet tall more acceptable in a leaning position. Plus it prefers growing in the shade of the forest. That is a big plus in these parts.

The Tall Flower Meadow really does deserve some credit for remaining mostly intact. I have seen it get flattened even worse in a bad thunderstorm

It's current state could best be  described as tangled. The untangling and fluffing has started now that most of the sticks have been pulled out of it. I'm not sure that is going to help much, but why not try as I wander through.

As of the end of today I am ready for the blue asters. The sticks have been picked up, packed up and burned up. My part of the wild cultivated gardens is done.

All that is left to tidy is the roadside vegetable garden that was basically flattened. The sunny utility meadow which looked relatively fine. The back end of Bulbarella's ridge top garden was a disaster. That is going to take some time to tidy.

Something bad happened right over the Madison county line that is her garden's border. I drove a mile into that county this morning and the forest at the top was beat to crap. Massive trees were blown over or busted in two. The guardrails along the byway were marked with orange paint where trees had bent them when falling. It was a mess.

We got lucky. Irma left us with a pretty good Bloom Day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Trees Took A Beating

I went to bed with high hopes. Those were dashed between 3 and 4 am when I woke to the clatter of a roaring wind bouncing projectiles about.

The trees took a beating. This is just one small sample of the carnage throughout.

One expects a dead and decomposing hemlock to fall down, hurricane or not. I would also expect thirty feet of top to land on the ground and it did not. Steel cables of a grapevine have kept it aloft. The rest of the tree needs to snap to finish the act.

My first look out the window saw flashing DOT trucks stop at the top of my drive. It was still blowing. The rain was still falling. I opted not to intrude. A small trackhoe rolled off a trailer. What were they up to?

A half dead maple let go of another good chunk. They have been dealing with pieces of this tree for a decade.

Quick as can be, it was cut up and pushed into the gardens for me. Traffic was now freed to proceed. Multiply this pile by a factor of ten. That is what will need to be cut up, picked up and cleaned up in the wild cultivated gardens.

This is the biggest tree smacking event in my decade on the mountain. It is not something unusual. It happens, mostly in the winter, sometimes with wicked summer thunder storms. The quantity of damage this time surpasses any other event.

Hurricanes are not supposed to pack this much of a punch so far inland. That is unusual.

The Tall Flower Meadow got twisted. It needs to dry and fluff on its own before I attempt any repairs. It will bloom on, upright and perky or not.

I'll start by removing the branches that have landed on top. There are another six weeks of Lush goodness in there. I'll do what I can to make it as fluffy as it is willing to be.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Day Before Irma

There was one last walk through a perky Tall Flower Meadow with the full posse of refugees the day before Irma arrived.

It had been a beautiful day though it was only one notch above cold from the front that passed through earlier in the week. Fall was in the air and a tropical storm was at our doorstep.

I was mentally preparing for it all to sail away in a deluge and roaring wind. Will this be the end just when the blue asters are getting ready to pop?

It is quite normal for the Tall Flower Meadow to flop. Tall stems topped with heavy blooms have a tendency to bend. The paths were already closing off from Sister #1's visit from a few days before.

The posse pushed its way through. The quick pace set by two dogs leading the way in a mild scented frenzy. To them it was like another planet. Given a choice, all varmints prefer an open path in the Tall Flower Meadow. That helps keep a gardener calm.

There was a round of blasting winds in the night that finally took the top off a giant dead hemlock tree. It never hit the ground. The thick rope of a grapevine has left it suspended. One large branch of a Black Locust dangles. It too unfallen.

The meadow still looked intact. The rains hadn't begun yet.

Irma has entered gently. Mist became drizzle that turned to a gentle rain. The wind has been but a good steady breeze. The temperature has never gotten above fifty two degrees. This has been one cold ass hurricane. It has rained all day and in the dark the rain has begun to increase in intensity.

So far it has not been overly violent. There is a chance.

The day before Irma the Tall Flower Meadow was standing. Flop is expected. Stem snapping devastation is a bummer. Which will it be?

The answer will come in the dark of the night. Tomorrow Irma will take her leave.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Hurricane Planting

It began with a spare afternoon earlier this week. This is an extensive planting so there was no reason not to get started when the opportunity presented itself. The original plan was to start next Monday.

Then Irma appeared on the horizon. The diagnosis for next week was looking extremely wet. The gardener doesn't like working in that. A new planting would appreciate it immensely.

So the race is on to get as much planted and mulched as I can before the rains arrive Monday evening. I had a plan. The plants had been ordered. Things are moving right along.

The three key plants to cover the slope next to the Almighty Falls are Rhus typhina 'Bailtiger', a Staghorn Sumac, Parson's Juniper and Streib's Findling' Cotoneaster.

Each block of plants steps down in height so as not to block the view of the Almighty Falls from above.

The flat as a pancake 'Streib's Findling' Cotoneaster will be the section closest to the old wall that forms the bowl the stream channel lives in.

There were many things to consider in making plant choices. Mature height - I did not want to block the view from above. Maintenance - I'm getting old. Enough said. Fussy plants were out. There was a lot of ground to cover on a steep slope. - Spreaders and suckers. A visual and physical barrier was needed to help keep guests off the slope and away from the Falls.

Aesthetics are important too. There is sharp textural contrast between the three main blocks of plants. I have evergreens for winter, excellent spring and fall color in the sumac and spring bloom and fall berries in the evergreen cotoneaster.

How is the Almighty Falls doing you might ask. Just fine thank you.

Operational overflow continues praise be. The filters have done a fine job keeping the water clean by sucking up the expected mud washed into the system from the recent rains.

More pond plants have been added to the stream channel and another sack of baby koi were planted in the pond.

The island was even planted with Broadleaf Arrowhead that I found in a compost pile this week after a major pond cleaning at another client's last spring. It was very much alive and trying to grow so I grabbed it. I found some live Thalia dealbata in the same compost pile. It came along as well.

That look of a hideous pile of rocks all out there by its lonesome will soon be a thing of the past. The greenery is coming.

The Almighty Falls is being enveloped into the picture of the larger garden.

It's a hurricane planting. Best of all, I won't have to think about keeping a substantial new planting watered.