Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Proper Southern Snow

I better not be having a white Christmas. That would be scary. A white Thanksgiving is no problem.

The snow came late in the night, much later than predicted. I woke up to a snow covered world. Round two is scheduled to appear in the night once more.

It was already over by the time I got up and without any wind, it was a pretty pleasant day, if a bit cool.

As it should be in a proper southern snow, the melt begin in pouring earnest the moment the sun peaked over the mountain.

By 2pm, where ever there was sun it was gone.

That meant I was able to dig some parsnips in the roadside vegetable garden for tomorrow's supper while a car load of tourists had a snowball fight on the shaded and snow covered scalped hillside of grass across the scenic byway.

It's not unusual. I find snow angels over there most every winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Garden Under There

Just two months ago this was the scene for the photo that is the current header of the blog. My how times have changed.

Yea, yea. I'm supposed to leave it all standing for the wildlife benefits, but the chop and drop has already begun. I want to find the under garden that will carry me through the winter. The wildlife has plenty of meadow left and it will take me all winter to chop it all down.

Just maybe I will get to spreading 12 tons of 3/4 inch gravel in the basement patio this winter. That can be the temporary floor and is the base for the future stone floor. I just need the money to buy the gravel and a snow free driveway to get it delivered.

The wall and its grottoes have been complete for a while now. It still needs the small rock back splash finished above. I do rocks in the winter when the rocks I have been piling in places while gardening are easier to find.

I needed some satisfaction of accomplishment now though. I got home a little early today and the next round of snow is scheduled to begin tonight. I got busy while there was a chance with a little more chop and a dose of tidy as opposed to just drop.

The Cotoneaster 'Streib's Findling' is a flat as can be evergreen ground cover that hides beneath the Joe Pye during the season of vegetation. I need it in the winter. I even raked the leaves off of it.

See there is a baby garden hiding under there. It even has some good hardscape bone structure. All it takes is some normal garden maintenance to find it. I feel so much better now. Winter can be the time of a some what tidy garden in all this wildness.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

While It Raged Outside

If it wasn't raining, the wind was howling. When it was raining, the wind was howling. It wasn't really possible to be outside. Sort of thought about chores will have to wait for another day.

Safe from the storm, an orchid blooms.

I would have preferred a color other than white. I get plenty of white at this time of year. There was just no way of knowing that in the discard rack.

But an orchid in the storm is better than no orchid at all. Maybe the other discard orchid will have color.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Is It Interesting Yet

The slow growth rate of the under garden which is my main source of winter interest is testing my patience. I know what the mature sizes of most plants look like. Far too many of the things I have planted are multiple years away from those sizes at the pace things are moving.

There is more visible progress when I plant in multiples and in dozens.

No doubt there are many reasons for the slow growth rate. I garden at the extreme edge of many conditions favorable to plant growth and vigor.

Buying dwarf plants promises slow from the get go. This Taxus cuspidata 'Emerald Spreader' is looking alright. It is alive. But this zone 4 rated plant was zapped by a late freeze and suffered some die back.

How do zone 4 plants suffer freeze damage in an alleged zone 6? Live on top of a mountain with weather extremes. That will do it.

The Red Twig Dogwoods did grow some this year. They had full sun, very moist soil and did not have to compete with the Lush and this pitiful bit of growth is all I got. The deer did nibble on them a little. Not enough to matter. At least they are red for the winter as advertised.

I'm sure it doesn't help the speed of things when I let the Lush cut off a good deal of the sun supply of the baby trees and shrubberies during the growing season. That is no excuse for the number of plants rated at or below my zone that have been damaged by freezes. That just seems cruel and unfair.

The evergreen clumping bamboo that was defoliated by last winter's -8 has filled back in pretty well. This year's growth was majorly stunted though. Will it ever get eight feet tall, much less a robust ten feet?

My baby pine trees are growing six inches a year at best. It's a long, long way to being a winter screening to the scenic byway.

I don't have properly mulched beds. I don't fertilize. I don't water more than once or twice after something gets planted. The wild runs rampant and I let a good deal of it be. My plants are tested from the beginning.

Gardening on the edge with every possible challenge is not for the faint hearted gardener. It's just every once in a while I feel like fainting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Looking For Winter Interest

The barren time has a firm grip high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. The very first winter up here I knew I had to do something to mitigate that. I needed some winter interest for the barren time. Heck, I needed something, anything, that said garden for the six months of the year when all is dead and brown.

What I had was a vast expanse of herbaceous and deciduous. What I needed was evergreen and some structure.

I had something else that not many gardeners get with a new garden, an existing garden folly. It was a bit lost in the tangle when I arrived. Slowly it has been cleared around and new plantings added. In the barren time the entire folly is visible. During the time of vegetation, the foundation disappears.

It's on the list to one day maybe cut down the trees growing inside the folly and shore up the chimney's foundation. One day.

At the moment I am still a bit too busy with work to spend much time checking on all my baby winter interest. On a short stroll yesterday I got to see the holly berries. They don't often last long. Most years they get devoured by migrating birds who use the low spot to pass over the mountains.

I did plant some Chokeberry, Aronia sp. in my part of the garden. They are still small of course and a few years away from a good berry display.

Art makes good winter interest too.  I love the Blue Pot art project, but the background has never suited it well. It needs a blank wall or a dense evergreen hedge to really set it off.

The Posh Estate #2 got a nice piece of art, structure and winter interest today. The fountain for the entry garden arrived.

It has a pineapple on top.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Slow Melt

It was a warmer day.

It was still quite a cold day.

It is the time of ice, the barren and darkness
When the morning light dazzles
An epoch of intermittent rest
A winter of contemplations

When chores are shuffled around the frigid.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nice Day For A Polar Bear

I don't know what it did during the night, but it did this on and off all morning, with wind mind you, at 16 degrees. The day was not habitable.

I did manage two trips to the mailbox for outgoing and incoming mail. I'm not sure the mail carrier ever did. There were no tracks in the snow. It was only an inch, hardly noticeable, surely not enough to stop the mail. I think being the last on the route, if there is nothing to deliver, sometimes I get skipped.

Beautiful blue sky at the end of the day still didn't make being outside bearable. A notional high of 24 held momentarily couldn't overcome the steady wind.

It was a nice day for a polar bear. The best I can say is I have adjusted and the deep chill in my bones is gone. Even stepping ever so briefly into the bitter out there, didn't bring it back.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Before The Next Ice Age

There was a mad dash to the other side of the county this morning to make sure the babbling brook and koi pond were running smoothly and would keep flowing before the next blast of arctic air arrived. It had been raining all night and the diagnosis scheduled the winter storm to begin at noon.

There is one thing I never want to try again if I can avoid it, driving up this mountain in my light truck with no four wheel drive in a winter storm.

I made it back home in the rain. The temperature had already started to plummet.

Even the rain is still making the grasses tumble. They must not be fully dried yet. Kind of an interesting look at the moment. I think they need more cold and more time.

The snow began at 3. It is only supposed to be an inch at most, followed by a day below freezing. If the wind is not blowing it could actually be a reasonably pleasant day.

The under garden becomes more apparent as the Tall Flower Meadow is turned to an icy dust. Now is when I can begin to contemplate where there is the need for more. It sure would help if some things grew a bit faster. Impatience can lead to over crowding.

A light snow falls and Creation, in the beginning, is revealed. There can always be a beginning, even in another ice age.

From my window I can see them come to a stop now, looking, at the little cabin surrounded by an odd assortment, high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.