Friday, December 9, 2016

The Under Garden Becoming

I was not expecting snow. I wasn't sure that's what it was when I first noticed. The flakes were so thin and tiny it looked like translucent pint sized glitter. Maybe some frozen cloud bits got scraped off. Maybe it was exceptionally thin fog.

It was piling up though. That is to be expected at 15 degrees. I guess it was just a new version of snow. A little different for a first snow.

I had no plans to go anywhere anytime soon, not at 15 degrees. That is well below my minimum operating temperature.

I did go for a walk mid-afternoon when it approached the freezing point. Real cold is going to be the new normal. Best I go out and do a little acclimating. I lasted for half an hour.

The garden was in a different mood today.

Miss Collar followed. The evergreen variegated sedge planted in the very bottom of the garden did quite well for being buried rather deeply all summer.

I admit it. I am actually quite pleased with the progress of the Under Garden. Yes, it sure grows slow, but it is growing. It may hit maturity in perfect sync with my decrepitude.

The barren time exposes all.

Something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear.

I have been tripping out on the Under Garden the last two weeks since I chopped down the Tall Flower Meadow. It really is beginning to show up and turning into what I had imagined for it, a highly visible, low mounding tapestry of texture and color.

Something is right when the morning starts off with translucent glitter.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Real Cold

There came a point when I could not feel my fingers anymore and had to stop. The real cold wasn't even here yet. It is riding in on an Arctic wind as I type. My minimum operating temperature has been breached. There will be no outdoor activities tomorrow and possibly the next day.

I am however tired of looking at all the orange tape. I tagged my baby shrubberies before the tree butchers with the utility company returned. I called. There was no response. I will just have to untag them, call again and do it over. Better to be annoyed once than every day.

The real cold coming will be more than enough to freeze the ground. I am most happy that the evergreen Under Garden of winter interest got a nice long drink before that happened. Frozen ground, wind and dry is death for evergreens in the winter.

It has taken so long to get to this point. I sure don't want to have to start over.

Growing colored lines will take me through the barren time. Now is the time I can contemplate enhancing them with spring planting. I might need another line in the top right corner of this shot.

The most recent plantings have completed their first full year. They are alive. There has been a modest amount of growth. Under my high competition regimen that is the best I can hope for.

I wonder if I will get around to toting rocks this winter. My heiau needs to do a little growing too.

The cold is coming. Snow keeps flitting in and out of the diagnosis like a hummingbird in the Tall Flower Meadow that never lands. It will get here eventually.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Remembering Rain

And then the skies opened.

After three months with no significant rain followed by devastating forest fires, a switch has been flipped. There has been one storm after another for the last week. Best of all they have been slow, steady and penetrating. Torrential downpours have been absent. Today was the first rain in which I have seen the creeks begin to rise.

Real cold is in store for Friday and Saturday. Snow may or may not be involved, but it will be here soon no doubt.

Real cold usually puts and end to the Witch Hazel's bloom.

All this wet is much appreciated of course. Yet.... I have a number of gardens that I need to finish cleaning up before winter sets in. I got a late start again this year because our first real freeze was a month late again. At least it has been generally cooler than last year's freakish heat up until the day winter arrived.

I have all winter to chop down the wild cultivated gardens so I don't fret over that.

I remember when it only rained in the late afternoons or at night and it did not interfere with my work schedule. Gardy don't work in the cold rain. He's too delicate. I just hope I can get everything done before the snow arrives.

The 'aina now remembers rain. It inhales deeply.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Will It Snow?

The diagnosis kept changing between snow and no snow, one of those above 3500 feet possibilities. Rain was a given. That alone was cause for celebration. I planted a few bulbs in a client's garden yesterday and did not have to dig deep to find dry dirt. We have a big deficit to make up for.

There was time left over for a stroll on a cool grey afternoon before the rains began.

The garden still blooms the first week of December. Hamamelis virginiana, the native Witch Hazel, is the final end of the season. Winter is near.

Two out of three cats followed. It was good for them to get out and stretch their legs.

Post fall has its charms. The 'aina is exposed. The true place and scale of things is made apparent. The drying meadow turns every shade of amber.

There was no snow. Instead there has been steady rain, a perfectly dreary day. It is a warmup for winter confinement.

The wet has the nice effect of accentuating the colors of the Under Garden.

It is an experiment in abstract pointillism in the garden. There is no intention beyond rhythm.

The true point is to have a functioning garden in the barren time.

Over the winter the meadows will be mowed down. The bare bone structure of the evergreen Under Garden is all that will remain in the vast space of the wild cultivated gardens. That winter garden is still years away from a substantial impact. It is slow growing. I am just thrilled to see it is starting to show up.

The winter stature of the grasses are a big help in the meantime.

It was time to go have a look. The main Under Garden has been cleared of the Tall Flower Meadow. Rain was making nice color contrasts. I grabbed an umbrella and went out. This is the view from the scenic byway.

In another three years, the left side seen up close three pictures above will have grown to catch up with the right. A garden of bold, colorful, abstract pointillism with no point will try to make a point high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Waiting For The Washer

The stainless steel tub of my five year old front end load washer broke off. It cost $100 for the repairman dude to tell me, "No point in going any further. Buy a new one." He blamed it on iron in my well water. I don't think so.

It took a couple of weeks because the tub broke off on my last load of wash. A dwindling supply of underwear finally forced me to act.

The morning dawned cold and sunny. The phone rang and my morning delivery was changed to between twelve and two. Work or clean underwear, that is the question.

I waited.

And I waited. By noon it was warm enough to go outside. I like the carcasses of my dead Joe Pye, but there is more Under Garden under them. I got to chopping. This time I did some removal.

There on the right is the flat as a pancake evergreen ground cover, Cotoneaster dammeri 'Streib's Findling'. I don't leave the chop on top because this ground cover is so flat it would just smother it. It may be near winter, but all my evergreens must use this time in the open to gather what sunlight they can.

The evergreen Under Garden of winter interest is ever so slowly taking form. I really do have plenty to look at while I stroll the garden in the barren time.

The nights and mornings have been cold of late. I am beginning to think the beasts minimum operating temperature is a bit higher than mine. There has been a distinct refusal to spend any quality time outside. Such is the way it is.

Three one gallon pots have covered this much ground on a very steep slope with summer competition in about five years I think. I moved it along by taking rooted stem pieces and planting them further away. This cotoneaster is my new favorite ground cover for full sun locations. It does take some weeding, but you know how much I worry about that in the wild cultivated gardens.

They arrived at two on the dot. One broken washer was hauled out and one identical new washer was installed. Add in a day of lost work, $1000 dollars. Did you know a compact washer that fits under the counter is several hundred dollars more than a full size washer for a real laundry room? Now you do.

By five there were clean towels and underwear and all is right with the world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Round Two

I woke up this morning to no rain when it was an hour away at best when I went to bed. Round two got stuck. It was parked just over the border. I was afraid it was going to do that not all to unusual ride north on the spine of the Appalachian mountains. It happens and when it does I don't get more than wind and dark clouds. I was expecting an inch or more of rain.

That holding pattern forced me to go to work.

At one this afternoon the dam burst and round two spilled over the mountains. I was forced to go home.

There was a steady gentle rain for four hours. It wasn't anywhere close to two inches. It might not have even been one. I am content to get a good rain and happy that most of it seems to have fallen on Tennessee where the worst fires have been.

All my gardens are happy. It is not a good thing to go into winter thirsty, particularly for evergreens. I want the Under Garden of evergreen winter interest to live long and prosper. My decrepitude approaches. I need it to cover more ground.

No the wind was not blowing. You can certainly tell which way it had been.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gently In The Night

There was mist when I went to bed. There was rain in the night and rain when I woke up. There may have been close to an inch of gentle ground penetrating rain. By 11am it was over. Clear blue smoke free skies ruled the day.

Round one was a big success. Round two is scheduled to arrive in the night. It could deliver another two inches of desperately needed rain. Round two could put an end to the fires.

Sadly for Gatlinburg, Tennessee it was too little too late. The strong winds that came before the rain sent a wild fire barreling towards town. Over a hundred homes were burned and many businesses lost. Gatlinburg is still there, but it is crispy around the edges.

The gardens drank every last drop. I saw no signs of runoff and the creeks didn't even rise. I hope round two is just as gentle. We need all that water in ground storage.

At long last, something more than spit. My wild gardening methods are already an added stress on the Under Garden. Drought was not in the plans.

Back when rain was a normal occurrence, I have watched a small river of it wash over the Snake in the Grass twice. It takes a very hard rain to do that. We don't need that kind of rain. Let it come gently. Let the parched ground absorb the sweetness of it all.

At dusk there was no sign of round two. It's coming. Now the word is snow is on tap for Saturday and into next week. Rain and snow for days in a row. This should mark the end of the fires.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gaining Substance

It was a fine morning. I waited for the sun to take the edge off before getting started.

The plan was for more chop and drop to uncover more of the Under Garden.

The change is rather remarkable. It's like having a whole new garden.

Hidden objet' de have reappeared.

Most of all, the Under Garden is growing and gaining substance.

The contours of the earth are completely exposed.

As I chopped it became apparent that the Under Garden has definitely been gaining form. This felt like the first time it spoke to me as a whole. It is more obvious in person sweeping your eye over the entire scene than in the pictures. It is still small after all.

In another few years it will become a more integral part of the summer Tall Flower Meadow.

You see, the plan is as the Under Garden grows and takes more space, the meadow component will be more refined. Less and less editing will be needed. The garden will grow with me into my decrepitude and be easier to maintain. That's the theory anyway.

I stared at my new garden for hours from every angle. It's been a long time. I was quite happy to see the progress.

The garden is all good. Being so utterly exposed to the scenic byway is taking some adjustment. It's the same every year. I get used to being hidden, then Bam! Everything is on view.

I'll leave the Joe Pye on the basement patio for now. I felt much more relaxed hiding back there.