Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Better Than Nothing

I woke up in the middle of the night to a strange rattling noise. It was over before I realized it was rain. A bit later I heard it again. A remnant band of showers managed to drop some water on the garden. A look at the bird baths in the morning indicated it wasn't much.

I'll take it. Some water is better than nothing. The asters are making a valiant effort to work with the water they have.

I ID'd this aster once. Now I have no clue who it is.





















I think this aster is a hybrid between the Blue Wood and the New England. The flowers are too big to be one and too small to be the other. Even the leaves are halfway in between.






















This is the New England Aster. At five to six feet tall they always manage to bloom on the ground. That is why I do not hesitate to pull them ruthlessly.





















This appears to be a near white variations of the Blue Wood Aster. I have a lot of oddball asters.





















And I have either one monarch butterfly who has been hanging out for days feeding a lot on the Blue Wood Aster or I am getting one monarch per day passing through. I always see one, never more.





















Would you believe a species of Opuntia cactus most likely will grow in North Carolina? I was asked to get rid of it during the plant removal/rescue for the remodel job.

You know I considered it. It only takes one pad to make more.





















Last Saturday I quite delicately pulled the long grass out with my Cobrahead weeder prior to removal and it managed to sink some of the invisible hair like spines right through my glove into my flesh. It was quite irritating.

Rule #1 - Gardey don't like being poked and stabbed, particularly in his own garden. None of this opuntia cactus will be following me home.

I removed it all with a pitchfork and wheelbarrow and tossed it into a roll off dumpster. I did not touch one piece of that cactus a single time. It still managed to sink plenty of those invisible hair like spines into the flesh of my hands. It is quite irritating. I have been picking them out all evening. I suppose I should toss my trousers into the washer like four hours ago.

It definitely did not follow me home. I'd better double check to be sure.





















I salvaged hosta, daylily, peony, azalea and some Knockout roses. None of them are the least bit exciting I know. I had to dig them up. It was only a little more effort to heel them in and will save plenty money for re-landscaping.

Now they just have to survive a drought while heeled in for an indeterminate period of construction and a winter cut off date approaching. Good luck with that.





















Now I am getting all itchy and creepy crawly. There have been an unusual number of bugs inside my shirt this week. I think the stinkbug bit me. Now I have been assaulted by a cactus while keeping a safe distance. Excuse me for a bit.

Enjoy this lovely Tatarian Aster while I'm gone.





















Ah, much better.

This is one of my driest slopes. I looked at the ground this afternoon and it still looked completely parched. The blue asters are actually doing a whole lot better than nothing considering.





















After the cactus stabbing I headed to another house in the neighborhood and came upon a car stopped in the road because a huge birch tree had fallen across the road and completely blocked it. The tree fell out of the garden I was headed to.

How should I interpret that sign? Has the swirling mess ended? I think not.





















The perplexed man in the middle of the road looked at me as I pulled closer and says, "I can back up if you want me to," like I was going to plow on ahead.

"I have a saw. Just let me park." "It's not a chainsaw. but I can open up the road."

"Do people around her carry saws with them everywhere they go?"

"No. you just got lucky. I am a gardener and I carry sharp cutting instruments and this is a garden I tend."

In less than five minutes he was on his way. I stayed to clean up more. Fortunately I was cutting the small branches of the top of a sixty foot tall tree. The real work will have to be done by someone else.

I have growing waves of blue asters in a drought.





















Even bone dry is way better than nothing.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Christopher's Mum

This lovely pink mum is currently available at my favorite local independent garden center because of me. Last year I got tired of waiting for a killing frost and cut them down when they were still quite green and not sure what was going on. I took them to the nursery and said try to root these. I know it is way late, but give it a try. They had already bloomed and been deadheaded. The client has a deadheading fetish I regularly sneer at.

He got an amazing take on the cuttings and this year I have been buying back great numbers of the pink mum with a white eye that was called Christopher's mum because nobody knew who it was. There is an aster at the nursery called County Park Aster.

I feel quite certain it already has a name and a quick search on the interwebs would reveal whose glory I am butting in on. Off I go.





















That didn't take long. This is Chrysanthemum x rubellum 'Clara Curtis'. We have the same initials anyway. I did plant one in my garden several years ago and it was swallowed up by the Lush. These hardy mums will grow fine for me. but they can't handle the competition. One day I might have the time for giving such plants the elbow room they need.





















I came home to no cows, praise be and no rain, boo and double boo. We have been shafted. I can not believe that front passed right over us and what we got was less than spit. It is getting scary dry out there. I can only hope the gardens I tend on the other side of the county got a bit more spit.





















This is the driest I have ever seen it in my nine years here and the Tall Flower Meadow blooms on. That is some resilience. The bloom is compromised. I can't expect the blue asters to have the best showing this year. In Bulbarella's garden the blue aster were eaten. A herd of cows sheared off the tops. Damn cows!

Will it ever rain again? Have the cows finally been contained? Will I freak out when I wake up to a low of forty five degrees? These questions and more will be answered as the super dry leaves keep swirling down.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dry Blue Froth

It was another full week without rain. Last Sunday's moisture took the sharp edge off. It did nothing to abate the drought. The crispiness has settled in permanently for some.





















With time running short, the asters that can have begun to bloom anyway. Symphyotrichum oblongifolium is a new addition.  It was given a bit of supplemental water. I hope it proves drought tolerant. It was planted on the driest, sunniest slope I have.





















The Tatarian Aster got some of the wettest ground I have along the border of the Great Lawn.



























This is the first bloom and I am seeing the first signs of multiplication. The jury is still out on if it will be thuggish enough to effectively compete without my assistance. Life in the Tall Flower Meadow does not compare to a proper perennial border.





















A dry blue froth has begun to spread through the garden.





















It could be my imagination, but the Blue Wood Aster, Symphyotrichum cordifolium, seems paler in color this year. Does dry make for pale blue? The color range in individual aster species can be all over the blue, lilac, pink to occasionally white range. It can get confusing.





















The melon harvest begins. I planted cantaloupe and this is some of what I got. I have magic dung. Today I harvested sacks of butternut, delicata and acorn squash. There has been no sighting of anything remotely resembling a cantaloupe.



























Word is a change is coming tomorrow. Rain may be involved. I sure hope ample rain is involved. Then it is going to get cold, as in lows in the upper forties cold with highs in the low seventies. It is about time September arrived.





















There are a few weeks left for a wet, deep blue froth while the Tall Flower Meadow still stands. The threats continue unabated. My goal is to make it last until the barbarian tree trimmers return in November.





















The few monarchs I see each season are passing through. A perky meadow makes for more visitors and better viewing.






















They're back. This is the third, most likely the fourth time in less than two weeks that the same bunch of cows has been loose and the second time they have plowed their way through Bulbarella's garden. It is obvious they are looking for fresh forage. Either deliberately or by clear negligence the owner is letting them run loose. I called again then chased them back towards home and barricaded their entry points.

The utility meadows are the next fresh forage in line. If they get cow stomped before the tree trimmers arrive I will be pissed. Three times the owner has been told his cows are loose and roaming the mountain. That is ample notice.





















It was a long, hot and dry day at my construction site plant rescue. It was also most peaceful and productive. No one was there to bother me and the plants were still intact. I took it as a very good sign that the swirling cluster of negativity was passing. It was not to be.

I came home to read a note by her brother on a dear friend's from Maui FB page that she has passed away unexpectedly in her sleep. I was stunned and heartbroken. She was ten years younger than me. How could this be? I will so miss her warrior spirit, quick wit and our playful banter online.

E ho Ľomaha me ka maluhia, my dear sweet Kristin. Your spirit will be greatly missed.

Then the cows came back.

Word is a change is coming tomorrow. Please let it be so. Let the swirling energies be cleansed and made new.




















It looks so nice out there from my front porch. I'm still thinking it might be safer to stay home until I am sure the swirling mess has passed.


Friday, September 23, 2016

My Nerves

Is it a rule of construction that shrubberies should be mangled just enough to get them out of the way? Is the idea of cutting them back with a sharp tool out of the question? What did they do, send in a herd of cows?

The gardener can get annoyed and tired at times of cleaning up the mess left by totally thoughtless people. The gardener would be fine with and happy if he was asked, could you get this out of our way before we start making a mess.

My nerves. There are swirling messes all around me. When they arrive in big clusters it gets overwhelming. But this too shall pass.





















Right now I would settle for the drought going away. On an evening stroll it was looking like it was digging in deeper.




















Then I heard a gun shot and turkeys squawking right above me on the scenic byway. Then the truck drove on by. A-hole. Try using your damn horn to get the turkeys off the road. There are people around here. Drive by shootings of turkeys. What's next?

 My nerves.





















Tomorrow I am going to a construction site in the middle of a drought to remove and rescue plants to prepare for exterior remodeling and near future re-landscaping. I clearly stated when I would be able to do this. I do not trust that when I get there the plants won't already be mangled and stomped on.

I hope all the construction worker dudes have tomorrow off and I can work in peace. My nerves are already frayed.

There is a big ol' swirling cluster out there. I think it would be safer to stay home.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

In The Time Of Goldenrod

Goldenrod dominates while the asters warm up for last of the season. All that neon yellow is a sight to behold, but goldenrod is not my favorite. I have four species. Two are very aggressive. The other two are robust.





















My favorite of the bunch is the newly identified Solidago caesia, Bluestem Goldenrod. This goldenrod tolerates forest shade and still blooms nicely.





















It also stays under three feet, in the shade at least. In full sun it is more robust and pretends to be a different species by having multi-stemmed flowering heads.



























My least favorite is the five foot tall, rhizome spreading, Solidago canadensis. It is time to start culling it.





















After a two year wait, the Tatarian Aster has bloomed. This would be a fine replacement for the S. canadensis or any number of other asters.





















The Frost Aster, Symphyotrichum pilosum is the first to make a good showing.




















Now is the time when I see the only monarchs of the season. Despite having two kind milkweed, they don't breed here. In my garden they are migrants passing through. I make sure they are well fed for the journey south.





















The drought continues. The crack in the earth is getting bigger by the day. I suspect this is the edge of a trench in my septic drain field. I sure hope it isn't a sign of something worse.





















Day two of the Tatarian Aster. I have four bloom stems. One got decapitated by a stem boring insect. This is a clumping perennial and I am seeing signs this year of new plants at the base.



























First I heard a chicken screeching half way between crowing and a distress call. Then a clucking was mixed with the crowing. Sounded like more than the one chicken I thought was left.

Ten minutes later a loud crashing noise in the forest across the byway alerted me to the loose cows on the run. One, two, crash, three, crash four. Cluck. Cluck. Sigh........... Get up, the cows are loose. Moo.

There were a fresh new set of cow divots in my neighbor's scalped hillside of grass across the byway. Moooo. Moo. Honk. Honk. Honk. Sigh.......





















It was the same herd of cows that were loose last week, but this time they were in Bulbarella's ridge top garden dining and smashing as they strolled along. Shoo cow shoo.





















I shooed them to the back forty and went home to make some calls. The owners were located. Bulbarella called. They had turned around and come back for a second round of dining and smashing in the ridge top garden. Shoo cow shoo. This time I forced them over the fence line into the next county and headed down the old road towards home. Their owner arrived. Sigh.......

The Cow Capades continue.





















I am fortunate that the cows have missed the sunny utility and Tall Flower meadows. They smash everything in their paths to bits. Bulbarella's garden is a shambles. Moo, cluck, cluck.





















In the time of goldenrod.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Drink Of Water

That's all they wanted.





















And the blue asters have begun to open in numbers.





















Soon all the remaining colors will be mixed with blue.





















It was a stingy drink, but it was enough. Sadly it looks like another full week of dry is in store. I hope it was enough to last until the next drink comes along.