Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It Ain't Over

Til the last aster turns blue.

The bloom in the Tall Flower Meadow continues to build. Peak bloom is still about two to three weeks away. Barring any unfortunate crushing circumstances, the wild flower magic will continue well into the first signs of fall. Then the forest will take center stage.

How much aster will I get? Will they bloom while the color in the earlier arrivals still holds? When it all overlaps, it is truly a sight to behold.

What is that tree? This was the most asked about plant on the open garden day. It is Seven Son Flower, Heptacodium miconioides. It has grown very well for me and the bloom is getting consistently better. I don't have as much luck with the showy drupes that follow since it gets cold too soon.

It fell sixty feet out of a tree very unleaf like. I went to investigate. That's because it is a big hairy caterpillar.

Much like the tropical rain forests, there is an entirely other world of living beings in the tree tops above me. Some I hear. Sometimes I see things. For the most part it is all over my head.

What is this hairy thing? Not that I can or plan or care to do anything about it.

I'm more interested in blue asters.

Monday, August 29, 2016


I don't need to say a thing.
Click on a picture for a slide show.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Day Of Puttering

I had a clean house, a clean garden and clean laundry. What was I going to do with myself on a day off? Obviously the answer was grab my clippers, put on my gloves and amble through the garden.

I was up early and Sunday mornings starts wilderness quiet before the scenic byway gets going. The meadow was alive with the sound of crickets.

The first item I tended to was a freshly dug hole by the wasp and hornet eater I had spied yesterday evening. I had the hole filled back in and was ready to move on when the yellow jacket stung me good. Damn bug!

This was the second sting on the same hand in three days. All I got to say is, if bee and wasp stings have any medicinal value, I'm good. I get multiple shots on an annual basis.

I wandered up to the byway to look at the last of the fading chicory.

The ironweed is stepping in to replace it for the late summer season.

Maybe I can do a little tidying in the roadside vegetable garden.

Yes, all this chaos laps at the edges of the vegetable garden. There are actually quite a few butternut squash beneath all that.

I pulled a few weeds, organized dead squash vines for decomposition and filled a full sack of tomatoes. I harvested a nice batch of okra for tonight's supper from the finest okra patch a 4000' elevation has ever seen.

I'm already at five side dishes of okra for the year and more is to come. This is a new record.

Helianthus maximiliani and Ironweed make a good and very tall combo. Then it was time for a nap.

After an early nap there was plenty of day left. Let the chopping for the utility line begin. Not.

I have been eyeing the trees and the power line ever since the threat of destruction reared it's ugly head to get some sense of what parts of the garden were most vulnerable. I have seen the quality of their work and was not impressed. What could I do to mitigate the carnage?

So it was decided that I would start chopping before the tree butchers return in November. The idea is to make their job easier and more obvious, which is to get the high stuff on the big trees that is out of my reach. The idea is to clarify the Witch Hazels and Dogwoods which will never reach the power lines so that I can clearly state, Leave them alone!

The section of forest on the slope below the roadside vegetable garden, not being actively gardened, needed the most attention. It was done neatly in an hour and half because I have done this editing process several times before.

My section of the utility easement has remained tree free because of me. I have spent plenty of time pushing back the edge of the forest over the last nine years. I knew this day was coming.

My section of the easement is in such good shape I can consider a round of pre-chopping a bit of puttering in the garden on a lazy summer day.

And when I was done there was still time to amble through the garden and watch the sinking sun light up the grasses along the scenic byway.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Perfect Day

From almost 10am sharp until 5pm there was a perfectly spaced flow of visitors. There was a chance for them to say hello to people they already knew, to meet new faces and to experience the wild cultivated gardens pretty much on their own.

It was a surprise and a pleasure for me to meet a few of my more anonymous local blog readers

It was a beautifully cool morning with a hint of breeze. The hot held off until three. One brief shower slowed the last guest's venture into the gardens.

The view from above at the start grabbed their attention and lured them in.

I made sure they were hydrated and made most of them eat haupia. Refreshing was the general response.

While I spent my time visiting and orienting people to the layout of the gardens from the cozy cabin, I had a map, word came back from several folks that Bulbarella was out in her garden giving private tours. I saved her some haupia.

It was a perfect day.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Curated Weed Show

My weeds .. er wild flowers are in massive bloom.

It is colorful out there, but it is still two to three weeks away from peak bloom. The asters have yet to arrive.

I considered doing the open garden day on September 17th. I had to wait until then because of commitments to the West Asheville Garden Stroll for the next two weekends. I was too afraid to wait that long though. Outside forces are unpredictable. Last year the Tall Flower Meadow was wrecked by a wicked thunderstorm.

I'm hoping that doesn't happen again this year and visitors are always welcome. The Sisters will be here at the end of October and while that is well past peak bloom, a perky fall meadow is much more interesting than a squashed one.

The fall meadow can actually be quite stunning in an entirely different color palette.

Tomorrow's visitors to my weed show will see the late summer meadow.

I did some minor touch up on the paths and in the fire ring. Can you tell?

It looks much mo betta without that hairball on the Great Lawn. It's Showtime!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

One More Day

Before company comes. All is well.

The weather is looking delightful if just a tad warm, which means it will feel nice and cool to all those valley folk. Chances are slim, but it would be best to avoid entirely any thunder storms. Another round of floppage is to be expected, but please let it wait a couple more days.

A last minute bit of tidy was done burning up the hairball in the fire pit. The hairball detracts from the ambiance. The remnant ring of weeds will get whacked tomorrow.

Somewhere in the wild cultivated gardens is a colorful gate for loose cows.

The tall grasses are looking fine.

In the right light they make magic.

The Tall Flower Meadow is ready. Come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

And A Cow Plowed Through It

God grant me the serenity to accept the loose cow at the top of my driveway
The courage to chase the damn thing away
And the wisdom, speed and agility to run if I have to.

The disturbances continue. Orange tag.

So I walked back down to the house to call my farmer and when I returned the cow was coming down my driveway. It was me, the cow and a truck blocking its escape route.

Shoo cow. Shoo.

So it plowed right through the roadside vegetable garden. Several tomato cages were dislocated.

But praise be, the finest okra patch I have ever grown was spared.

At dinner this evening Bulbarella says, "I saw a cow walk by my kitchen window this morning."

Oh dear Lord. Did the cow stomp through the garden?

No. It wandered out to the back forty and headed into the forest.

Hmmm? I wonder if the farmer found his cow? Ohmm.

Last night I decided to hire myself out as a gardener to Bulbarella's broken boyfriend. He'll need time for his bones to heal. I designed and planted the bulk of his garden so I know what it needs. It is a much smaller and tidier version of the Tall Flower Meadow planted as a trap to lure in bugs for him to capture, kill and add to his collection.

My bugs are safe. I am also happy to report that the loose cow did not stomp through the Tall Flower Meadow.

I wonder if my farmer found his cow. The last thing I need is a feral cow colony just beyond the back forty making foraging excursions into the gardens.

It has felt all week like I am surrounded by evil forces intent on stomping the Tall Flower Meadow before my open garden day on Saturday. I have been having to put up my shields and fend them all off. After work today I tidied up the mess the tree trimmers left along Bulbarella's driveway. Once I got in there they were down graded to a C for cleanup. I can't fix the stompage.

Let's not mention the weather. So far it has been most cooperative.

It could just be pre-show jitters, but I have done this often enough that I don't really fret over the garden itself. Outside forces are much more concerning.

Right now it looks fabulous and only needs to get through three more days intact.

I will be even happier if it remains intact until the first of November when the tree trimmers return.

Then, God grant me the serenity to accept barbarians in my garden

The courage to supervise and direct the cleanup crew

And the wisdom to restrain my sharp tongue and replace it with kindness.