Thursday, October 25, 2007

Curb Appeal

It can take a while to get to my cabin construction site from the resident gardeners house when I walk through the woods. I see things in there. At this point I am up to recognizing five different species of ferns. I have not ID'd them yet. I'll need a book or another information source for that.

A Humpback whale was swimming through the forest and surfaced near by.

I have way more orchids in North Carolina than I ever did in Hawaii. They actually grow wild here and I have been finding more and more patches of the Putty Root, Aplectrum hyemale. The leaf appears in the fall and lasts through the winter. Then they bloom in May and June after the leaf has shriveled and disappeared.

A huge fossil tree rests on the surface.

By the time I get to the top of my drive where I am slowly working on the installation of a new planting bed, I am wondering why I am even attempting to tidy up nature, thinking I can make it look better.

The split rail fence presents a challenge for a good planting design for this bed. It is a visual barrier to smaller low growing plants and a physical barrier for maintenance access. It's purpose though is paramount and that is to keep cars on the road. On a scenic byway with next to no shoulders people will pull off the road any place there is a space. I want a garden with some curb appeal, not the curb.

I was back in there today because one of the resident gardener over indulged in bulbs and I received some of the overflow. I was the lucky recipient of some Foxtail Lily, an Eremurus species. I need to get the package with the label out of the trash and write the full name down.

This bulb needs full sun in a well drained soil and well the resident gardeners are already full on bulbs and short on full sun. I just happen to have a whole new piece of the mountain to plant. This front garden is also a side arm of the utility easement and has been and will need to continue to be kept clear of trees.

My thoughts are that I need to limit the plant palette and plant a few large drifts of things that will have some presence behind the fence. So far I have put in the Bird's Nest Spruce, Picea abies 'Nidiformis', front and center right, Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light', top left as the bed curves and narrows and now the Eremurus, out of the picture above, about eight feet forward of the Spruce.

I found two clumps of an unidentified sedge, a baby allium of some kind and the Ironweed, all of which I am leaving and will try to multiply with the Miscanthus and Eremurus to help fill this bed. The Blue Aster, Goldenrod, Blackberry and assorted others are being discouraged for now. I need me some mulch.

Below this bed is a tangled mess on a steep slope filled with Blackberry, Aster, Clematis and Pokeweed, at least that is what I can see on the surface. It also contains a solid row as if they were planted by someone, of the native Hydrangea arborescens that extends well into the trees as you move down along the road. The hydrangea need to be uncovered and saved and a new plan put in place for this slope. I am thinking Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumac for its different leaf texture, nice inflorescence and great fall color as the backdrop for the upper bed.

This bed could look so nice it might slow people down enough to safely enter and exit my driveway on the sole straight away on this curving road right after it tops the mountain and starts heading down hill. Local people seem to be in a hurry or is that just how it is done on the mainland?

It can take just as long to get back to the resident gardeners house from my cabin construction and new garden site as it does to get there when I walk through the meadow and woods. I see things in there.

The maples by far have the most diverse color range.

Oh yea, there was that front gate I was going to build too.

The Solomon's Seal just quietly withers away with very little drama. A few still hang on, leafless, with their pawn shop balls dangling in the wind.


bev said...

Great post and photos. I've had the same thought about why I am trying to prettify my wooded lot. We just feel this need to impose our controlling hand, I guess. I have decided not to be so aggressive about weeding out the innumerable seedling trees; they make such a nice green groundcover in the wild woods behind my house.

lisa said...

Nice post! I love the imaginative way you look at things...that "whale" is way cool! Looks to me like you've moved into a plant fun to vicariously "come along" as you ID stuff. I think your curb-side garden would look nice raised on a berm, or even with an attractive "limestone cliff" stacked in front of it. I think some native small trees, grasses, and wildflowers would look natural and yet "on purpose" too. The idea of "contrived but not controlled" is kinda what I try to do...not exactly improve nature so much as add my suggestions. I find it especially satisfying to try and grow rare or endangered natives, like the ladyslipper orchids and anything with fruits/seeds to benefit wildlife. (I do realize that you're a plantsman who needs no "advice", just cannot help but toss in my ameteur 2 cents ;-)

Christopher C. NC said...

Bev a lot of those small trees are not going to make it and will die out on their own in dense shade in only a couple of years. In the woodscaping course I took I learned that the life span of seedling trees is short in the shade. It varies by species. Hemlock was actually very shade tolerant for a long time which is unusual for a conifer and why Hemlock is the mature stage forest in the Appalachia.

No problem Lisa. You never know where the next brilliant idea is going to come from.

"I think some native small trees, grasses, and wildflowers would look natural and yet on purpose" That is where I am headed with the plants I have choosen. The Sumac is my small tree, Miscanthus for grass and Ironweed for wildflowers. There will be other wildflowers too that come up on their own in suitable spots and get left.

I have never been fond of berms. They generally look so contrived. Stone outcrops I will have some where in this garden just not behind a fence.

My gate will be my hardscape out front and I have been toying with the idea of a monolithic sculpture placed in the front roadside bed.

bev said...

Yes, I knew that most of these seedlings will not make it to maturity; and a good thing too, or there would be white oaks every foot on my property! But new ones keep sprouting and I like the ground cover-like appearance of them as one surveys the (non cultivated) woods behind my house. I had been pulling them out on my property for fear they were competing with my planted shrubs (they probably are); but now plan to leave them in areas I have not planted, instead of just a bunch of dead leaves under the mature trees.
I am trying to save a few in the most sun, to eventually replace the mature trees, long after I am gone....