Saturday, June 30, 2007

Festival of the Trees #13

Putting Down Roots is the theme for the Festival of the Trees #13 hosted at Wrenaissance Reflections from Ann Arbor Michigan. Stop by for links to all things tree.

Summer Creeps Higher Up

This Maui style balancing stack o' rocks marks the general area where I would like to build the left stone column for a front entry gate. A vision has been coming to me of the metal parts of this gate. Don't think in terms of a traditional gate or arch.

These were just some rocks that were close by. In the picture they seem to have a strange resemblance to Father Damien of Kalaupapa who brought civilization to the lepers stranded in the wilderness. Sometimes I feel like a leper, sometimes I don't.

An unintentional abstract portrait of Father Damien with rescued daylilies from the road cut and my first plant purchase for my new garden, Penstemon 'Midnight Blue' and 'Ruby'.

The Rudbeckia hirta gets fuller with blooms and more patches in the meadow reveal themselves by the day. The early summer green lull is ending and a summer wave of bloom approaches, bit by bit.

Lysimachia clethroides, Gooseneck Loosestrife

Spirea, possibly S. japonica collected in the wild. It lines the driveway of the long time resident gardeners. Soon a bright pink carpet will welcome us home.

A wild Rhododendron out in the back forty. I went hunting for the back property pin. I do believe I found it. This was not a hike for the timid. And stinging nettles really do sting so carry a good weed swatting stick.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Forest Lessons

When a tree falls in the forest it does make a sound. I know. I have heard the sound of crashing trees and branches twice in the last 24 hours. The question is will anyone be there to pick it up?

It takes quite some time and significant quantities, for rain to touch the ground in the forest. In some rain showers the water may never touch the ground.

After a good rain has stopped falling from the sky, the forest trees can continue raining for another 20 to 30 minutes.

You can dress up the forest with the ubiquitous blue pot, but if you don't cut it down, it will still be the forest and the forest will always come out on top.

Every creature but me, bears and coyotes, hundreds of cows, the deer and raccoons, even the birds can shit in the woods, but me, I have to wait for pits to be dug and the soil examined, to see if I may be permitted to poo.

If they won't permit me to poo, I may not be able to live in the woods. Let us now pray to the Patron Saint of Good Soils.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007





Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Going to Knoxville

Some one suggested I take the shortcut to Knoxville. I was going there just to pick up my air freight box at the airport and accidentally ended up in Pigeon Forge, the gateway to Dollywood. I love you Dolly and I always will but, Do Not Go to Pigeon Forge! It is a blight on the American landscape.

After the garish nature of the place made me realize I was off course, I spent another two hours just trying to find the airport. It took four hours to go 100 miles in circles. There is a major jumble of roads south of Knoxville running up and down every valley and holler, none of which go in a straight line.

Coming back heavier and slowly after finally finding the air cargo facility on the far side of the elusive Knoxville airport, it started to rain just across the North Carolina state line near Waterville. Yes Waterville. Pouring rain and thunder. Thank goodness I had brought a tarp to cover my cardboard air cargo box. The cool rain soaking me on the Waterville exit while I put the tarp over the cardboard cargo box felt good after coming from the heat and traffic of Knoxville.

At my exit the rain began to slack off, but it had poured big time while I was gone. Fines Creek was a raging muddy torrent. The road up the mountain was littered with leaves from the trees and gravel from ditches and driveways. The rain had stopped. Thank you. How wet was my Big Box gonna be?

But the first thing I did when I got home, that cargo box was no longer important, was to go see how much water was in our little creek from the torrential rain.

I guess it is hard to have a flood on the top of a mountain. Still sweet though. I could even hear it from much further away.

Now where did I put my birth certificate? I am going to need to prove I am a US citizen to the state of NC.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A New Slice of Sky

Where forever is land not water.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Old Shoe Strings and Baling Wire

A Deviant Duhsigner in Zonal Denial would be so proud of (appalled with) me today. Jethro went out to fix the split rail fence today. Jethro senior had built the fence of Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia some time ago to protect the roadside vegetable and flower garden from cars wanting to pull off the road.

Falling trees and snow plows according to the story given have been the cause of its dilapidated state. It is entirely too close to my front entry for me to ignore its sad condition. Five new posts were needed and a sixth post needed to be moved inward next to my drive to accommodate the new culvert beneath.

The split rails had been fastened to the post with wire. Black Locust according to the story given is way to hard to drive a nail or spike though. After I had disconnected all the rails from the old fallen posts and dug new holes, we went foraging for new posts. Not a problem in a forest full of trees and Black Locust.

At the end of the day, after much post hole digging and wire twisting a split rail fence re-emerged. From a distance it looks just fine. It should be adequate for fifty mile an hour drive-bys too.

I got plenty new rocks left over from the grading and plenty more just laying about for the using. These rocks must be turned into art. Michelle, my dear, I need a new gate. A real gate of substance for security, black metal and stone, beautiful and artistic, but not over the top, subtle and dignified.

The Rudbeckia hirta is showing up in all kinds of petal colors. There was a major discussion about Gloriosa Daisy, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Cone Flower and Black Eyed Susan and who is who. I went online. Gloriosa Daisy and Black Eyed Susan are both common names for Rudbeckia hirta. This as I am watching and gathering info from the major seed collecting and spreading women who is the driving force behind this mountaintop meadow. She has a method. It makes flowers.

The forest can get a little spooky at the end of the day in the fading light. I can almost see things in there.

Weeds in the Driveway

I think the Columbine are mostly finished for the year. It is going to take some getting used to that flowers have their seasons and to plan accordingly. This lone Aquilegia lingers in bloom in a large patch next to the gravel parking area.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pretty Grasses

In an across the road side ditch.

Still Looking

Around for the view up to the top, that is my part of the mountain. This is looking down into the valley below me.

I am some where on the right behind this tree.

Some early Beebalm, Monarda has begun to bloom. When this kicks in full time the hummingbirds may ditch the sugar water.

The common as dirt Daylilies are every where and starting to bloom too. I have managed to plant poorly, half the ones that came out of my new driveway.

Walking back to my folks house through the forest after siting the cozy little cottage and future house on my newly graded site. An awful, and I mean awful steep slope was created when a pad was made for the cabin with fill from the leveling done for the house site. Some more dirt moving needs to be done to fix that and mimic the natural grade of the slope.

I'll plant the rest of the daylilies or fix the split rail fence or cut the root stubs off the pad and along the drive or cut the hundred feet of old phone wire hanging off the pole or keep chopping up downed trees in the meadow or...... Oh and I think I am supposed to get a job.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Two Flowers

One of the drawbacks of the sunny utility valley of botanical delights is that it is created by the trees being chopped to the ground or their side limbs removed high into the crown. Utility company standard operating procedure is a chop and drop. It seems they may have done the ten year chop this past winter and my parents paths through their meadow to the roadside vegetable garden were buried in tree branches and tree trunks.

The paths were impassable.

Underneath the tangled mess, the flowers went on about their business. I spent the last three days re-opening the paths through the meadow to the roadside vegetable garden and to my home building site.

Now instead of walking along a narrow curved highway with a minimal shoulder to get to our destinations we can meander through the constantly changing meadow, looking for all of those delightful things. Currently it is in high summer green. The daylilies are budding and these Rudbeckia are just beginning to open. What else will I see?

The paths are now open, but much chainsaw work remains to fully reclaim the sunny utility valley.

A Bird in the Hand

They are fast little buggers! As they zip by your head just inches away, the sound is a body penetrating pulsating drone, a loud whir. There are two hummingbird feeders on the deck and all day long they dart about and dance around and defend the dispensers of clear sugar water.

So how did one of them end up in my hand? I watch them and thought they are too small and too fast to even film on my camera adequately. Look what I have to show you now.

I went out to the car for the last bit of groceries and left the door open. When I got back inside I heard that drone. I hope that is a big moth. No it was a hummingbird inside trying to fly through the glass window. I opened both doors momentarily before I thought, My Knob, more of them would buzz into the house. I closed the one closest to the feeders and waited for a while. The poor bird flew up to the skylights and was trying to fly through the roof.

It tired and found a small crevice to cling to in the uppermost skylight in the peak off the roof.

With stealth and a ladder I snuck up on the tiniest of feathered things and scooped him into the palm of my hand. Left handed I managed to snap a few pics and when I was ready I opened my palm. The poor formerly buzzing and zipping, darting and dancing bird just lay there.

Had I clutched it too hard? Had I broken a thin wing? Please tiny bird stop blinking and fly. I laid it to rest on a dish on the table. For long moments it sat still its wings and feet tightly closed, blinking and breathing hard, with a bit of a quiver. Then in a flash and a whir it lifted up and was gone.

New Rule: Do not leave the front door open for even a moment.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Digging In

Someone else lived on this land before my parents and long before me in much more primitive circumstances. I know this can be done, but I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. There are a life time of chores ahead. I knew that was the fact of my life. Still....

The day I arrived the initial clearing for a road, small cabin and future small house was in full swing.

The next day a more gentle grade began to appear for the approach to a new home on the mountaintop. A house will go where the big machines are parked. The small cabin will go on the left, forward of the group of trees and off the drive. More grading and fill is to be done to form a more gentle slope for the pad of the cabin.

Looking left into the sunny valley of future botanical delights created by the utility company keeping the lines cleared of trees. My lower property line is just past the area of scraped earth in the sunny utility valley.

Looking left again to the forest that will screen me from the road and be the future shade garden.

Looking up the drive towards the road. At the top of the drive to the left is the roadside vegetable and flower garden. My folks were not going to give that up just yet.

Cheerful weeds or wildflowers? It depends on how you have them arranged in the broader context I suppose.

There may be a view from a mountaintop similar to this in my future.

Another day of rest perhaps before the life time of chores begins.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Have Arrived

To the top of these mountains on the far left side, just Outside Clyde, after driving 28 hours straight from Denver. In a day or so my head should clear.

There are some nice rocks on the property.

Friday, June 15, 2007

In The West

On dial-up. How does anyone do this on dial-up?

Eastern Oregon

Boise Idaho

Vail Colorado

Delphiniums in Denver

Continuing the March East out of Denver.

More on all this later.

Monday, June 11, 2007

In Portland Quickly

On other computers and in different gardens.

The Columbia River Gorge

Horsetail Falls

An entry path to the Japanese Garden at Washington Park.

Some of what waits inside.

The City of Roses has a public rose trial garden.

Red and white roses.

Now that I have stopped and smelled the roses the real cross country trek begins.