Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who'd've Believed It

A seriously black flower has always been like the elusive Holy Grail. You read about them, see them promoted in catalogs, but they are never truly black, just a really dark something else. That was my impression. Maybe I don't get out enough.

My impression has been proven wrong.

Everything around it has crumbled and turned to dust. The hearth at its feet looks precarious. Some mighty winds roar through this gap consistently. Trees snap in half. This chimney still stands.

Plants that I did not know existed on this mountain appear out of nowhere. And then some more show up when I start looking.

The first Daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare have begun to bloom. It means summer is here, that I have been here for a full year, a full gardening season. This was a dominant flower upon my arrival to the low spot on a North Carolina mountaintop last June.

I still get to see what I missed last year. Columbine are everywhere. I mean everywhere.

Only the stragglers were still blooming last year in mid June.

Through a first cold winter I stacked rocks to keep myself busy, the plastic covered floor of a cabin above me. The months moved along at their own pace, not really dragging, but slowly enough to make a whole house seem a distant, vague illusion.

A new phase has begun.

The roof section for the front living room end of the cabin is rising from stacks of lumber.

Who'd've believed it?

There really is a seriously black flower.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Has It Come To This?

I have never been overly fond of Roses after having to tend a rose garden for a client. Some shift in the wind must be occurring. I am finding this Rose quite fetching. It has a nice full upright shrub habit. The upper canes are nearly thornless and the flowers are fully double with a simple old fashioned appeal.

I have no idea what its name might be. Being here is like going to a nursery with no name tags on any of the plants.

Four of these roses have grown out of the steep slope on the cut bank along my driveway. I don't even think these are the same ones where an attempt was made to save them that ended up with them being crushed under the wheels of the power company's trucks. This re-emergence must mean they are tough. They are kind of cute too, whoever they are.

And this is the hole for the Dahlia from San Francisco. I am following the directions. I planted well after the last frost date and will be adding soil as the Dahlia emerges. I still need to put in a stake, it said, even though Madame Stappers grows as a dense, rounded, all but self supporting mound. I don't stake plants.

This is the worst. I came home from walmart with five, $9 Knockout Roses for my sunny utility hillside.

I had two huge long stem Roses on Maui, one red and one yellow, that I completely ignored. I never sprayed them, never fertilized them. I only hacked the ten foot tall things back to the nub every couple of years and they bloomed regularly with abandon. These roses better not expect any better treatment from me.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Garden Path

The Evening Stroll

Changes daily, which is why it is new every day.



Thousands of Jacks. Now I search for a pure white one, checking under the hoods.

Iris, Iris, Iris

Black Iris?



Yellow Dutch Iris

Exbury Azalea I presume

Azalea and Barberry

Peach Azalea


Towards Tennessee

The view was improved with the beheading of two Dogwoods below the deck. At my place the construction of the cabin's roof has begun. Bedtime.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Rhododendron Show

The resident gardeners concur, this has been the best spring in many a year.

The Iris lead the way after being threatened with eviction for non-performance.

There is so much of this particular yellow and purple iris, they have grown bored with it.

After last year's bitter Easter Freeze that wreaked so much havoc, this perfect spring of bountiful blooms restores a gardener's faith.

Rhododendron and Azaleas of all shapes, sizes and colors stretch from one end of the ridge top garden to the other.

Some are lone specimens, growing to attain enough size

to become a mass planting with their near neighbors.

Little miniatures pop up in numerous spots. Most of these have had a rough life on the mountain. The few that appear vigorous may deserve propagation.

This may be the native Flame Azalea, Rhododendron calendulaceum.

The deciduous Azaleas all look a lot alike in form and behavior. It is hard to know what may be an Exbury Azalea and what might be a native. The R. calendulaceum is one of the Exbury parents.

A deep red one.

Some of the Rhododendrons are well over my head.

I think I like the ethereal form of the deciduous Azaleas more than the hulking dark green mass of the Rhododendrons.

They play better with others in their growth habit, except maybe, while they are in a state of shocking orange.

Still to come are the later blooming Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia and the native Rhododendron maximum, R. catawbiensis that are scattered through sections of the wild forest

More Later

No I did not forget the Rhododendron show.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mahalo nui loa Mrs. Baker

Maybe I did not try hard enough to please you. Maybe I did not try hard enough to convince you there was another way. Maybe the slow passage of days and incremental growth of things blinded us both to how set we get in our own ways. Sometimes you need a new set of eyes to look, or eyes caught in routine just need to see new things to be re-awakened.

A shade garden can be bold and visually exiting. It finally, after all those years, dawned on me to do just that. I started to sneak in drifts of bold leaf shapes and patterns in shade loving plants before I left. There wasn't going to be a bed of perennial sun loving flowers, but there could be drama.

You said it with a quilt. A relationship of over fifteen years was pieced together by hand. A quilt for my gardener, the gardener who won't let me have flowers. The fabric is shades of green, textures of leaves, an occasional red for a ginger that manages to bloom in the deep shade. The faded petals of an immense shower tree that carpet the ground in July show up as a touch of orange. The quilt for your long time gardener is all about the shaded, impenetrable, jungle foliage.

A Laua'e Fern pattern is stitched into the colorful green fabric. That is not why it took so long to get here. The quilt Mrs. Baker made for me has been on a journey.

All she really wanted was masses of flowers in her front entry.

And so I wouldn't forget, the other side of the quilt is the masses of flowers her gardener couldn't give her in the shade of a Mango, three Shower Trees, a Poinciana, a Kou and several Norfolk Island Pines. One side of the quilt is the gardener and the other side is Mrs. Baker, sewn together in botanical harmony.

I need more details, but my quilt was entered in several shows. It won a few awards, I think, and then hung in the Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle's office for three months. My quilt was gathering more mana before it came to be with me.

A gardener inspires a quilt and a client inspired a story.

Mahalo nui loa, Jackie. I live in a shaded forest myself now. I will be using a lot of bold leaf shapes and patterns to create drama in my new garden, but my front entry is in full sun. I will be able to have masses of flowers up there.

Updated: The Whole Quilt

The back

The top.

Please ignore the ceiling fan cord just barely visible on the right.