Monday, June 30, 2008


Haywood County Garden Tour

Part I

I probably don't get out often enough. When I saw the flyer for the Haywood County Garden Tour for the next day, I was determined to go. The event was being sponsored mainly by the NC Cooperative Extension and the Haywood County Extension Master Gardeners. It would be a chance to mingle with other humans and see some beautiful gardens in the mountains of western North Carolina. I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to see what those in the know in these parts could do and have done with a garden. I always have such high hopes.

Now you must understand I have been for over twenty years and continue to be part time, a landscape designer and high end maintenance gardener. I have seen a lot of gardens in my time.

The day started at 9am at Junaluska Elementary School in Waynesville where the maps for the tour were being handed out. The parking lot was full. There was a very good crowd.

The first part of the tour was the children's organic vegetable garden at the school. It was a small space for such a large crowd of eager gardeners raring to go bright and early, so I only took this one picture. Mostly it was vegetables, some looking quite robust, and it was all mulched with wood chips. Imagine that. How can you not like a tidy, well kept organic garden at an elementary school for the first and second graders?

The Cogdill garden was the first private garden on the tour. Nice chairs.

Located in an atypical suburban neighborhood, to me anyway. In these parts there is no such thing as laying things out in a straight line grid. The road and the lots must conform to the lay of the land to a large extent. The road side of the garden was very sunny and the back stream side was shaded.

A well tended garden with many healthy plants and a nice raised bed vegetable area in a sunny spot on the lowest portion of a sloped lot. This was a garden that any gardening homeowner could be proud of.

Next was the Bernard garden. This was my favorite one, reminiscent of many of the gardens I tended on Maui in its style and location. A nice stone and gravel path with steppables interspersed led from the driveway to the front entry and beyond.

A stone wall along the path terraced a steep hillside above the house.

A more formal stone staircase led from the road to the front entry. This was roped off for the tour.

At the end of the pathway a bench.

And the entrance to an open air patio

Looking out over a gorgeous pond and hillside planting to frame it.

The killer view from the back deck.

In the front, opposite the pond side of the property, a typical shade garden with Astilbe and the now trendy Brunnera 'Jack Frost'.

Next was the Swarthout garden. This shrub Zenobia pulverulenta caught my eye.

And a blue potting chair.

There were his and her private getaways tucked into the forested corner of the small lot.

This was the half way mark of the garden tour. Now let us say a little prayer.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Old Barn New Barn

One of the good things about the upcoming garden tour was that it took me down roads I had not traveled yet. I saw neighborhoods you would never know existed from the main roads. The hills and forest hide much.

An old barn

With a half round roof that struck my fancy.

The new barn was at the M3 Ranch, one of the gardens on the tour.

Inside the barn were four Highland cattle, a breed from Scotland, part of a small 60 head herd at this ranch.

Work has finished on the photo editing and uploading to Blogger of Part I of the Haywood County Garden Tour of 2008. I just need to be more alert and in the right mood to narrate it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pastoral Scene

Coming up next - it'll take a spell - a spoiled and jaded view of the Haywood County Garden Tour of 2008.

Friday, June 27, 2008

After A Downpour

I've never seen thunderstorms like this before. For the last few days we have been in the path of several mini-thunderstorms a day. Mostly it is dark clouds and thunder that threaten for a while and then move on. Blue sky returns until the next one washes by. Maybe there is a little sprinkle, maybe not. They are so small you need a direct hit with the center to get any rain.

This afternoon we got a direct hit and some needed rain, a half inch in about twenty minutes.

Once the sun came back out it was time for an evening stroll, to see what I might see.

The Monarda didyma, Bee-Balm, in the sunny utility meadow is beginning to bloom. This is one of the hummingbirds favorites. Their aerial acrobatics will be moving down here shortly.

I saw it then I ate it. It was freshly washed.

I saw it then I ate it. It was freshly washed.

I saw it then I...

started moving slowly so I wouldn't scare it. I wasn't hungry anymore. It is nice to be able to have a small salad while touring the gardens.

Let's compare shells to the box turtle I saw across the road and up the hill at Client # 2's back in April. What do you think, different turtle?

Something not good has been going on with one of my Blue Star Junipers. This guy was tucked inside, but I don't think a snail is the problem. It seems more like something heavy stepped on it. I flung the snail into the woods anyway.

I may not need to slowly fill the hole as Madame Stappers grows. These hard down pours every so often seem to be doing a fine job. I do need to reconsider seeding the whole hillside with grass seed again. The late sowing last year may be the reason for such a poor return of the grass this spring. The hillside is amazingly stable, but bit by bit each hard rain sends a little more of it down hill. Grass seed. Add it to the list.

The Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia, looks fine after a hard downpour.

The skies clear to reveal the distant mountains are still there.

Bzzzzzz Bzzz Bzzzzzzzzz Chirp

Just stepping out the front door can be dangerous. You might get your eye poked out by a flying, buzzing, kamikazee dart.

For such little things, Hummingbirds can be quite obnoxious.

They apparently are not taught to share as children.

Control of the sugar water tap takes more time and energy than sipping peacefully.

There are two feeders and six hummingbirds jockeying for control and landing rights today.

This one seems to be the preferred spigot. For a split second, peace reigns.

Bzzz. Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzz. They're off. Don't try and duck you could get whiplash.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quality Time With The Wall

It has been a long time since I added another rock to the wall. My building contractor had to go to Florida for a week. After I finished what I knew what to do with the roof, there was time to spend on the wall. It is best to wait until the brains of this cabin building operation returns before we move on to the next step.

Someone was worried that the footing for the front porch was being eroded. It wasn't, but I went ahead and wrapped the wall around it for more protection. Don't let the picture fool you. The stones are not sitting on dirt. This extension of the wall sits on a gravel base at the same depth as the rest of the wall and the stones extend to the bottom. I was just sweeping the dirt of the landing stone.

The eventual stone floor will add another 4 to 5 inches on top of the packed gravel base. There will be one step up to exit the patio at this end. Most likely these landing stones will need to be reset. They may be an inch or two high for a comfortable step. No biggie and I don't need to worry about that any time soon.

One day there will be shrubberies in a mulched bed in front of this porch. That will add to the soil's stability.

A few more hefty stones were added along the walls length. It gained a bit more height.

It's never hard to stay busy.


There's plenty critters in the fields and forests. Many are quite enjoyable. The birds and bees and butterflies are fed or encouraged to be here with plants that they like. The squirrels, chipmunks, possums and raccoons that live here or pass through are tolerated, even enjoyed for their presence. I've seen turkeys and bats, heard owls and coyotes.

Now I have seen a bunny rabbit.

You would think I would have seen plenty of them up here by now, but this is a first. I did not like seeing this rabbit.

Everyday when I go down to the roadside vegetable garden, I half expect to see a disaster, no not red and yellow flowers together, but the sight of a salad bar that has been picked through. Nothing like that has happened yet.

The worst thing so far is the battle for the broccoli going on. That I understand. The woodchip mulch comes in handy for this too. I get a nice sharp woodchip and pierce the caterpillar's squishy bodies that are eating the broccoli and leave their carcasses on the leaves, thinking it may have a repellent effect. I have squished a lot of caterpillars and the broccoli is hanging in there, starting to make heads.

Maybe you think I was gloating a bit over the deer who doesn't eat roadside produce. I will save any gloating over that for about October 1st. Maybe you realize I am astounded and curious as to how a vegetable garden in a wilderness full of critters remains untouched.

The deer has not been shy about letting its presence be known. Just as curious is why does the deer want to regularly walk on the cut slope along the driveway. It is steep bare dirt. There is nothing to nibble and there is plenty of flat ground to trot on close by. Does the soft soil feel good between its toes?

I caught the deer in the vicinity again, this time with camera in hand. To the right of the rubbish pile, between the two tree trunks in the center of the shot. Did I say shot?

The resident gardeners have been growing vegetables up here for a long time. There are good years and bad years, but there is always something home grown to add to the table.

I am not worried too much. There will be fresh produce to add to the table and if it is a bumper crop year, bags of fresh food can be delivered to the local soup kitchen.

I just go to sleep each night wondering when or if the pillaging will begin.