Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How I Garden In The Wilderness

There is a master plan in my head of space. Right now it is mostly a wild empty space. I plan to fill it up. ( There could be a joke in there. :)

Unlike the clients I work for there is no budget and no set finished product. There is plenty of time and some weird magnetic attraction that causes plants of all kinds and from all kinds of sources to follow me home.

With that master plan of space in my head and knowledge of what a plant's needs are and what it becomes, I find a place to plant the plants that follow me home. I weed out a spot in the wild and over half the time I manage to mulch the plants with wood chips right after it goes in the ground.

Last week three Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium followed me home.

With the recently acquired Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Gold Mop', the beginnings of the bed below the front porch of the cabin continues to take shape. Last year several rooted stems of Aesculus parviflora were discovered and one of them was planted and mulched in this bed to be.

A golden leaved cultivar of Cotinus coggygria was moved to a sunnier location across the path from the bed below the front porch this year and has rewarded me by maintaining its golden color. In the previous shadier location it turned green after leafing out and sulked.

The theory is with my limited time to work in my own garden, gardening mainly in stolen moments, the mulch not only helps keep the soil moist, but it helps keep the wild at bay while the new plants have a chance to grow. Every so often I manage to patrol the newly planted plants and weed around them as needed. Growth, continued plantings, continued mulching, regular weed patrols and enough time in my own garden could merge on day to the point where the wild in between the plants is less and a garden will all of a sudden appear one spring.

Big fat drifts of perennials, well placed shrubs throughout, in large mulched beds could one day a garden be.

Or not. I see what goes on around here. The cultivated are encouraged by their wild brethren to let loose and run wild.

They mingle.

And are seduced by the carefree abandon of their wild cousins.

All of a sudden one fine spring a garden of exuberant chaos could emerge.

I am prepared for that. Maybe.

My old fartness is not so far around the corner. I will be lucky to have my own garden largely planted by the time it arrives

Then I will be old and there will hopefully still be all this land, even more of it in wild cultivation, and a gardener with too big of an appetite and a staff of one. I will weed out a spot in the wild for the plants that follow me home. Mulch them with wood chips to keep the wild at bay so they have a chance to grow and patrol the grounds editing the chaotic exuberance.

"Just Enough

To Dream On."

Chaos Meets Order

The technical term is wildflower meadow. Realistically there is more ground here to garden than there is staff to handle it. The meadow is an easy way to get the fix of more that gardeners with appetites bigger than their time and labor budget can handle. Fling seeds. Edit a little when you wander by. As a matter of fact I flung seeds in there just the other day from this lupine. I saw brown seed pods. I stopped and borrowed some.

The problem is, the wildflower look seems to dominate around here. The combination of big appetites with a lot of land, no budget for staff and nature's strong hand coalesce to produce just a wee bit of chaos. My long time maintenance gardener mind struggles.

There is no denying the beauty though. Maybe my maintenance gardener mind is the problem.

There is one place on this mountain with order, sorta. In the vegetable garden explicit permission to grow is required. I did not however plant all those sunflowers. They came up on their own. They did manage to come up on the edge of the rows in a nice line, though they are randomly scattered among the rows. I let them stay. They have a low chaos value

Outside the mulched confines of the vegetable garden it is another matter.

Yes the daylilies were all planted. What goes on between them is the lightly edited chaos.

Chaos laps at the edges of order and together the effect is quite stunning.

In landscape design, this concept could be thought of as the cultivated garden merging naturally into the wild setting. The annual nature of the vegetable garden lends itself to that in some respects.

The peppers plants are the biggest I have seen them for the end of June It has been steadily warm for us this year. In the past they waited until mid-July to do anything.

The melon department is looking nice. Will this be the year I get a full sized cantaloupe? There are still 60 days ahead of potential warmth.

Doesn't it all look tidy?

But I can't help but smile at the exuberant chaos that surrounds it all.

And without much thought I fling seeds in the hopes of adding more to the mix. I am the son of the resident gardeners after all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Progress

I stepped away from the tile work for a few days because other things needed doing, then returned to finish the first round of cuts in the tile for the job.

The cutting went very well and my apprehension about cutting tile is greatly diminished.

Tomorrow I should get the bulk of the kitchen done. I have no where to go because my truck is in the shop getting a brand new $300 rubber hose. It would not surprise me in the least if the mice chewed a hole in it last winter. That is how long I have put off looking into why the check engine light has been on. Damn varmints!!

It has been a while since I looked up at this particular location. Why are there so many creatures trying to move into my cozy cabin before me? It's not caulked under there or painted yet. A long distance and careful eviction is needed.

I can think about that later when I know I have a really good can of high power bug spray. Yes I will use poison, hopefully a quick acting one.

Yes tomorrow, I will get more done.

Something To Tide You Over

Monarda red and astilbe pink chaos in the sunny utility meadow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What The Kitties Saw

Summer has reached the mountain top. Another wave of blooms is here.

Diversity of bloom is concentrated in the sunnier areas. In the shade, hosta blooms. The astilbe are waiting in the wings.

Order is really found only in the weed whacked paths. It is now a regular job for the assistant gardener, who finds it more aesthetically pleasing than the chemical sprayed brown paths.

Have I given up on the idea of a proper garden?

The chaos kind of grows on you.

Minus a few of the more thuggish natives it can looked purposely designed.

Hidden away is the ghostly native Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora. This saprophytic (feeding, absorbing or growing upon decaying organic matter) perennial is a member of the rhododendron family believe it or not.

The chaos can surprise you. I don't want to completely conquer it.


Hughes satellite internet service has been pitiful for a week, most horribly pitiful this weekend and now in the middle of a thunderstorm when a satellite signal might be blocked, at last, speeds faster than dial-up. Perhaps all that electrical activity in the atmosphere is giving Hughes' pitiful signal a boost.

Thank goodness by the time I sit down in front of this computer my day has already been full.

There was a rare moment on the evening stroll a couple of days ago when the kitties sat still in the same spot long enough to take their portraits together. They are a year and nine months old now. I think two is when they officially become cats.

Miss Collar is still the shy and skittish one, but gets better all the time. Occasional bouts of neediness require belly rubbing and ear scratching.

Crawford is the clown and bold adventurer with a chicken's heart who startles at the first strange rustle. That is a good thing. There are larger varmints about and we hear them howling often enough.

It can't be unusual for cats to follow, dog like, on a garden stroll. Most every cat that has ever spent time in one of the resident gardeners large gardens went on strolls.

It is an extra entertainment to watch them experience the garden in their own fashion.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back To The Garden

Where vibrant yellow with a touch of orange is not in the least bit annoying.

Where cotton candy pink in the Meadow Sweet, Filipendula species is quite lovely.

Now if they would only bunch together a bit tighter and not wander off so much, the fluffy pink would be even sweeter.

Where white becomes bold in a sea of green.

And not a bit of the rainbow of colors seems to clash in disturbance.

Back to the cool and calming garden.

Where even subtle shades can make a statement.

And odd combinations are given their due.

So simple

And sometimes so impossible to mimic in the matters of man.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Whatever color the living room ends up, I am loving the idea of looking up to a blue loft. That blue could be the same for the basement patio ceiling's haint blue.