Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Needs Something

I haven't really been able to put my finger on it, but something is missing here. The cabin side bed just doesn't sit right with me. It is a tough situation. A narrow bed that separates the cabin from the driveway and in the winter the snow tends to come off the roofs in a single sheet with a thud. This is a danger zone for woody plants. I have looked in to snow guards, but I prefer not to have the roofs hold all the extra weight while waiting for the snow to melt. That reminds me. I need to order some vent guards at the least.

I am sure as my baby Acer griseum grows to a larger size, part of this problem will be solved. There will be something of substance in the cabin side bed against that big blank wall. It is planted as far out from the roof as possible and right between the two roof lines. I have my fingers crossed.

It fell out of the ground at Client #1's as a mere seedling. I am not even really sure it isn't a hybrid between the Acer griseum and the other Japanese Maples in the garden. The striking red of the new foliage set it apart from the other plain green seedlings. It also does not seem very inclined to grow straight up. I saw Acer griseum in the nursery the other day for $120 bucks. I'm quite happy with my free seedling of questionable parentage.

The bottle edging still bugs me too. The bottles rise higher out of the ground as the ground got harder the closer to the service entrance I went. That needs to be fixed. It needs a little more pizazz of some sort too. I'm just not sure what. Rocks of course are always available, but I am a bit bored with rocks. I'll think on it some more.

Right now plants just sort of end up in the new beds when they present themselves or plant themselves and don't get removed. I have contemplated using some of the larger ornamental grasses for bulk. They would get squashed, but they would survive the big thud of snow. Somehow though they just don't seem right for the cabin side bed.

Landscape designers can be completely incapable of designing their own gardens, at least this one seems to be.

I could just fill the whole bed with tall annuals every year. Zinnias are good. I even collected a whole bunch of seeds from some purple Cleome, Spider Flowers, at the posh estate as a possibility for next year.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Last Day Of August 2011

Members of the Asteraceae family take command of the situation.

The Poaceae tribe adds a little spice.

The last day of August in yellow and white

And Lily the Obscure, potentially Melanthium latifolium.

The last day of August in purple and yellow.

The Asteraceae in different forms and different colors are all over.

The Lush is nearly at peak.

On the last day of August 2011 on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

...........My mistake, the second to last day of August 2011........... Oh well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Final Days Of Summer

In purple and white.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Head High

You may have heard the term "tallgrass prairie?" By this time of year what might best describe what we have around here in part is a tallflower meadow. Many of the late season native wildflowers are well over my head when it is time to bloom. Lucky I live on steep ground so I can get above them to have a better look.

Even some of the non-native flowers are head high.

It was heads up today The primer coat on the basement patio ceiling was begun. Two thirds of a third was completed. One coat of primer followed by two coats of haint blue, a color of blue that has yet to be determined. The beadboard has to be hand painted with a brush. Even an extra nappy roller wouldn't fill the grooves in the beadboard.

I do need to get the basement patio moving along before the tallflower meadow really takes over. Nice thing is there are self seeded wildflowers and a nice unknown grass that have come up in there that are worth transplanting.

The over my head high Helianthus maximiliani, an actual native of the tallgrass prairie are doing their thing.

And their thing always seems to be to stay very erect until the moment they bloom when the weight of the flowers seems to pull them towards the earth and the space they take up triples.

But in a tallflower meadow with a garden this big it is hard to fault them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In The Forest Clearing

What could be nicer than to wake up with nothing that absolutely has to be done and then do whatever strikes your fancy. So I had my coffee and contemplated. Now you can imagine I have a bottomless well of choices of things to do and some times it just feels good to do something that isn't anywhere near the top of the list. It's a back handed way of goofing off.

Yes the garden has gotten bigger. Don't for a second think that means it won't keep expanding. The forest off the back stairs of the cozy cabin will be part of the garden one day and it had grown a bit messy over the summer. Today I felt like doing a little forest clearing.

The main objective at this stage of the game is to remove unwanted tree saplings, sprouting tree stumps and those vicious blackberries. It is a good time to contemplate what larger trees might need to go because of poor location or bad shape and to do light selective pruning on those that will stay.

Large parts of the garden to be will reside in what might be described as an open woodland.

I just have to open it up. Every little bit of sunlight that reaches the forest floor will be a big help to the new garden. And where I have open space I can add the plants that fall out of the ground and follow me home.

Just not things like the Stella De Boros that are now heeled in to keep them alive until they can be dumped on Sister#2. There's 20 big fat dividable clumps of these things Sis. After this you should never want for a Stella De Boro again.

I'd much prefer an ordinary zinnia any day.

The open woodland is already filled with a large assortment of native wildflowers. If I keep it open and prevent them from being shaded out, they will prosper and multiply. The garden expansion will already be half way to completion.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Garden's Gotten Much Bigger

I don't get out for evening strolls near as often as in the past. Now I am just as likely to come home and set for a spell. It is getting towards dark by the time I get moving again. There is generally something that needs tending too before dark as well. Stroll time is sacrificed.

Sad but true, I drive next door to go to dinner most of the time. Half of the time something's got to be toted from one place to the other and it is too far to walk toting things. I really don't want to have to herd two cats either. They will follow wherever I walk. They herd fine, but it's an extra thing to pay attention to when my attention is waning.

The garden stretches so much farther from one end to the other than it has in the past. Odd but true and you wonder how that happened.

I wanted to see what seven loose cows had done and managed to get up to the ridge top garden to have a look around. This is proving to be a semi-regular occurrence. It will be good to have some kind of baseline for comparison.

Surprisingly they stayed on the paths for the most part and with a pretty dry soil, the hoof prints were minimal. Except for the lowest, wettest path you might never know that seven loose cows spent some quality time in the ridge top garden on their own evening stroll. Poor things couldn't find a blade of grass to eat in all this Lush. This time no real harm was done. This time.

The garden may have gotten much bigger, but do you suppose that stops anyone from planting more things. I rescued more ferns from the bush hogging across the byway. On closer inspection I think these may be Ostrich Ferns instead of Royal Ferns. Either way these are large, up to three foot tall, even bigger if happy, ferns. I'm fine with that. We have a big garden. It needs big plants. I will know next spring if the move was successful. They are certainly in the right condition for moving.

Hopefully the Begonia grandis will be happy here and I can coax them in to a big drift. I need big drifts in a big garden.

Maybe the garden will shrink again one day. I just have a feeling that won't be anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Loose Cows

It was a busy day in Hooterville. I woke up to half a herd of loose cows milling about the entrance of Ku'ulei 'Aina. I called the usual farmers right away. They said thank ever so much for calling and we will get right on it. Just the usual free range cattle. Nothing new to see here. All will be well. I headed off to work.

And when I came home my driveway and parking area were littered with cow pies. There were hoof prints in the cabin side bed. A mouth full of Blue-Eyed Grass had been sampled and spit out. What the? Did they use my house as the staging area to collect their loose cows?

Five minutes later a truck pulled down my drive. Are those your cows up along the road? Cows? What cows? There are no cows here anymore. I didn't see any cows when I came home and stopped for the mail.

Holy cow pies, the damn things are still here. There is half a herd of loose cows milling about the entrance of Ku'ulei 'Aina.

I called the usual farmers again. Thank you so very much for calling. We really do appreciate you calling to let us know, but they are not my cows. I called everyone on this side that they could possibly belong to and all our cows are accounted for. Maybe they belong to GM.

There are certain peculiarities to living right next to an imaginary line. One of them being my phone book does not have the numbers of some my closest neighbors because they live in a different county which is not in my calling area and is a semi-long distance call. After much searching and calling, a neighbor over there in the Kingdom of Madison called me back and looked up GM's number in his phone book for me. That's when I got the poop that GM had rented the entire property next to us and was running cows on the land now.

What!!? He's running cows on that land? There is no fence! There is no fence! Oh my word, that loud noise I heard last night was cows next door in Bulbarella's garden. Sure enough the cows had come through the ridge top garden and left their big fat hoof prints all through the garden.

I had already called GM and was told how rude I was when I said he shouldn't be running cows on that land, there is no fence. The woman I spoke to said he has been doing this his whole life. He knows how to keep his cows in. Click. Well that is a whole other type of attitude.

Half an hour later there is a strong rustle in the ten foot tall Giant Ragweed, Artemisia trifida and the cows are stampeding back the way they had come in. I had left the loose cows milling about the entrance of Ku'ulei 'Aina. What made them be in such a rush to go home. The loose cows were immediatley followed by GM and his daughter. Which way did they go? That way. GM, there is no fence here.

There are no cows up here. Are these your cows? Yes. They are supposed to be a mile away. There are no cows up here. I put new posts and five strands of wire all the way up the mountain. The cows are a mile away from here. I saw a car parked at the turn out and people have come back here and cut my fence. If I ever see anybody parked there again.... The man had a gun. There are no cows up here. Now I got to go. I have a mile to walk and back before dark. The daughter completely ignored me when I said hello. She must think I'm rude.

They may weigh a ton and have really big feet, but the one good thing about loose cows is that they only really eat grass. We don't have that kind of grass. There's no good cow food on our land at all.

The loose cows even milled about in the roadside vegetable garden and all they left were deep hoof prints and fresh compost. There is no grass in my vegetable garden unless you count the sweet corn.

The loose cows didn't count my corn. One of them was licking the gravel off my driveway though. Stupid cow.

The raccoon however has been back to the roadside vegetable garden sampling the sweet corn to see if it's ready. It is two days away from being ready. I almost picked it just so I could have some of my own corn. But I couldn't do it. It wasn't ready. A contest of wills ensues.

Mercy, if it's not one varmint, it's another.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stella De Boro

Just so you know. I do have standards. Not everything that falls out of the ground and follows me home gets a place in the garden to be. Some things get tossed.

I don't care how free they are or how much ground I could cover with so many of them. Stella De Oro daylilies are Booor Iiing. They've been tossed over the edge to die and become compost. I just know some of them will live though. You can't kill the damn things.

There are so many more interesting plants out there to choose from like this Clematis stans.

These small shrub like Clematis are now four years old and were grown from seed that hail from the mostly MIA blogger Chuck B. in San Francisco. Look how well they are doing in all that Lush. Just think how nice they will be in the future as a real garden forms around them.

The late summer native wildflowers are starting to bloom. This is very likely Solidago roanensis. It is decidedly different in form than the other goldenrod species here. Even my weeds are more interesting than Stella de Boros. This is a weed that will be allowed to stay. It will be grown and allowed to roam in the garden to be.

The ironweed is another native weed I actually grow deliberately and plan to make more use of as the garden continues to take shape. I'm getting good at recognizing the seedlings. They may be weeds, but in the garden they will be subject to a little more organization.

I might be growing a lot of weeds, but I still have some standards.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Liberation Ecology

The formerly posh and landscaped estate across the byway sits unused for the most part. The gardens have long since gone bad. The preferred maintenance of late is all mowing and bush hogging, a valiant attempt to keep the forest from completely reclaiming a property it actually holds dominion over. I would imagine the intent has changed from garden to forest preserve. The maintenance routine changed with it.

A few weeks ago the bush hogs rammed through a formerly well landscaped bed at the front entry taking out the entire center section where most everything had already succumbed to the weeds, leaving the large shrub border that surrounded it.

Well if they are going to start mowing it, there are several really nice ferns still there that I can certainly transplant to new homes. I am fairly certain these are Royal ferns, Osmunda regalis. They were mowed down of course. I dug up the mounded crowns surrounded by the wiry black root fibers and brought them back to the garden to be. They were planted in the natural drainage fold where hopefully they will get a little extra water now and again. I do have boggier ground they might like better. I just can't get to it through the Lush right now.

I keep adding and subtracting in tiny increments when plants present themselves, which happens more often than most people, even other gardeners might imagine. Things fall out of the ground around me all the time. A good many of them follow me home. An amazing number of plants find me through the wanton generosity of fellow gardeners.

Slowly but surely, small garden worthy vignettes appear. One day they will all coalesce into a real garden.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The Black-Eyed Susans are in full bloom high on the low spot.

A new color of zinnia has showed up.

The zinnias are giving me an oddly extraordinary amount of pleasure. Who knew such common and mundane flowers could be so much fun?

And behold the high spot of a small cabin was finally painted. So that's done.

Now I just need to paint the front and back porches, the stairs and one basement patio ceiling.

Friday, August 19, 2011

They Call Them Weeds

Plantago major, Common Plantain

Eurybia divaricata, White Wood Aster

A horticultural mum snuck into the foreground.

Eupatorium (Eutrochium - It seems they have changed the name) purpureum, Ageratina altissima, Rudbeckia hirta

A vast collection of weeds gather late summer color and sway in the breeze.

Lycopodium digitatum, Running-Ceder

Eupatorium or Eutrochium fistulosum

Solidago nemoralis perhaps, one of several species present.

Ironweed, Vernonia novaboracensis

Where some people only see weeds
I dream

Of the garden to be.

Filled with raw materials. Only needing a little more selection and organization.