Friday, September 30, 2011

Hydrangeas On The Last Day

Of September

This is the post bloom mind you, the finished flower.

I'm thinking this is Hydrangea paniculata 'Pink Diamond' and that it will need some pins to stake a few of the lower branches into the ground under the mulch. Next fall those newly rooted pieces can follow me home.

That wasn't the only hydrangea in full post bloom on the last day of September. I went to collect lily seeds and have a jar of them saved. What caught my attention was the hydrangeas. This is another H. paniculata cultivar.

I have plenty of the native H. arborescens and have planted a couple of rooted cuttings of the H. paniculata and several Oakleaf Hydrangea in the garden to be. I have easy access to H. arborescens 'Annabelle' whenever the time permits to transplant some.

Can I have too many hydrangeas? I think there is plenty room for more.

Foliage Cam

As The Leaves Turn

Thursday, September 29, 2011

As The Light Changes

And the temperature drops.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Turning Blue

Not quite blue, but this is the largest patch of Trycyrtis I have ever seen and blooming magnificently as we head into October. Two of these were planted on the mountain top this year. One in the garden to be and one in the ridge top garden. I hope they are happy here and multiply to become as large as this patch. Then they can be divided and spread around.

This isn't blue either. The Cleome, Spider Flower at the posh estate has been blooming non stop since it was planted. I collected plenty seed of this annual. There is always room for more in the exuberant chaos of the wild cultivated garden. I'm getting as bad as Bulbarella. You collect seed of anything pretty and then fling them out there just to see what happens. If it doesn't take no big loss. It was only seeds.

The Lush however is turning blue. This is mostly the tall and floppy New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Will this be its last year in the garden to be? They are on the edit out list. I want a more garden like garden one day. I actually have planted all kinds of things on this slope. Right now you would never know it. It's all buried in asters.

A pink anemone hides among the preferred Blue Wood Asters.

The preferred Goldenrod, Solidago curtisii blooms with blue asters, the good and the bad kind.

And there are hosta with the preferred Blue Wood Aster.

There are blue asters everywhere. And it is just getting started.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pictures From Today

I have only scratched the surface

Of all the nooks and crannies

Sights and sounds

And experiences to be experienced

It's nice to spend a day exploring.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Man Versus Machine

I am the human bush hog. The horses need more pasture. Behind those neat piles of brush is the fence where the pasture ended and the wild tangle began. The wild tangle was comprised of an impenetrable mass of vicious thorny rose and oriental bittersweet climbing thirty feet and higher into the trees. There was plenty of blackberry for good effect.

With hedge clippers, machete, loppers, pruning saw, pole saw and several days of effort bare ground for seeding grass is close at hand. All the sapling trees and the next size up were cut down. I think it is still a might shady and the chain saw will have to be used on a few of the bigger trees next.

I am the human bush hog. The horses need more pasture.

Across the road and across the neighboring horse pasture in a field of green grass a big machine digs a big hole. I wonder if a new house is about to be built. How quick and easy that big hole got dug today.

On a steep and rocky slope I cut down the wild tangle quietly by hand. I don't think a bush hog could actually do this kind of work. A weed eater with a blade would be a poor choice as well under these conditions. A gas powered hedge trimmer might be of use, but that is the only machine I can think of other than a bulldozer that could get this wild tangle unwound.

I bet I am cheaper and certainly less destructive than a bulldozer. I am the human bush hog.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Surprise Really

I finished the second coat of the haint not blue Spruce Pine on the basement patio ceiling today. I even stacked a few more stones on the wall. More anti-mouse caulking was done just to be on the safe side. They shouldn't be able to get in the floor or walls through the gaps I saw, but you just never know. Eventually progress is made on many processes.

Now that the ceiling is done and the world is turning blue there is that nagging thought that I should have chosen the real blue color, Eddie Bauer 'Sky Blue'. To late now.

It is getting late and the blue asters are arriving in waves. The five foot tall, floppy and annoying New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae blooms on the ground where most of them end up.

The tiny flowered Blue Wood Aster, Symphyotrichum cordifolium becomes more and more noticeable as more and more of them bloom. Eventually the mountain top will be awash in waves of blue from the masses of tiny little flowers.

It was no surprise really when I stumbled upon a third species of blue aster. It was too short and erect to be a New England Aster. The stems and leaves did not look right. The flowers were too big to be the Blue Wood Aster and too small for the New England. What have we here?

This appears to be the strangely named White-Topped Aster, Symphyotrichum retroflexum. It's not white. It's the same bluish hue of the other blues. There must be more than one of them out there in the tall flower meadow. I have just never noticed the difference before. Can you blame me? I'm buried in asters at this time of year.

Life in the botanical convergence zone makes my head spin at times. I may be forced to give up all this ID nonsense. I can become like the resident gardeners. "It's pretty. Who cares what the name is? Should we collect seed?"

I will collect the seed of the Pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris and spread them along the edges of my gravel drive. Babies will be easier to find and transplant from there and just maybe if I keep at it the entire driveway could end up being lined with pink clouds of grain in the autumns to come. Just envisioning that in my head makes me smile.

The colors of autumn encroach into the shrubberies.

The time of vegetation has started to wind down.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It Has Begun

At some point in the last few days there was a click in the spinning orbs and it officially became autumn. I missed the exact day and moment. No matter. There are plenty of hints to indicate a new phase is beginning. The near monotone green of a summer forest is differentiating into multiple textures and colors.

They may get started while summer still holds sway, but there is a large contingent of flowers that truly belong to fall. Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum continues in full bloom while its near cousin and look alike, the White Snakeroot joins in.

The Goldenrods rule the color wheel at the start of Autumn. Any land that hasn't been mowed is filled with the vibrant yellow wands of solidago. As they fade the the blue asters will take over. The asters will end the time of vegetation in a color more appropriate to the long season of grey to come.

The ordinary zinnias are slow to get stared from seed. I expect they will continue until cut down by frost.

The pseudo zen lawn continues to fill in as I add more native sedges and interesting unknown grasses. Three liatris landed in there last week. When not buried in snow some green signs of life should remain. I seem to recall many of the sedges hold their green through the winter. Tattered maybe, but green.

Leaves shed chlorophyll and the colors of autumn gain strength.

And like clock work other signs of the season parked themselves on the deck next door. I heard barking and went over there to find two hound dogs done hunting. When they have had enough for one session they park and bark in one spot. So much the better if it looks like nice accommodations are a possibility.

I just love these collars with owners names and numbers inscribed in metal plates. It makes life easy.

The other hound Hank was camera shy. Loretta was ready for some lovin. I asked their owner when he arrived just a very short time later what they were trained to hunt. Bear he said. I have never seen one. I keep hearing they are up here.

The hounds are loose. It has begun.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Winterizing The Well Head

I have joined the stock tank gardening craze, albeit in my own inverted fashion. I had spent way to much mental energy trying to come up with a way to winterize my well head without using one of those hideous fake plastic rocks. I ran through all sorts of notions. It was getting rather debilitating.

The final straw was researching the needed ingredients for a hypertufa head sculpture to cover the well head with a hole in the mouth for a hose bib. I would have had to go all over to gather them up and it probably would have ended up heavier than I wanted. Not to mention such a sculpture would have involved numerous processes. I just wasn't in the mood for numerous processes. I had already given up on the idea of a big pot to cover it. Would you believe that decorative plastic pots big enough to do the job started in the $250 range. I was aghast.

I had already fondled the stock tank idea, but wasn't quite sold. After a second try on the decorative pot idea, at $80, a stock tank it will be. Hideous fake plastic rocks cost the same or a bit more than the stock tank.

Next spring I will probably divide and rearrange the Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora to screen the stock tank a bit more. It is attractive enough. I am more afraid it could be a public nuisance if it is highly visible. Scrap metal thieves are more and more rampant. Those big steel bars I brought home last year for the sculpture "Smoke' wandered off. I never should have left them unsecured.

There has also been a rash of loose cows in the last month. It is a normal enough occurrence that it is expected. The question becomes what kind of Pavlovian response will loose cows have to a stock tank? I am sure to find out.

The stock tank has the added benefit of an existing threaded drain hole that will make attaching a spigot for a hose bib a piece of cake for the summer months. All the well head needs now is a short section of the electric heat tape and it is set for winter. Local in stock items, purchased, plopped, threaded and taped. No major processes. I love it.

Strolling with Helen and Beth the other day and pointing out my favorite goldenrod that unlike most of the others stays short and will grow in the shade quite happily got me questioning its ID. I now think this is Solidago curtisii, Mountain Decumbent Goldenrod. Plant identification up here is always problematic. There is never just one species of anything. Maybe I have it right this time. I like how it blooms in whorls in the leaf axils making a nice yellow spike.

There is no shortage of asters either. I do my best trying to figure out whose who. One of the two more common white asters around here is the Frost Aster, Symphyotrichum pilosum, I think.

It works quite well with the galvanized silver of the new stock tank don't you think?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Through Another Lens

Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence and friend Beth stopped by the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top today for a visit. I hope her pictures turn out well. I am a lousy photographer when strolling through the garden with other folks. I talk too much trying to explain how this place got this way.

After a look at the cozy cabin we dove in to the tallflower meadow and beyond.

The Ilex verticillata is having a good berry crop. They rarely make it to winter and beyond. We are on the migratory route of many birds. Birds prefer using the low route when crossing the mountain tops.

I felt vindicated when both Beth and Helen said they had never seen Liriope blooming that profusely before. I have been poo poohed in the past on this blog when saying that. It never bloomed this reliably and profusely in Florida or Hawaii.

The goldenrods and the Ageratina altissima, White Snakeroot, were blooming in full force. I sent Helen home with a sack containing both. Even a little of the Blue Wood Aster fell in the sack. We still have to wait a bit for the low spot of the mountain top to turn blue. Only a very few of them have started to bloom.

Our visitors always say such nice things and you have to wonder. This is not your typical manicured garden. What is the basis of comparison? It is the wild cultivated garden and blends in quite well with the surroundings, hiding in plain sight. It may even be unique. But it can't be. Surely there is another gardener out there in the wilderness who doesn't have to bring nature home in a sack.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A New Discovery

Am I a little pathetic or what? Grumbling about a floral display that rivals or surpasses that of spring because it isn't arranged neatly. The low spot of a North Carolina mountain top is bursting with late season wildflowers. It is rather mind blowing and there is more to come. The blue wood asters have yet to arrive.

All the usual suspects that I have come to know are here. Goldenrod, asters, lobelia, ageratina, anemones, impatiens, vernonia, eupatorium, angelica, mums, and the grasses, to name the main players, have all combined to put on a rather stunning display this year. And I grumble because they are so tall and thick in places I cant get through.

So I went for a little stroll where things are not nearly as tall and found a wildflower that is completely new. I have never seen it here before.

I have discovered a solitary Gentiana saponaria, Soapwort Gentian, a rare native plant said to be at home in bogs, marshes and low ditches. It is growing in light shade on a steep hill of well drained saprolite. So well drained a soil it is deemed unsuitable for septic drain fields because the water will pass through before biological activity can clean it up. Either my saprolite is not as well drained as the inspector mans thinks or it rains here enough to keep it consistently wet. I have a rare bog plant growing on a steep hillside.

I will quit grumbling and enjoy this rambunctious floral exuberance. There are signs about that it will all be over soon.

The season of exuberant foliage is fast approaching.