Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Might Be Wore Out

My dead hemlocks were big suckers. There was nothing petite about them. I think my cabin building and renting neighbor is most pleased with his haul. One full trailer load was taken out this morning. Another load will go out tomorrow. The clean up has begun. A pile of rubbish has formed.

Seven huge hemlocks and one giant black locust for my wood burning neighbor came down. The difference is subtle to say the least. The forest has been pushed back about twenty feet perhaps. Eighty percent of the trees that remain, mostly through the center section are dead hemlocks. There is an entire grove of them down this very steep slope and across the stream below. The slope is so steep it makes getting them out problematic Even the ones up towards the top had to be pulled out by chains attached to the machine.

At this point if someone wants to cut them down just to watch them fall that is fine by me. They're all going to come down anyway. I'm not so sure I want to deal with having them pulled out of there and up onto my future house pad though. It's too much of a mess. We'll see. At a certain point they won't be useable anymore. Too much decay will have set in. The dead hemlock window will be closing soon.

I need to get this whole area tidied up for guests in May. My pile of collectibles has slowly been shrinking. I keep at it. I need to find good homes for some of this stuff instead of sending it to the dump. I may have a taker for some items with my cabin building and renting neighbor. Eventually I will need a little shed for storing my collectibles.

Cleaning up wore me out. I went for a slow stroll instead of taking a nap. The newly planted Lycoris look unfazed by their exposure to snow and a low of 25 degrees. So far so good. It's supposed to get much colder come Monday with a slight chance of snow. I won't really worry if the tops die back. If I see a bloom next fall or foliage the following spring I will know they have adapted and survived. There's nothing else I can do. Mulch. I can give them a nice layer of wood chip mulch.

Remember the ridge top garden? I don't get over there much it seems and when I do I spend my time picking up sticks. The lack of heavy snow means I am not getting any assist in crushing all the dried dead stems of the perennials to the ground. It will make my trimming work a bit more labor intensive. I like to have a nice clean slate for the Bulbapaloozathon. Just thinking about it made me tired.

And if it doesn't get cold and stay cold, the time for trimming the dried dead sticks of the perennials before the bulbs start showing up and getting in the way is going to be here sooner than I want. Snowdrops are supposed to be poking up about now. They just are not supposed to be set to bloom so soon.

Daffodils already? There are always a couple of eager arrivals and I did see a few on my slow stroll. Let's hope it sticks to just a few.

I have been slowly reassembling the resident gardeners house from the discombobulation caused by the flooring work and slowly closing it down for the winter at the same time. The pump was shut off and all the water lines drained. Antifreeze was put in all the drain traps. Next I need to drain the dishwasher hoses since it is gravity challenged. Then there is the building contractor's tool closet I said I would clean and organize.

I might be a bit wore out. I'm ready for a blizzard and some long afternoon naps.

Friday, December 30, 2011

More Piles of Rubbish

Just when you think you are making headway against the collected piles of rubbish stashed around in various locations

My wood burning neighbor stops by.

Apparently he had been pimping out my dead hemlocks on the internet. Hemlocks are not for burning. They are like pines and have too much resin that can build up in the chimney when burned. My dead hemlocks were being traded.

Which one will we go after next.

Another neighbor very close by saw the internet ad. He wants to use the dead hemlocks to build himself another rental cabin I think. As a matter of fact if you'd like to come stay for a spell in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, a bit outside of Clyde, NC, Three Bear Holler cabin rentals looks like a fine place to stay. It's just around the bend and across the valley from the low spot high on the mountain top. My newly met cabin building and renting neighbor seems like a most congenial fellow. In another year or two you could rent a cabin made with my dead hemlocks.

My dead hemlocks got traded for time with this machine for projects at my wood burning neighbor's house. He was kind enough to throw in some machine time for me. I had some really big rocks stashed off to the side in the initial road building and clearing phase way back when. I figured I would put them to use at some point. They are way too big for me to even wiggle. I am going to have them moved to more visible and decorative locations along the upper section of the drive.

My wood burning neighbor traded off my dead hemlocks. I get some major tree work done for free and a little rock moving too. They either had to go or they were quickly going to rot and start coming down on their own. I can't tell you how many dead hemlocks I have seen crash to the ground. It's not always pretty. Now the ones closest to the cabin and potentially the most dangerous are gone. I have a little more wiggle room for the rest to come crashing to the ground. And they will.

After all the dead hemlock logs are gone there will be a mess to clean up. I'll make another pile of rubbish for burning. Most of it thankfully will be left to rot in place.

I'll clean up the mess that's left and make a pile of rubbish. That seems fair to me. The hard work has been done. Eventually the pile of rubbish will just be another white spot of ash. It's all good. What goes around comes around.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Two Less Piles Of Rubbish

If it got in to the mid 50's today the snow didn't notice. There was little meltage. Two more piles of rubbish were made to disappear though.

Cold, wet rubbish takes forever to burn. It was an all day task and I had to constantly feed the fire. Those two smaller brown spots in the snow on the left and upper center left are former rubbish piles. Now they are gone and out of the way in the garden to be.

With that giant pile gone there is a much better view of the cozy cabin and the garden to be from this angle. Just imagine low mounding sweeps of texture and color, at least during the season of vegetation. This sunny center section will be devoted primarily to herbaceous perennials. Any evergreen shrubberies will have to be groundcovers. So far I have a couple of 'Blue Star' junipers and a nice section of Cotoneaster dammeri 'Streib's Findling'. I'll need to look for some different types of evergreen groundcover shrubberies for a bit more winter interest. No vines. Don't want to mess with vines.

There is quite a bit of undulation in the garden to be. I'll have to work with that, hopefully to best advantage.

Two more rubbish piles to go.

Two more piles for now at least. The forest is not shy at all about generating abundant quantities of rubbish.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Light Snow

Well, we are toying with the notion of winter, before quickly returning to highs in the mid 50's and lows above freezing.

There is still plenty of time for a real winter to arrive. I mustn't get complacent.

Some winters will have a snow pack and some winters will only have light snows.

It was a nice cold day for a good hot fire.

One rubbish pile is gone. There are four more to burn, all to make more room in the garden to be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After The Rain

And before the snow
Naked Ladies were deeply planted
Before the ground got froze
Some snowdrops fell in there too.

Next I think I'll be needing a sack of sedum cuttings to go on top.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Back In The Land Of Snowdrops

The journey south is complete. I wonder if the south is moving north this winter though. There has been a lack of snow and cold compared to winters past. Snowdrops are already attempting to bloom much earlier than what may be good for them.

The diagnosis is calling for the other kind snowdrops for tomorrow night and slightly cooler temperatures to follow, but nothing of the wicked winter variety, just more rain followed by a possible light dusting.

The grounds not even froze. I could transplant some more snowdrops to the point of the new cabin front bed right now if I so desire. I just might satisfy that desire.

I think I will also plant the sack of Lycoris squamigera that followed me home from my grandmother's garden in this spot. I have been kind of harping at Bulbarella that we needed more fall blooming bulbs. This fall blooming Lycoris was listed as hardy to zone 5. I said buy some. She said, "I have tons of them in Florida and they never bloom for me there. I think the grasshoppers eat the flower buds."

So I dug up a bunch of them and brought some back with me. Two more sacks were sent off to two of the siblings southern gardens. Maybe they don't have grasshopper issues. My sack goes here.

Now it has been said never dig a bulb from that far south and bring it this far north, much less this high up and expect it to live. These Lycoris in particular could have 80 plus years of southern adaptation bred in to them.

Yea, yea, whatever. It's worth the risk and you can't beat free. I wasn't supposed to survive in this climate either. This first winter up here may be a bit of a shock for them since they are already leafed out. If they re-sync themselves to a new climate, the foliage should come up later in the spring, die back over the summer and then they will bloom in the early fall.

A milder first winter might be all these Naked Ladies need to settle in to their new home.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

From a bit south of Outside Clyde. Hope you all had a most pleasant day.

As you travel through the garden of life take a little time to pull a few weeds.

Yes I spent a little time on Christmas morning pulling more weeds. It is a habit of mine.

Not only will pulling a few weeds make the garden a tidier place, you never know what gifts you may find. The gift this morning was the discovery of a seedling camellia. That is a most unusual thing.

There is always hope to be found in a garden.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Can This Garden Be Saved?

I may just have to stop traveling south to the land of azaleas and camellias. It pains me to see a garden that was so magical for me as a child go bad. The maintenance gardener in me knows that with some routine effort all could be well. The trouble is the needed effort is hard to come by and there are not enough funds to purchase it in sufficient quantities.

This is just one of the problems in an old garden trying to go bad. There is an azalea beneath this potato vine. The potato vine has run amuck with a host of other vines and pernicious weeds. If only the weeds were pulled and the vines were cut on a routine basis, an old garden would see life anew.

You know I couldn't help myself. I pulled some weeds and cut some vines. It amounts to a single drop in a giant bucket.

I just may have to stop traveling south to the land of azaleas and camellias. It pains me to see a garden that was so magical for me as a child go bad. My maintenance gardener self is on edge.

I planted camellias in a new garden further north. I am pushing it zone wise. They are the newer cold hardy type, but I have pushed it to the edge of this breeding expansion. Maybe they will survive, maybe they won't.

If they live I can plant more. More is good. Then I won't need to worry about missing any camellias further south. The camellias my grandmother planted in a magical garden will fade to a fond memory. Her garden may disappear, but the gardener lives on in me.

It would be nice if the garden could hang on for another ten or twenty years. I would do it if I could.

My grandmother's garden needs a gardening angel right now.

Anything is possible. Decline is also inevitable and unavoidable and can only be held at bay with effort.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Life's Accumulations

How much stuff can a pack rat pack in a two story building long used solely for packing stuff? It has been 8o years since the packing house was used as a real home and became a place for stuff. And to this day you can still find a few items my grandparents packed in there even after is has been purged more than once over the years.

Now I should be happy we are not dealing with hoarders here. This is just your typical average accumulation of stuff over a long lifetime. There is something about the human condition that makes us like pack rats. Then we get exploited by the merchants of the consumer culture.

Once you set your mind to another purge and get going, it is an all day and beyond sort of task. There is good stuff in there. That can slow things down.

This purge has been an ongoing affair for a couple of years now. It was decided maybe we shouldn't leave our children this mess to clean up. Slow progress was made and I mean slow. The accumulation has a resistance to removal force of its own.

Then the building contractor left us this spring. His accumulation of stuff was suddenly free of resistance. The purge gathered momentum.

The pink Muhly grass has turned off white. The seasons move on in everyone's garden.

Many of the camellias are showing signs of age and neglect. They have been abandoned for more than half of each year for almost two decades. In the gardener's absence the wild vines have taken root. Each year they attempt to encase the camellias cutting them off from the light.

Without the gardener the accumulation of wildness carries on. The camellias try valiantly to bloom on.

Is there any hope for this place or do you just give up, let the wild accumulate and wait for the camellias to finally die?

I can only watch. I tend the other much bigger, much better wild garden that the camellias were abandoned for.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Couple of Days Before Christmas

I drove further south
Where the byway's not scenic and the staggering quantity of traffic freaks me the hell out.

The kitties were made comfy in the bigger house next door
Hopefully they'll catch any mices in there while they are trapped inside and a bit bored.

Further north all the gardens are near empty beds
Where is stays a bit warmer are camellia blossoms instead.

The chore for tomorrow with a clunk and a clatter
Is to sort through a garage full of tools, keeping only those that really matter.

For now it is the computer that is getting attention, trying to make it simple and painless and easy to use.
Then it is time for another lesson and signing her up for her first email address, woo hoo.

Oranges are glowing up high in the air.
I may reach up and grab some just cause I'm here.

But after a long day of driving, I must first say goodnight.
Christmas is coming, some rest first will feel right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In The Rain

It's rain not snow and somehow that just feels wrong at this time of year. But what do I know? I have only been here going on five winters now. That's not long enough to know real winter patterns in these parts. I certainly can't expect them to be exactly the same every year. Better rain right now anyway.

Rain or snow I linger inside looking out my windows. I need to burn that brush pile.

I heard noises and looked outside. The resident turkeys were making a fluffing attempt to dry off during a brief respite in the rain. I see or hear them most every day. I am on their regular pecking route.

Well it's not raining. Maybe I can get a better picture of the turkeys and check the mail. No mail. No more turkeys. They disappeared over the crest of the hill.

Instead a picture of the amber waves of the front roadside bed will have to do for this brief excursion in the rain.

That was quite an adventure.