Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who Knew

Rock porn is its own fetish category, as in rock and roll, at least I hope. Other little tidbits that can be gleaned from the right set of words that accidentally land people in my pile of rocks is that if men in the middle eastern Muslim countries got more sex the world might be a whole lot better off. They really should reconsider how they treat their women. It might help.

The google and the site meter certainly open a window into the weirdness out there in the world. They come looking for porn only to find a snake in the grass.

I still don't know what "six big rocks" was about. That search appears to have ended. A search maybe to see if a book title or band name was already taken?

I do know that in this odd constellation of rockishness, this most recent rock slide on I-40 has the NCDOT saying that both west bound lanes will be closed for at least two weeks while they clean up the mess.

Me, I need to get down there in the crease of the sunny utility valley and get all my new piles of rocks cleaned out of there before the Lush comes back.

I-40 being closed means traffic on the scenic byway is going to be a bit heavier for a while. I got the place all tidied up just in time to be a featured roadside rock attraction on the detour route. I should probably get out there and cut down all the dead dried sticks of the perennials around the roadside vegetable garden too. I can show off my woodchip mulch.

"Look mama. There's a crazy man out there in the middle of winter hauling rocks."

Yep, that's me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rock Porn

I look out on the world from my front porch while the world looks back in. Except for the utility poles and lines that I crop out for you, I very much like the view I see. The south western prairie feeling I get in the winter on the hillside below the roadside vegetable garden is rather pleasing in the setting sun.

Because of this blog, the world can look back in from a long way off and from numerous perspectives. There was the strangest cluster of google searches landing here today. Twelve in a row and a few more stragglers from all the across the country, Canada and Mexico searching "six big rocks". What? Did something happen out there in the world today involving six big rocks? It was most curious. It was the six big rocks that I did not want to move that eventually turned into a snake in the grass where they landed.

Why just six? I have way more big rocks than that.

I have all kinds of rocks. Rocks too big and rocks too small to be used in the basement patio's retaining walls. No problem. I find other uses for them.

These already old looking dry stack walls glow in the setting winter sun and become very noticeable as the world passes by. But it wasn't "glowing rock walls" that brought these visitors here today.

In this snowless winter my world really has gone to the rocks. But what strange combination of tangents out there in the world wide web led a dozen people in three minutes from NJ to Ca, even Yale, Canada and Mexico to search "six big rocks" and land in my pile of rocks? Diamonds? Crack? Those kind of search clusters only show up when you use words like porn. Most curious.

The workings of the world can sometimes be strange. It can take some contemplating. Organizing rocks is a fine method for generating some contemplation. It is also a fine method for emptying the mind completely, a form of meditation.

I added to the six big rocks that weren't going to make it back up the hill with more big rocks I found half buried in the ground. A new creature has emerged to patrol the grounds.

It is when I stop the act of organizing that it is time to step back and contemplate what is becoming of all these rocks. In the bare bones of winter it seems like a cozy cabin is rising above the ancient ruins of an abandoned civilization. Who laid these stones? What was it used for? How long has this been here? What does it all mean?

I really have no idea.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Small Sample Of A Finished Process

Sunshine, 40 degrees and a gentle wind to begin with had me outside playing with my new found flat rocks. Sections of the upper wall in the basement patio were ready for placing the capstones.

Once that small section was at its finished height, several buckets of the small gravelly rock of which there is an endless supply was added as the final layer to cover the bare dirt above. I sort rocks by size as they appear and have a ready supply of the gravelly rock on hand.

This is the intended look of the fully finished wall and the space above it that is beneath the cozy cabin. I shouldn't have to crawl around on my back under there anymore and the gravelly rock can go in when the wall is ready. Now I really need a load of 3/4 inch grey gravel to finish the wall and the basement patio's sub floor. I have hit a stopping point without more of the small gravel to fill the wall as it goes higher.

I'm starting to see bulbs show up in places I don't remember putting them. You might say this is a small sample of a finished process called the garden. I wonder where else the bulbs will show up that I forgot about? As the bulbs begin to accumulate over the years, it will just be one more seasonal spectacle for the gawkers driving by on the scenic byway. It's already too late. I will never blend seamlessly in to the forest. My fate is to be a roadside attraction.

I am still liking my snake in the grass today. That is a good sign. Maybe this little art project is done.

Small samples of finished processes have been the story of my life for many years running now. They keep adding up and something finally seems to be coming of it all.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Garden On The Edge

The ridge top garden is at the very top of the low spot on a North Carolina Mountain top. The land falls away in both directions. On the east side it falls into the Kingdom of Madison, another county, another jurisdiction, a different electric company, a long distance calling area. For many things we are literally at the end of the line.

The hand mowing of the dead dried sticks of the perennials was pretty much completed today. A garden such as it is emerges once again from the Lush that swallows it up in the time of vegetation.

A garden such as it is was planted directly into the wild forest. Little was disturbed in the process. The planting was done around things. The wild and the cultivated merge into one, forming a unique take on the notion of what a garden is and should be.

This is the wild cultivated garden, freshly hand mowed and ready for the emergence of 10,000 daffodils and an equal or greater number of minor bulbs to start things off. As the vegetation builds, the bulbs will be followed by the emergence of an assortment of herbaceous perennial, biennial and annual flowering and foliage plants too numerous to count. The shrubs will slowly be engulfed by the exuberant chaos. The wildness will dominate once more.

This is gardening on the edge of wilderness.

It should be no surprise then that the wild cultivated garden sits on the edge of another line. I tried out the interactive feature of the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map to see what they had to say about the low spot on a North Carolina mountain top.

There we are inside that oval. The gardens boundaries marked by the two red lines, the scenic byway and the county line. There we are sitting right on the edge of a zone 6a and 6b. And just to make things special there is a zone 5b just down the road a ways.

According to this map the cozy cabin is in a different climate zone than the resident gardeners house next door.

This is a garden on the edge.

Yesterday morning before the rains stopped, it decided to spit snow and other forms of frozen precipitation. A brief round of needed cold has arrived that will help slow the onset of spring. I drove to town the same morning. Down there the sun was out, the wind was calm, it was rather balmy. I drove back home and reentered the clouds.

This is the wild cultivated garden on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top where we garden on the edge of so many things.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back To The Snake In The Grass

What is the story of Creation without the serpent?

I really wasn't liking how the tear in the fabric of Creation was turning out. It still felt off. I gazed down upon it trying to think new thoughts when an old idea filtered back in. At one time I had seen a snake in the grass made from all these boulders. The leaning rocks were reminding me more of a reptile's backbone than a toothy smile. I wasn't wanting a toothy smile anyway.

So I changed my mind. I was going to find the inner snake in the grass hiding in these boulders.

I think I found it.

I ended up having to move the too big to move rocks on the left that I was trying to avoid moving that had started this whole thought process. I like my snake in the grass better though. It was worth it.

It took two hours to wiggle the snake's head uphill and into place. That was one heavy rock. Now it needs to rain again and wash all the mud off.

I just may need to replant an apple tree to finish off this metaphor. I cut them down in the more sun making process. They were old and misshapen. I sacrificed them for the garden to be.

The hard part of all this may be what comes next, changing the six foot tall denizens of the wet crease in the sunny utility meadow to a short blooming carpet. Some of the possibilities being considered for that effort are Buttercups, Ranunculus bulbosus, Forget-Me-Not, Myosotis sylvatica, and Japanese Blood Grass, Imperata cylindrica.

Just give me time. I'll get there.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Can Always Change My Mind

I need one more rock that is too big to move to balance the new line of rocks. I'm sure I can find one. How easy it will be not to move may be another matter.

Now that I have wiggled all these rocks into place I am not sure I am liking it all that much. It feels off again. One thing I will try is to have the center section of leaning stones have a mid point and then lean the stones on the right to the right. That might help me like it better and it might not.

I even made a stone fire ring today. Not all that difficult. It could get bigger and taller later. I was aiming for a visual placement check for now. You can make it out in the top right in front of the mossy log.

In that process I unearthed a whole bunch of new rocks that had been piled up by someone else a long long time ago. These are a different kind of rock. The stone is denser, more square and much flatter. Many of these will make great capstones for the walls of the basement patio. I like these new rocks.

I have acquired so many new rocks in this process I may have to build something else. Perhaps there is a small heiau in Ku'ulei 'Aina's future. Time will tell. Where will I put it? I feel very confident that as gardening commences in earnest, every time I stick a shovel in the ground I will find rocks. I will need to do something with them.

This most recent round of rain has been reluctant to start falling so I headed back out there for an adjustment. More better. Now I think I want to schooch the rocks too big to move on the left back just a hair.

If I get it just right all will be well. Then I'll like it. Or not. That's the good thing about dry stack stones, no mortar makes changing my mind possible. Hopefully we will get a nice hard rain tonight to wash off the rocks. That will help in making such critical decisions of whether or not I like it.

I can live with it for now and see how it goes. Another project could easily distract me, then inertia could take hold and set the stones permanently in place.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A New Wiggle In Creation

I have seen many pictures of rocks stacked just leaning against each other in a number of different ways and always liked that look. I thought I would give it a try. Now granted the pretty rock pictures I saw had nice fancy squared off rocks, not like the irregular rocks I have. You make do with what you have. I can't afford to buy fancy rocks.

And in the process of wiggling rocks this afternoon I ended up with even more rocks. The slope behind the new wiggle in Creation was practically faced in stones. Who knows how they got there. Since I intend to plant tall perennials on that slope it made sense to start pulling them out while I was working down there. The plan for this gentle slope is tallish perennials backed by shrubberies backed by the baby trees. There will be a garden to gaze upon in the barren months of winter.

A path will wind through the opening in the tail of Creation and head upslope beside the trunk of the cherry tree, then through another opening created by the two holly trees that have been planted.

This vigorous yellow Louisiana iris donated by Fairegarden in Tennessee will have to be moved. It has multiplied dramatically already and will close off the path in no time. I'll dig it, divide it and give some to Bulbarella for the sunny utility meadow. When she saw it in bloom she decided she needed to have some of it.

That vigorous yellow Louisiana iris will make some fine eyebrows for the Creation.

There's more rain headed this way which will wash off the newly placed rocks in the tear in the fabric of Creation for a bit better color coordination. Then it is going to get coldish which will be good. Things have been trying to get ahead of themselves around here.

Now I just need four more, too big to move boulders to add in a sitting position to the right side of this new line of rocks so it will be balanced. I know where two are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Bulbarella Got Her Name

A funny thing happened after the Garden Rant interview. Bulbarella became a search word. Curious readers must have wanted to know what is a Bulbarella. The google wasn't sending them to a post that would help much in the matter and Bulbarella is an Italian surname that was cluttering up the search results. So I will help inquiring minds who want to know.

In about two months or less depending upon this winter that isn't, from the bare forest floor of the wild cultivated garden 10,000 daffodils and an equal or greater number of minor bulbs will awaken to welcome in the spring. Those will soon be followed by the later blooming lilies and alliums.

That is why I spend days like today hand mowing the still standing dead dried sticks of the perennial flowers. I like a clean slate for the bulb extravaganza about to come.

I moved to the mountain top in the summer of 2007. Imagine my surprise and delight in the spring of 2008 as I watched this spectacle of 10,000 daffodils plus unfold before my eyes. Do you know what your parents have been doing while you were away?

For a good twenty years my mother had been buying, planting, dividing and seeding all kinds of bulbs that the varmints won't eat in her mountain top garden in North Carolina.

That first spring on the blog I had called her the crazy bulb lady. What else was one to think? One Faire reader objected, saying there was nothing crazy about planting so many bulbs. Blogging being the social media that it is, suggestions for a better name were asked for. Annie at The Transplantable Rose came up with the winning moniker and it stuck. Bulbarella is my mother's blog name.

Spend some time in the archives from late February to April of 2008 and you will see what I saw for my very first Bulbapaloozathon.

Bulbarella is a well deserved moniker. Not only have the bulbs been spread from end to end of the ridge top garden, they have spilled into the sunny utility meadow, over the fence into the next county and off the side of the driveway into the wild forest below. The expansion continues unabated. The addition of the garden to be next door has allowed Bulbarella to spread her bulbs even further vicariously through me.

Now the overflow from Bulbarella's annual fall dividing operations are rolling down the mountain to my place. And much like her I plant them and promptly forget where they are. Each new spring is a revelation. I wonder what bulbs will come up this year?

The 10,000 daffodils and counting are just beginning to awaken. It's almost February. That is the right time. This winter that isn't does keep you a bit on edge though. A nice long cold spell of suspended animation would be welcome.

Many of the minor bulbs like the Snowdrops have also spread down to the garden to be. The expansion continues unabated.

Bulbarella is her name.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Garden Rant Interview

I promised them a garden unlike any they have ever seen, high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

There was mention of a wild forest filled with native wildflowers and shrubberies. There was no mention of some other items that might be considered attractions in the wild cultivated gardens.

Right now it is hard to imagine the lush that will awaken in a few more months and fill the sunny utility meadow, just one part of the larger garden covering the mountain top, with an ongoing display of flowers from spring to the killing frosts of autumn.

I didn't mention that dark lump lying below the grass either.

That lump is a single gigantic rock on the edge of the sunny utility meadow.

A stream flows beneath it and spills down into the dark forest where a completely native ecosystem of wildflowers blooms in early spring. I wandered through there today to begin picking up sticks on the path that leads down through the forest to the edge of the stream, getting it ready for curious visitors. The uncultivated garden is an added bonus to the wild cultivated parts that make up the real garden.

I know what extravagance lies beneath the still sleeping ground.

So I promised them a garden unlike any they have ever seen in an Interview at Garden Rant promoting the Asheville 2012 Fling.

(Bulbarella put your mouse on the words Interview at Garden Rant and click on it. They were asking about you.)

Even in the barrenness of winter cars come to a complete stop on the scenic byway, gawking at the little bits they can see of the wild cultivated gardens high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top.

There will be so much more to see in May and so much more to see when you are invited in to explore and stroll the expansive grounds.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Subtle Differences

The morning was sunny and a warmish 50 degrees in front of the next wave of rain. That was enough for the snowdrop's petals to fully open. There's not a whole lot of difference between open and closed.

I felt like the chainsaw today. That stack of logs on the left used to be one big log running from the little hill on the left all the way past the small clump of Miscanthus on the right. It was one of the trees the utility company cut down four years ago.

Yes it has taken me four years to finally get it out of the way. There are many ways to interpret that. Laziness is one. The other is that I have been busy and am finally getting ahead of the game. Now I can get to these minor little details like logs lying all over the place.

The chainsaw was a bit dull so I opted to just cut a section out of another log that was blocking the path. At least now you won't have to step over it while strolling through the sunny utility meadow. More time to concentrate on the flowers.

One wild shrub rose got root pruned too. I hate those thorny things.

My best pruners wandered off some where. That meant I went back and traced my steps over the last several bouts of chores. I couldn't find them anywhere, but it did give me the chance to see the snowdrops popping up all over. After I had pretty much given up hope, I remembered the last time I used them. That always helps. Still no luck. Now I have this feeling I put them on the truck instead of in the truck and they may have gone for a ride down the scenic byway. They weren't in the washing machine at least.

This is been the mildest winter without a doubt of the five I have spent on the mountain top. So far at least. Things can always change. The snow drops are basically on schedule, maybe a little ahead with the full open petals. All it really takes is some sunshine once they have come up.

I saw a little more activity in the daffodil department while I was wandering around. Not a lot. That is good. We may be a little ahead of schedule compared to last year. I went back in time on the blog to have a look. A real bout of winter would put a stop to any notions of an early spring.

Unfortunately I don't see any winter in the diagnosis for the coming week. That's not good. But what is there to do about it?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Nothing But Rain

To Speak Of