Saturday, June 30, 2012

Taking Control Sort Of

There is a notion in my head that the bed off the front porch of the cozy cabin will be civilized one day. I am just going about it the hard way. Plant first - directly into the wild Lush mind you - design second. Mulch when ever. I won't be surprised if some things get moved down the road.

Let's have a look shall we. The pictures of the front  porch bed will sequence from left to right.

In this first part there are daffodils, muscari, bulbocodium and crocus for spring. This is followed by blue and white salvias, pink allium and pink veronica and the newly added lavender scabiosa. Plus a few wild things.

After getting freezer burn, the Kousa Dogwood has put out a very nice flush of new growth. It is looking most happy. A Lychnis is to the left. Orange daylilies are to the right. Plus a few wild things.

In the center section and headed out to the point are three fothergilla babies, three Eryngium yuccifolium, a couple hibiscus, a purple dahlia and a Thermopsis caroliniana. Plus a few wild things. Snowdrops and Lycoris bulbs (if they survived) are hiding in there too.

Back up towards the porch are three Gold Thread Chamaecyparis of unknown mature heights. Plus a few wild things.

I got in there and weeded out the tall fescue grass I seeded many years ago to help hold the hillside for a third time. I keep trying to kill them in place and they kept living. With a high of 96 today and no rain for a week the soil was dust. Hopefully the blazing sun, heat and drought has finally done this grass in. There are better weeds than tall fescue. I have been finding plenty baby eryngiums and daylilies and my preferred tall weed is the Blue Wood Aster and a couple of the Goldenrod species. Boneset and Joe Pye are nice tall weeds too.

My wild things do stuff like this. That is why I have troubles with wholesale slaughter of the Lush just so I can have a blank slate for planting. So I end up doing things the hard way.

These weeds, this place, have caused some form of horticultural madness.

I don't think it was this record setting heat causing garden madness. It has been going on too long. 96 is the hottest it has ever been on this mountain since I have been here. I slept through the 92 to 96 range and came back out at 92. Lucky we had a brief afternoon shower that cooled things down fast.

Friday, June 29, 2012


I found a new wildflower on the edge of the garden becoming, Penstemon canescens. I have seen hillsides covered with this. I hope it makes more. It is very close to the  new Gentiana saponaria I found last year. This particular slope was less disturbed than other areas closer to cabin construction, faces south west and is drier than other parts of the 'aina. A very different plant community has arisen here. A much better one than what has appeared were the dead hemlocks used to be. That is turning into a thicket of Blackberries. What a pain.

The diversity of plant species in this small little piece on the mountain is quite astounding. I keep adding more, natives and not so native.

The daylilies are in full swing. It is hard not to want more when I have the space, plenty of sun and would be happy with drifts of plants at that height.

I will have to keep an eye on the Lychnis coronaria, Rose Campion. I have seen them in enough places to know they are rampant seeders. I have already found babies about that must have come from the very few seeds made last year. They pull easy which is a good thing.

Miss Collar gave me a little scare yesterday not showing up for her midnight snack, breakfast or dinner the following day. I thought for sure I was down to none. Seems she went next door, asked permission to enter and spent the day in the cool basement closet. The hot has reached the mountain top. We hit 91 degrees up here today. This is unprecedented. We don't do these temperatures. Miss Collar slept it off in the nice cool basement next door.

The native Ratibida columnifera, Mexican Hat I seeded two years ago has settled in and is looking like it will put on a nice show this year. This plant will be allowed to seed itself wherever it wants. It is even a candidate for seed collecting and seed flinging to move it to new locations farther afield.

I should just admit it. My garden is really a field with a few baby shrubberies.

And it will only get worse. I have been stopping by the reject plant racks at Lowes whenever I am there. Today I came home with six fat healthy, one gallon Liatris at a buck each and a Sabiosa columbaria for 50 cent. It's a big field. I will find a place for them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Gloriosa Daisies Are Here

Some of the flowers around here simply don't stay put. You never know where exactly they will show up from year to year. The annuals, biennials and so called weak perennials are all prone to wandering around like this. They have good years and bad years. The Gloriosa Daisy is one of the wanderers in the weak perennial category. It is looking like they will have a good year.

The Gooseneck Loosestrife is an aggressive, some say invasive, colony forming, long lived perennial and it is having a bad year. Much of it was froze to the ground in the two late freezes after the early spring growth got too far advanced.

The Liatris stays put unless it is happy. Then it sets seed and new liatris can show up anywhere. I sowed seed of it in the cabin side bed and am finding it in the bed and in the gravel driveway. The ones I find in the driveway are being safely placed back in the bed.

The Gloriosa Daisy is actually Rudbeckia hirta, the same Rudbeckia hirta as Black-Eyed Susan and I don't get it. They look very different plant wise and the Susans are one tough mat forming perennial.

Oh well. They're pretty. They self seed and take care of themselves.That's all that really matters.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Few Flowers Along The Road

My roadside attraction is aiming towards peak bloom. Morning is best when the chicory is still open. The chicory closes in the heat of a sunny day.

Surrounded and hidden by all the flowers is the roadside vegetable garden.

The other day I was contemplating how to get more bloom in the wildflower strip that seperates the vegetables from the road. Right now it is dominated by the fall blooming Goldenrod. I think it needs an early summer boost. Maybe it needs a complete makeover.

More yucca. I must have more yucca. A bloom stalk like this calls for more.

High on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top in the middle of nowhere is a roadside attraction of floral abundance. Slow down and don't litter.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The First Of Its Kind

This year.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now You Don't

Now you see it.

I am determined that this year the Lush will not be allowed to run riot over the garden becoming. What has been planted will not be buried alive.

The process of selection by elimination has already covered significant ground.

I am afraid the tall flower meadow will have to removed in the crease of the sunny utility valley. It does not fit in with my garden plans.

I plan to see if I can get a river of Red Blood grass flowing. Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' maybe. I am not sure of the cultivar. It was moved from a full sun dry slope where it just sat there barely surviving to a full sun wet crease where I hope it will bleed profusely.

Plants grow quite well here when they are not struggling with over zealous competition.

Still, I must be prepared for a wild look to things.

This is the front roadside bed where I have been able to exert the most influence over the last five years. It certainly has more flowers blooming than my neighbor's unmowed ditch across the byway. I can say that at least.

The untouched Lush is already head high near the end of June.

I have to be determined.

Midday In The Gardens Of Haywood County

The semi-annual Haywood County Master Gardener Tour was yesterday, June 23rd. There is nothing I like better than nosing around other people's gardens. An added benefit of this tour is that it takes me places in Haywood County where I have not been. It is amazing what the forests and folds of these mountains can hide.

The Hamm garden in Plott Creek is the ultimate mountain stream side garden. A beautiful stream splits the garden and property in half and this natural feature was used to full advantage.

It was planted with a diverse array of interesting trees and shrubs to maintain a natural feel in this very well maintained garden. I know my maintenance.

I have many of these native Bottlebrush Buckeyes, Aesculus parviflora. All they need to do is grow.

I keep toying with the idea of bringing Acanthus mollis home with me, I like the bloom so much. It would be zone pushing for me though. How much would it hurt to try?

Next we headed way up to Cataloochee Ranch.

The Alexander garden was my favorite on the tour. Everything about it was unique. At 5000 feet up the views were stunning.

The first section of this authentic log cabin house was built by the Alexanders from logs harvested on site in 1970.

It was primarily a shade garden with towering trees reaching higher into the cool mountain air. The native Diphylleia cymosa graces a small stream and pond. We got plenty of that down by our tiny stream bed.

Water, cool mountain air, lush green foliage in many textures, it all adds up to tranquility.

A much smaller log quest cabin sat across a broad lawn adding more local authenticity to the scene.

There has to be a story that goes with this.

There was even the native Flypoison, Amianthium muscaetoxicum blooming at the base of a tall tree. This is not something you see in just any garden, except now there is one next door in the ridge top garden that survived and bloomed a sister's relocation efforts.

Fuchsias like the cool mountain air.

A small meadow blooms before the view. I could live up here.

In Jonathan Valley on Hemphill Creek is the Dombrova garden. The home was perched on a point where two streams meet. Narrow foot paths much like our own here wandered through the shaded forest along the stream. The main sunny gardens were across the stream.

Raised stone planters were filled with sun loving perennials.

Their Beebalm is much further ahead than ours. Lower down in the valley on a larger stream, elevation in these mountains makes all the difference.

Once we got our directions for the tour I planned our route to take us towards home at the end. The last two gardens we saw were in Iron Duff. I pass by this neck of the woods coming and going on my daily travels.

The Rotondo garden I understand well. How do you create a garden on a very steep site? Many homes in the mountains here have a flat spot just big enough for a house, a driveway and a narrow bit of planting cut into steep slopes. In a lot of respects you just have to plant and ignore the steep slope.

The view from Iron Duff looks directly home. The wild cultivated gardens are just on the other side of that high mountain center right, Crabtree Bald.

Nice looking steps but the rise and tread was way off.

At the base of the slope behind the house a short retaining wall created a narrow level planting bed.

Just a few houses down in the same neighborhood is the Gurley garden. Still very steep, but not quite as severe as the Rotondo garden.

I have plans for one of these, Japanese Tea House style perhaps on the hill above my little creek in the shade of the forest. Here we don't need screened porches so much.

The cultivated merges with the forest beyond.

Lucifer. Now this is taking advantage of a steep garden and a plant's natural inclination to flop over.

While this Haywood County Master gardeners tour was pretty much a study in suburban landscaping, all of these gardens were done by the owners and their enthusiasm for gardening showed. The diversity of plant choices and the willingness to try the unusual was evident. I was not seeing landscapes with plant materials.

I missed the Highsmith professional building garden on the tour, but I have seen it before because it is next door to Client #1's. It was actually planted by my Client # 1 many years ago. I had noticed all the major renovation work being done in the last year. Next time I am at Client #1's I'll stop by and have another look now that it has been all spruced up.