Friday, February 28, 2014

Contemplation Before The Lush Returns

The bare bones of winter is an excellent time to contemplate the design of a garden. There is much less distraction.

I need more of this low mounding evergreen texture and color on the slope below the cozy cabin. It is this under garden that gets me through the winter.

Right now it ends rather abruptly near the border created by the down hill path that starts between my shiny balls.

This low mounding evergreen texture and color needs to sweep over to the left half of the slope to bring better flow to the bigger picture of the garden becoming. I think six more Yucca filamentosa, one more of the creeping yews and three or four currently unknown low mounding evergreens should do it. I'd like to add a new texture for more interest and movement.

I'll have to wait a bit though. One, the nurseries need to reopen so I can find a new plant to add. And two, I have already planted all kinds of herbaceous perennials on the left side. They need to wake up so I know where they are. Things can be hard to find in the chop and drop.

I was also contemplating my crispy frozen, clumping evergreen, hardy Fargesia bamboo. This freeze dried look is a first. It has stayed green every other winter. I now know this won't be the last time this happens. It can happen again in winters to come. The question is how will it grow  back out? I'm not worried about it being dead, but did it freeze to the ground or will the old canes leaf back out. Bamboo is quite capable of that.

There was a lot of winter burn this year. I haven't been singled out. I'm seeing a lot of crispy hollies and cherry laurels in my travels. There's nothing to do but wait.

I'm fairly satisfied with this section of the garden becoming. There is a mix of evergreen trees and shrubs and a good number of deciduous flowering shrubs already planted. In time all the baby shrubberies will gain more substance. In time this sweeping view will be gone.

Before the Lush returns, before the under garden fades into a winter memory, I contemplate how to make it better. I will be looking at it for all the winters that remain. It needs to be entertaining. It needs to bring me outside.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Down To 13

And the blooms are still here. They just wait patiently for a warmer day. No sense in opening if the pollinators won't be coming.

The Witch Hazels are looking fine.

These pictures were taken late this afternoon after it had warmed above freezing. I did not look this morning to see if they had closed up shop during the cold.

Tomorrow morning will be just as cold. I'm curious to see if the Witch Hazel blooms close up in the cold.

No snow, just cold and the earliest blooms of spring

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's Alive

There was no snow. All we got was the cold. Real cold, as in a high of about 34 and a suggested low of 15.

A little snow cover would have been nice for such a low. More crocus buds are appearing. I'd hate for them to get froze. But they are a very cold hardy lot and tomorrow's high will be well above freezing. I'm sure they will be fine.

The daffodils? Where are the daffodils? I saw a few more poking up today. Not many more. They are being slow as molasses this year. They will be fine with this no snow cover low. They are still mostly deep in the ground.

My planned snow day chore was to bring the resident gardener's house back to life. There was no snow, but it was too cold for work. The next two days look workable and I needed to make sure the house was fully functioning with out disaster or need of a repairman before Saturday's arrival. Last year I couldn't get the hot water to work when I turned the house back on.

All went well. We have hot water. It is amazing how much dirt and grit there is in the well water. I have to spend a good amount of time just flushing all that dirt through the system. All that dirt can cause troubles and it puts extra wear on the plumbing. The washing machine hookup in particular looks like it is in great need of a stitch in time repair. It's now on the list.

The house is as clean as it ever gets and all it's parts seem to be working - for now. It's alive and ready for Bulbarella's arrival. It just need to make it through two nights of lows in the teens. It's handled that before and I turned the heat up to 60.

Beneath the leaf litter, a bounty of life awaits the spring. The client's have started calling. I think they are anxious for spring too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Eventual Effect

One day my three Witch Hazels will be this big and bloom like that.

One day soon I will have gathered the wine bottles I need to finish off the new retaining wall for the improved path.

I'm not completely sold on the glass bottles in the wall yet. It feels a little off. I have to finish it before I can be sure though. Finding enough rocks to do this part was easier than I had anticipated so switching out the glass bottles at a later time won't be much of a chore.

One day in the future the under garden of winter will have more substance. The evergreen trees will grow to provide more screening from the scenic byway. Only glimpses will be available of that cozy cabin perched above the archeological excavation site with sweeping drifts of color and texture on the slope below.

I need to plant the left side of the slope into the bigger picture even though that is a transition zone back into the forest. More Yucca filamentosa will help with that. I want to add the large sedum and Feather Reed Grass for more winter texture.

Eventually. I have the concept in my head. I'm just making it up and making do as I go along.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Afternoon Chop And Drop

The first wave of bulbs, mainly crocus and snowdrops are less than six inches tall. The minor bulbs that follow, scilla, muscari, puschkinia and chionodoxa aren't any higher. The bluebells might get a foot tall. Even the daffodils are stretching at eighteen inches. The spring bulbs are a short lot.

The Lush of the tall flower meadow is six feet high by seasons end. Some of the stems of these herbaceous wildflowers can get quite woody. Winter isn't always enough to knock them completely down. That is where I come in. The wildflower end of the roadside vegetable garden got cut down late this afternoon.

The bulbs are coming. This is almost the last chance to get the last bits of the chop and drop done. The far end of the sunny utility meadow was finished off as well. As the bulbs start blooming they won't have to be competing visually with a forest of dead dried sticks poking up in the air.

About all that is left is my front road side bed and the wildflower strip that screens the vegetable garden from the road. There aren't any bulbs in there and I leave the grasses to the end. There is snow in the diagnosis for Wednesday and Friday. This will be the grasses last stand of winter interest. After this next round of winter, it will be time to cut them down.

The bulbs are coming, after a short hopefully, period of suspended animation.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Plenty Snowdrops

The big patch of snowdrops was in full bloom on a sunny near seventy degree day.

Dozens of smaller clumps are scattered around the north half of the ridge top garden, spread both by seed and the gardener.

The daffodils? Where are the daffodils? I saw a few more emerging clumps, but this is the latest liftoff of the daffodils I have seen or in this case not seeing. It's going to be late bulb season unless the weather turns hot.

The first crocus bloomed today down at my place. Otherwise the crocus are also very slow to get going. Winter's return next week is only going to put all the bulbs back into the waiting mode.

The rock part of the new stone wall is done. Now I just need bunches of empty wine bottles. I'll have to put out the word again.

Then I took a three hour nap. Work work all week followed by two days of rock toting and certain creatures waking me three times in the night left me kind of tired.

It was a bit of a shame to sleep away the second half of a beautiful day, but once I laid down it was lights out.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Have A Sickness

I made an appointment and drove all the way to town for the sole purpose of getting the Witch Hazel I wanted when I knew they would be in bloom. I was not going to be fooled by labels again. Meet the real 'Diane'.

Meet 'Jelena' too, 'Diane's' even frillier orange sister. No I did not want to return the Witch Hazel that was mislabeled and swap. I have a sickness. I want all three. Now where can I squeeze the two new ones into the garden?

That stack of rocks by the front steps never really excited me. It was not my best work. And my look at all those nice rocks that can be put to a better purpose. They were to close to resist.

Since I was going to be planting things I went ahead and transplanted one of the 'Gold Mop' chamaecyparis to a new location. It was to close to the Kousa Dogwood and would have been shaded out in time. The three chamaecyparis together were feeling crowded anyway. I moved the other one three feet up hill to space them a bit better.

Hale Mana could use a pair of breaching whales by the front entry. Much better.

'Diane' and the chamaecyparis were planted on the east side of the driveway below the path that leads to the sunny utility meadow. The 'Gold Mop' should make a nice backdrop for the red 'Diane'. I had to cut down three small dead hemlocks to make a bit more room. It's on my list to cut down all of the small dead hemlocks on the east side of the drive one day.

'Jelena ' joined 'Arnold's Promise', the faint yellow in the top right, in a shrub border that will frame and enclose the wild lawn one day.

I like 'Jelena'. She might be my favorite.

Once my sickness had been sated, I started toting rocks down to the new retaining wall. That one stack of rocks from the front entry made a big difference. I even got a very nice stepping stone for a bottom step out of that stack.

I'm also testing out using glass bottles to further reduce the needed rock hauling. Glass bottles will fill the gap where you see the space in the rocks and the section of bottles with the gap will be filled. The center section will be stone. If I don't like it I can always go fetch more rocks to replace the bottles.

Now I only need about six linear feet of rock and thirty or so wine bottles.

The new and improved path is coming along quite nicely.

It was a busy and productive day. There was no time to go look at the hundreds of snowdrops next door. Maybe tomorrow. I should make sure to see them before winter returns next week and they get buried in snow again.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The New Rock Wall Begins

I had a little time, a little sun and a little sort of warm when I got home this afternoon. I had a pile of rocks gathered nearby. The new retaining wall for the path improvement was begun.

It barely constitutes a real wall. It's more like rock edging.

I'll end up with a more defined and stable foot path. I wasn't willing to cut further or deeper into the hill and give up more planting space for a wider path. The planting I have done already has restricted my path width without some major replanting. Visitors will just have to walk single file. I'm used to walking single file.

I used up my gathered pile of rocks. Now I just need to GO FETCH about thirty more linear feet of rock. The worst part of that is I have reached a point in my organization of the rocks in the garden becoming that it is time to find a new stone quarry further afield. There is going to be some major toting in my near future.

Hmm? Just had a thought. Maybe I could do the center in glass bottles or two sections on opposite sides in glass bottles with a stone center. Glass bottles with a stone center would end up as - stone glass stone glass stone.That sounds interesting. Bottles would be much easier to tote.

A new wall is emerging with the first sight of the daffodils. It's a sign that the ground has finally thawed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Prelude

All it takes is a touch of spring and the garden begins to stir. I have snowdrops now. There are hundreds next door. I'll go visit them on Saturday.

All it takes is a touch of spring and the gardener begins to stir. I've been work working three whole days in a row. That is why hundreds of snowdrops can wait until Saturday.

It helps that the gardener knows what to plant for the earliest stirrings of spring. I'm liking my not 'Diane' now that it is in full bloom. My guess is an 'Arnold's Promise' got mislabeled. The other option is 'Primavera'. It's just nice to have a prelude to the great stirring that is about to begin.

The little baby Oconee Bell, a gift from a garden visitor looks like it has set some flower buds. Those tiny red buds in the center look like flower buds to me. This rare native woodland plant survived the winter just fine. It is an early spring bloomer. After that it needs to spread. I have seen dense groundcover mats of it when it is happy.

Out there in the barren, the prelude to spring has begun. More crocus are up. I saw the tips of the first daffodils. My wild lawn is turning green.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I'm Frilled

There was a most excellent rain assisted melt through most of the night. By the time I came home from work, yes that has started up again, my garden was back.

Every little sign of life is most welcome now. The round swirly lichen covering a rock in the garden border has even been growing.

I was frilled to see my baby Hamamelis x intermedia 'Unknown' after a warm day of partly sunny skies. The petals have unfurled. I will have nice sized frilly flowers on my Witch Hazel. It's not the red 'Diane' I wanted and paid for, but it will do. I can add 'Diane' some where else in the garden. This is such a hopeful shrub for the last gasp of winter. To bad it was a few days late for Bloom Day.

I searched. I looked. There is still no sign of the daffodils. This week of warm should wake them up and get them moving. There are plenty of crocus that will come first. Even they have been slow to get moving this year.

Next week's cold isn't looking real cold, 40's - 20's. Cool cold is better than too hot at this time of year. I'm anxious for spring, but it shouldn't be rushed. Slow is better. I'm hoping this is the best bulb year ever, the one that Bulbarella always dreamed of.