Monday, November 30, 2015

In A Wet Garden

After a much needed respite over the holiday, another days long monsoon flow has parked itself on top of the mountains. I don't mind rain. Incessant, unending rain, however, mars my enthusiasm considerably. I could be out there doing things.

At least there is something to look at when I am trapped inside.

In drier times while moving to and fro with loads of bricks and gravel, an unusual speck of green caught my eye. Bulb foliage. I had forgotten/given up on these lycoris bulbs that were brought north from my grandmother's garden in Florida. After eighty years, their internal clock was firmly set to a different kind of winter schedule.

The leaves would emerge much too early, thinking they were still in Florida, only to be completely frozen by a North Carolina winter. Adapted lycoris bulbs would wait until spring to send up the leaves. The bulbs never stood a chance of packing on enough energy to bloom, much less live. I figured they were goners.

After three years, I am quite surprised to see they are still trying. In this oddly warm start to winter, this is the most foliage I have seen them produce before getting zapped. They have come up in all four places I planted them. A small bit of hope remains. Can a bulb learn and reset its internal clock?

At least the rain is washing all the rock dust off the new gravel and dirt off the rearranged rocks on the basement patio. I have things I could be doing though.

The note did say please, but I was still annoyed. Talk to the NCDOT. Road repairs are not my job. My job is the scenic part. Yes, the deep rut in front of my mailbox is very unpleasant. I drive through it too. I have not filled it in because every time it rains, the runoff from the byway channels right though there. That's what made my rut.

Lucky thing I am nice and have a pile of gravel that is marginally less likely to wash away in the next downpour to fill in that rut. I really have to look at ways to redirect the water from the state owned highway that flows onto the state owned shoulder that is making a deep rut in front of my mailbox.

My little washout is nothing compared to other bad spots along the scenic byway. We are talking chasms in other places, the kind where byways can collapse.

Yes I will fill in the area in front of my mailbox when it stops raining with a couple of loads of gravel. If that washes away, call the DOT.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Brush Strokes

I arrived back to the mountain top after my Thanksgiving excursion with several hours of daylight left and adequate weather for activities. Being well fed and rested, there was no reason not to start moving more gravel down to the basement patio.

At this point, the new gravel layer is finished and eyeball level. There will be some settling of contents over time no doubt. I trust the grade follows the natural slope down to the north end. I could check to be sure. I might just out of curiosity. Or I could wait for the next hard rain and see if my catchment box for the drain is working. Until I decide to install a stone floor, it doesn't really matter as long as it is comfortable to walk on.

After I was satisfied with the gravel, the tan bricks came down to the patio and I started to move them around.

This morning before the rains began, I moved them around some more. I kept coming back to this design. It is the current leading contender.

It is simple without being plain.

It has nice movement and flow.

It uses every single brick with no shortage and no leftovers and covers the full length of the patio. I think I like it. I can live with it for a while. I can still try out new ideas. Eventually, once the decision is made, the bricks will be sunk into the gravel and only the tops will show. That will subdue the design a great deal.

Now I need a table and chairs. A working basement patio has arrived.

I also want to do a little touch up work on the top of the lower dry stack retaining wall. I'll need to go fetch me some smaller flat rocks. Constant kitty traffic has caused some minor disruption.

Check out the winter under garden. It is coming along. Next year the yuccas on the other half of the slope will be as big as the ones on the right.

It's all visible from the scenic byway in the barren time. A living abstract painting continues to gain new brush strokes.

River Banks Zoo And Gardens

I drove three hours south on Thursday bearing freshly dug parsnips and taters for a most delicious turkey dinner. The pre-planned excursion for Black Friday was a visit to the Columbia, SC zoo and botanical garden, RiverBanks. 

I came home to find I had missed the anti-shopping #OptOutside meme for the day. Being outside and hating shopping is completely natural for me. It is rather sad some folks have to make a special effort at that.

I of course was more interested in the garden than the zoo. The garden and zoo sit on opposite sides of the Saluda river with a pedestrian bridge across it. The recent flooding had closed the garden side entrance in another part of town so we started our visit at the zoo.

Nice metal lion.

The real thing looks ever so familiar to certain felines I know.

The animals could wait. We headed to the garden.

Nice gate for the pedestrian bridge. That looks like a hymenocallis, or Spider Lily, a plant native to the wet places of the south east.

Inscribed memorial or donor bricks lined the path across the bridge.

I don't know the history of this botanical garden. I did find one sentence that said the walled garden, which is the main component of this garden, was first opened in 1995. I do know Jenks Farmer, the noted SC plantsman and designer was involved in some manner.

Smaller themed gardens are contained within the formal structure and layout of the walled garden. It is very reminiscent of the Biltmores's walled garden. The central axis is an elaborate rill and fountain system.

I'm sure glad it is not my job to maintain this water feature. I know pond scum rather intimately these days. Keeping these things running is no easy task.

Late November is not prime garden touring time. Still, there was quite a lot to see and evidence of only a minor frost.

The plant collection overall was quite impressive, if not overly photogenic on a post growing season full sun day.

There were plenty camellias in bloom. There had to be in a garden in South Carolina.

I rather like this interpretation of the blue bottle tree. It reminds me of something.

It has what my bamboo bottle tree lacks, a good solid background.

A good thought for the day and every other day.

There was still quite a bit of nice fall color to see on my trip south.

Some ginko trees were in full color.

We toured maybe half of the zoo on the way out. The Galapagos Tortoise.

The Komodo Dragon, still growing.

Went to a tropical reef.

Saw some sea anemones.

And a tank full of jellyfish.

Next up was Antarctica.

Flamingos lounged outside the icehouse.

I can't have pink flamingos in my garden, that would be wrong. Maybe the Posh Estate could have some.

On second thought, maybe a flock of flamingos in the roadside vegetable garden wouldn't be so bad. It was a most pleasant Thanksgiving excursion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Etch-a-Brick Two

Over there on the Facebook, which is currently broken for me again, folks have been expressing some preferences in brick works.

I said I would revisit the linear layout with some adjustments. Meh.

It still doesn't do much for me.

It's dull. I need pizzazz.

I do want to revisit the brick speckles. That will have to wait till after Turkey Day.

This idea entered my head last night. I think it was planted over there on the FB which isn't working for me at the moment.

It's ok, but it is still lacking something.

It needs more bricks to encompass the entire patio and swirl right off of it.

I don't want to buy more bricks if at all possible. I'm not sure I want to repeat the design of Creation either.

Now this has promise.

It's got swirl and linear. I could check out adding another arm to the north entry with the tan bricks.

The above view is important too. I'll keep playing. There is no hurry.