Saturday, December 31, 2016

Walk Of The Blue Pumpkin

The threat of snow did not materialize. All I got was wind and cold. The prognosticators were so very wrong. I did not even get a dusting, much less one to two inches.

It never reached my minimum operating temperature though. I puttered inside while the wind did its wicked best.

Things calmed down and warmed up a smidgen by early afternoon, enough to take a walk of the blue pumpkins. All the mystery melons were removed from the front porch. Several freeze thaws had set a drooling decomposition in motion. It was time for them to go. Most ended up back in the dung piles from where they came.

You look out there now and see all that open space and it is easy to think a lot of planting could be done. But beyond those baby evergreen trees it is deep shade come summertime. That has a major impact on what can be grown. Choices become more limited. Evergreen choices even more so.

The main winter Under Garden will just have to live on the sunny side of the utility easement. It is the most sun I have and still does not qualify as full sun. My trees are tall and their shadows are long for a good part of the year.

On a blue pumpkin day I can still walk through the garden and find much of interest. I have made it that way. It is the best time to check on the health and progress of the plants that compose the Under Garden. Should I be more ruthless in giving them elbow room? Yes. Will I? That is another matter of time and circumstance.

Dry stack stone walls that are well hidden during the time of vegetation take on a new prominence. Yes, that sketchy lower wall is still standing, unbudged after nine years of high elevation weather.

On a less windy winter day, one could even set a spell on the sunny basement patio.

Another year has ended. A new one begins. 2017 will mark a decade of living high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. I've made some progress. A garden of year round interest has firmly taken root.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hale Mana Before Snow

Word is there may be an inch or two of snow deposited in the night, the first real snow of the season. A howling wind most assuredly indicates something is headed this way.

Just because I have a brand new truck does not mean I am willing to shovel a hundred feet of gravel driveway. That baby was parked up top.

It was one last chance to view Hale Mana and the Under Garden from the scenic byway before the snow.

I did not look for long. The wind was howling and it was already thirty degrees.

Hale Mana does scenic quite nicely.

Now we wait as the wind roars over the mountains. What will the morning bring?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Rare Sighting

The Christmas excursion is over. I have returned and set the beasts free. Better to keep them safely locked inside than out there and miserable with the wild things. They may or may not agree. It is weather dependent.

I returned with what I assume are two antique cement pots that belonged to my grandparents. I should probably check my assumption to be sure. I saw that they needed a new home and gathered them up.

They landed on the basement patio. That may or may not be their final destination. They may or may not get a paint job.

It was a rather warm sixty degrees upon my return. Then it began to rain. Any thoughts I had about attending to a small chore in the garden while I had a spare hour in nice weather dissipated quickly in the blur of wet and settling in.

I was happy to be back in my house and still enthralled with the progress of the Under Garden.

All the Hesperaloe parviflora did well over the summer. The drought probably did them good. The ones that did not bloom grew and sent up new crowns. Now they just need to evade another winter of root snacking by the voles. Damn varmints!

For the first time in three years, the cold hardy, evergreen, clumping Fargesia bamboo sent up new growth taller than the existing stems. It is looking nice and healthy again after suffering major set backs during the two Polar Vortex winters. I live on the edge of tolerance for many things.

I gaze upon a growing Under Garden and plan for an early spring planting to kick it up another notch.

No need pakalolo. The garden does trippy on its own.

We don't see him often, the actual gardener man. He rarely shows up in pixels. Something noteworthy happened. Elmer got a new hat, work jacket and truck. The final straw with the Ford Ranger from Maui with 189,000 miles was when the door handle on the drivers side broke. I was done. I conceded to the inevitable after repeated acts of disintegration had left me immobile more than once.

Don't I look happy? Granted, this was after two full days of driving with two not so good nights of sleep in between. My new hat came in the mail from a client who thought my head needed to stay warmer in the winter. It is red plaid on the back.

Just imagine. The Under Garden will continue to grow and I am going to kick it up another notch. It will be even more trippy next year. My new truck won't be so shiny by then.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Begin Winter

Fa la te da. Tis the season for winter descending. Seems there will be a bit of a warming trend to start.

It is on those warm winter days, 50 whole degrees today, that if given the chance, I will wander out into the garden and see if I can find anything interesting.

We got lucky in the interesting department. This place came with a real garden folly. I have added more folly since.

I have also been adding the evergreen Under Garden of winter interest. Without it, the garden would be completely barren from November to near the first of April. That is five whole months. That just isn't acceptable. I had to take action.

Folly comes in many sizes. It takes on a more visible role in the barren time of winter.

The baby evergreens are slowly catching up.

On the first day of winter Miss Collar said to me, "Fa la la la la. Finally, it's warm enough to go out." Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Light Rime

Winter magic. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

It Rained All Day

I did absolutely nothing.

The fact that that is getting easier to do gives me the feeling my decrepitude is sneaking up on me.

I made a list of things that need doing and did none of them. They can wait for a day without rain.

The major projects are finished.

The garden drinks in and rests while I do nothing.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Big Picture

A notion that has been rattling around in the upper recesses for years is growing into a clear intent. If you hadn't noticed, I have been quite excited about this year's reveal of the Under Garden. The low mounding tapestry of texture and color is gaining form and substance.

With clear intent, the process of creating a possibly surreal, living abstract painting that can be seen from the scenic byway is happening. The garden itself becomes a work of art.

My big advantage in this endeavor is land with significant elevation changes. Viewing areas that take in the big picture abound.

Entering the living painting will turn the experience 3-D.

There is still some painting to do. More of the evergreen Doghobble will be planted in a curve behind the round table top to frame the Great Lawn. The red twig dogwood planted in that gap between the evergreens isn't happening. It doesn't seem to like it up here.

A solid frame will be even better.

The first planted half of the crescent shaped slope below the cozy cabin is filling in nicely. It is quite visible from the scenic byway now.

The second planted half is settling in and has grown a bit since first planted in the last two seasons. There is room for a few more dabs of texture and color on this slope. I have plotted locations and numbers. Come spring a new kind evergreen shrubbery will be selected.

So there you have it, the master plan, the big picture, that bad garden designer did with a concept and by going with the flow. There was nothing on paper, no plant lists and no budget. Somehow it is happening anyway.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Minor Adjustments

I came upon a pile red clay pipe sections
Laying in a thicket of green laurel.
They said to me
I know exactly where we're going.
We're going to join in with lines of color.

We're going to get ourselves back in a garden. And so it came to be. Another line of color was added in the garden. It may be a temporary contemplation aid until I find the right color of evergreen plant for this half sun location, but it works for now in the barren time.

I got to thinking some more. The upside down metal arbor on the Great Lawn had never flowed quite right. It was always a bit jarring, a bad note. Four years later a solution presented itself.

You see the thing is heavy. It had been bent out of shape by a heavy snow while encased in vines and ripped out of the stone base it was bolted into. I couldn't make it stand back up.

In the barren, I saw a support it could lean against. The arbor was moved and nailed to the side of a tree. More betta. Less jarring. Now it will pull your eye in a more pleasant fashion over and to the edge of the framing around the Great Lawn. Next I need to find about five or six Doghobble to follow me home to finish that frame.

All I need is the time and a half decent day and the mass of brown sticks that is the Flowering Raspberry and Hydrangea will be chopped down and dug up. I can pull rooted stem pieces out of the 'Streib's Findling' Cotoneaster and plant them right away.

I see that dark green, super flat ground cover extending to the right almost to that upper iris patch, the dark sky in a starry night.

And before the wind chilly made it too cold, there was one more thing. I simply was not going to be looking at bright orange tape on my baby deciduous shrubberies all winter long while waiting for the utility company's tree butchers to return. Who knows when they will be back.

The little details do matter, even in a wild cultivated garden.