Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Compulsion

Thanks to google and regular blogging it is no longer necessary for me to have a detailed memory of the garden. That seems to be creeping into other faucets of life. Oh well.

How long has it been since the dead hemlocks were logged and I was left with heaps of rubbish? Spring of 2012, four years ago.

So four years ago the plan was to burn all that rubbish. I must have gotten distracted. Then a newly denuded hillside sprang immediately back to life. I must have gotten overwhelmed and distracted. Possibly there were other priorities. A big chunk of land next to the cozy cabin was left unattended.

Four and a half years later I had a spare afternoon and decided to wander down there and at least start making paths for a garden expansion. Burning was not on my mind. That wood was so old and likely so wet, a fire would have been hard to get going. I could just start stomping on all that rubbish, get it closer to the ground and help speed up the decomposition. I could do a little editing while I was in there.

Then as seems to be my way, I became possessed. What started as simple path making and a five year plan turned into a full on editing onslaught of half an acre of wild new growth encased in a blanket of blackberry with layer of woody rubbish and rotten logs underneath.

I have been finding good things. The plan is to steer mother nature towards an oak and magnolia forest with an understory of pleasing native wild flowers.

Perhaps, what I hope is a groundhog with three hefty holes spread across this slope will decide it is time to move.

A compulsion to edit this slope may have taken hold, but it is still a five year plan. I know it will take that long for the forest to regrow and shade out the blackberry. It will take that long for the sapling stumps left over from annual lopping to stop trying to regrow.

This five year plan will require a late spring and end of summer editing to be most effective. I can't get distracted anymore.

This section of forest was damaged during construction and also experienced a flush of regrowth. It has been edited at least once a year for the last three or four. It is looking much better and beginning to stabilize. The blackberry is almost gone. It is also the connection between the Tall Flower Meadow and the new pathways into the rest of the forest.

My compulsion is made possible by the fact that come June, the meadow gardens are pretty much left alone to do their thing. There is no fussing over them. I have time to expand.

You can't weed this and I only mow when necessary or if company is coming.

Tomorrow I will stroll the gardens slowly and harvest some fine produce from the roadside vegetable garden. That is all there is to do. Later, I can feed this little compulsion.

These gardens are edited in the spring and set in motion. At a certain point you have to just step back.

It's near August and we have ignition. The Tall Flower Meadow is about to do its thing. And now I pray, please no hail, no wicked crushing storms. I wait all year for this. A perky meadow is a mighty fine thing.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Groundhog Salad

When a garden of herbaceous perennials gets any bigger than a four foot wide, easily maintained border, it is an invitation to chaos. Anything that self sows will, often abundantly. Clumps expand. Large plants gain considerable size and take more space. There are winners and losers in all that competition.

The original design will be lost in three to four years without considerable effort to keep it intact.

Now add in sweet bunnies, groundhogs and horses two feet in along one fence line and another level of competition is selecting for winners and losers. I know for a fact that the first item to go in a very diverse buffet is always the purple coneflower. The varmints won't be getting any colds and flu, not in my gardens.

But abundance wins in the end. There is plenty for predation and enough left over to put on a floral extravaganza. The gardener just won't win any high standards maintenance awards, especially since he lets some of the indigenous wild flowers join in on the show.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mystery Plants

There are not many rules when it comes to editing. A couple are: if it is a good weed leave it and if you don't know what it is, leave it until you find out if it's annoying or not.

I'm beginning to think somebody tossed the goats last fall's decorations. When unplanted squash like seedlings came up in the dung piles after I flattened them for planting, of course I left them. Who wouldn't want free squash or melons even if I had to wait to find out what they were.

This doesn't look like anything I have grown and eaten before. It's kind of warty, but not in the least bit pumpkin shaped.

And I have absolutely no clue what these things will be turning into. Where did these things come from? I have huge vines of mystery squash while my cantaloupe contemplate whether or not they even want to grow.

I know what these are, Turk's Cap Lily, Lilium superbum. It's also the first time they have bloomed in about four years. Some pestilence had been sucking the life out of them for many years running. This year they finally escaped the pest and bloomed.

I also keep meaning to dig some up out of the deep forest where they never bloom in the shade and bring them into my part of the garden. It's on the list.

It was way too hot and humid at work today so I came home a bit early. I guess I could go and edit along the new trail and forest restoration with that extra hour of time, like it wasn't just as hot and humid up here. I think a compulsion has gotten a hold of me.

The baby Magnolia fraseri will enjoy all this new breathing room. I'm using the chop, drop and decompose method of tidy. Compulsion or not, it is still a five year plan to lovely.

While I was chopping I discovered something new and unknown. I had cut one down a few days ago before I could stop the loppers. I just figured where there was one there would be more and there was. I have found several more of this unknown.

My best guess is this is Magnolia acuminata. That means my magnolia grove will have two species of magnolia tree. How cool is that. When they get big enough to bloom, the aroma will be lovely.

When I first spotted them I just thought more M. fraseri. The more I saw the more it didn't look right. It said magnolia to me, but it sure was different from all the others.

I have found ferns, orchids, rhododendron, aralia, hydrangea and more Buffalo Nut. My new forest trail is going to be lovely.

If I can organize a Tall Flower Meadow into thinking it's a garden, I can do the same in the forest. Just give me time.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Out Riding Fences

I have been driving by this vision of loveliness on a near daily basis for weeks now. It makes my chicory look small.

It is a good thing that fence lines are hard to mow and hard to whack, not that it is even a priority in a cow pasture. Let the cows eat it.

Fence lines and guardrails quite often have some very nice grass and wild flower arrangements.

This is one of my favorites at the moment.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tunneling Through

Triple this space. Double that amount for my assistant duties. Then add on a few more chunks just to be safe. That about covers the wild cultivated gardens.

So I ask myself, is the garden big enough?

Apparently not. I have been tunneling my way much deeper into the forest.

You see, all that land on the slope below the dung piles is mine. The larger property extends a bit beyond that first ridge line of trees on the right

I like wandering through the forest. It is a whole lot easier to do when there is a cleared pathway. I've been down below lopping my way through a thicket of rubbish, blackberry and tree saplings.

Making new paths through the forest would have been a lot easier if the hemlocks had not died, but they died. They were partially logged and the tops and all the branches were left with me. The rest are slowly crashing to the ground. The missing forest canopy caused an explosion of growth when the sunlight hit the ground. Decades of bird deposits sprang to life.

So I am making a path. The process of editing will begin. This time I will be editing trees.

A good number of Magnolia fraseri, Mountain Magnolia, have been coming up in the explosion of growth. I think a grove of them would be nice. Those are being saved.

The plan is to make a path, edit and tidy as I go. The more I walk it, the more will get done. There are already mature rhododendron and a number of other interesting plants down there. I don't have to make a garden. I just have to make a strong impact on the one nature will make. My input should also speed up the process by selecting the trees and giving them room to grow.

As shade returns with a forest canopy, the job will get easier. Give me five years. It will be lovely.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

In A Wild Garden

There is no place in the wild cultivated gardens safe from competition. 

Even the fancy discard lilies jostle and mingle with the Lush. Editing is the only salvation and that is not a one hundred percent given. I do what I can.

Nature's imperative is a singular effort to fill the space.

My efforts are largely geared towards selecting the ingredients being used with much less input on exactly where they get used. I have watched things I planted get up and move to a different location more to their liking.

This is what you see when you drive by. How many people see a garden I wonder?

Step one in a new ingredient is getting a plant to blooming size. Step two is waiting to see if it will settle in and naturalize.

I grew a tray of Verbena hastata from seed. Verbena bonariensis wasn't making the cut. They were planted out after reaching small plant size. Many were immediately attacked by some leaf sucking bug. The leaves were skeletonized and curled up in distress. They are still alive. I hope the bug moves on.

It is a wonder that in an ocean of Lush, widely scattered, newly planted verbena were targeted for being sucked. This one has escaped so far.

Any concerns I ever had about my garden looking out of place in the wilderness can be put to rest. The Lush is more powerful than me.

When you enter an awareness comes that something different is going on. A gardener has been manipulating the ingredients. I do have an impact.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sunshine On Bloom Spikes

It has been steamy all week. Widely scattered thunderstorms have been rolling through daily.

All is well, then in the course of half an hour the sky turns black, thunder rumbles and lighting flashes. It could very easily just be a loud tempest signifying nothing. These storms are small and it takes a direct hit to get any water out of them.

But when you do it comes in buckets.

Then poof, it's gone. The sun comes out and steam begins to rise.

I don't stay out there with the lightning and thunder. In these parts we are much closer to the clouds. I manage to get thoroughly drenched anyway. Drip, drip, drip, the steam rises and the sweat pours down.

Steamy is exhausting. It wears me out. I've had to take a few naps this week.

When the sun gets low, hopefully it cools a bit and the steam subsides, a post nap stroll is nice. The garden doesn't seem to mind steamy.