Thursday, February 28, 2008

Scenes From A Snow-In

The Blue Pot With Backup

The Eagle Has Landed

Shadow Dancer

Stone Rhythms

The Cold Beneath My Cabin

On Hold

The Slow Stack

Pile Up

The Sentinel

Real Bird Food

The melt has begun in earnest. I should be freed by lunch time tomorrow.

In the Morning Light

Patches of blue and the view to the horizon has returned.

A short walk through deep snow

sounds like a pleasant diversion for this afternooon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Twenty Four Hours

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I was counting green clumps of Daffodil/Narcissus foliage and looking at Crocus buds and today it is all totally buried in a thick white blanket. It is still snowing and has been for the last 24 hours. Is that allowed in the south? Some blob seems to be stuck over the mountains.

It is so cold the Black Locust trees are doing their ominous cracking lumber sound like they are going to crash to the ground at any moment. That's just them barking a little. I don't think they are really planning to fall.

Got a full load in the pickup truck.

I haven't seen this much snow melt yet. We're headed back to 60 degrees by Sunday. It should be quick and hopefully painless.

Winter World

I'd say there is about 8 inches of snow and it is still piling up. We have drifts now. I'm feeling a little trapped. There is a very long snow covered driveway to get to the road.

As long as the power stays on I'll be content enough and well fed.

There is a looming crisis though. The birds get extra piggy when it snows and I am on the last dregs of bird food. I wonder if they'll like Ramen noodles?

Oh My Snow

The less than an inch and a half snow prediction has turned into more like 4 to 6 inches and growing.

When the wind stops blowing I'll have to go for a walk. In the mean time this may be the day that I finally vacuum the floors. Maybe.

Now the good news would be that this snow cover will keep the 245 clumps of bulbs protected at 32 degrees while the air outside plummets to a pipe freezing 17.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Count Before The Storm

It rained. It thundered. I would imagine there was lightning.

But during the lull between morning and late afternoon waves of this bipolar warm rain cold snow storm I went and took a second census of emerging bulbs. There has been a lot of progress.

I was surprised to find that there are now a lot of Crocus coming up. A few of them have blooms. They were not included in the count because they did not qualify as clumps.

The new count, are you ready..... is 245. That is almost double the 129 clumps of bulbs I counted one week ago today.

From a distance it still doesn't look like much is happening. A major part of this mountain meadow garden's charm is that you have to walk the meandering paths to really see what is going on. It literally is like a walk through the woods except that people who know plants will be shocked at the diversity in such a relatively small area of a forest.

So 245 clumps of bulbs knot 20 bulbs per clump ciphers to 4900 bulbs. At the more generous 25 bulbs per clump that is 6125 bulbs of the predominantly Daffodil/Narcissus looking foliage.

So far.

I gave up counting the Wood Hyacinth. It is beginning to look more like a carpet in spots than clumps.

The Pulmonaria are blooming a bit too. In a way that is a shame since they look so much better plant wise later in the year. It would be nice to have the flowers and full foliage together.

After the great bulb count I went back to work on the you know what.

The second dry stacked stone wall is turning out better than the first I think. The deliberate slower pace in fitting the stones is giving it tighter joints and a more polished uniform look. I am still worlds away from a truly fine stone mason.

Then it rained. It thundered. I would imagine there was lightning. The tiniest dollop of sun, a suggestion of warmth, was followed by a rapid cooling. The stones stopped fitting together and it was time to call it a day.

By the time I got next door the rain was sounding like kernels of rice landing on very dry paper, but it wasn't solid white rain yet. You couldn't see it. It's changed again since dinner and the world when I wake up will be winter white once more and back to 20 degrees.

I sure hope these bulbs know what they are doing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I got in my truck to go to the grocery store and it wandered off course for a bit. My current fascination with stone landed me here.

What was it used for?

A building made entirely of stone.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We Have Ignition

The weather diagnosis called for 100% rain. It must have evaporated before it got here. A grey blustery morning turned quite spring like by late afternoon. After a day of stacking stones I took a stroll through the ridge top garden to see what I would see.

The Snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) much like the Rhododendrons react to the cold by wilting. The flowers close, droop and the whole plant seemingly curls into itself trying to go back underground. The degree of their wilt increases as the temperature drops. Soon enough I may be able to tell the temperature by how tightly the Rhododendrons leaves are wrapped or how droopy the snowdrops are. In the warmth the opposite happens. The flowers open fully revealing the green edging in the center petals, announcing they are open for business.

I already know there are more clumps of bulbs I can see than when I took the census on Tuesday. I will take another census next week. I also think I need to up the average number of bulbs per clump to 25. And now I am seeing the first few actual flower buds. I sure hope there is not a repeat of the Great Easter Freeze of '07' that wiped out last year's bloom at its peak. I want my first year to be spectacular, to get me hooked so to speak.

This is what I believe to be the emerging foliage of the Wood Hyacinth or Spanish Bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica. It is not coming up so much in clumps as in waves and the waves are getting bigger.

These look suspiciously like Tulips which the resident gardeners dismiss on a regular basis as not being worth the hassle. Why waste your money on a mere annual? It must be those damn bulb catalogs with their alluring descriptions and big promises that make them succumb on occasion.

For now the snowdrops are all I have. It looks a bit like a bug ready to take flight.

But the Snowdrops are the first sign that I may have survived the winter intact.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is It Done yet?

I'm trying to get into the zen of being one with the stones, to patiently stack the new wall, to let it rise at its own pace, but I sure will be excited when I will be able to see it over the top of the first wall. Not there yet.

It creeps higher.

It does not leap. All the fetching slows things down.

There is still a lot of work to do.

"Ohhhh noooooooooooooo ..."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Diminishing Podge

Look. Over there.
The perk test pits are giving up their stones.
Yes way over there.

It has begun.
It's time to start fetching stones from afar.

The rockpodge nearby is fast disappearing.

Three of the monolithic stones were rolled
to the general area where they may eventually rest.
Something like that, but not that particular arrangement.
A gravel base needs to be slipped in beneath them
Before I bother with a final composition.

Or do I want soil for planting around them?

I don't know.
I'll think about it while I fetch stones.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

129 Clumps

The world's done froze up solid again and big fat flakes are whipping through the air. The view through the kitchen window to the ridge top gardens still looks firmly entrenched in winter greys and browns, but I know better.

Just before the arrival of the thickening curtain of large dry frozen flakes of cloud bits, in the strong chill wind, I went to go take a census. To the best of my ability crisscrossing the ridge top garden and not taking the same path twice I counted 129 clumps of mostly Daffodil/Narcissus type bulb foliage coming up through the leaf litter on top of the crunchy frozen ground, so far.

So far. I know there is another whole collection of summer bulbs, alliums and lilies that will appear. The iris and daylilies that are valiantly trying to turn green don't count as bulbs. I have heard talk of grand numbers of Wood Hyacinth or Spanish Bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica that grace this mountain ridge top. Maybe this other more rosette looking foliage arrangement I have been seeing belongs to them. Then again there are bound to be any number of lesser bulbs that are not tasty to squirrels, chipmunks and voles packed into the ground up here.

On a low average of 20 bulbs per clump at 129 clumps, so far we're looking at 2580 bulbs.

Then I wandered off to go look at rocks, particularly the ones in the piles of dirt left from the digging of the pits for the perk test and I discovered this odd looking red eyeball staring up at me from the ground.

Now how odd is that?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cold Fingers

One side is warm. The other side is cold. If the wind is blowing, the temperature don't matter. It just feels cold. Rain, rain, snow, wind, wind, rain, rain, rain, snow, wind. It has been a long time since I lived in a place that actually has weather on a regular basis.

We had a nice little downpour last night and I decided I needed to shore up my water diversionary measures above the cabin and the new wall. That just means I respread the soil I tossed up there sooner than expected.

After the rain comes the cold side. It wasn't windy so I went out in the fog to work on the wall. My fingers got too cold even with my rubber palmed, snug fitting, knit gardening gloves and my eyes didn't seem to be in focus, maybe it was the fog, so I had to stop for a while and come in to warm up. Sun it appears is helpful in the illusion of warmth.

The first course is in for the whole length and I am already running out of the bigger rocks. I'm gonna have to scour this mountain for enough big rocks to build this wall. I'm not worried about not having enough rocks. There's plenty. It's that extra fetching distance that is a bit daunting.

This afternoon the fog lifted and the sun did make an attempt to appear. I went back to wall building. It felt warm enough after a while to take off the top layer jacket and the knit hat.

"Look mommy, there is a scary man down there with really bad brown hair." Yes totally brown hair for the first time in like forever. My friggin hair has turned brown. I'm not a blond any more. I may have an identity crisis.

There are a few more stones in the wall.

And the first wall is still there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Let The New Wall Begin

In may not be noticeable in this rockpodge, but I have been scrubbing and sorting stones. I may have even acquired a bit of a tan on my exposed parts sitting out there on a bucket on my future sunny patio overlooking the valley of future botanical delights.

The face of the wall starts at five feet back from the center of the columns. With a small cafe table and chairs it might be a tiny bit of a squeeze between a table and the columns, but with six feet between each column and an overall size of 14' x 35' it shouldn't be too difficult to make an easy flow through the space. A simple basic path that winds through the columns will help determine the ultimate placement of the patio's features.

There are some monolithic stones I pulled out of the hill that are a real task to wiggle around. Too big really for me to get them into the wall. I will use some of them for a sculpture of some sort and have a few planting pockets in the future stone floor. These elements will help define a path.

Once all the stones are stacked into a wall I can dig out the rest of the patio floor to the proper depth and fill it with the packed gravel base.

This really is a BIG project. It is one thing to have a vision. It is something else entirely to actually do it. I am still weeks or even months away from completion. It has kept me busy through the winter and from going stir crazy, so it's a good thing.

The other really big thing I only showed you part of was the patch of Snowdrops.

Except for the ones that have escaped the patch, by self seeding I am guessing, both above and below it on the hill, that's the main patch. That's a nice big clump of Snowdrops.

And there are more and more bulbs poking up through the ground every day. The best is yet to come. The resident gardeners are a little bulb crazy.