Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Last Daffodil

Last year on April 29th there was freezing rain and snow. This beautiful native azalea was cut down in its prime. So far we have escaped that fate. The Dogwood winter it is called.

The ridge top garden is bursting with new blooms and new growth every where you look.

The Camassia blooms unhindered by bitter blasts of cold. Hopefully this past cold, snowy and wet winter is satisfied and will not be back to strike another damaging blow.

The hundreds of iris wouldn't be bothered much. Open blooms might be lost, but the still closed and swelling buds would survive.

The azaleas flowers would be toast if another hard freeze should befall us.

I'm not quite sure how the rhododendrons would react to such an event.

The fothergilla was lost last year too.

There is nothing in the extended diagnosis to warrant such worries. I even got bold and planted pole bean seeds today. It is just that with so much is going on, there is so much that could be lost in its prime.

It is important to go for a stroll everyday to be sure that you see everything while you can. Even barring any cold disasters, the show changes everyday, another reason that regular evening strolls make good sense.

So you might understand why the last, latest blooming and quite nice daffodil may have been overlooked, tucked away in a fading Bulbhilla.

It did not get its closeup until maybe two days past its prime, but I saw it.

Aunty Em!

Aunty Em!

There, there, quiet now. You just had a bad dream.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two Gardens

There is one garden here that requires no attention at all. No weeding, watering, fertilizing or mulching. Nothing, nada, zip is done to it and still it puts on seasonal displays of interest and grandeur.

I might be imagining things and it could just be a normal function of surviving the winter, there just seems to be more wildflowers on the forest floor this spring. It is possible that the Great Easter Freeze of '07' and a late freeze and snow last year on April 29th dampened my first viewing of this natural display.

There are at least four species of violets and four species of trilliums. Bloodroot, Chickweed, Geranium, Dicentra, Spring Beauty, Toothworts, Larkspur and the various Anemone species to name just a few, add to the delicate carpet of colors that glitter in the mottled light of a brown forest floor converting into green.

The trilliums gather in waves that wash down the forest slope.

There are more Dogwoods this year as well. Driving the local roads reveals this normally hidden small tree is quite abundant. The dogwood with its large petals stands out from the numerous other white, spring blooming tree species that color the still thin canopy.

This is a versatile tree, equally at home in the wild forest and the cultivated garden.

The Dogwoods in this garden were not planted. They were saved and incorporated into the wild cultivated garden.

A double flowered cherry tree was added in the tended garden that grows here. Behind it, down through a valley to the stream and up the slope to my place is one half of the garden that is never tended, only enjoyed.

If you count the roadside vegetable garden and the sunny utility meadow as separate gardens, there would be four distinct gardens on this mountain.

A fifth one at my place is taking shape.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No More Daffodils

Maybe. That show is pretty much over. There is one very late bloomer that is quite nice and I may not be able to resist taking its picture.

The warm weather of this past week has turned a page on spring. Late spring brings an entire new cast of characters to the stage. The un-named, unknown exbury/native azaleas and the rhododendrons are preparing themselves for their time in the spotlight.

Some get an earlier start than others.

The iris of all kinds that have been growing their sword shaped leaves since the first hint of longer days, through all kinds of inclement frigid weather have begun to bloom.

There are hundreds more to come. A second year in a row of good bloom has Bulbarella reconsidering her past decision to give up on them. "Maybe I'll order some more and spread these around to new places."

Maybe we should plant a little garden next door along the pullout and people will think twice before using this spot as a landfill. The convicts were here today and pulled all of that trash out that had been dumped over the steep side.

Fortunately we do not have to look over that trash filled edge.

Looking down to the lower hills and out to the distant peaks, the world is turning green again and we can't see all the clutter that collects under the house.

A Turdbox Moon

The sun, the moon, the stars and planets move with such precision that astronomers can predict exactly where they will all be next week and at precisely what time. They can back track 10,000 years and tell you at what point a certain constellation rose over the horizon and where it was on a given date and time. The workings of the universe are filled with precision on an exacting scale.

I live in a different world. I have a turdbox that sank an inch and a quarter over the winter. The effluent must now overflow the tank and move uphill a short distance faster than it can leak from the tweaked rubber gasket seal around the drain line to get to the drain field. That is if I could create effluent in the turdbox, but I can't. Even having sunk an inch and a quarter, as I suspected last fall, my turdbox is too high. My terlet will not flow into this turdbox using the basic principle of gravity.

The leaning apple trees of the drain field wait patiently for a solution to the troubles with the turdbox.

An adjustment is in order. I dug a five foot deep hole to find the drain line on the opposite side of the cabin from the turdbox. Some measuring found that the drain line drops three feet along this distance when only 14 inches is needed. That leaves 22 inches to play with. More than enough to have gravity flush my terlet into the turdbox without having a main sewer line suspended in the air on the way to its destination.

The turdbox will need to be pumped or siphoned dry and dropped another 18 inches deeper. Then the drain line can be reset along the run next to the cabin. With a trackhoe that won't be much more difficult than adjusting the line of rocks in the roadside vegetable garden to a more pleasing and uniform appearance.

It felt so much better after the rocks lining the flower bed had been fixed. No more squiggly line to bother me or the planes flying over head. Plus I gained a bit more room in the vegetable garden.

The septic system installer is coming by this afternoon to have a look at things. Hopefully he will agree to our preferred solution of lowering the tank at minimal or no cost without a lot of fuss. I do not want to have a digesting pump in my future. It is just another thing to buy, install, power and maintain.

Gravity is free and predictable. I want some of that kind of precision for my turdbox.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Wild Cultivated Garden

The brain is slightly fried. The body needs to lay down.

Several warm days in a row have set things in motion.

The garden is on the cusp of May Dreams, when the sun is warm, the skies are blue, the grass is green, and the garden is all new again!

Moving a little more slowly, the garden tour still can't be missed. Something new is likely to be blooming everyday.

The warm nights have caused a major shift for the Spots. Our evening stroll is their morning walk and reconnaissance mission for a night of prowling the grounds.

Dinner, sunset, blogging,


Friday, April 24, 2009

Destiny Pursues Me

When I made the decision of what type of career I wanted to spend my life doing, I also knew it would not be a career that was noted for its income potential. I could not see myself stuck behind a desk and stuck inside. It would be far more preferable to work at something I enjoyed, even if it meant I was not going to get wealthy.

That choice has worked out as predicted. I know how to prune this overgrown apple tree, one of four that line the fence at the top of the ridge top garden without any fear. A degree in ornamental horticulture and twenty years of experience in landscape design and maintenance has prepared me well.

Client #5 was added today, right after my first day of work for Client #4. My life as a peasant gardener is back on track. Sigh. I can recommend planting Iberis sempervirens as an evergreen ground cover for steep sunny slopes.

The living laboratory I call home includes the mundane, the tough, the fussy and native and non-native survivors of a high elevation garden. Plant geeks live here and the collection is rather extensive. Oddities like Darmera peltata bloom before the leaves rise in the spring. I learn these things from interest and by osmosis.

"You lived in Hawaii for the last twenty year?" He knows the names of so many of these plants. "You're hired."

Many of the newer fancy gated communities where my preferred client base chooses to build are high atop the mountains. The view is up there. I have the gardening at an elevation experience advantage now as well. If something like this pops out of nowhere I can tell them what it is or suggest planting some in moist seeps that flow down their steep hillside gardens. The Darmera pompoms have spread some.

The Primula have been planted in several locations only recently I think. Will they reproduce? Will they spread themselves about? A peasant gardener wants to know.

In the twenty years on Maui I never looked for work. Jobs found me and I took many of them, sometimes resisting and fussing when saying yes. A career unfolded without much direction from me. Jobs were as plentiful as the purple violets of spring in the mountain forests of North Carolina. I often lamented there not being a small business component of the landscape degree program and my cursed lack of the gene for greed.

It took a while for me to place a real value on the work and craft that I offer my clients. Hopefully it won't take me that long to charge what I am actually worth as phase two of my career unfolds with grace and kindness, with no effort on my part. The peasant gardener of the high mountains has two feet in the door.

Who am I to resist destiny when it is graciously offered for the taking?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Clandestine Garden Moments

The first coat of the finish color is on the front porch roof framing. The rough electrical upgrades are done, including the TV, internet and phone wiring. An additional exterior electric plug on the front porch was roughed in.

I steal away briefly to get some gardening done. Six divisions were made from the half of one hosta given to to me and planted down in the drain field garden with the daffodils from last fall.

Another smaller leaved hosta was also divided into six pieces and planted along what will be another path leading to the drain field garden from the upper part of the driveway.

The roadside vegetable garden got some attention on this fine, sunny and warm day. I seeded some more sugar snap peas and spinach to fill in the gaps. Lettuce, snap peas, spinach, beets, radish and leeks have all germinated and live after the eight inches of snow from a couple of weeks ago and the light snow yesterday. It's not like it has really been warm yet either until today. Warmth should speed things up a bit and visible rows of green will become noticeable.

On the left is one of Bulbarella's flower beds that frames the roadside vegetable garden. It is on a slight rise above the level of the vegetable garden and I have been defining its edges with rocks picked from the soil as the appear.

In this long shot I am not liking the line of this bed at all. I think it will need to be adjusted. Much of my gardening just flows naturally working with the land as it is, knowing full well it can be refined over time. Sometimes I just need to plant things. Sometimes I just need to garden.

Still I can't have the planes flying over head and looking down on this squiggly line.

The apple trees are coming into full bloom. One of my suggested chores is to give the apple trees a major thinning/pruning to encourage better apple production. Now they make tons of small apples. The preference is for fewer large apples.

A species tulip, Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' perhaps, is said to perennialize better than most tulips. This patch is making another appearance. There are some nice looking tulips in this group.

Next comes the plumbing.

But tomorrow I will go do some work for Client #4. There might be a little time left over for my own new garden when I get back.