Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tombstones For Annie

Hughes satellite internet service is moving with as much enthusiasm as the dead. The post I am working on could take a while and I am likely to give up soon and go to bed. I thought I'd do a short one in the meantime for Annie at The Transplantable Rose.

The Palmer Chapel cemetery marked the lives of many of the families of Cataloochee.

Annie it seems is fond of doing research in the US census and local records. From the name on a tombstone in a previous post she traveled back in time to assemble a partial portrait of the life of Elizabeth Hannah. Check out her comment in The Ghosts Of Gardeners Past.

This was an unusual name, 'Gudger'.

Infant mortality was well represented in the cemetery.

"Budded on earth to bloom in heaven." Only a people intimately connected to the earth could think of such things.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No Paint

Climb up there on that scaffolding and paint the corners and do a second coat.

No you climb up there. It's too cold and windy.

Just climb up there and paint. It's on the sunny side of the cabin.

I don't care what side it is on. The wind is still blowing and it isn't even fifty degrees. It's to dern cold.

Fine then. Do something else.

Like putting all the posts on the service entrance stairs kept me warm. It was still too cold and windy, but at least I was on the ground and not shivering fifteen feet in the air. The grand high temperature for the day was 53. I had to go stand in the sun every so often to warm myself like some reptile.

The diagnosed low for tomorrow is now 39, lower than this morning's low of 41.9. And the wind was still blowing for the third day.

The salmon pink sheffie mums are getting busy cause they know their days are numbered.

There is more Cataloochee coming up after I go through all the photos. I must say I picked the perfect day to go spend in the bottom of a valley out of the roaring chill wind.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Ghosts Of Gardeners Past

I drove into the wilderness of the nearby national park and ran smack dab into history. If I have my bearings right, often questionable in these hills, the mountain on the right horizon is the same Mt. Sterling I see from the deck at home. I can see it and I can drive towards it on steep, twisting and a great deal of gravel roads. It is hard to fathom what it was like to travel that short of a distance not so long ago. Where I went wasn't easy to get to now.

Many who arrived to this remote valley never left.

Bad blogger did not write down this family's name. I thought it was going to show up in the picture. This handsome group helped settled a remote southern Appalachian valley, one of the last parts of the east to be settled by white immigrants.

The story of two communities that reached just over 1200 before they were bought out to create a part of a national park lives on in the few remaining and restored structures.

A historic hoe was called the most used tool in the valley. Carol did you get to see a hoe at the farm house you went to?

I went to see and be in the wilderness. It was there. I saw it and went for a long walk in it. That is not what resonated with me though.

Imagining the lives, many of them quite short, of a people who walked into the wilderness to make a home for generations captured my attention.

A remnant of wallpaper clung to the ceiling.

Surely a gardener lived in this house in Big Cataloochee.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Chill Wind Blows

I have come to anticipate it after every storm. The memory is etched in my bones. It is a relief when it doesn't come. Not yet, it says.

Now it is here, that chill wind that roars through like a bat out of hell when the rains pass and the sky clears. This wind is in a hurry like it is filling some cavernous void. A tsunami of cold wind pushes over and through the mountains. In a day or two it will be satiated and the onslaught will pause.

The first of many waves that will follow. But first I must be in the here and now and enjoy the colors of fall that have yet to come. It is still to soon for the Long Underwear Moon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Brief Look Outside

The mon sooned at full force all day long. It seemed like a good idea to do a whole lot of nothing and have a good long afternoon nap. That was accomplished handily.

I stepped out at one point.

The Swiss cheese fog was still alive and wandering about.

The next big shock will hopefully be the sun before a diagnosed low of 41 on Tuesday morning. Forty one degrees. Lord here it comes.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Forced To Look

The monsoon is not conducive to evening strolls. Even if it isn't raining, the chest high, water heavy wildflowers make for a very moist walk about. So guess what, you get to look at insulation. Despite weather that is perfect for napping like Rip Van Winkle I have managed to stay busy and keep plugging away.

Inside the cozy cabin it is almost looking like there are actual walls.

So close. I need two more batts of the R-38 insulation for the living room roof. The hard part is going to be trying to buy just two when it comes in bales of eight.

Next comes the insulation in the floor. Extra framing is in place to make sure the sewer and water lines get a good heat holding blanket to keep the contents inside in liquid form on those days when it gets to -4 or some such horrendous winter digit.

But it was about to start raining again and I was not going to start dragging insulation down below the house to get that project started.

I added the first few posts to the service entrance landing instead. Then it poured. Again.

You have been so good about looking at insulation that I have a nice forest edge scene to gaze upon.

Two blue asters, the New England Aster and the Blue Wood Aster bloom in the sunny utility meadow while the maples begin to turn.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Complex Clouds

A twenty year sojourn in the desert may have skewed my thinking a bit. I thought it rained a lot when there was a drought the last two years. Granted my elevation and the vagaries of mountain terrain just guarantee there will be more rain and clouds up here than down below.

Now, in this year of the monsoon, the clouds have become community members that I walk among. Many mornings find them sleeping in the valley down below.

They are often late risers, waiting until the sun is high in the sky to get moving. The clear sky above promised a respite from the monsoon rains. It would be a good day to paint the high reaches of the cozy cabin while the scaffolding is still here.

So I painted and caulked a seam around the corner that had not already been done. The previous day's caulk was not quite dry so I painted around that for now.

The sky got darker as the day moved on. Tall billowing black heads of clouds passed by. The painting ended to give it time to dry in case the monsoon decided to return. Back inside the cabin the insulation in the roof was near complete. I was short two batts of R-38 insulation. Poop. So close to having the entire inside insulation completed.

The framing to box in and insulate the water and sewer lines beneath the cabin was cut and put together. Now the entire sky is ominous and black. One piece of the framing is attached beneath the cabin and it commences to pour.

A third of an inch falls in half an hour and the hard rain moves on. The clouds drag their feet across the mountain top in a Swiss cheese fog. The monsoon hesitates sputtering rain.

The diagnosis is for more.

More clouds, more rain, more. I will walk among them doing what can be done.

The extended diagnosis looks sunny for next week. Everything that needs doing with scaffolding will hopefully get done.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Light Blue Froth

Symphyotrichum cordifolium is gaining momentum. It is the star of the late fall wildflowers, turning the ridge top garden into an ocean of pale blue.

The White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima is fading away.

We watch and wait for the crescendo of the light blue froth of fall.

The Picture I Wanted

I stopped at the cozy cabin to apply some caulk on the siding/corner trim seam during a break in the monsoon before heading off to Client # 1's. The light was much better this morning than when I had made a previous attempt to capture this image. In really low light conditions without a tripod, chances of me getting a sharp image are pretty low. So I do a little computer magic editing when that happens and I still like the concept and feel of an out of focus image.

This is what I was after.

Repetition is an important element of good landscape design. We'll just say the same can apply to garden blogging.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Creeping In

Monday, September 21, 2009

Standing Tall

The deluge portion of the resurgent monsoon has arrived. Floppage was already running rampant with the taller end of season bloom heavy wild flowers. With the deluge I am afraid for many we may have reached the "Help I've fallen and can't get back up" phase.

There are a few tough stalwarts who will not be bowed. Solidago canadensis with its more compact and conical flower head and tough woody stems stands up to the extremes. Its naked stems are often still standing in spring after winter's long torments.

I was out stalking another tough contender during the morning drizzle for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contest when the goldenrod caught my eye and said take a picture of me.

This month's topic for the photo contest is ornamental grasses. I wasn't worried as I surveyed the bent and leaning inhabitants of the front roadside bed. I knew the grasses would be just fine. Nature's furies pass through, leaving them unscathed. They stand all winter when others succumb to winter's burdens. Hints of green at the base are the signals for a spring haircut and another season of fresh flowing texture in the garden.

The contest judge this month is Nan Ondra. She said she is looking for The One and will just know it when she sees it. I have looked at quite a few of the entries on my pitiful Hughes satellite internet in the midst of a thick monsoon over head and know that my submission will not be The One Nan chooses. It is a sweet picture, but I saw plenty with more enticing wow factor. I enter anyway in the spirit of sharing the diverse and beautiful world of ornamental grasses.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

My miscanthus are still babies and have not reached their full wow potential. I bought one pot two years ago and have been dividing it for the last two seasons in order to fill this front roadside bed with a substantial mass of grass. One pot is now twelve plants and plenty for this bed. Next year they should be reaching the full impact I have envisioned in my mind. I will try my best to leave most of them undivided next year. More division is bound to happen though. The design principle of repetition says that this grass must be repeated in other parts of the garden. It divides so well and I got plenty room, so why not.

Mixed with ox-eye daisy, chicory, ironweed, New England aster, echinops and Verbena bonariensis, the waving miscanthus will be a silvery green bed punctuated with blue, purple and snow white blossoms peaking through the blades of grass. The late spring accent of golden yellow Foxtail Lily and the late summer maroon red velvet of the hibiscus 'Cordial' will strike a different note in turn.

Next year my ornamental grass will be ready for its closeup and a picture of that could be The One.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Berry Wet

You didn't want to see pictures of insulation did you?

Insulation is boar..ring.

The Monsoon Puddles


Friday, September 18, 2009

Resurgent Monsoon

Slipping in and out of a fog.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mountain Research Station

Ten hours of continuing education are required to keep my ornamental and turf commercial pesticide applicators license current during the five year period it is valid. Without these credits the license will expire and I will have to take the test again. Not that that would be much of a strain, but taking the classes is some what enjoyable and it takes me places I haven't been yet.

For the first time I went to a class at the Haywood County Cooperative Extension Center. I had not been down this road before.

The Haywood County Extension office is across the street from the Mountain Research Station.

Who knew a rural state government facility could be so picturesque.

Granted they are trying to educate and set an example. This was one very tidy facility.

Now if they had only had big picture windows in the classrooms across the street, two hours of talk on calibrating pesticide applications and personal and environmental safety precautions would have been even more enjoyable.

The View From The Back Porch

Of the cozy cabin.

In the grand scheme of things and I do mean grand, the right half of this, mostly out of the view, will become a large outdoor patio connecting the cozy cabin and a future small two bedroom house. Wouldn't stone be a nice medium to use for such a project.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The first annual (hopefully) West Asheville Garden Stroll ends where I started it, at the end. The LaZoom tour bus was acting as a shuttle bus for the day. I got on and went to the end of the line to start my stroll. The tour bus hostess was most helpful in getting people pointed in the right direction and noting points of interest along the way.

The garden stroll can be viewed in order, the opposite direction that I strolled it. I tend to stroll through life that way.

Part 1 Here
Part 2 Here
Part 3 Here

Hmm. What is this, a tumbled arch intact? Someone here is playing with stone. This could be interesting.

Then you look up. Holy Moly. It's Wamboldtopia.

This garden space is the love child of Damaris and Ricki Pierce, artist and stone mason creating in collaboration. It must be seen to be believed. Ten years in the making and still a living work in progress. That certainly is no surprise to a real gardener or a certain someone with unfinished stone walls.

The magical spirits of nature have been invited into the garden in a big way.

Talk about your grand entrance.

The perennial problem with chain link fences gets an entirely new approach. It would be interesting to see the finished project.

Grotto extraordinaire.

A house of vinyl siding is transformed.

The tower.

The man behind this incredible stone work is Ricki Pierce, the Rock Pirate.

What can one say when talent, art and dedication enter the garden and take you to a different world, but wow.

Thank you to everyone involved in the West Asheville Garden Stroll, the volunteers, gardeners and home owners who opened their homes for inspection, the West Asheville business sponsors and community of West Asheville. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.