Sunday, July 31, 2011


The fresh sweet corn minutes from the garden was 'ono with last night's dinner. The question asked was will there be more? Well we are having a very good crop and the raccoon hasn't been by to collect his tax. I'd say we can get another four meals from this row of corn.

I spoke to soon.

Last night the stinkin' varmint ate 80% of the sweet corn. All the big ears closest to harvest were chewed down to the cob. Plenty more were half gnawed and other stalks still in silk were just busted and beyond repair. My sweet corn was harvested. At least I got a small sample.

It's all tidied up and ready for the next invasion when the remaining sweet corn might be ready to eat. The second sowing is weeks away from harvest. I'll get one more chance this year for a good crop of tax free home grown sweet corn eaten minutes from the garden.

The tomatoes are ripening and the first ripe juicy tomatoes fresh from the vine were added to tonight's dinner. That should help distract from the carnage of the sweet corn.

Can this vegetable garden be salvaged before the clock runs out? As the sunflowers finish blooming, their heads are being cut off and stuck in a sack to dry. Their remains are impaled on the rickety split rail fence and left for the birds to peck. I want full sunshine in the roadside vegetable garden for late season sowing.

Carrots, parsnips, lettuce, radish and vain attempts at cucumbers could keep the garden active until the first frost. Carrots and parsnips will be fine long after first frost. I should throw in more turnips. Sister cooked some while visiting that passed the doubter's test with flying colors. We can call for the recipe.

The roadside vegetable garden was tidied and the Lush was attacked on multiple fronts. Hard to tell from this picture I know, but blackberries were slaughtered by the dozens on this slope. I have things planted there. I don't mind eating blackberries. I hate being stabbed by them. The ones here don't even have the decency to be a stab and release variety. These are a stab, grab and burrow in kind. Hate em.

An executive decision was made to move one of the Bosnian Pines to a sunnier location. It was never going to get enough sun on the slope below the scenic byway except in winter and that isn't the right time of sun really.

It joins the grouping of the Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula' and the Heptacodium miconioides. I'll have to correct this onesey thing starting in this bed at some point. It makes the designer me a little crazy. I'm still wanting to try some holly trees. The Ilex x meserveae cultivars look best for my cold and elevation. A couple of those would correct the onesey problem and make much headway in my evergreen screening for winter privacy and winter interest.

And one sewer line bed got its full complement of soil insulation. It is ready for a layer of wood chip mulch. Somehow a rhubarb landed in there. They say you need big foliage near bodies of water.

Mostly I am feeling stumped on what to plant here. It will come in time or maybe it should just be a holding pen.

It was a productive weekend at Ku'ulei 'Aina. It has to be because the clock is always ticking towards winter lock down.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another Hibiscus

Friday, July 29, 2011

Japanese Stone Structure

Until now I have never been asked to specifically design a Japanese garden. After a discussion in which I made clear flowers were not really involved and the response was I don't want no stinkin' flowers that need deadheading, I thought well I can do this. It will be a new challenge for me. It may not be an authentic Japanese garden according to code, but I can get you there.

I should have taken a before picture of course. So imagine if you will the stone edging on both sides of the gravel/flagstone path being rigid straight lines. Imagine the flagstone being a solid flooring with much less gravel in between the stones.

Now imagine me fetching and moving rocks, flagstone and 53 bags of gravel over a four day period during the hottest and most humid spell of the summer.

The Japanese garden is now ready to plant. It needs one hose pot to join the other large pot that was requested it be incorporated into the garden. The big pot will need to be replanted with something other than annuals.

Until now I have also never been asked to build a fountain. The client sent me a link to step by step instructions for building a pondless fountain. I just built my own house and had never done that before. I can surely follow the directions and build a little fountain. So I dug a deep hole and made a pondless fountain.

My first thought for a Japanese fountain was a nice stone with a hole drilled through it and the water bubbling up through the stone. There was online looking and much discussion about the fountain. Around the corner other construction was in progress and the flagstone path that leads to the back had been pulled up and stacked randomly in a pile. The client saw that and said make me a fountain like this pile of flagstones. I think I like the look of that. Alrighty then. I can do that.

The top piece of flagstone and the smoother rounded stone on top need to have holes drilled through them. If you look back at the first picture you can see the pump hose on the back side of the fountain. The pump hose is being held temporarily in place on top with the much smaller cap stone. I also want to get the next size larger pump to crank up the water flow a bit more.

Building this fountain was pretty dern easy. Digging the hole was the hardest part. I may need one of these for the garden to be.

Now imagine some Japanese type shrubberies to go with the Weeping Blue Atlas Ceder that started the whole thing. I moved that too from the dead center of a straight arrow, rigidly formed bed against the house to a new home in my first Japanese garden.

Now I just need one Japanee Inspectormans to see if my first Japanese garden passes code.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Second Hibiscus

Early in the morning before it fully opened.

One grouping of the thousands of Black-Eyed Susans

When it gets like this the weeds aren't so noticeable.

It's Lush out there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The First Joe Pye

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There Are Some Things I Like

About the organized line of garbage that is the edging for the cabin side bed.

I like the visual play of the different colors of glass and the way the light plays with the bottles.

I really like how rain water adds to the play of light. Snow should be fun too, at least until it is so deep the bottles disappear.

My OCD wants the line and depth of the bottles much more precise. So far I have resisted. That would be much easier if I was working in sand instead of dirt mixed with gravel and rock. That can be a project for another time.

There are some things I like about the chaos that has engulfed the roadside vegetable garden. All those wildflowers and weeds keep a healthy and diverse insect population in the garden for pollination. Overall I have next to no insect problems. My biggest issue is losing sprouting seedlings, but once a plant gets going, nothing insect wise really bothers the vegetables. There is no need at all for pesticides, organic or otherwise.

The sunflowers have already started to attract the seed eaters. Some of those birds are likely to eat insects too.

There is a great deal of cheerfulness and instant gratification with the sunflowers while the larger gardens slowly come into being. It feels like something has actually been accomplished. They also attract photographers. I saw two cars stop on Sunday for pictures. It is only fair that with all the pictures I take of other people's gardens that my garden should be on the other end of a stranger's camera.

After two seasons with too many sunflowers, I am becoming convinced that they do decrease my yields of produce. The sunflowers are hogs plain and simple. They compete for all the necessary resources of food, water and sunshine. More than anything they cast a good deal of shade on the shorter vegetables.

There are some things I do like about all those sunflowers, but they have to go. Next year I promise, as God as my witness, I will be ruthless in pulling them out. Just maybe a few can stay.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Making An Entrance

Even on my day off from work work I wake up with a list of things I want to get done. Eventually I get started. A mental list can be a hard enough thing to follow, more so when your list is longer than the speed you move at. I tend to be rather methodical. I don't like to hurry.

Today I was determined to at least finish the bottle edging along the cabin side bed. Those half finished projects have a certain nagging effect.

When I come home or when company comes, it would be nice if the entrance to the cozy cabin said welcome instead of under construction.

Well I finally got all the way around to the service entrance.

The bed of weeds along the shore of Turd Blossom Lake was sprayed a while back. I still need to add more insulation fill in this bed over the sewer line. I sneak buckets of dirt in there when I can. The weeds were growing so lush though they were beyond simple burial. And just maybe if I get this bed filled and mulched, it might could get planted with something to make the entrance to Hale Mana that much more inviting before winter sets in. Did I mention I am rather methodical?

It's starting to shape up. More definition and less clutter.

And then I felt screw the list. I am going to keep going with the bottle edging. I couldn't have just one side of the walkway to the front steps done.

I step back and have a look at things from time to time. That is part of the process and part of being methodical. One thing I noticed was that the rocks started right by the back service entrance. It felt like my plan for bottle edging on the left side of the steps would not be in balance. That side needed some rock.

Well I got rocks, real close by even, so I added some rocks to the bottle edging for an overall balance in the bigger picture. We'll see if it works after stepping back and looking a whole bunch of times.

I'm still not sure I like the whole thing. In ways it looks like I have edged my house with crappy rocks and an organized line of garbage.

All those nice houses where I work work have plenty of store bought rocks and expensive garden ornaments. I know I have rock envy. Not so much for the chotskies.

But I try to make beauty with what I got.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Sunflower Tower

Perhaps I should just give up on this vegetable nonsense.

The sunflowers want to rule the patch.

A Look At The Ridge Top Garden

My evening strolls have been short and hurried of late. Too many things that need tending to for my tastes. But that will pass in time. The forest shade garden comes into its summer prime whether anyone pays attention or not. I wander through quickly.

When the forest drops you rotten logs, plant them.

The gardener's house of worship.

In the sunnier spot.

A lavender/pink Monarda. I like this color better than the common red.

Until next time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Lesson In Signs

After work work there was time for a little water meditation and a few other small chores in the roadside vegetable garden. It was nice after a hot day to be up high on the low spot where it was a good 10 degrees cooler.

One of my local neighbors - so local his family name is still seen on old and abandoned buildings in the upper reaches of Spring Creek - stopped to say hi. And by stopped I mean he turned off his car, left it in right there in the middle of the scenic byway and got out to talk story. They'll figure it out he said.

The subject of vegetables came up rather naturally, so I said come on in. You can see it better from inside.

Well I'll be darned. Look at all this. Everything looks good and no disease. What do you feed them with?

Just wood chips for mulch and cow or chicken manure at planting.

And when do you till?

I don't. That's what God made earthworms for. The only tilling that gets done is when I dig for taters - and rocks - and I move those rows every year.

The sunflowers? They just come up on their own now and I thin them out. Not enough obviously.

Sugar snap peas and strawberries were sampled. Advice was delivered. Questions asked. Then I learned about the signs.

The creator put the moon up there for a purpose. I plant by the signs.

What followed was an example filled lesson in the knowledge the ancestors of these hills used in many of their activities from digging post holes to killing weeds to when to plant root crops, berries, fruits or even plant a lawn versus a hay field. Each had an optimum aspect in the first second or third quarter and the right productive sign in the cycle for best results. There was a right time to begin things and a right time to end things. It was all determined by the signs.

Yes there really is a vegetable garden in here. You just have to come inside to see it. But it was the sunflowers that encouraged him to stop.

I had seen other signs in the roadside vegetable garden yesterday. Big shoe prints right through a newly seeded row. Those feet were too big for Bulbarella. Who had been in the roadside vegetable garden? The prints led straight to a sunflower and right back out they way they came through the middle of my newly seeded row. Other than the shoe prints nothing looked disturbed. Was it a picture taker?

It seems so strange that with all the different kinds of flowers in this particular spot on the scenic byway, it is the common ordinary sunflowers that seem to have the most magnetic draw.

Uncle Ernie wasn't talking so I could only guess what a big footed person was doing in my roadside vegetable garden. Once you come inside it is obvious this isn't just an extraordinary patch of weeds. You are in someone's garden. The mailbox, driveway and cozy cabin nearby are additional signs that you just might be in someone's front yard.

Then I looked closer. The big footed person had actually been cutting sunflowers to go. There were signs. The multi stemmed sunflowers had several of the side flowers cleanly cut off with a sharp instrument. The big footed person was a flower thief.

It seems so strange that with all the different kinds of flowers in this particular spot on the scenic byway, it is the common ordinary sunflowers that seem to have the most magnetic draw.

If there's one thing I got it is abundance. I can only be so annoyed if Bubba Earl needed a few sunflowers for a special occasion. The signs showed this was a judicious selection and not a grab fest. Care was taken not to step on the visible vegetable plants and to make the pilferage nearly invisible.

Time will only lead to more abundance. The attractive nuisance I maintain along the scenic byway can only get worse. The Ratibida columnifera I seeded in the spring is joining the exuberant chaos that I call a garden. Perhaps it is understandable that without a lawn and horribly shaped shrubberies people are confused into thinking this is a wild place.

Maybe I need to put up a sign.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kitties Don't Mind Ugly

As a matter of fact, kitties were spending a lot of time in and around this balancing pile of rocks. Despite it not wiggling in the least and being amazingly stable, I could not get the idea out of my head of 70 pounds of solid rock sitting on top of 7 pounds of kitty.

The ugly balancing pile of rocks was dismantled. It is now just a more organized pile of rocks than before.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Meditation In Stone

So I did a whole lot of nothing the other day. I started out weeding around some of my baby shrubberies and then this pile of rocks by my front steps called out to me. They had been laying there for so long. I spent the next four hours stacking stones just to see what would appear.

So I accomplished nothing productive and for the four hours I was stacking stones I thought about nothing productive, no chores, no jobs, no garden strolls, nothing.

My only thoughts were about how to make these rocks balance.

The thing is ugly, really ugly. I so wish at times I had fancy flat and rectangular rocks, but I don't. These are the rocks I got. I imagine in its next life this thing will become part of a new wall I have planned. I certainly don't want this ugly thing by my front door permanently. It is surprisingly steady though. Doesn't even wiggle.

Then it became boring.

Time to head to the roadside vegetable garden to seed the new empty rows where the taters were. It's getting quite lush in there behind the wildflower surround. I ate my first ripe cherry tomato. Quite delish.

Yes some where in all that vegetable lush are two whole empty rows. I seeded carrots, parsnips, radish and two kind lettuce. I think I should seed some more cucumbers. They have been so ornery this year. Maybe it is warm enough for them now.

Now I can meditate on water. The rains have been too sporadic for seed germination so these new rows will need to be kept moist.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not So Bad

It was like a ray of sunshine appeared

After the massive black locust limb that crashed to the ground was all cut up, cleaned up and all that was left was a half section of trunk split down the middle length wise and left as a planter box.

That huge limb managed to fall right through the middle of the rhododendrons and only took out two branches. By all reasoning they should have been crushed to a pulp.

The chain saw was in a fine mood and actually sharp. I was not expecting to be able to do the entire cleanup myself with such a light weight chain saw. But I did. A nice stack of firewood is ready for the brothers to split when they come to visit.

It was really quite amazing. The huge trunks fell mostly in the path and missed most of the hosta and astilbe. The 30 foot limb went right through the bed of rhododendrons and missed them all. And the ancient black locust tree is still there. The best part was the big main trunks were rotten inside. Otherwise that chain saw never would have gotten through such hard as steel wood and the job would only be half done.

And we got some firewood and a new planter log in the bargain.

But it wore me out. I dug the taters from the roadside vegetable garden and slowed to a snail's pace as the day wound down.

Tomorrow I may do nothing. Fat chance. Let's just say I will sleep late, start slow and putter slowly throughout the day.

I now have empty rows in the roadside vegetable garden where the taters used to be. I'm thinking lettuce, carrots and parsnips.