Sunday, March 31, 2013

Antique Trash

Several times a year I walk the last quarter mile of the scenic byway in Haywood County, NC and pick up the trash on the side of the road because it annoys me. Both sides of the road make a half mile of highway that I try to keep tidy. Today was trash day.

I pulled an amazing amount of trash off the slope below the byway in the garden becoming when I first got started. I can still find the occasional buried beverage container when I weed or plant on that slope. When I finally moved into the cozy cabin I cleaned up all the trash on the property below me 50 yards into the forest because I could see it from my windows in the barren of winter. Looking at all that trash was annoying.

The forest can do a pretty good job of absorbing all that rubbish by burying it in an annual layer of leaf litter, twigs and branches. Wind blows it deeper into the forest and erosion on steep slopes can bury it in the soil. After a long winter of plenty rain, snow and freeze thaw, some of that crap can get pushed back to the surface.

Today I found trash that could have been tossed out by some slob 40 or 50 years ago. Upper 10? I had to google it. It is a lemon lime soda made by the no longer in business RC Cola. Pepsi-Cola in a spiral bottle. When was the last time anyone saw one of these? A soda was only 10 ounces back then whenever these were tossed. Triple that portion for today's Big Gulps in styrofoam and plastic.

The number one trash item along the scenic byway is beverage containers. Sodas first, beer second. Empty Mountain Dews full of chewing tobacco spittle compete strongly with beer cans for second place. Those are special.

After trash I went next door and dug up a bunch of suckers from the Annabelle hydrangeas to plant in my garden, moved a couple buckets of rocks into the heiau and took a nap as it started to rain again.

The last quarter mile of scenic byway in Haywood County, NC is tidy again for the next day or two. I doubt many people will notice, but it feels good to me when I drive by.

Looking out over the cozy cabin and the garden becoming it sort of dawned on me that in that last five and half years I have completely changed the experience of what it means to drive to the top of Betsys Gap. Give me scenic and I'll kick it up a notch to inspiring. Then I'll pick up the trash.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

As If It Is Spring

The not rain turned into rain during the night. There was less snow on the ground when I woke up than when it got dark the night before. An almost 60 degree day with neither rain nor not rain melted the rest. I got busy before the next round of wet arrives tonight.

At work this week a whole batch of red twig dogwoods fell out of the ground and followed me home. As best I can tell this is the variegated Cornus alba 'Elengantissima'. The mother plants were in a tiny narrow bed between the driveway and a wall. I thinned out the rooted side branches to give the other plants in the tiny bed more room. They spent the night heeled into the dung pile since I wasn't sure when I would be able to plant.

I couldn't just throw them away. So I brought them home and found places to plant them. There were seventeen rooted cuttings that were planted in ten locations. Six were planted in the garden becoming.

Four were planted along the scenic byway above the chimney and just out the mowing zone. If they do well this could look sharp in winters to come.

It was time. The grasses in the roadside flower bed got cut down. Perhaps this will force spring to really arrive. One clump was dug, divided and replanted at the far end of Bulbarella's section of the sunny utility meadow. I have been trying to add a bit more structure and flow in there. The grasses are a strong visual presence in the wild Lush that help add some cohesion to it all.

A real garden is beginning to take shape as more and more shrubberies follow me home.

I need to give up the notion that my garden is going to blend in with the forest up here. There will be too many evergreens, too many understory shrubs, too many flowers. One day my garden will stand out like a flower bomb exploded on top of the mountain.

It will have a naturalistic feel and the tall flower meadow will weave its way through the entire thing during the time of the Lush. More native spring ephemerals, particularly trilliums can be added for an earlier beginning to the garden. These things will help blend the garden into its wild surroundings, but it is going to stand out as a garden in the wilderness to people passing by. To bad.

Here it is almost April 1st and we are still in crocus mode. A lot of the daffodils that had sent up flower stalks on schedule have been damaged by all this late winter weathers. The bloom stalks have been bent or frozen. This won't be the best year for daffodils.

This is a time when the theory of more proves it is worth the lust and the effort. On a mountain top covered with blooming annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubberies and trees, many things will do just fine. When spring does arrive, the bloom will be on.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Is This Rain?

Does this look like rain to you? I wasn't looking forward to a weekend of rain, but this doesn't look like rain to me.

It has been raining since I got back around three this afternoon. Around six the rain started to stick. I really don't think this is rain. Where's my rain? What is going on here?

If it's not going to rain one would think a little sunshine would be called for. I have seeds waiting to germinate. I have new baby shrubberies that fell out of the ground and followed me home that need planting.

Rain is supposed to melt things. I don't see anything melting. I don't think this is rain.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Spring Tonic Has Sprung

Now if spring is here to stay, there could be ramps and eggs soon.

The crocus could finish blooming.

And the bulbapaloozathon will begin.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now Melt

That was fun. It finally stopped snowing around 10 this morning.

The sun came out without a single cloud in the sky.

I played with shadows.

Now melt. It is time for Miscanthus 'Winter's Light' to come down.

It is time for spring.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Deep Snow In The High South

Just over the hill is the roadside vegetable garden.

I expect my lettuce, spinach and two kind peas to be germinating any day now. I live close to a tomato monster. That's why there are so many cages. They won't be put to use for another two months.

A red rose on a snowy day.

This truly is the last bit of interest in winter.

The little house with the red pole in deep snow in the high south.

This truly is the last bit of interest in winter. When it melts, the grasses will be cut down.

Sampled, rejected, now back to bed.

It's still piling up. Deep snow.

Snow It Begins

First were the buckets of rain. Sun flurries followed on a rapacious wind. While tall grasses make their last winter stand.

Snow stuck. Snow melted. It wasn't piling up.

The baby evergreens in a garden becoming stand out now before the rush to spring.

Just a dusting on the first day.

The crocus contemplate their options.

But now they are entombed

And must wait. It is piling up. Six inches they said. We are headed towards ten.

Snow it will end.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Short Blue Intermission

The rain came in buckets all through the night and continued most of the day. Next up is two days of snow with an estimated depth of six inches. I have been cooped up enough by the cold and miserable and was not looking forward to two more days of pacing. So I got ready when I saw the line of rain was about to pass on the radar. I was going outside no matter the temperature. A project was calling.

That short line of rocks in the lower left foreground across from the snake in the grass has never felt right. I decided a while ago to move them.

During a short blue intermission that was almost warm, before the next round of rain arrived, those rocks were moved. The top right arm of the swirl was extended and more rocks were placed in the eyes of Creation.

But it was still blue and almost warm and I had many piles of smaller rocks that needed moving. A project was calling. That disturbance in the leaf litter is the birth of a heiau at Ku'ulei 'Aina. He's doing it again. This will be my third one.

I measured out a 10' x 10' square and begin the outline of dry stacked heiau. It will have the inward sloping walls of a pyramid and at some point when I run out of rocks, a flat top. It could be three feet tall. It could be five feet tall. Time will tell. My first heiau took a year and a half to build. It will serve a vital function as a repository for the all rocks I am forever digging up.

When the land hands you rocks, build a monument.

The plan now is for the heiau to sit in an oval shaped lawn. By lawn I mean keeping whatever comes up weed whacked so it stays short. Short in the tall flower meadow means 18" or less. It also means I can plant around it with trilliums, violets, chionodoxa or any number of short things to have a changing seasonal meadow type lawn. Time will tell.

I have plenty rocks and hopefully plenty of time.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Separation Of Cats

It was a cold, grey and soggy day. I sat. I paced. I napped. The crocus only made a halfhearted attempt to open. It was a day of nothing.

There was one surprise. It has been two weeks since I had three cats in the yard. I walked the kitties over to Bulbarella's when she returned and they stayed. I was a little insulted. Button stayed for two days before he decided it was easier to wake me up in the middle of the night to be let out and moved back over here. Dinah never came back.

That was good. It was the intended distribution of the kitties from the get go and they made the choices on their own. A potential trauma was avoided.

There have been numerous visits. Button and Collar would go next door with me or on their own, but Dinah never came over here until today. She has always been developmentally delayed. I have walked them back and forth often enough. They all know the way, but Dinah wouldn't make the trip on her own. Today she followed Miss Collar over when I called for dinner time.

I got my cat and Bulbarella got hers.

Button seems to favor Miss Collar over his sister and I know Miss Collar enjoys the company. She was lonely after her brother, Crawford vanished into the forest.

Now that Dinah has made her first trip back we will wait and see what might change. She followed me back over to her house readily when it was time to go home. They seem to know the other is close by. So far they are content with regular visits and their chosen main residence. Let's hope it stays that way.

I never wondered where Miss Collar would choose to live. I am the only human who can get near her and she does enjoy a warm bed. Remnants of her wild childhood remain.

The cats will wander to and fro. Button has already shown he will go to which ever house suits his immediate needs. No point in arguing with them about it. They were raised as dual dwellers. As the days lengthen and warm, Dinah may decide to visit us sometimes.

And I will always worry a little about the monsters that lurk in the forest and cats that can suddenly vanish.

Friday, March 22, 2013

We Wait

The snow came. The snow went. We wait for the next round of snow to arrive to cover the barren ground of winter one more time.

We wait for spring when with a sudden vigor, lush life in numerous forms will rise from the barren earth. There is a lot of ground to cover in the garden becoming.

I amble through after the snow melts to check on all the baby trees and shrubberies to see how they are faring after each new onslaught of bitter winds and cold. Most are doing fine. A few things look a bit tattered. Only spring will tell the tale of death or survival.

I look for bulbs. I find them in places where I don't expect them. We wait for tens of thousands of bulbs to bloom. The bulbs wait for better spring like days. Maybe by April. March is almost done.

We wait.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Second Day Of Spring

Was winter like.

With three inches of snow and 13 degrees for a low.

Melting snow puffs on gravel.

And loads of laundry done.

The crocus closed and wait

Until real spring, not calendar spring and I'm not seeing that at all in the diagnosis for the next few days or the rest of the week.