Saturday, November 30, 2013

Look. Up In The Sky

Friday, November 29, 2013

Poking Through The Snow

There hasn't been much incentive to go outside.

But when I do I see things like the wispy bloom spikes of Flattened Oat Grass, Danthonia compressa, waving above the snow. I also saw deer tracks crossing the garden becoming and what I hope were fox tracks at the top of the drive and directly around my truck. I prefer fox over coyote.

A baby Bosnian Pine is growing taller. Slowly. Maybe next year it will leap.

The spine tipped colored rays of Yucca filamentosa poke through the snow and remind me that the growing winter interest garden is still there. It gets more visible with each meadow crushing snow.

This is my down time. I wait for many more crushing snows before the chop and drop of the meadow's last  remnants begin. I wait because when I watch, the receding remains of a once Lush meadow is filled with birds harvesting a bounty of seeds poking through the snow.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Quick Trip To The Mailbox

At 20 degrees with sideways snow on a steady 20mph wind with higher rattling gusts, an official snow day was declared. I was staying put.

I stayed put except for a short trip to the mailbox. The mail was delivered in a Jeep today. That was different. She doesn't have much choice. All that other traffic I watched creeping by on the snow covered scenic byway is another matter. Why I wonder?

Three kitties know better. They have been outside, but very, very briefly. It's cold out there. I'm just happy that now that they are older their impulse control is better. There is less bouncing off the walls.

I did much better today being cooped up by snow. Yesterday I was trapped by a steady heavy rain and was feeling cold and a bit antsy. Today was twenty plus degrees colder and I felt warmer and more relaxed. Adjustments.

This is the first real snow beyond a dusting. What does it portend for the winter ahead?

Where's my list? Do I have enough indoor winter projects?

A quick trip to the mailbox won't keep me occupied all winter.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It Was Just My Imagination

Taking Far Longer Than I Remember 

So when did this little basement patio project begin? As a sanity saving device I shaved two years off of my memory. The truth is my imagination was sparked and a project was born a full six years ago in the late fall of 2007.

The lower wall was thrown up quickly. I had plenty rocks close by for that wall. Then I slowed way down for the second upper wall. Ohmm...

You can tell the difference in the stacking. The upper wall is much prettier with tighter joints.

I slowed down so much the upper wall took five years and ten months of the six years it took me to build these two walls. I did slip in another short retaining wall along the entry path to the patio in that time.

In my slowness I also managed to build two small grottoes into the upper wall.

There is a logical explanation for how long it takes my imagination to be made real. When I started these walls, the cozy cabin looked like this. Half of the garden becoming was a barren slope.

So the upper wall is now done, but the basement patio itself is not finished. It needs a gravel base for fill and a stone floor to cover it. That will cost some money I do not have. There is no telling how long it might take to actually finish the patio. The gravel I can swing. That much flagstone is another matter. I'm now plotting how to scrounge remnant flagstone. I only need 400+ square feet.

All those years. It is a bit discouraging if I think about it. But look. There's a cozy cabin above my walls now and it only took four years to do that.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


As winter rushes in all that remains of the tall flower meadow are dried seed heads ready to disperse on the chilled winds. Both memories and the future are contained in a white froth. It is nature's turn to play gardener.

Now is my chance to play stone mason. I have a dry stack stone wall to finish.

Out there in the garden becoming are plenty rocks for the fetching.

In half an hour with two buckets I collected a fresh batch.

It was a cold morning, only getting colder as the day wore on, but the upper wall is now done. I was determined. The weathers for next week are looking even worse. A cold misty day above freezing would have to do.

Here is a closeup to give you a better view of the top. The light under the cozy cabin isn't the best for picture taking and wet rocks are a different color than dry rocks.

It is done. Now all I need are massive quantities of gravel sized rocks to cover the dirt slope above the wall. They are here, hiding in the ground. I will dig them up over time, bucket by bucket.

As winter rushes in the last bit of a long project gets scratched off the list. But I decided a while ago I need a new wall. The lower half of the switch back path needs to be widened and a short little wall, 12 to 18 inches, will need to go on the uphill side. I have a new project.

Will I have enough rocks?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Evergreens Emerge From Hiding

One day they will be trees or tree like as the case may be. It will change the entire character of the garden becoming. The baby evergreens; holly, pine, camellia and several variety of Chamaecyparis, have reemerged from the summer Lush of the tall flower meadow. I wish they would grow faster.

The Yucca filamentosa take on more prominence as the tall flower meadow becomes a memory once more. They do grow faster and have been quite good about producing their dramatic bloom stalks. I need to experiment with germinating the seed in flats to see if I can get more that way. The question becomes, will the seedlings be variegated?

Down at the border the Miscanthus 'Morning Light' has bleached white. It will stand long through the winter.

The Chamaecyparis 'Gold Mop' off the front porch are growing. They are going to turn into a solid line if I let them. I'm not sure I want that. Maybe the middle one needs to be moved next spring. I need to ponder that.

But I keep waiting for more time to ponder. Work kind work is still keeping me busy. How did I get this many clients?

Maybe next week there will be a snow day to tack onto Thanksgiving. That would be nice.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In That Light

In that morning light

As seen from the front porch

About the time I leave

And if I get home early enough in the afternoon,
A shining cabin on the hill

As seen from the scenic byway during the barren time.

Two stone walls glow and make a monument of a tiny little house.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Remember The Walls

It has been a long time, two years perhaps since I last touched the dry stack retaining walls for the basement patio. I've been busy. Today I touched them. The diagnosis was calling for rain all day. Stacking rocks beneath the cozy cabin would make for a fine rainy day project.

Fortunately the rain was delayed. I was able to pull some weeds and cut down some perennials I did not have the heart to kill. Maybe I'll transplant them. Then I blew out all the leaves that had accumulated. I like working in a clean environment.

After sprucing up the loose rocks on the top of the lower wall, I started stacking rocks on the upper wall. The left side is now basically done. Then I ran out of rocks. Great. Now I have to go fetch rocks again.

I used up every last rock that I had stockpiled on the basement patio. I had a lot of rocks piled up there and it wasn't quite enough. I'm close to finished though. One more day of work may get the wall done.

At some point this winter I need to spread a load of gravel as a base for the future stone floor. I still have a little time to save the good weeds that came up on the patio if I want.

After all these years the lower wall is still standing. It hasn't budged an inch. There were some internet critics who questioned my walls stability. I suppose when you are using the roundish, raggedy rocks you have and not fancy store bought flat rocks, the lack of uniformity of appearance might look a bit less stable. Well, it's still standing.

The very top rocks were the only ones that had shifted or moved. More than anything that was from the cats constantly running across it. I still may mortar the top course, but first I want to lay in the gravel. That will raise the base by six inches on the back side of the lower wall and help give the upper coarse more stability.

I've been making all kinds of progress on my list of winter projects at both houses and winter hasn't even settled in. By next June I'll have this place in tip top shape. At least there will be less stuff I have to ignore.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Misty November Bloom Day

A misty rain started earlier than what was suggested. Then it misted continuously for a only a 30% chance of rain. I came home early and had a nap.

Before dark I headed out into a misty garden to find my contribution for Carol's November Bloom Day. I wondered if the 15 degree low on Wednesday would have frozen it.

No, the native Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana was still in bloom, unfazed by a slap of freezing cold.

The stems are covered with tiny blossoms composed of thin wiry petals.

A few more late autumn crocus have emerged and will wait for the next sunny day to open. That might not be until Monday. The dry spell is over. The weather has turned once more.

The main and only real show for November's Bloom Day is the Witch Hazel.

It actually shows up pretty well in the barren bones of the naked forest.

But Gardy will need more than that to get through the winter.

The dried flowers and burgundy leaves of the Oakleaf Hydrangea are a nice contrast to the evergreen form of the clumping bamboo. The hydrangea is lasting much longer than expected and the bamboo stays green year round.

It is all the evergreens that I have been planting that will help take me through the winter's barren time in the deciduous forest. Now they just need to grow faster and gain some size.

It was a cool and misty day on the mountain top in mid November where the native Witch hazel blooms.