Monday, June 30, 2014

Then The Rains Came

A bit over a week ago it had been so dry I was requesting rain. The rains came and then some. Now a day of dry would be nice.

Thankfully it has been coming mostly in quick cloudbursts at the end of the day and has not interfered with work. Yesterday's was a doozy. Culvert Falls was a roaring torrent and there is a wash out of leaf litter, grit and small gravel through the garden.

Two torrents of water rushed through the garden. The other comes off the road via the culvert under my driveway.  Both torrents disappeared before making it to the bottom of the hill and the crease of my valley where by all logic there should have been a flowing stream. Where does all that water go?

There is a small amount of floppage from all this rain. This is how the Gooseneck Loosestrife should look though.

The ghostly Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora arrived with the rain.

And summer bloom has begun.

But without the rain, there would be no Lush and I love having a garden where I never have to water past the initial planting phase.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Welcome To My Forest

My new 'Gold Rush' Dawn Redwood is safely tucked into the sunny edge of the forest. I had to cut down or pull out 50 to 60 sapling trees to make room for one redwood. I picked a spot away from any future small house building and away from any utility lines, but in a prominent enough location that as it grows it will pull you into the forest.

In these parts whenever you make a sunny hole in the forest, the trees will immediately attempt to fill it back in. The forest had already crept back up to the edge of my clearing. Many of the small trees were already ten plus feet high.

Now a big chunk of them are gone. At least for now. They will make every effort to come back. You can see the top of the redwood tree poking up on the right. I planted it down slope a ways.

The gift of the redwood was just an incentive to get started on something that was already in my mind. Now that the larger front garden has become a garden, I can contemplate expansion. I want to run a path from the existing garden all the way around the back hillside to the stream and forest on the opposite side of the driveway and cozy cabin. I don't plan to plant much at this point. Yea that will work out just fine. Mainly it is to have a nice path through a tidied and edited forest and better access to all the native plants down there.

The new path extension will run some where below the redwood tree. All the editing was going to happen with or without the redwood tree.

Once I make a nice path and tidy up the mess, there won't be so much incentive to relocate interesting native plants that live deep in the forest. The path wasn't going there so I fetched some of what I think to be Speckled Wood Lilies, Clintonia umbellulata for the garden.

I couldn't help myself. I moved a Showy Orchis.

The Green Fringed Orchid needed company. My garden is going to be quite the botanical treasure trove.

I noticed something else interesting today. One of the cold hardy camellias was sprouting from the base. It's alive. Then I went and looked. All six of the cold hardy camellias are sending up new growth. I weeded around all of them to get them a bit more light. Good thing I don't have the kind of garden where dead twigs have to be pulled. I just let things rot in place, so I never bothered to remove them.

It's still a failed experiment though. I'll let them be, but what good is a plant that is going to freeze to the ground every four years and never reach blooming size? Maybe they will surprise me.

Did you notice the big leaved plant in the pictures of the 'Gold Rush' Dawn Redwood? I didn't cut down all the sapling trees. I knew this was a magnolia tree. I know where the parent tree is. After much searching and being nearly lead astray by Magnolia macrophylla, which would have been an extreme rarity up here, it was ID'd as Magnolia fraseri.

I left four of them There is another closer to the cabin and I am bound to find more when I tidy and edit the forest along my new path. My list of winter projects has begun.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Other Pond

There is a lovely pond and falls at Client #1's and until late this spring the water has never been clear. I have been there almost seven years now. The water was always muddy and cloudy. The pond wasn't my job so I ignored it and stuck to tending the plants around it.

This past winter the pump froze and the falls stopped. After two months and asking twice why it wasn't fixed and hearing, the guy says it's too cold to fix. He wants to wait until it warms up. I told them that is a load of bull. I know a bit more about pumps and ponds now.

I hooked them up with a better pond person and started looking closer at what was going on. It turns out the skimmer and filter system had been bypassed long ago. The pump was just circulating dirty water. In all those six years the pond had never been cleaned and never filtered. No wonder it was always filthy.

The new pond guy cleaned the whole thing and put it all back in working order. Now the water is clear.

There just aren't any fish anymore. An otter swam up the small creek that runs along the property from the Pigeon river not far down stream and ate them all.

My job today was to remove all the ferns growing on the rocks below the Japanese Maple. They were too tall I was told. I left one clump of them on the right behind that iris foliage. I replanted with some variegated Hypericum 'Stardust' and Geranium maculatum 'Espresso'. I hope they don't get too tall. Both are somewhat trailing, droopy plants so it should be good.

But before I could do anything that is my real job in this garden I had to finish the most basic work that belongs to the lawn mower dude. The place was a wreck when I was there earlier in the week. It has been a mess all season so far. It was like finger nails on a chalk board to me. I can't work under those conditions.

It turns out they have a new lawn mower dude and all they do it seems is mow. Nothing else. No edging of the lawn. No blowing of all the leaves in the parking lot - this is an office garden. No spraying of giant weeds in the cracks of the pavement. Mow and go period.

I edged. I sprayed crack weeds. I blew out the parking lot. Much better. Now I can do my job. When the most basic chores don't get done right it makes the whole garden look bad. My name more than anyone's is on this garden. I can't be having it look a mess.

I have already asked if I can get them a new lawn mower dude.

It was Christmas in almost July today. I received a very late Christmas bonus from a client. It may have had a bit to do with the MG garden tour, maybe. Anyway it was a gift certificate to my favorite local independent nursery.

I have been fondling this Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Gold Rush' for quite some time now. I have wanted a Redwood tree ever since seeing them in the Gentling Garden. Today I bought it. Tomorrow I have to clear out a space to plant it.

I may not live to see it become a giant, but someone a hundred years from now may enjoy it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Now The Spectacle Begins

If Only ...... The garden tour had been in another week or two they would have seen ...... Nah. We got rave reviews as it was. We are back to our regular gig as a roadside spectacle on the scenic byway for the usual passersby. Select visitors will get to see the spectacle up close.

The floral extravaganza of summer is just now really beginning. It builds from here.

In the next few weeks hundreds and hundreds of daylilies will bloom. I will get to see it all.

Our visitor yesterday from the native plant garden in Lake Junaluska helped me ID some unknowns. This is Pale Indian Plantain, Arnoglossum atriplicifolium. I have waffled on whether this plant is a keeper or not. The flowers are not all that showy, but the big foliage is unique and interesting. It has a major taproot and is hard to edit anyway. I guess it will always be here so I should learn to like it.

I knew it was a milkweed. That is all I knew. Now it has a name, Poke Milkweed, Asclepias exaltata. Its open umbels of drooping flowers are different, but the real specialty of this milkweed is that it grows in the shade.

A lot of new plants have followed me home this year. There is a lot more to see and check on when I walk through the garden. The Plume Poppy, Macleaya cordata has grown from a barely rooted cutting to a small blooming plant. It has a reputation as a thug. That's what I wanted. I wanted a thug with some height to take over the slope below the roadside  grass and flower bed. I also planted Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra on this slope. Both of them have very strong foliage. I need that strong bold foliage in the Lush.

My new Stewartia pseudocamellia is blooming. It was my replacement for the failed cold hardy camellia experiment. It came from the nursery with buds and aphids. He tried not to sell it to me until I accepted the aphids and a discount. "Look you need to get this out of the nursery and I am taking it no matter what." I wasn't worried. No aphid will last long in my bug infested garden. This is going to be a beautiful tree.

If Only ....... the garden tour was in a couple more years they would have seen ...... The spectacle is only going to get more intense from here on out. Plants keep following me home and the editing keeps changing the nature of the chaos.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Day In The Life Of A Gardener



That evening

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Native Astilbe

I wasn't quite sure what it was when I bumped into it. So many plants in these parts look so much alike. I knew it had been weeded once already and wasn't safe where it was. Then dern if it didn't just jump right out of the ground while I was standing there. I brought it home. It seemed to need me.

Is it a Goat's Beard, Aruncus, a Black Cohosh, Actaea or could it be the native astilbe I was reading about the other day?

According to my reading the three lobed terminal leaf is the giveaway marking it as Astilbe biternata. There is plenty Black Cohosh and some Goat's Beard in the ridge top garden so I planned a closer inspection of them on this evening's stroll to be more assured of my ID.

What did I find? The plant I had always assumed was a Goat's Beard is another Astilbe biternata. It's common name is False Goat's Beard. I told you a lot of plants in these parts look a lot alike.

A piece of this had fallen out of the ground last year when I was borrowing some of the Rodgersia pinnata next to it. When it came up this spring it didn't look like the Goat's Beard I thought it was. I thought I had accidentally gotten a Black Cohosh. Well now it looks like it really is an Astilbe biternata. Confused yet?

It looks like I have two astilbe now and will still have to relocate some Goat's Beard and Black Cohosh which I don't have anymore like I thought I did.

I know where there is a real Goat's Beard growing on a log. At least I think it is unless the astilbe is making babies.

I'll probably have to give it a few more years, but at some point I will stick a shovel in this Fly Poison, Amianthium muscaetoxicum. A portion of it needs relocation. It's been getting bigger every year since it followed Sister #2 back to the mountain top.

Last week while I wasn't paying much attention the roadside vegetable garden exploded. The wildflowers are still trying to take over the east side strawberry patch and the ironweed is headed west big time.

I have never had such luxurious growth. It was always good, but not this good. It must be the dung

Now if all goes well and we avoid all the wilts, blights and mildew there could be bumper produce. Wish me luck. It has even been warm enough that my okra is stirring.

The self seeded sunflowers are back of course, bigger than ever. I should just give in and get me some red flowered ones.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Have We Here

I may have been slightly confused when I woke up Sunday morning after the tour. There were no paths to mow, no weeds to pull. There was no where I needed to go until late afternoon and nothing that needed doing. What was I supposed to do?

I wandered aimlessly through the gardens to see how they fared - just fine, not a single dent or scratch - and watered a few of my new plants since it had not rained up here all week. Now what?

It's on those kind rare days that I am apt to wander into the deep forest to see what I might see. I saw things, a Showy Orchis I had never seen several feet outside the cages. Hmmm?

Then I wandered across this patch of lily looking things. I am going to guess this is the Speckled Wood Lily, Clintonia umbellulata.

I'll need to return with a shovel. I'll need some in the garden where they can be seen by more people. I may even need to move an orchid.

The gardens bloomed on, promising a much bigger show in another week to ten days that no one on the MG garden tour got to see. I'll see it.

Perhaps there will be others who see it. On Monday we had visitors from Austin, Vicki of Playin Outside and her husband Steven came to Asheville for the week because she hasn't stopped talking about it since her visit with the Garden Bloggers Fling in 2012. It's always nice when a friend comes to visit the gardens again.

On Thursday there will be another visitor, Janet Manning the director of horticulture for the Corneille Bryan Native Garden in Lake Junaluska. She was directed here by the one of the Master Gardeners. I look forward to this visit. It could prove interesting. I don't really know what she has been told about the wild cultivated gardens.

I am settling back in to my regular work routine. When I stroll the garden now I contemplate my next ruthless editing out of the New England Aster before it has a chance to bloom. That will involve some stompage so I am giving it a week or two for all those folks who said they wanted to come to get here while it is still show ready. That won't last long in the wild cultivated gardens.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chicory Morning

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tour Day

There was a steady flow all day long.

But you can disperse a lot of people into the wild cultivated gardens and still have plenty elbow room. Most of them you won't even be able to see once they wander off.

My rough guess is that about 150 people made their way to the low spot high on a North Carolina mountain top. Three of them were blog readers of mine from Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida/part time NC. It was also interesting to meet many of my near neighbors from the side roads off the scenic byway. It was a most enjoyable group of visitors. The compliments flowed.

The Carolina Lupine got a lot of inquiries and there was some oohing an aahing over the Indian Pink. The shoulder high Yellow Flag Iris drew lots of questions. That bold foliage makes a statement even without any blooms. My glass bottle edging was also a big hit.

There were wild flowers sprinkled generously throughout.

I have helped plan and put on a number of garden tours. I have been on a number of garden tours. We have opened the gardens to smaller select groups a few times and had plenty of private visitors. This was my first official time as the garden owner on a real garden tour. Now I know what it really feels like from the other side and it feels fine.

I'm sure all my experience on the planning and touring side of this kind of event helped a great deal. For me it was a no stress event. I went about my regular business in the garden and let the Master Gardeners do all the real work of putting on the tour.

And the tall flower meadow is no where close to a peak bloom. August into mid-September is really the best time I said to many.

They came. They enjoyed. I think quite a few of them got an inkling of letting nature be the co-gardener.

Then it was over. The last visitors left. They were near neighbors from off the scenic byway and he was Hawaiian. Aloha.

Then the beasts came out from hiding. It was time for dinner.