Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Day Of Arrival

They got here a bit late so they won't see any of this until the morning.

It should still be here.

With even more open blooms.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Garden In The Wilderness

This will be my last personal garden. It is my intention to stay for the duration. I've made it to higher ground and I am staying put. That means sort of considering my eventual decrepitude and thinking long term.

My challenge from the beginning was in creating a garden that fit in, that belonged to the wilderness that it is surrounded by and very much a part of. A manicured suburban landscape simply wasn't going to work here, not for me anyway.

The garden's site had other things to consider. The two big ones were the utility easement with the power line running straight through the middle of it all where no trees are allowed period at risk of traumatic intervention and the other is the septic drain field tucked into the forest where planting more trees would not be advisable.

I know what the wilderness wants to do and I don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting it at every turn. It makes far more sense for me to co-opt nature's energy into the very essence of the garden.

When I do that, when I let nature have a big say in what gets planted, I end up with sweeping drifts of White Snakeroot, Ageratina altissima in the shade of the forest.

The garden site I had was a sunny opening surrounded on all sides by the forest. The opening had to remain open and I most certainly wasn't going to be chopping down the forest. That gave me two habitats to work with, the shaded forest and an open sunny meadow at the forest edge.

There are some advantages here. The garden is located in one of the most biologically diverse areas of the country and the native flora is rich in garden worthy plants. The two gardeners already on this land had been adding to that diversity for a couple of decades. I was blessed with excellent raw materials for garden making, many of which were already growing on site.

Step number one in garden making is most often destruction. For me that meant removing the unwanted to clear space for planting. The forest was thinned of crowded and poorly shape saplings, dead fall and finally some large locust trees. The unwanted thug plant species like blackberry, elderberry, clematis and New England aster were cut and pulled at every chance. A new garden is coming.

Step two, the planting part, goes better when there is a budget dedicated to it. I didn't have one. In the slow accumulation of the wanted, I noticed nature was filling in all the space that had been opened up. A lot of what was showing up were very desirable wild flowers.

I planted, weeded around my new plantings, kept editing out the unwanted and leaving the better offerings.

It starts like this.

Yes there are tomatoes growing in there with all those sunflowers and ironweed. The roadside vegetable garden is a good example of how things work around here.

I planted sunflowers once. Now they are self sowing annuals. The ironweed sprouted in the garden last year and I didn't have the heart to edit it out. This year it is six feet tall and in glorious bloom. It has to go though. I'll collect the seed when they are done and spread it further afield. The plants will have to be dug out. This is the vegetable garden. Competition will be limited to a select few.

I love my grasses. They are very much a part of a meadow ecology. There were grasses here. Only two had any character that I liked and none could stand shoulder to shoulder with the tall flower meadow.

I changed that by adding bigger grasses. From a garden design standpoint they added a bold new texture and an element that could be repeated throughout to start making a cohesive whole from such a large and varied space. And the grasses would never draw the unwanted attention of the utility company.

The grasses also stand through the winter adding much needed winter interest to the barren deciduous forest where the thinning carcasses of the herbaceous perennials get pressed closer to the ground with each snowfall.

It fits in. A highly colored, edited and embellished collection of wild that hides the winter under garden waiting below.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

At The End Of A Long Day

There was just enough light to get a picture of the tall flower meadow in ever increasing bloom.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

9 AM

I'd rather stay home

And meditate

On the wonders of editing.

7 PM. I went to work of course.

An hour or so of gazing and wandering ever so slow twice a day is pretty good.

I can sit for a while down on the Great Lawn in the cool of the evening and gaze up.

I saw the tiny hole and buzzing swarm after the last mowing and thought, should I spray the hornet nest before the sisters arrive? No. It won't last long. In less than two days some varmint dug it up and ate the whole thing. That hole was all nest just below a thin covering of grass.

The garden is truly buzzing now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Seen In A Meadow

Fresh Butterflies

And their dark mates.

The Great Blue Lobelia

And Green Headed Coneflowers

White grasses with White Snakeroot

And Solomon's Seal

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Imagination Made Real

I weed whacked all the paths, I mean all of them, the Great Lawn and then some in the wild cultivated gardens today. I want them to look good and be traversable when the sisters arrive next weekend. The gardens are show ready again.

Making sure the gardens look good is far more important than making sure the house is clean. I expect them to start spending a lot more time up here one day and wouldn't want the wildness to scare them off. A filthy house won't scare them, particularly Sister #2.

I might also be trying to wow the niece and her boyfriend that are coming along. You never know what if any kind of relationship young people have with the 'aina. Between the floral explosion in the wild cultivated gardens and the fresh produce from the roadside vegetable garden they will be eating all week, I hope to make an impression. That certainly can't hurt.

I kept stopping and staring while I was mowing. Am I really seeing what I think I am?

Ever since I was a wee baby gardener fresh out of college I have dreamed of creating a garden like this. Nature was always my inspiration. Some where along the way the idea of a garden full of wild flowers got lodged in my head. It very well could have been caused by a trip to these mountains as a child.

It only took twenty seven years, but I think I have finally done it. I have a garden full of wild flowers that tower over my head.

I didn't imagine that part. I assumed they would be shorter.

But it is pretty amazing when you walk the mowed paths down there in the Lush and are swallowed inside of a living bouquet. I can live with that.

All it took was being in the right place with the right raw materials.

I certainly had fun with all the outrageous looking tropical flowers on Maui for twenty years. There were next to no herbaceous wild flowers though. I went looking. There is even photographic evidence of me collecting seed of the few there were. And before I left I made every effort to distribute as many Zephyranthes lilies as I could knowing full well they would self sow and bloom where they got enough water.

I wish I could grow them up here on this mountain. I miss my Rain Lilies. I have tried. They died a frosty death no doubt.

There is more than enough to keep me occupied though and plenty of bulbs that will grow here just fine. I should get some colchicums. They look a bit like zephyranthes in bloom.

I think the sisters will be arriving at just the right time for an amazing peak bloom in the tall flower meadow. It's a bit early for some of the mums and asters. There is so much more yet to come. I don't think they will be missed when there is so much else to see.

There will be even more in the years to come. I added four new flowering perennials, that I can remember at the moment, out there in the Lush in just the last two months.

Nature of course is always adding to things as I edit out the unwanted and create open space that needs filling.

All the while I am paying attention to who has the stamina to compete successfully in the tall flower meadow. There are winners and losers.

The garden paths are mowed and ready. The dung piles are artfully covered with pumpkins and squash. I suppose I'll clean my house a bit before they get here. I have to. The clean sister is staying with me.

Seven years ago a little house on the mountain surrounded by wild flowers was only in my imagination. It has been made real.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Went To Asheville

For the two day Speaking of Gardening seminar at the NC Arboretum.

There was a full schedule of speakers on a lot of interesting and plant lust inducing topics. Jenks Farmer was one of them. I bought his new book which I doubt I will get to reading until the snow starts falling. I resisted buying any plants. It was tough. I now also have a whole list of gardens to visit in Columbia, SC next time I drive through which happens every year.

I will not be growing any cold hardy cacti and succulents in pots that can be left out in the winter. I will not. I will not do it. I will not. At least I don't think I will. They might look good on the basement patio when I get that done. Thanks a lot Panayoti Kelaidis.

They kept us busy so there wasn't a whole lot of time to tour the Arboretum's gardens. Then at the end of day one I headed to Fairegarden East due to a plea to yank the dreaded Asian invasion, Clematis terniflora, the near identical cousin of my native clematis nemesis, before it was to late. It appears that I have an Asheville job for a bit while Fairegarden shuffles her life around.

Then on day two I slipped away for a spell to go to Wamboldtopia's open garden day and blowout art sale.

Wamboldtopia is for sale. There is no way of knowing how much longer I will be able to visit. I go when the chance arises.

It is still a magical and ever changing tapestry of art and garden.

Quite a bit of the art that is Wamboldtopia will stay with the buyer. It can't really be moved or sold. If you want a Bathtub Angel you will have to make your own.

My favorite little Anti Gnomes always make me chuckle inside.

It was a quick visit then back to the Arboretum for the rest of the seminar.

Back home in the wilderness a tall flower meadow has been gaining more color.

I did not resist buying some of Damaris' art. Several pieces of Wamboldtopia's mana came home to Ku'ulei A'ina.

Which is looking incredible right now.

And there is still so much more left to bloom.

So many other gardens are winding down. Mine is still aiming towards the end of season blowout.

It's not like I planned to have the really big show at the end of summer and into the fall.

Nature had a big say in the matter.

I didn't resist. It's more like I am an enabler.

I stand on the front porch and gaze over this kaleidoscope of color in awe. Some how I made this happen. The unedited section at the lower boundary line is still completely green.

And I am not done editing.