Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Beautiful Dung

I had to wait half the morning for the snow to melt before I could spread big dollops of dung in the roadside vegetable garden. It has to be screened first to remove the gravel that has been coming with it. That takes some time and a 50 plus degree day got things melting.

I like to let it set out over the winter as a top dressing for additional weed seed killing. It had far fewer seeds in it than I feared in the first application last year. Still, it is best to be cautious. Horse poop can be loaded with seeds. They have fewer stomach parts than cows.

There are still a whole bunch of parsnips to dig. I imagine I'll be making a big batch for Christmas dinner.

It is going to take a lot more of my composted crap to finish. I have two big piles ready to go. I plan to be generous. All that manure made a noticeable difference in this year's garden.

Can fine dung make you happy? I think it can.

The whole garden needs a fresh layer of wood chip mulch too. The mulch will further suppress weeds and as it decomposes it feeds the soil. The soil in my roadside vegetable garden just keeps getting better and better.

The wood chips were doing a fine job on their own. The dung has kicked it up a notch.

I pooped out after eight half tubs of dung were screened and spread. The last part of the afternoon was spent contemplating additions to the winter interest of the under garden.

I need to sweep the winter interest plantings of the front half of the slope over to the left and the back part of the slope to give the garden more coherence. I actually looked all season for more of the variegated Yucca filamentosa at a decent price and never found any. Those alone would do wonders to make the under garden whole and make an even bolder statement.

I have five big variegated Feather Reed Grass heeled into a dung pile for dividing and planting on this slope early next spring. That new color and texture spread over the slope will help.

I need bold to highlight the ancient ruins the cozy cabin sits above. The color difference between wet and dry rocks is pretty stark. I like the dry rocks better. I'll have to live with the contrast though.

There really is a garden under there. In the winter it is completely visible from the scenic byway. My evergreen screening has a lot of growing to do before I begin to get hidden. I can give the rubberneckers something to contemplate in the mean time.

Can tidy make you happy? I think it can. Particularly when tidying things up doesn't leave you with an empty plate, when a garden is still there to look at.

In this case, it reveals that I am indeed making progress.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Driveway Melted

The rest of the snow just sank.

A heiau returns to consciousness. Some rocks are gathered to make it rise higher. This will be a very slow birth though, dependent on finding and digging rocks, unless some motivation over takes me.

Viewing the Creation still intrigues me. Winter is its time to shine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Cold Day After

The sun came out.

It seemed to be lacking any enthusiasm despite its blinding quality.

A fox I hope, better than a coyote.

It is hard to imagine it ever kept cows in. It certainly doesn't keep anything out now.

It's warm inside. If only the kitties could sleep twenty three hours for days on end, or maybe go play outside in the snow.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Snow Giving

More snow arrived in the night and it has kept on giving all day long. Yesterday's nice melt seems rather pointless now.

A bit of tidying and a fresh layer of snow is showing some of my baby shrubberies have indeed been growing. What began as tiny twigs of fothergilla are much bigger twigs of fothergilla. They have even bloomed. One day they will be five feet tall and shrub like.

My poor grasses out by the scenic byway are still having troubles with this unusual Snowvember. They do much better when they get a chance to dry out first.

The holiday traffic was moving slow. The plow has had trouble keeping up. The suggested one to three inches is already four and the time intervals between passes tells me it is snowing over a wide area. Snowgiving must have descended well below the critical 3500 foot level.

It's a good thing I harvested my parsnips yesterday. They are about to join the butternut squash in the oven to get roasted.

Before supper I went for a short walk to check on my deer hunter.

I heard three shots very close by at 7 this morning.

All his tracks had been snowed over by the time I wandered over. My fresh tracks revealed blood in the snow. My deer hunter got his supper for a good part of the winter.

The man is dedicated. At seven this morning there was already three inches of snow and it was snowing hard with a stiff wind. He arrives at four or five in the morning to hide himself, then sits there and waits.

A different day, a different view for Snowgiving.

And when I got back I was informed it was dinner time.

A bit later it was mine. Hopefully the food decorating police won't be offended, but this is dinner for one amply supplied by the roadside vegetable garden now covered in snow; baked in the oven butternut squash (hint) that melts in your mouth, fresh baked parsnips that are like a mildly sweet regular potato and some chicken. No, I will not ever be growing any chickens.

It's still snowing. I'm full. I believe it is time for a nap.

After that it will be time for some sweets and a cup of medicinal tea made from another root crop that grows around here. I am testing it to see if the 2000 years of rumor are really true.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Proper Southern Snow

I better not be having a white Christmas. That would be scary. A white Thanksgiving is no problem.

The snow came late in the night, much later than predicted. I woke up to a snow covered world. Round two is scheduled to appear in the night once more.

It was already over by the time I got up and without any wind, it was a pretty pleasant day, if a bit cool.

As it should be in a proper southern snow, the melt begin in pouring earnest the moment the sun peaked over the mountain.

By 2pm, where ever there was sun it was gone.

That meant I was able to dig some parsnips in the roadside vegetable garden for tomorrow's supper while a car load of tourists had a snowball fight on the shaded and snow covered scalped hillside of grass across the scenic byway.

It's not unusual. I find snow angels over there most every winter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Garden Under There

Just two months ago this was the scene for the photo that is the current header of the blog. My how times have changed.

Yea, yea. I'm supposed to leave it all standing for the wildlife benefits, but the chop and drop has already begun. I want to find the under garden that will carry me through the winter. The wildlife has plenty of meadow left and it will take me all winter to chop it all down.

Just maybe I will get to spreading 12 tons of 3/4 inch gravel in the basement patio this winter. That can be the temporary floor and is the base for the future stone floor. I just need the money to buy the gravel and a snow free driveway to get it delivered.

The wall and its grottoes have been complete for a while now. It still needs the small rock back splash finished above. I do rocks in the winter when the rocks I have been piling in places while gardening are easier to find.

I needed some satisfaction of accomplishment now though. I got home a little early today and the next round of snow is scheduled to begin tonight. I got busy while there was a chance with a little more chop and a dose of tidy as opposed to just drop.

The Cotoneaster 'Streib's Findling' is a flat as can be evergreen ground cover that hides beneath the Joe Pye during the season of vegetation. I need it in the winter. I even raked the leaves off of it.

See there is a baby garden hiding under there. It even has some good hardscape bone structure. All it takes is some normal garden maintenance to find it. I feel so much better now. Winter can be the time of a some what tidy garden in all this wildness.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

While It Raged Outside

If it wasn't raining, the wind was howling. When it was raining, the wind was howling. It wasn't really possible to be outside. Sort of thought about chores will have to wait for another day.

Safe from the storm, an orchid blooms.

I would have preferred a color other than white. I get plenty of white at this time of year. There was just no way of knowing that in the discard rack.

But an orchid in the storm is better than no orchid at all. Maybe the other discard orchid will have color.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Is It Interesting Yet

The slow growth rate of the under garden which is my main source of winter interest is testing my patience. I know what the mature sizes of most plants look like. Far too many of the things I have planted are multiple years away from those sizes at the pace things are moving.

There is more visible progress when I plant in multiples and in dozens.

No doubt there are many reasons for the slow growth rate. I garden at the extreme edge of many conditions favorable to plant growth and vigor.

Buying dwarf plants promises slow from the get go. This Taxus cuspidata 'Emerald Spreader' is looking alright. It is alive. But this zone 4 rated plant was zapped by a late freeze and suffered some die back.

How do zone 4 plants suffer freeze damage in an alleged zone 6? Live on top of a mountain with weather extremes. That will do it.

The Red Twig Dogwoods did grow some this year. They had full sun, very moist soil and did not have to compete with the Lush and this pitiful bit of growth is all I got. The deer did nibble on them a little. Not enough to matter. At least they are red for the winter as advertised.

I'm sure it doesn't help the speed of things when I let the Lush cut off a good deal of the sun supply of the baby trees and shrubberies during the growing season. That is no excuse for the number of plants rated at or below my zone that have been damaged by freezes. That just seems cruel and unfair.

The evergreen clumping bamboo that was defoliated by last winter's -8 has filled back in pretty well. This year's growth was majorly stunted though. Will it ever get eight feet tall, much less a robust ten feet?

My baby pine trees are growing six inches a year at best. It's a long, long way to being a winter screening to the scenic byway.

I don't have properly mulched beds. I don't fertilize. I don't water more than once or twice after something gets planted. The wild runs rampant and I let a good deal of it be. My plants are tested from the beginning.

Gardening on the edge with every possible challenge is not for the faint hearted gardener. It's just every once in a while I feel like fainting.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Looking For Winter Interest

The barren time has a firm grip high on the low spot of a North Carolina mountain top. The very first winter up here I knew I had to do something to mitigate that. I needed some winter interest for the barren time. Heck, I needed something, anything, that said garden for the six months of the year when all is dead and brown.

What I had was a vast expanse of herbaceous and deciduous. What I needed was evergreen and some structure.

I had something else that not many gardeners get with a new garden, an existing garden folly. It was a bit lost in the tangle when I arrived. Slowly it has been cleared around and new plantings added. In the barren time the entire folly is visible. During the time of vegetation, the foundation disappears.

It's on the list to one day maybe cut down the trees growing inside the folly and shore up the chimney's foundation. One day.

At the moment I am still a bit too busy with work to spend much time checking on all my baby winter interest. On a short stroll yesterday I got to see the holly berries. They don't often last long. Most years they get devoured by migrating birds who use the low spot to pass over the mountains.

I did plant some Chokeberry, Aronia sp. in my part of the garden. They are still small of course and a few years away from a good berry display.

Art makes good winter interest too.  I love the Blue Pot art project, but the background has never suited it well. It needs a blank wall or a dense evergreen hedge to really set it off.

The Posh Estate #2 got a nice piece of art, structure and winter interest today. The fountain for the entry garden arrived.

It has a pineapple on top.