Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Caught Between A Rock And A Wet Place

The deconstruction for the pond rebuild continues. I found the spring, the source of all the wet and the water accumulating below the pond liner, beneath one of the waterfalls.

That huge boulder and the sluice cemented onto it were hidden below the ugly pile of rocks waterfall. The spring is coming from under that boulder. I think at one time it came through the sluice and fed the older, much larger pond that is no more.

Springs don't always stay put in these mountains. Now it is a problem for rebuilding the pond and falls. I need to turn it back into an asset.

Some how I need to capture all that spring water, get it on top of a rubber liner and direct it into the pond. I can't have this amount of water beneath the liner because it causes the liner to bubble up.

Dear St. Francis, do you cover ponds. There will be creatures living in it and using it. I could use an intercession. What I really need is an executive decision. In order to capture the spring, I am going to have to bust out some of the old stone work. Even then I can't promise I will be able to get all the water directed into the pond.

Once I go there it would be nice to turn the spring and the huge boulder into a nice feature instead of hiding it again. Doing that changes everything. It won't be what the Lady Of The House had in mind. I'd like to get approval before I start busting things up.

The pond and adjoining stone patio are sitting in a stone bowl. The top of a fourth stone wall is level with the patio surface and is the edge of the former pond. Those walls circle around and join the huge boulder with the spring flowing out from under it.

Right now the spring is falling behind two of those walls and going wherever.

I need to take a sledgehammer to the stonework below and on both sides of this boulder. I'm just not willing to do it until the Lady Of The House says yes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just A Spit

Rain, fog, drizzle and mist at 36 and I am wondering how can such a tiny little house contain so much filth? I was forced to clean it today, primarily to find out what Button did with the mouse he snuck under my bed at 6:30 this morning when I wasn't awake enough to resist.

It was scary under there. I live in a cat cave. Button is feeling better at least.

I had plans to do chores in the garden since I am goofing off a bit from work, but that didn't seem wise under the conditions. Maybe there will be some better days later in the week. I have quite a few chores that need doing around here while the work lull lasts.

I did manage a short excursion and discovered the first snowdrop has come up. Snowdrops are fine at this time of year. I expect them to start coming up now. I wanted to make sure none of the other bulbs were getting any ideas like the ones at the Posh Estates. A blast of real cold would help.

When the fog finally lifted just slightly above the tree tops, little spits of snow began to fall. There is no snow in the diagnosis so I am not expecting anything.

There really is a garden under there, until it gets buried by snow or the Lush again. My efforts at winter interest are starting to pay off. I am quite enjoying how the under garden is shaping up.

It's a shame I don't enjoy clean laundry nearly as much.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wet Goo

I left fog. I came back to fog. Cold wet goo has been sitting on the mountains of NC for quite a spell. And it is liquid wet, not frozen wet as it should be. Today I saw crocus and daffodils poking their little heads up at the Posh Estates. That is not good. It needs to get frozen cold and stay that way until mid-February.

Poor little Button still has a bad cold. He has been sneezing a lot and sleeping all day ever since I got back. I even let him stay inside by himself today. Miss Collar had the cold when I left. She is fine now. Miss Dinah remains unscathed so far.

There is wet goo every where I turn. I am quite ready for it all to turn to ice.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The dying hemlocks were cut down for lumber several years ago. The logs were taken away. I was left with the scraps. I have been thinking bonfire ever since. Logging is messy. A nice fire will clean it up.

Despite the mess, an open sunny space in the temperate rain forest is not long in this world. Rampant vegetation erupted immediately. Those first responders to disturbance are more often than not the least desirable kinds of plants. The three main species that showed up were thorny Black Locust, vicious eight foot tall black berry and a not so bad, but far to many, Fire Cherry, Prunus pensylvanica.

It is land that should be more garden like and less a thicket of thorns. That of course requires effort.

I have no idea what sort of garden will become on this very steep slope. I just know the bad needs to go away before anything good can come in. I spent three hours with a pair of loppers cutting stuff down to prepare for a mighty fire. I really needed a machete.

I will also need plenty of time. It is a very big mess. Just bringing this slope to the idea of being an annually mowed hillside where plants can be introduced is a daunting task filled with flesh ripping danger.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tree Ferns

Then the rich fog parted
Unto a world filled with small glistening ferns

Ferns so numerous they clambered high into the trees

Trees filled with ferns
More trees colored
As if lit up

I parked myself among the ferns
Teetering on immobile
Like the fog was still there

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Entering The Fog

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Will This Winter Be Long Enough

Most all of the gardens I tend have been put to bed for the winter. One would think my thoughts would turn to rest and contemplation. Instead I look at the client list and see so many things that could be done on any half decent day of 40 degrees and above with out any snow on the ground. I may have worked my way to a year round schedule.

This supposed to be down time is also when I tackle a lot of major chores in the wild cultivated gardens. I have a list for that. Manually chopping down three acres of meadow isn't even on the list. That is just a given.

Between the two I'm not seeing the chance to exhale quite yet. Will this winter's good days be ample enough for me to get everything done?

Last weekend I got more dung into the roadside vegetable garden. I still have more than half the garden to go and then it needs to be mulched. The tree trimmer's former wood chip dumping ground is still barricaded. I don't know where they dump their chips anymore. I need my wood chips.

The idea behind this cold hardy clumping bamboo was that when I stood up on the scenic byway I would be looking directly at the tops of the bamboo. I'm still looking down. At least it leafed back out from it's complete defoliation from last winter's Polar Vortex. Other things were not quite so lucky or so hardy.

The Miscanthus 'Morning Light' has a certain lean to it this winter. That first heavy wet snow looks like it left a permanent impression, at least until it comes down in the spring.

Did you know bamboo and grass are in the same family? Every bit of this Miscanthus came from a single one gallon pot I kept dividing for several years. Obviously my species of bamboo is one of the slow relations.

Why is it that I feel like a wave is still crashing down on me after all those gardens have been put to bed for the winter?

My schedule and routine is now thoroughly discombobulated. I think I caught a touch of the flu. The cats woke me up three times last night.

I should have taken a nap. Instead I did chores to get ready for a road trip.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Trip To West Asheville

At the end of this summer I became the very part time assistant gardener at Fairegarden East. My own nemesis, Clematis virginiana was taking over the mostly native front bed. Though in this case I think it is the citified Clematis terniflora. The entire neighborhood is full of it. I'm talking about the clematis vine here. Help was requested.

I went to visit the garden today for it's winter/spring, chop down, cleanup.

Most of the Panicum grass was still looking mighty fine so that was left until real spring before it gets cut down. All the other flowering native perennials were chopped down and a thin layer of mulch was added. Fairegarden East is now ready for its winter showing.

Because I was so close by there was no reason not to stop and take a peak at Christopher Mello's always entertaining garden.

It looks like Shovelhenge is getting thicker. I have made a few contributions to the installation. Working gardeners end up with broken shovels quite regularly.

The work trucks are parked for the holidays.

Yes you may.

Come in to see the caged cherubs.

The Green Man is not looking to thrilled with winter. The solstice is upon us. The long ride of the barren time is here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Water Beneath My Pond

The Posh Estate #2 was a posh estate in it's own right from probably the early 60's to the mid 90's. Then things fell into disrepair. The forest made a valiant attempt to reclaim what it once controlled.

The process of restoring its former grandeur is much like an archeological dig. You never know what you are going to find once you start clearing things away.

When the draining of the pond for the deconstruction and rebuild began I discovered the liner was bubbled up from a significant amount of water beneath it. Whatever the cause of that might be, it is safe to say, that is not a good thing.

Word had trickled in from the long ago care takers that this small pond had once been much larger and filled the entire space. It had been filled in and a flagstone patio was built on top. You can see the former pond's edge and shape in the difference of the stone work.

Is the much bigger old pond beneath still holding water? Was it spring fed? There are signs of a small spring. I will have to figure out what is up with that trickle of water outside the pond and deal with it somehow. I have seen that trickle emerging in three different places. I know it isn't leaving the patio area. Is that what is putting all the water beneath my pond?

Once the liner was pulled up, I pumped water out for half the day. It kept coming back in with a steady flow. I managed to lower the water level. I have not managed to drain it completely.

Where is that water coming from?

And what is that 4inch corrugated plastic pipe for? In the dismantle it looked like it had been set up as an overflow drain. Just to test it I put the drain hose in there for a good while with the pump going. It never filled up and I couldn't find any place where it was discharging. Hmm? Where does that pipe go? Do I care as long as it is away? I need an overflow and there are no good options.

This little project is going to take some thinking.

I'll think about it later. That was enough excavating and discovery in the muddy wet cold for one day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Evergreen Progress

I have to look at the Under Garden while I can. It may be gone again by next weekend.

Progress is being made on my evergreen winter interest. One day those two evergreens in the foreground are supposed to be trees.

Quite a few varieties of evergreens have been planted on the slope below the scenic byway. Some trees. Some shrubs. Some bamboo. They are all slow, slow, slow to grow.

Don't ask me why, but the deciduous trees and shrubs grow twice as fast as the evergreens. My newly planted Stewartia pseudocamellia is in the foreground. I hope it does well here and grows as fast as the Heptacodium miconioides. That had a pretty nice bloom this summer.

There are evergreens at the bottom of the Great Lawn to mark the property boundary. These are the native Leucothoe fontanesiana or Dog Hobble. I'd need a whole lot more to actually keep the hounds out.

The evergreens do grow. The larger Blue Star junipers are three or four years older than the smaller ones. The 'Emerald Spreader' creeping yews are still in a sit and sulk kind of phase. I am already beginning to wonder if they are going to reject my elevation. They are rated to zone 4 which means nothing to me now that I have lost zone 3 plants to the cold.

There was a suggestion for a dash of snow tonight. It sure is acting like snow is on the way. The last bit of light peaks through the low dark rolling clouds as the temperature fades away.

It was nice to see the Under garden again and the progress I have been making.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NC Winter Lights

It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. There are no flowers in my garden at the moment. Most of the snow did melt though. That was nice. The Under Garden is back until the next round.

I don't want you to leave empty handed. So, for December's Bloom Day we will visit the NC Winter Lights show at the NC Arboretum in Asheville.

Just consider this a highly seasonal floral display.

The night was clear and cold.

Bundled up, my friend Deb and I strolled the arboretum's grounds taking in the sights. The quilt garden stayed true to its theme

Glowing orbs rolled through the forest.

Blue arches covered a main walkway.

Full grown trees were bathed in primary colors.

It was an over the top Christmas light freak show.

Which is the whole point.

Extravagance and abundance in a multitude of changing colors. Don't like blue? Wait a few seconds.

The winter lights over flowed.

There was a lot to like. I think my favorite was the simple lighting to paint the trees.

And all the different ways for the camera to frame and play with them.

Many of the lights had a botanical theme. Calla Lilies anyone?

In many colors of course.

I hope the Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum are an acceptable substitute for a plethora of blooms. It will be late March to early April before the wild cultivated gardens are back in a plethora.

Just so this won't be complete cheating, I do have two real orchids in bloom. Maybe you can find more at Bloom Day headquarters at May Dreams Gardens.