Tuesday, June 30, 2015

With White Grasses

I have been adding grasses to the Tall Flower Meadow for several years now.

Most of them have been white variegated cultivars.

The height is needed to rise above the Lush.

The color alone is a nice contrast when the meadow is still mostly green.

The blooms also add a new texture in the mix.

The shorter Feather Reed Grass is an early bloomer with great staying power. The blooms stalks will last all the way until next srping when the grasses finally get cut down.

My new sign has been unveiled. I knew it was orange, but that is just shocking. It hurts my eyes.

Uncle Ernie flows much better with his surrounding in all four seasons.

I may need to do something to fix that blaring orange obtrusion. Flower stickers was one suggestion. I like it. Simple, quick and sticky. That will make it flow with the wild flowers much more better.

White grasses in the wind.

Out front the sky blue of chicory with the 'Morning Light'.

It is a lovely blue to start the day.

Beebalm now mingles with the most recently planted grasses. I wander into the meadow most evenings to have a look.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Depending upon how you look at it I am either abusing or taking full advatage of this period of unfortunate transportation troubles. I have been decompressing mentally and physically. I haven't been working so manically and barely even thinking about work or the truck. It will be ready when it is ready.

I walk through the garden now and my editing is only half hearted. Part of that is because I did such a thorough job in my manic phase. The garden doesn't need that much weeding. At a certain point it is best to stop anyway and let the meadow be.

I can just enjoy the garden now and marvel at the giant Joe Pye that has showed up. It is a good ten feet tall. Twice the height of all the others. I wonder if it is from the seed I collected from the biggest Joe Pye I have ever seen? 

I toss all kinds of seeds out there. What happens is not up to me.

Pretty bug.

The daylilies are here. Bulbarella buys them from the catalogs. There are hundreds across the full daylily color spectrum. We went around and admired them today. Oh, I love that yellow one with the ruffled petals. Look at that pink one. It's big enough to divide.

There is just one problem she says. I am running out of places to put them.

No problem. We'll just let Sister #2 keep going with the chain saw. When she clears out the back forty and gets some sun in there you can plant some daylilies back there.


Yes. There will be enough room for some daylilies and new rows for turnips and taters and raspberries and asparagus beds and....

Sister #2 needs to get busy. We have daylilies to divide. I'm busy decompressing.

Not now though. Later when they are finished blooming. It might be wise to mark the ones you want to spread around while they are in bloom. Once they are finished, there is no way of knowing who's who.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chaos And Wildness

I love my garden. It scares me a little too.

I work all week long making other people's gardens manicured and tidy.

I come home to wildness.

I come home to plants that are in no way under my control.

Chaos is the result. It isn't utter chaos. It has some rhythm created by large drifts of the same type of plants

But the fact remains I am not in control of most of it.

Most of my effort goes to eliminating the unwanted.

Adding new things does not involve any where near the same amount of time.

I love my garden and it scares me a little because I am not in control of so much of what it does.

And what it does is astounding.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tales From The Scenic Byway

I went out for my now more than quarterly roadside trash pickup while I wait and wait for my truck's rear end to get reorganized. I always manage to get a full heavy sack of trash and that is after emptying the half drunk plastic bottles of pop and the brown liquid spit from many others.

I've been going a little bit further down the road of late and cover a good half mile, both sides of the byway. I want the scenic byway to look good for the coming holiday weekend. It is sure to be busy - and generate a ton of trash.

The convicts that used to pick up trash under armed guard got replaced by some private company that pays the homeless or temp labor to pick it up. They actually made it up here about a month ago. My full sack is only a one month supply from the short section of highway I tend.

Litter is just plain rude.

My special find today was an intact well used bong.

Head straight out of town.
It's opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do

Caltrops and bongs, can happen for you.

I also spied quite a bit of the native astilbe which I always took to be Goat's Beard and a big fat Spikenard, Aralia racemosa. I should check the Aralia for seed later this year.

It's drawing them in like moths to the front porch light after dark. I was headed down the drive with my sack full of goodies when I saw the car slow down. They turned around, came back and drove down the drive.

"We saw all the flowers and the art and thought this would be a good place to ask. Do you have any stinging nettle?"

Do I have any stinging nettle! Park your car and let me show you. Really? Yes really. You can have all the stinging nettle you want.

So these two women from Knoxville out on a road trip and I wandered into the deep forest where the stinging nettle lives in abundance. We have acres and acres of stinging nettle. Are you sure you have enough?

I have been reading now and again about people using, eating, drinking stinging nettle and I think you can't possibly mean the species I have. It's mean. The nettle they use must be something different. Last year I took an invasive plant class for my credits for my license to kill bugs and a plant I ID'd as a pilea species they called a stinging nettle. No way. It does not look anything like mine. I picked it up with my bare hands and nothing happened. Common names are a pain.

The ladies filled a few plastic sacks with the tops of nettle. I dug them up some rhizomes explaining it was a perennial. Plant them and next spring you'll know if they lived.

When they left I did some stinging nettle research. It turns out there are two species used for the same medicinal/edible purposes. A third species Pilea pumila without the stinging hairs is said to look like them and confuse folks. To me they look nothing alike. The pilea is a major weed here.

I have the native Wood Nettle, Laportea canadensis, identified by the alternate leaf arrangement of the mid to lower leaves. Stinging Nettle is Urtica dioica, a long established European import with opposite leaves.

Boy, do I have some stinging nettle.

This heat has been too much for Miss Collar. It is almost too much for me and since I could, I took a nap. Naps are good.

I took the ladies from Knoxville for a quick stroll through the garden. They were asking about plants they did not recognize. Their main interest seemed to be wild edibles and medicinals. I bet they did not expect to stumble upon a man in the wilderness who knows his weeds while out on a road trip. It was a fun encounter.

With no real concerted intent, just an acknowledgement of what was happening, it seems I have indeed created a roadside attraction. All I was trying to do was make my section of roadside pretty.

It's that unexpected wild chaotic pretty that is drawing them in.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Beneath The Wire

The one and only reason there is any full sun in this forest is because of the big gash that was cut through it for the utility lines.

That sun allows for two very distinct sets of growing conditions on our mountain top.

The Tall Flower Meadow is a direct result of gardening the land beneath the wire. The good thing is it is only a double strand, the literal end of the line, and not a major high voltage line.

Part of gardening a utility easement is keeping the trees from coming back. If we do it, the utility company is less likely to come in and use more lethal methods.

Where there is sun, Bulbarella plants her daylilies. I don't have to plant daylilies. She plants enough for ten people. Granted, we have ten times as much land as most people and the gardening appetites to match.

Where there is sun and a blessed piece of flat ground, there is a place to grow fine produce and maybe some ironweed I didn't have the heart to dig out. I thinned them. I figure I can get one more year of bloom from the others. I would transplant them, but every attempt at that has failed. Scattering the seed works much better.

The roadside vegetable garden used to be a pull off on the side of the road. My parents claimed it and fenced it off long ago. Eight years later I have turned hard packed rock filled ground into some of the prettiest dirt you can imagine with wood chips and dung.

The pole in the vegetable garden has guy wires. They were kind enough to add the pretty yellow plastic safety covers. I bought the matching tomato cages.

We plant. I edit. This is what happens in a wild cultivated garden.

Miss Dinah followed me home after supper. She can't seem to find her way back when she follows me here. When she visits on her own, she always goes home. I'll have to walk her home in the morning. Button will harass her in the mean time.

A small house is perched on the edge of the wire. The driveway runs through it. That took out some trees and made more sun in the forest. The Tall Flower Meadow grew right up and engulfed it. I let it. You might even say I encouraged it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stopping Traffic

I saw the car slow down. Then Button came running down the driveway stopping for furtive glances. Something was up. Then I heard the voices.

"Look at all those wild flowers."
"Do you see that? It's full of art in there."
 I guess it is now official. My junk is art.

"That would look good in our yard."
Oh Lord. Don't Even Think About It. I was already half naked and ready to take a shower. Don't make me go up there.

They loaded up and moved on. I should be used to this by now.

The chicory was closed for the day. The daylilies have only just begun. A little bit of the liatris is showing. Mostly it is just the weed flowers. It's another week until the really big show and the roadside spectacle is already stopping traffic.

I have to use the full sun I have and there is a lot of it up by the scenic byway.

The utility lines going to the neighbor's place across the byway branch off from the line in the roadside vegetable garden. That means no trees allowed. No problem. I can put that full sun to good use.

That means a plot for fine produce surrounded by flowers and wild flowers and flowers turned wild and when it is in full bloom, traffic can indeed come to a stop.

Earlier in the evening I parked myself on the Great Lawn. It's been hot. We have been hitting the upper 80's with little wind and few clouds. The cozy cabin is warm. The sun is hot. In the cool shade on the Great Lawn it feels ten degrees cooler. Ahhh. Much better.

My newest Japanese Maple is settling in. It is a seedling from Client#1's garden I found growing inside a big chamaecyparis. I love the bright green stems with the red leaves. There are some seedling forest trees pretty close to it that I should probably remove to give it a wee bit more sun and elbow room. I'll get to it at some point.

This is 'Annabelle', the wild found cultivar of the native Hydrangea arborescens.

These are next door in the ridge top garden. The ones I moved into my part of the garden are still pretty small. They are going to bloom for me at least.

The native Fly Poison is in full bloom. I need to remember to watch for seeds.

These are Brodiaea. Can you say that? They were forgotten after they got planted and came as a surprise. I can see how this much later blooming bulb will have issues with the Lush.

They stop for the seemingly wild spectacle along a scenic byway and have no idea how much more there is inside.