Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Round Two

I woke up this morning to no rain when it was an hour away at best when I went to bed. Round two got stuck. It was parked just over the border. I was afraid it was going to do that not all to unusual ride north on the spine of the Appalachian mountains. It happens and when it does I don't get more than wind and dark clouds. I was expecting an inch or more of rain.

That holding pattern forced me to go to work.

At one this afternoon the dam burst and round two spilled over the mountains. I was forced to go home.

There was a steady gentle rain for four hours. It wasn't anywhere close to two inches. It might not have even been one. I am content to get a good rain and happy that most of it seems to have fallen on Tennessee where the worst fires have been.

All my gardens are happy. It is not a good thing to go into winter thirsty, particularly for evergreens. I want the Under Garden of evergreen winter interest to live long and prosper. My decrepitude approaches. I need it to cover more ground.

No the wind was not blowing. You can certainly tell which way it had been.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gently In The Night

There was mist when I went to bed. There was rain in the night and rain when I woke up. There may have been close to an inch of gentle ground penetrating rain. By 11am it was over. Clear blue smoke free skies ruled the day.

Round one was a big success. Round two is scheduled to arrive in the night. It could deliver another two inches of desperately needed rain. Round two could put an end to the fires.

Sadly for Gatlinburg, Tennessee it was too little too late. The strong winds that came before the rain sent a wild fire barreling towards town. Over a hundred homes were burned and many businesses lost. Gatlinburg is still there, but it is crispy around the edges.

The gardens drank every last drop. I saw no signs of runoff and the creeks didn't even rise. I hope round two is just as gentle. We need all that water in ground storage.

At long last, something more than spit. My wild gardening methods are already an added stress on the Under Garden. Drought was not in the plans.

Back when rain was a normal occurrence, I have watched a small river of it wash over the Snake in the Grass twice. It takes a very hard rain to do that. We don't need that kind of rain. Let it come gently. Let the parched ground absorb the sweetness of it all.

At dusk there was no sign of round two. It's coming. Now the word is snow is on tap for Saturday and into next week. Rain and snow for days in a row. This should mark the end of the fires.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gaining Substance

It was a fine morning. I waited for the sun to take the edge off before getting started.

The plan was for more chop and drop to uncover more of the Under Garden.

The change is rather remarkable. It's like having a whole new garden.

Hidden objet' de have reappeared.

Most of all, the Under Garden is growing and gaining substance.

The contours of the earth are completely exposed.

As I chopped it became apparent that the Under Garden has definitely been gaining form. This felt like the first time it spoke to me as a whole. It is more obvious in person sweeping your eye over the entire scene than in the pictures. It is still small after all.

In another few years it will become a more integral part of the summer Tall Flower Meadow.

You see, the plan is as the Under Garden grows and takes more space, the meadow component will be more refined. Less and less editing will be needed. The garden will grow with me into my decrepitude and be easier to maintain. That's the theory anyway.

I stared at my new garden for hours from every angle. It's been a long time. I was quite happy to see the progress.

The garden is all good. Being so utterly exposed to the scenic byway is taking some adjustment. It's the same every year. I get used to being hidden, then Bam! Everything is on view.

I'll leave the Joe Pye on the basement patio for now. I felt much more relaxed hiding back there.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Freeze Blond

Word is a mighty big rain is coming, as in a possible five to six inches over two days. Now one would expect I would be over joyed by such news in the midst of an extreme drought and surrounded by wild fires. My joy is tempered.

The ground has long since turned to concrete. It will take some coaxing to absorb all that water. Hard rain, solid ground and freshly burned slopes are a recipe for gully washing and flash flooding. This big rain could make a big mess.

We will take this rain gladly. There is no other choice. Pray that the fires are extinguished and hope erosion is kept to a minimum. More importantly, let this signal the end of the dry spell.

It is the winter storms that bit by bit press the remaining herbaceous vegetation back into the earth. I appreciate the assistance and certainly prefer to wait before cutting things down myself. The grasses are left to stand as long as possible. Properly frozen and dried they can stand all winter.

Properly frozen, the grasses turn blond. A metamorphosis occurs. Plants cells are transformed into a crystalline substance that plays brilliantly with the winter's low angle sunshine. My morning view is sublime.

All around the meadows, the transformation to dust is in full swing. Rain may soften things up, but snow and wind do most of the hard pressing. The time for that will come.

There is one last order of business before winter sets in. Above the cracked pot, on the edge of a forest, the native Witch Hazels bloom.

They are a having a very full bloom year which is nice. Still, they don't match the show of the late winter blooming hybrid Witch Hazels. I can have both.

Amber waves of meadow frozen blond on top light up the morning. It's nice when I don't have to leave and can watch the whole show.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Uncovering The Under Garden

I had the day off. The weather was perfect; sunny, smoke free and with a hint of warm. It had even spit some rain in the night.

Last week's wind and freezing temperatures made the barren time officially official. All the leaves are gone and the meadow has begun to turn to dust.

I am now completely exposed to the rubberneckers traveling along the scenic byway. It was time to begin.

It was time to uncover the Under Garden of winter interest that carries me through the winter.

I spent several hours chopping and dropping the dried remnants of the Tall Flower Meadow. It's a whole new look for the passersby.

One section of the slope is done. There is more to go, more Under Garden to uncover.

I start chopping first on the slope below the cozy cabin where the main Under Garden resides and work my way out from there over the entire three acres. I have until mid-February to finish. No rush. I expect some snow assist. For now I just want to see the Under Garden.

I haven't seen this garden since the 1st of June.

Progress. I will say the Yucca filamentosa would be less floppy and more robust if they were not quite so buried all summer. They manage to do pretty well despite the competition.

I chopped and dropped then went for a long slow meditative walk in the wild cultivated gardens on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I saw chores that need doing. And my deer hunter got one. Oh my!

I am exposed. The earth is exposed. The garden's bone structure is laid bare. It takes some getting used to. It's growing, but this is the slowest garden I have experienced in my entire life.

The earth is my canvas. I am painting a picture of unknown meaning with living pigments that are in constant flux. That means I'm crazy or a gardener or both.

The traffic sure was moving slow yesterday. Full bellies maybe, but then they haven't seen the Under Garden since last June either.

I'll keep chopping as time and weather permits. Word is there might be some actual rain coming this way. Big rain. Fire killing rain.

Everything could use a good long drink before winter settles in.

This garden is my swan song. I will keep at it, knowing full well one day it will look just like this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


It was a beautiful clear morning yesterday. I watched in horror as this wall of smoke rolled in over the mountains like an approaching storm. Waynesville is down in there some where. This was the worst day of smoke so far and it has been bad before.

It was still awful this morning when I woke up. The thick smoke had made it all the way to me in the night. It was still bad when I got to town. It slowly began to clear during the day.

You see, I am supposed to be able to see clear across the valley and beyond like this. That low grey line over the distant peaks is the smoke moving on. The photo above is supposed to have a similar view.

The thick wall of smoke moved on, but there is still smoke in the air. It comes in waves on the wind with an approaching front that might spit another dab of water on things.

At this point we will take any spit we can get. They look like clouds. They just tend to be used up by the time they get to me. I can tell by the smell that smoke is part of the composition. It seems to add a bit to the colors of the sunset.

Now spit!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Winter Light

Sunshine becomes infinitely more expressive and appreciated at this time of year. My mornings start off with an awesome light display. The low angle of the sun as it first rises over the mountain shines through the drying seed heads of the Tall Flower Meadow like crystal glass. They illuminate from within to throw off powerful beams.

Now that the forest trees are bare, I discovered the bottle tree doing the same thing. Sister #2 suggested it and I have been moving towards clear and light colored bottles as they show up. Big improvement.

It was cold this weekend. Two mornings of lows in the 20's. Anything that wasn't ready for the change got zapped. The Saucer Magnolia 'Jane' held it's leaves for a bit too long. That is to be expected when it was 70 degrees the day before in the middle of November.

It never got warm either and on cold sunny days you might find me motionless, parked in the high beams, like a lizard trying to get warm. I don't think I illuminate from within though. Maybe my hair does. I need a witness.

This morning light show will continue most of the winter as sunshine permits. It's an awesome way to start the day.