Monday, January 30, 2017

In And Out

At this time of winter, things can happen and be done with rather quickly. There had been barely discernible snow flurries for the twenty four hours of cold before the real snow finally arrived. That was just a prelude.

The real snow started around 1:30 Sunday afternoon. First it snowed most of the snow. Once that was done, the wind started to roar and it just blew the stuff around.

The wind raged all night, enough to shake the house at one point. By morning it was over. By noon it was trying to be forty and a melt had begun.

Tomorrow it will be near sixty. Most of the three to four inches of snow I got will be gone.

In and out. The Witch Hazels will bloom on. The crocus should begin to appear. The daffodils will start to rise. I need to get chopping.

Today it looks like winter. Tomorrow it will be gone.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cold Activities

Word is snow is on the way. It's certainly cold enough. A few other ingredients are still missing.

A frigid morning gave way to forty degrees for a short interlude. 'Diane' unfurled to take in the warmish. The beasts spent a little time out there too. Not much time, they are spoiled creatures.

I spent two hours in the cold basement utility closet next door purging. There is less stuff in there now. Now there is stuff laying around outside at both houses that need a ride to the dump. I doubt this purge will meet Sister #2's expectations. Baby steps.

A little chop and drop was accomplished as the warmish faded. I have a long way to go and a March 1st deadline. The task feels more daunting this year. There has not been much assistance from the weathers. I also need to find a good pair of long handled hedge clippers to make the job easier on my back.


Excuse me. I wandered off to the Amazon in search of long handled manual hedge trimmers. Good quality Japanese kind are pricey. No, I would never harm 'Diane' with hedge clippers.

What to do? I want them. I need them and will need them for years to come. I should probably just buy then now before the trade wars begin.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Frozen Still

Cold has entered the mountains. We are currently on lock down. The front porch view is about as far as I will get for the next few days. I did see frosting on the high tops of Sandy Mush on the return from a dung run this morning. Snow is in the diagnosis. It could happen.

There is still enough time for winter to happen. February has been a snowy month more than once in my ten winters here.

Looking out to the garden, you would not necessarily know that thin straight line at the base of the mountain is the scenic byway unless a car is driving by. At times it feels like the cars are driving right through the middle of my garden. Distance is compressed in the cold and barren.

The Witch Hazels curled up in the cold. Four days of this could be the end of 'Jelena' that was in full glorious bloom. Not to worry. 'Diane' and 'Arnold' are left to bloom.

If we are going to do cold, there might as well be snow. I may need that to induce tax form filling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Some More Winter

It is going to start getting cold tomorrow. Could be as many as four days in the 30/20 range. It's about time. January is almost over. There is even a slim chance of snow.

There is no going back at this point though. The daffodils are rising. The temperatures now will just determine if that continues quickly or slowly. I have yet to spot the first crocus so things are not wildly out of whack.

I expect to see the first blooms in the garden in January no matter what winter is doing. I planted it so.

The Under Garden has also reached a point of growth were it will be a colorful part of winter from now on. I was most happy to see that in this year's reveal. In a couple more weeks some new plantings will be done for the winter Under Garden to kick it up a notch. The real results of that won't be known until the end of the year.

As the chop and drop spreads further out from the front porch, the grasses will be the last things left standing.

I need to get busy. The bulbs are off to an early start this year.

If the sun is out and the wind is not blowing I can do some chop and drop in almost 40 degrees. That is good enough for the Witch Hazels. Otherwise it may be nap time. Or tax time.

Will the cold be the end of 'Jelena'? I have no idea if these blooms try to hold on until pollination happens and finally age out if it doesn't. They last for a good long time I know that. I can't say I have seen much in the way of activity around them. The bugs are few and far between right now.

This is the time of the snowdrops. More are waking by the day. It was actually warm enough for some to open today, a freakish 68 degrees at 4000 feet on January 25th. The crocus will be here soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Just the one chop, not chop chop. It seems I am getting better at sitting still, a foreshadowing of my decrepitude I am afraid. I've been doing a bit of chop and drop in a most relaxed manner compared to my more normal manic assault.

I started with the slope planted in vinca yesterday. Today I chopped a couple other small areas. I say one chop, but I did spend four hours out there chopping and toting a few more buckets of rocks to the heiau.

My poor baby dwarf White Pine. Cost like fifty bucks I think. I planted it and forgot about it. The Deer-Tongue Grass, Dichanthelium clandestinum, that I hate proceeded to cover it and shade it out. By the time the drought arrived and I remembered it thinking it might want a drink of water, the grass had shaded it out and killed half of it.

White Pine is also susceptible to a white scale and they are on it now. It has some recovering to do. I hope it survives and grows out of its traumatic first year in the garden.

The baby Witch Hazels are not as tall as the Goldenrod yet. I have done a better job of giving them elbow room during the time of vegetation. Sunlight is a critical must for anything to do well in the wild cultivated gardens.

I chopped at the top of the driveway since there are crocus in there. The way this not winter is going, the crocus could begin to arrive at any time. This particular phase of the garden year has a very Western feel to it, like it doesn't even belong on top of a mountain in North Carolina. So be it.

There is nothing static about this garden. It changes completely from the time of vegetation to the barren time. My goal as the gardener was for the barren time not to be completely empty.

A few more rocks on the heiau. I'm getting it above the leaf litter. It is a little easier to see. I should probably blow the leaves off every year. Given the chance, nature will cover right over it in the blink of an eye.

I have this feeling the heiau is going to be a decade long project. The loose rocks are so far away now. I don't have the time or the energy for maniacal rock fetching. It can only rise slowly one bucket at a time.

Unless.......Somehow I need to encourage people to bring me rocks.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Pan-O-Rama

Pond scum, Dung, Rain, Home.

A wet winter garden from east to west

A nap and more rain coming.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's Not My Elevation

At four thousand plus feet, there they were fat and happy, vibrant Yellow Twig Dogwood which have so far refused to grow for me with any serious intent of becoming a plant of substance.

I've tried red, yellow and a variegated red from rooted and unrooted stem pieces. They all have dropped dead or pouted. I was thinking they may not like my elevation. Now I see that can't be.

Elevation is one factor. There is sun and shade, soil and moisture and a big one for me is competition. With many things I plant, it is a game of wait and see. Will they like it up here? Thankfully the Witch Hazels do.

They aren't growing fast, but they are healthy and happy.

Plant by plant as I find the winners, a garden grows.

One red Twig Dogwood is trying, but my patience has worn out and a decision was made to form a solid Doghobble hedge. It took three years I think to get to this from a rooted stem piece. Now it will be moved.

If it isn't my elevation, what is it? They certainly won't root as stuck stems as advertised. Maybe my rooted starts need to be a bit further along. I will give it one more try.

I want this kind of color and action in the barren time. The vibrant colored stems of the dogwoods were part of that plan.

This sure ain't Maui where beating back the bushes with a machete is normal by year three. Now after five years I am finally beginning to see a garden take form. Granted this garden has been planted in slow incremental stages over those years. Still my elevation seems to be adding a few more years of creep before the leap sets in.

I woke this morning unrested and in pain. The cat banging on the wooden blinds did not help. She got tossed. The real problem was I over did it at four thousand feet plus yesterday.

Thirty years now of hand pruning and power tools has caused intermittent neuropathy in my right hand and arm. I pruned a near forty foot long hedge of Burning Bush yesterday one fat stem at a time with my Corona hand pruners. Today I was paying for it with painful numbness and tingling traveling well up my arm.

I took it easy today with a nice walk in the morning sun after a night of rain.

I saw snowdrops, but there are many many more yet to come.

After a nice nap in which I found that avoiding sleeping on my side in any way did nothing to help with the neuropathy, bummer, adding more rocks to the heiau seemed like a good idea. It would not involve a clipping or pruning action. That can't hurt.

Yes, the ground beneath the heiau is that sloped. It will take quite a few more rocks and eventually a flat top to give the impression of a symmetrical solid structure. I wish the rocks were not so far away these days.

Way up high on the low spot a garden slowly grows. I'm not sure if you can call it a setback when something refuses to grow. I learned a long time ago a gardener can only make suggestions. With time the suggestions get better. With lust they get risky. With the red and yellow twigged dogwoods, I'm hoping I just need better starts.