Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Twenty Twenty

I am a long time peasant gardener for the well to do. In this, my final personal garden, a full life time of multi-zonal horticultural influences have blended in a rural and naturalistic landscape.

This mountain top garden owes particular thanks to the West Asheville gardens of Christopher Mello and Damaris and Ricki Pierce. In their gardens I learned that the garden itself could become its own unique entity as a living work of art. I saw an unabashed freedom to release creative energy in the garden, to play, to “live out loud.”

My garden, Ku’ulei ‘Aina was never planned out on paper. I can certainly do that for clients. From the beginning I knew this garden had to be done in full collaboration with the land. I just kept doing the next right thing. Ten years later, with that combination of a new freedom to unleash my creative energy and deep conversation with the land, the adolescent garden that emerged is indeed a living work of art. Seen from a bird’s eye view because of the lay of the land, the garden as a whole is not so different from a painting on the wall. It is an abstract painting swirling with mythology.

I used plants, stones, sculpture and the land itself like paint. The painting emerges fully as a distinct and separate garden of winter. In the growing seasons, three acres of wild cultivated gardens are an ever changing flow of native and cultivated floral abundance.

An amazing feat of horticulture by a skilled maintenance gardener is ongoing. Or I could be suffering delusions of grandeur.

My garden is known. It is not well known. I keep working on that. I do know it is the talk of two counties because of one particular roadside item. There is a red bicycle out there flying through the forest trees.

Christopher Carrie
Fines Creek, NC

Sunday, December 29, 2019


I keep a watchful eye on a growing pride. They have to have known Solly has been here for a good long while. Cats are never this low drama when something alive is lurking out there. I have watched Button aggressively defend his territory from other cats several times.

Solly seems to belong.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


I've been to Florida and back. It might have been jet lag. Perhaps I was verklempt. I've been back a couple days.

I would have put the age of my grandparent's house at 88. A recent claim was made for 97. It's an old house. That claim does make the gardens 97 at a minimum. They could be older. I know my people. The gardens began the moment they owned the land. All the structures came after. The house was the last of three living quarters that got built.

I have known this garden my entire life. It has changed the entire time.

Round about one hundred years later, this house and garden is our family's version of Grey Gardens. I imagine it is a pretty common scenario these days. There isn't enough money or energy to keep things in tip top shape. We get by. Decomposition can only be slowed so much.

The dominant aspect of the garden is close to two acres of azaleas under massive oak, magnolia and pine. A plethora of vines, including the thorned, twine, crawl and clamber to the top of deep thickets of azalea. It is an ongoing assault of the last thirty years.

Some camellias have managed to remain. The gardener this land needs has moved on in a blur of familial vibrations.

My nieces and nephews are all adults in their mid-twenties. Their parents have aches and pains and issues of some sort or another, the early signs of decrepitude. This house is older than everyone who gathered in it on Christmas Day, save verification for one with the claim of 97 for the house.

The interstate south of Columbia, South Carolina to the Georgia border sucks. I have found a most enjoyable and time efficient scenic bypass. I saw lots of cotton and black people and log trucks hauling pine. A little church glittered at me on the way. I stopped for a closer look coming back.

Robertville, South Carolina.

The small rural towns I drove through were as old and decomposed as my destination. The railroad tracks they hugged used to bring life. There is not enough money anymore to keep things in tip top shape. A time passes away.

Solly, the solstice kitty was here when I returned. She was looking much perkier and feeling a lot less bony. A scab on her lower right jaw had come off and was hanging by some hair. That got cut off. It revealed a well healed cut on the jaw. Two lumps on her neck turned out to be ticks. Those were quickly removed.

She got some canned food, cats like gravy, and a good bit of loving. Three other cats who had been cooped up for days also needed to be out. If Solly is going to live here, the pecking order will have to be worked out. All I can do is let it happen. There has already been close contact and pretty good civility. Her status as a bony kitten helps no doubt.

Later that evening I heard a couple of quick shrieks. Solly was gone for the night. She was back the next morning. The next day she had her dinner and promptly left, headed into the forest. I didn't worry. If that cat has been living here for months, she has a safe nest out there some where.

She wasn't here this morning or when I got home this afternoon. I stood in the hollering next door spot and called. She showed up half an hour later. Everything seems to be on track. Next up is an end to baby making for Solly. I won't be having a feral cat colony.

Solly has had a bad hair life.

With Button in charge there are bound to be a few more bad hair days. He likes to jump on people's heads just so they know. I just told him wait until she gets bigger.

The purple glass knob from the front door of the long abandoned garage apartment is certainly close to one hundred years old. It was not easy to get it off. Metal from a hundred years ago is the real thing. It's not like the current cheap crap from China we are being consumed by.

Shiny objects and gardens are in my gene pool. A time passes. Memory clings to objects.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Is It A Garden Yet?

It is that time of year when everything hangs out in plain view.

The growing bones of a garden.

The debris of a lifetime.

A long ago vision in my head growing real.

This is what passes for my suburban landscape foundation planting.

In some circles it is not likely to pass muster.

A garden none the less.

A lifetime of gardening reimagined. And it is good.

Season's Greetings to all. It must be Christmas. Specks of glitter are showing up in the house dust. Send your best wishes for Souly, the solstice kitty to stay put.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Solstice Kitty

I never said anything about a heart wrenching night several months ago. Button found a little orange kitten half way up the drive. That much I saw. I couldn't catch it in the Lush and the dark. It spent the night out there crying loud and pitiful. The next morning it was gone, not to be seen or heard from again. It's a living predatory zoo out there.

Unless. This fluffy orange sack of bones came begging at the front door the other day. She, I checked, is ravenous and looks to be six to nine months old, the catten stage. There are a few dings and despite the extreme boniness, she looks to be in overall good spirits.

She also made it perfectly clear to everyone involved she was not going anywhere. There has been remarkably very little drama from this disturbance in the equilibrium. Three other cats have probably known about it all along. It's been cold and icky and they don't want to be out there anyway. She has food, water and a warm comfy place to sleep for now.

If this kitten survived the entire summer out there in the wild, it is an impressive show of endurance. I named her Solly, the solstice kitty. She might be a keeper. She just needs to stay put for a few more days.

On the longest night of the year I spent my day in restful hibernation with a ravenous kitty. I could have gone to work, but I wasn't in the mood. I didn't even achieve a state of puttering.

There was an air of recuperation about.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

December 19, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Below The Minimum Operating Temperature

It melts.

I step further about.

As fast as conifers grow.

A light snow arrived.

The cold was bigger.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Not A Bloom Day

December is the only month of the year that finding a bloom in the garden is likely impossible. That does not mean the garden is closed for lack of interest.

I made sure the garden would have interest, flowers or not, all year long.

But the lack of blooms is short lived. I made sure of that too. Big fat snowdrops are already pushing up from the cold wet ground.

A fifteen foot diameter circle of snowdrops will surround 'In Hawaiian Waters' in the next month. Will they be in bloom by the 15th of January 2020? We'll find out next Bloom Day.

For now I have plenty winter interest even when things are covered in snow. You can also check out Bloom Day Headquarters for flowers from around the world.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Japanese Christmas Tree

Is getting more bling. I've been finding things.

Like stars up above.

The ravens are forever commenting as they cruise overhead.
I am on their regular route.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

On A Winter Day