Saturday, May 31, 2008

Froggy Went a Courting Uh huh

I do love garden whimsy. Especially when the garden art is truly art and not the predictable garden junk. Some gardens such as this invoke the faerie feeling in me.

I photographed this frog sculpture while enjoying a quiet lunch during work last week. I have seen these figures before, in Baltimore, a series of three as part of the 'Froggie Goes a Courting' tale.
(Click the windows media player link to hear Bob Dylan's version)

I was so delighted to meet this frog here in Blowing Rock and he does so fit this setting, his shapely legs surrounded by cinnamon fern. It was a sunny moist day, a good rain the night before, the garden was glowing in the dewy sunlight. Sitting in the Oak grove of a garden with the blooming rhododendron, spring flora with a Fiddling Frog for entertainment is what I live for.

I love my job~Note to readers The contact info on this website is out of date, I know, I need to do a new website...but not this spring! The linked article explains a lot about my job and how it came to be. I will update the website soon.

We have done a lot of work to this garden since last fall. It needed soil restoration badly. This garden needed a lush understory of woodland plants, but for years, previous gardeners had just mulched on top of mulch to the point that there was no soil to hold and sustain root growth. When I met the garden during last years drought it was truly in a sad state.

In November, we scraped off the 6 inch layer of powdery mulch and added amended topsoil to the main garden beds. ( Yes, one wheelbarrow load at a time, with challenging access to the garden as well.) We transplanted and added plantings and then let the garden rest.

Last month the owners built a new porch. So when we arrived this spring we had construction disaster to look forward to fixing. Fortunately the crew of carpenters, painters, electricians and plumbers stayed off our beds pretty well, but let's say that construction workers generally have no plant consciousness what so ever! Two weeks ago it looked like this,

Now it looks a little better. Mike has been busy re building torn down retaining walls.
Making miracles happen with leftover stone. We are still planting and mulching, but when we left on Friday, the place was looking so much more homey and comfortable.

The stone planters on the front porch are a work of art as well. The finials are a strong architectural feature as well as the pergola to the kitchen door.

I love having clients who recognize the value of well placed well done features. It truly makes the garden quaint and unique.

Wednesday we worked in a pouring rain. Our client Simmy had given Finn this raincoat recently so I tried it out. Finn didn't seem to mind it much, but Mike took it off because he thought it made my dog look a little bit too feminine.

I thought the raincoat added some garden whimsy for a garden dog. Finn has had to be very patient with us this week. At first he thought he had it made when 'Cooper', our
Leola Street Community Garden leader came to work with us. Finn was thinking he'd landed in heaven....two boys on the job to throw the stick and ball for him.

Not so, we are so busy we pretty much ignore Finn. He sulks under the rhododendrons and watches our every move for when we may be in the mood to play. Besides that, both men are expecting new babies, so they are huddled together talking sonograms and stuff, so boring for a lab.

I made up for it yesterday at his private upper pond at Bass Lake where Finn can swim and fetch and run to his hearts content.

He is such a good garden dog.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I got a Howdy Hoo from a garden friend in Virginia this week

A few years ago I came into your Gardens of Delight, and you gave me a package of native poppies you had collected and packaged. Last year I had gone through all my seeds and decided to empty all my older seeds into one big bag and have at it. It is funny, you and I were never close friends but now you are thought of every day when I walk through my yard. The poppies are beautiful! And you have become another cherished friendship represented in my garden. How cool is that?
Morgan is impressive at the nursery, defiantly got it going on. Good job Mom

The poppies are Papaver somniferum. A low toxicity form of the Opium poppy. They are sold in catalogues as bread seed poppies. Years ago when working at Oatlands Plantation a few of the typically bright orange poppies were lavender, over the next few years I pulled out all the orange ones from the garden and eventually got a pure lavender batch of seed. These have been distributed freely for the last twenty years.

Sadly, I haven't gotten the poppies to flourish here in my wooded haven. They tend to self seed like crazy, but they don't like the shredded mulch in Blowing Rock gardens.

I will keep trying though. The poppies are always in bloom on Mother's Day.

What a nice example of how plants connect us through the heart and the memories. I am touched that folks still remember me, through their garden plants.

Morgan does have it going on at the nursery. I went up there last weekend to visit and bring home plants for the clients in Blowing Rock. The new retail sales shed is wonderful, after years of just a tiny space for the register and gift items, they now have a display area and upstairs Morgan has an office.

My little granddaughter greets everyone with a 'Hey' just like her Mom does.

Mike and I put so many plants in the ground this week it is staggering! By Friday it seemed as though the week would never end. Perfect weather for it though, cool and rainy.

My community garden plot is planted and mulched with straw.

All is well.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tornado Warnings

My mulch pile is gone! Last weekend was all about getting everything in my own garden edged weeded and mulched.

I finished Sunday afternoon and to celebrate Finn & I went to Wilson's Creek for a hike and a swim. It was a perfect day to be there. Finn loved it and the waterfalls made his cinnamon colored fur feel so soft and clean. He is an amazing animal, jumping rocks and ducking into the falls. I love watching him being a dog. Nothing makes him happier than playing in water. We have such a good life. It is hard to imagine that in other parts of the world war and cyclones even exist.

But last night we had a weather event as well.

The storm arrived just as I finished cleaning the interior of my Honda Element of pine straw bits, potting soil, tools and dog gunk. I went inside and turned on the news to find out that funnel clouds had been reported nearby. It was a huge local television event, but other than a nice strong rain, and a few claps of thunder all was well. I did go out to the carport to tidy up a bit and watched a snake in my gutter taking a shower in the water that overflowed. We stared at each other a while. Note to self...clean gutters carefully!

It was peak week for the Spring green Tulips in Blowing Rock. These are some tough plants.

They have been frosted and frozen many times this season, and still look perfect.

I snapped a photo of the Dogwood meadow from my front porch. I have loved that view all spring. The trees are leafing out all around me and my view from all my windows is a tapestry of pure forest greens. Very lush and private.

I am in awe daily of my environment. It is so incredibly beautiful.

At work we are working on two properties that have just built on new porches. Both places are a total wreck.

We have much to do to restore the gardens to lushness. We are tired~ We have also realized our new helper is not so much help. We feel like it its more work for us to keep an eye on him, and to redo work he attempted to do. It is difficult to find people who can just jump in and make a garden happen quickly and efficiently. Michael and I have been in the business for so many years, we know how to not do the work twice. It is difficult for others to keep up and meet our standards. Especially when we are so pressed to get so many things done well.
Thank goodness for weekends~
I am heading to Virginia for a few days to visit my daughters and our nursery. I plan on packing the Honda full of beautiful plants to bring to Blowing Rock. Hopefully all frosts are behind us and the planters and annuals can go in the ground.
There has been no time for painting, but things will settle down soon. The season of enjoying the fruits of our labors is coming soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

World Fairy Festival May 3-4th

At last, the world is recognizing the fairy kingdom, or beginning to at least.....

A little late heads up for this weekend and no events in North Carolina except in my own garden.

Were having a great time!

Fairy Sketch_December 07

Friday, May 2, 2008

Moss Lawns

I have a client that has a wee patch of lawn and she doesn't want to mow it. We talked about using moss instead. On the edge of the gorge and under the tree's, why grow grass? Today on a walk I saw bluets blooming in a patch of moss and thought Oh! Isn't that stunning. Then the New York Times had this article this week Moss Makes a No Care Lawn

This is how my life works. We get the vision, then more info comes in. We start the project next week. There is even a company that sells moss for this purpose. Which is good, I hate to dig it up and disturb the balance of things.

I have an area in my yard that does not support a traditional lawn. I will begin to turn into a moss lawn as well.

My community garden plots are prepped and ready. One of them is planted with cool weather crops, the other is for the rest. I have the straw for mulching. It just needs some rain to soak it and germinate the seed in it before I mulch.

The rain is due tomorrow night. So perfect.

My heirloom Italian tomato varieties will be ready to plant soon, as well as the Jade sunflowers Green Envy Zinnias, and the Nicotiana, Moonvine and Datura....after the Blackberry Frost.

You will know frost is very possible when the Blackberries flower. These plants need a cold spell to set their fruit.

After that it will be crazy week, planting begins in super drive. All the fluff gets to come out and play. I love it. I will be waiting as the trucks arrive at the nurseries for the best colors and combinations to create with. Last year a nursery owner said, as I helped him unload the truck, that I was like a 'seagull goin after chum' when the trucks rolled in.

We hired another gardener today. Wish he had been here for mulch season.... he is an artist and a boulder climber, so Mike and I both are happy. Mike climbs, I paint.

With planting season a week or so away, I will spend the weekend in my own garden, getting centered and grounded.

I still have mulch in my driveway to spread, oh and the shed still needs paint.....It will all get done in due time, I always remember my friend JC, who ran a huge herb business saying to me, 'just get up and start puttering. I get more done when I putter.' She was absolutely right.

Enjoy Spring!