Sunday, June 28, 2009

Seasonal Shifts and Changes

The Summer heat intensified with the Solstice last's official. We have shifted from being too wet all spring, losing much in the vegetable gardens to slugs and drowning, to an intense and dry heat wave. Working in Happy Valley is like doing hard labor in a sauna.

Up in Blowing Rock, there is always, gratefully, a breeze. OK, well Friday there was a windstorm right along the ridge where I was working, but the air is almost always in movement in Blowing Rock. The town is full of visitors escaping the heat from down below.

If I correlate the heat of summer, to the emotional temperature of the world, it is heating up as well. So much is shifting on the world stage it is hard to keep up.

In the dog days of summer I like to stay away from intensely colored flowers. Hot colors in the garden tend to make you feel hot and agitated. Of course, this is the time that nature puts out all it's orange and red daylillies, Black Eyed Susan's, and Coreopsis....all hot and intense colors. I drive by gardens filled with Stella D'oro daylillies, and magenta petunia's...I call it technicolor madness. Summer is intense enough in my opinion with out adding more heat to the pallet.

In my own gardens I tend to plant colors that soothe the emotional state if possible. I will usually pick a softer color of the native species if I can find it, Like The soft ivory colored day lilly 'Joan Senior' , or the variety of coreopsis 'Moonbeam'. I love the 'Jade' Sunflower, and the 'Green Envy' Zinnia for that reason. I also tend to hang out in my garden at night. So the lighter colors tend to light up the garden longer in the evenings.

These blooms are fun to sketch as well.

I love this pot of creamy yellow tuberous begonia's mixed with Veronica reptans alba, tucked into the boxwood.

The best part of the hot summer evenings is the fragrance. I love the spicy scent of my nicotiana alata greeting me at the end of the day. That is when I can say Ahhhh, I love summer.

I had a little giggle over finding these sweet potato's growing in my compost bin.....what a nice surprise. Summer is so full of bounty. I am watching the blueberries ripening this week, it will be a great crop this year, just in time for the Fourth of July. Perfect, it is all so perfect, but we could use a little rainstorm right about now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There is something about Hydrangea's

Someday, I want to settle into a spot of land and stay there until I keel over in the gardens and become fertilizer. Then I could actually collect and save all the plants I love.

I have collected hydrangea's for years. Other people are enjoying the rare Japanese lace caps I planted years ago in various places. This white lace cap is now blooming in my current home garden.

I am working on a painting of it to see if I can get it on paper in a lovely way. After attending a workshop last weekend with Robert Burridge I decided to try painting with acrylic paint instead of my usual watercolors....a whole new medium to me...I doubt I will do it justice.

Here are some photo's of the Japanese Lace caps I have planted in my various gardens and no longer have. I do miss them and they would grow well here in the foothills of North Carolina no doubt.

This delicate Pink hydrangea is called Hydrangea macrophylla 'Izu No Hana'
I do not know Japanese, but I believe most of these are named after waterfalls and Islands in Japan.

Hydrangea serrata

I love this Hydrangea
macrophylla 'Jogasaki' bearing the magical silvery blue florets!

There are more than a few orchards bearing fruit long after I get them started... I have had a very nomadic life. Sometimes I feel like the Johhny Appleseed of gardens...... I collect, plant, and as soon as things mature a bit I move on to the next geographical location that calls me. When I think about leaving my rare Martagon Lillies, after years of looking for the mauve ones....I wonder if the next person living in the garden realizes their rarity and hopefully hasn't weeded them out the gardener goes, so does the garden.

My white Siberian Iris are blooming this week as well. As is the Annabell Hydrangea with it's greenish white blooms.

With all the rain we are still having, all the white flowers are so beautiful set off by the green lush foliage surrounding them, creating a wonderful luminous effect in the gray foggy gardens.

All this rain does allow me a little more indoor time for sketching and painting, but not much.....there are designs and estimates to do...and the billing and book keeping......such is the life of a wee busy gardener, Finn is finding me to be terribly boring. Must get back to business now...Enjoy!

White Iris sketch....June 09

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Full Strawberry Moon

On this full moon Sunday I am feeling a sense of completion. We finished up the last of major spring planting jobs this week. The vegetable gardens are mostly in and mulched. I finished my own spring cleaning and overhaul of my house and have put it on the market for sale. I love my house very much, but it is simply too large for me. I don't have an exact plan for what is next, but a smaller home and bigger garden are calling me.

Not that things will let up one bit, but a corner has been turned and all the things on my to do list are accomplished, just in time for the full moon. I love how the rhythm of life works! Now, I get to savor my ripening strawberries and look around a is beautiful.

We are still having rains and storms, hail hit some spots in Blowing Rock last week, meaning we were grooming lots of hosta's. This garden wasn't hit, as we just put a lot of energy into re working the perennial gardens surrounding beautiful stonework terraces and patio's.

In between storms, it is getting hot and humid when the sun appears. Finn is taking cover in the cool lush foliage. This week we were working in a huge bed of daylillies, it felt like we were working in a hot oven. I hadn't seen Finn in a while and called his name. Not three feet from where we were working, a little fuzzy brown brown dog head popped out of a clump of daylilly foliage where he had been sleeping, invisible to us. I gave us quite a giggle, and I wish I had my camera ready in that moment.

Michael took him for a lunchtime swim for relief, while I spoke to the Blowing Rock Garden Club on Wednesday. I think it was the garden along main street in Blowing Rock that these ladies created that led me to move here. I am looking forward to their 'Miles of Flowers' tour on August 29th that will be featuring nationally renowned horticulturalist Chip Calloway, ASLA..

Finn did pose for me under the rhododendron that was proving him shade while we worked to finish up.

In the heat, we have reached a shift from the spring blooms, to waiting for the summer color to begin. A resting moment, before the Solstice, and the beginning of the celebration of summer and the enjoyment of the bounty that the efforts and challenges of spring make worthwhile.

There is much to do still, but for this one day I am going to enjoy my beautiful clean and spacious home, my private woodland garden, my strawberries and my silly sweet dog.