Friday, October 30, 2009

Morrow Mountain State Park

Laura and I had Mexican and headed up. We took a ride to Morrow Mountain State Park. Aside from a boating dock on Lake Tillery, it offers some nice foliage in the fall. It's about 1000ft above sea level.

A new persimmon tree came home with me. It passed the float test.

click to embiggen

It was a good day.

The Orchard.

If I'm going to have a meadow, I should really have an orchard too. And all this on half an acre where 1/3 of the space is driveway, house, or mature trees. I wonder if I can purchase sunlight?

In any case, I was told to mark the fruit trees half price. I didn't really need a 20' wide Morris plum tree, but I have one now. I planted it this morning beyond the lower potager. I filled the very large hole (which, for some reason, was very easy to dig this morning) with cow manure compost and created a small berm to retain water. This area is very dry in summer, but I'm hoping the leaf cover from this fall will start adding new organic material to the soil. In February, I'm intending to sow seeds of creeping thyme back here.

Also part of the orchard, which runs from the upper potager, along the wild, all the way to the gully, there's a sad little Montmorency cherry that I planted this spring. It's a dwarf variety and spent most of the summer struggling as I wasn't able to get back there and water while on crutches. The twigs are still green when snapped, so I hope it comes back in the spring. If not, I probably don't have room for it anyway.

There's also the spring planted Belle of Georgia peach. It has white fruit.

Then the Apache blackberry.

Two blueberry bushes.

The first of three figs. I think the others may get planted in the area under the dead oak tree.

And the Thundercloud Plum. This variety may or may not produce plums, but I'm hoping that it will give me some color and variety in the backyard. It will be transplanted this fall as soon as it starts to lose its leaves in earnest.

I found enough stone in the woods to finish edging the crape myrtle bed.

I have two beds left that need stone. The largest is the shrub border in the very middle of the back yard. Above that, the rose garden needs some attending to as well. Along the front side, I planted strawberries.

I'm not sure where to put my three seedless grapevines that are currently struggling for sunlight along the back edge of the upper potager. The soil back there is hard packed clay full of roots. Maybe I'll stick a couple 4x4s into the middle of the meadow and let them have at it. I'll really need to amend the soil a lot better than I did when I first planted them. Poor things have been moved three times since I got them last year off the clearance rack. They were the first fruits I bought. Oh, what a mistake that might have been.

It's 57 and overcast. Heading to Morrow Mountain today to take a look at some leaves. Apparently, they have them there too. No rain in the forecast today, but the clouds and my right leg say otherwise. Going to shred a few more leaves before Laura arrives. They'll get dumped into the crape myrtle bed, hopefully finishing that area for the week. I'll move on to the potager beds next week forking in the leaves I collect from Larry's yard.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

They Might Be Giants

It's fall.

The giants around the house are tossing off their clothes. In the wild live the tallest trees.

While my trees may not be the most colorful, just beyond the wild, the neighbor's maples are in full swing.

My maple, by the street, is half naked.

Her clothes lay strewn upon the new path along the backside of the perennial bed.

Beside the driveway, another giant lurks at the head of the perennial bed. Around her base, I planted azaleas.

All along the gully and into the wild, the nandina berries are turning bright red.

It's 55 degrees, cool and crisp. There's another heavy dew soaking everything. Water drips from the roof into the downspout outside my bedroom window. Acorns are attacking cars in neighboring yards. The squirrels are almost giddy with anticipation. Another warm day expected with a high of 74. I'll spend the next couple of hours collecting and shredding leaves for mulch.

12:24pm - It's 63 and still sunny. A wonderful day. I spent the morning bagging and shredding leaves from the street and the driveway. I moved some more rocks that were uncovered by the rain to the crape myrtle bed. I need one more wheelbarrow full to finish the edging, then on to the shrub island. I'm running out of rocks. Looks like I need to start digging again.

I also tagged some of the large leaf maples in the wild area. I'll move them this winter to the gully. I'd like to try to create a bit more enclosure and add some fall color to that area. It's filled with privet and trash trees. I may need to kill off the ivy before I can plant anything. We'll tackle that this winter. Me, and my trusty weed whacker.

I also sowed seeds collected from some type of Cornus shrub just over the gully's ditch. It's possibly a Cornus mas. It's got red, translucent berries. The leaves are shaped like a flowering dogwood, but smaller. It reminds me of Mock Orange. I tagged the tree to see what it will do in the spring. I hope I can remember. I've considered moving it, but I want to see if the berries will germinate first.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Noah...

I opened the door this morning expecting a rush of cold air to greet me. Instead, it's muggy and warm even though the temperature stands at 57 degrees. A high of 77 is expected.

Yesterday, the rain started falling about 3pm. I was napping at the time, but when I woke up about 7:30, it was coming down nicely. Around 10pm, the bottom fell out. It was a hard, steady rain that lasted for several hours. When I went to bed at 11:30, it was still falling. This morning, there are a few patchy white spots in the Eastern sky. By mid afternoon, it should be clear. I could use some sunlight.

All told, we got just under 2" of rain overnight. We could use a little more, but not today.

With the yard being so soggy, I have no plans to work outside today. I've got a load of laundry to do, still need to clean the house a bit, and I have to work this evening. My first cup of coffee is about half done.

12:11pm - The sun is out. The humidity is intense. At 61 degrees, it feels like the upper 70s already. I'm thinking of wearing shorts to work.

I packaged up all the seeds that were drying in the basement. Castor beans, agastache mix, salvia subrotunda, salvia elegans, etc and so forth. I scattered the remains in the meadow garden.

Behind the upper potager, I have decreed that the area I intend to plant my figs will also be a red garden. I've got 15 new pineapple sage cuttings stuck today. I've also got enough salvia subrotunda seeds to choke a few hummers and goldfinches. I'll try to find some white agastache next year to plant in between the reds. I may even take cuttings of the white butterfly bush this fall to scatter in between. In a few years, the reseeding qualities of those plants should fill the area nicely as the figs grow.

I also took 5 cuttings from the passion vine in the planter by the basement door. I can't find my seed packet and I have no way of knowing if that plant will return next spring, so I want to be sure I have it.

In the dining room window, a piece of an evergreen wisteria, Millettia reticulata, has finally put out a single, lonesome root. It's been sitting in water for a couple months. I brought it home from work when it broke off while uncarting the mother plant. It has purple flowers all summer that smell of camphor. I'm hoping the smell is something mosquitoes aren't fond of. It'll cover the arbor in the perennial bed starting in the spring. It's not supposed to be cold hardy here in zone 7b, but there are reports of it growing as far north as Raleigh. I'll keep it inside for the winter.

Sitting next to it, roots have formed on the wild ageratum I pulled from the ditch on Brown Avenue. I'm still watching for seeds too.

Pay no attention to the dusty window sills. The construction zone in the kitchen means that nothing gets a thorough cleaning until I'm done. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The bedroom windows are open to air the house out a bit.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My garden has a lot of yellow. I need more red and orange next year.

Sunny Knockout is reblooming after being sheared back a few months ago prior to a move.

Stella D'Oro is also blooming.

The Maples in the wild are very yellow this year.

After work yesterday, I used the leaf blower/vac to shred all the leaves along my side of the street, in the driveway, and the front yard. They became mulch for the Neighbor's corner.

It's 55 degrees and threatening rain. says we have a 75% chance all day and night. I hope it comes. We've been teased too much with cloudy, damp weather and very little rainfall for months. I'd like to see it rain 24 hours nonstop.

This afternoon, after work, I'll stay inside and clean the house. I've got bits of leaves, straw, and dirt all over the place. I've been thinking about returning to the kitchen, but I've just about decided to wait until it's too cold this winter to work outside. I've got paint to scrape, walls to repaint, a little more beadboard to finish, and countertops to install. I still managed to pickle and can 5 pints of green beans (purchased) and 2 pints of cucumbers using a recipe I found online. In three weeks, I'll find out if it's any good.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The brugs have really responded well to the cooler weather. I've taken two branches from each of the three plants in the perennial bed. They've become the 21 cuttings mentioned a couple days ago. I love the different colors of the blooms on a single plant. They start out yellow and fade to a rich orange.

In this photo, you can see all the versions of the blooms, from the smallest, new buds, larger buds, a just opened yellow bloom in the bottom right corner, and the big orange flower that opened two days ago. Tomorrow, that one will be mush.

Yesterday, for my own amusement, I made another panoramic image of the back yard. Click to embiggen.

It's 50 degrees, windy, and cool. The forecast calls for 52 tonight with rain possible Tuesday and Wednesday. Went to work at 5am this morning. I need a nap when I get off at 2pm.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rock and Roll

In the back yard this spring, I dug two large rocks out of the ground. I don't know why I did it. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. For a while, they sat next to the hole they came out of. At some point during the summer, I moved them to the edge of the "lawn" to make mowing easier. The lavender crape myrtle lived there for a couple of months. The hole has been filled in with dirt. Red clover has germinated well there.

This morning, I decided to move those two rocks to the perennial bed. I couldn't have chosen a home any further away without putting them in the street. I used the hand truck and a lot of cussing to get them where I wanted them.



I actually moved three large stones, but one I was able to lift and place on the hand truck. They now reside along the new path I built a couple weeks ago around the back edge of the perennial bed. I probably destroyed the new grass seedlings. It won't be long before clover takes over anyway.

Consistency in design is something I have been taught by my instructors when I was in college. In architecture, consistency is necessary to help people understand movement, form, and texture. It can also be used to define spaces. Private and public spaces can be differentiated using different materials, lighting, or even color. So in my beds, I want some sort of consistency as well. All the tended beds will eventually have stone edging as I find it and place it. Along the edge of the former white bed, now known as the neighbor's corner, I picked up all the stone and finished the perennial bed as well as a good chunk of the gully bed. I'll explain later what I did this morning in the neighbor's corner and why I no longer need stone edging there.

Wheelbarrow #1

Wheelbarrow #2

Wheelbarrow #3 and done.

When I started, there was only about 6' of edging in place. This stone was dug from planting holes all around the yard.

From the upper yard behind the house, you can see the stone I laid around the edge of the gully bed.

Just about where the stone ends now, I transplanted the White Profusion butterfly bush from the neighbor's corner.

I also planted 4 purple Speedwell plants that I got for 50 cents each. The purple should go well with the echinacea and Icicle speedwell already there. Lots of baby echinacea from scattered seeds were seen.

As suggested, I made lots of changes to the neighbor's corner this morning. I won't go into detail now, but there are lots of shrubs there now including five Howardi Ligustrum (evergreen), two loropetalum, several rose of sharon seedlings, a couple of azaleas, two dwarf burning bush, and a couple snowball viburnum cuttings that I rooted months ago. It should provide color, interest, and privacy as it grows together. The only plants I purchased were three clearance ligustrums. I got them for less than $12 for all three. Woot!

I plan to let this corner become semi-wild again. When I cleared it out, I envisioned a beautiful corner with lots of white flowers and flowering shrubs. It hasn't turned out that way. It's too hot and dry in the summer for most perennials and the annuals I wanted there. I still lack privacy in the backyard from prying eyes, and a patio will be built somewhere someday. These shrubs and trees will be mulched with leaves. I'll allow the vinca minor to regrow, and let it spill softly into the edge of the yard where the lawnmower can keep it in check. Naturalized planting areas in the yard won't have stone edging. Only tended beds will need that treatment, cutting down on the amount of stone I'll need for the borders.

This afternoon, now that lunch is done, I plan to move a lot of the split firewood into the basement to continue drying.

It's 57 degrees, cloudy and cool. The wind has died down for the time being. No sign of the promised sunlight I was hoping for today.