UPDATE ON THE TREE-PEE DESIGN

All design work must be refined with repetition.  Less is most always more.  Better materials can be found and used, those more compatible with their function.  These are good choices for the planet, and help keep that money in your vacation fund.

I must say that it is amazing how little boundary one must construct to keep a deer from eating your bushes.  They seem not to need a whole lot of suggestion.  Tree-pees have solved the deer problem for me for years, even with bushes fairly enveloping the support.

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This tree-pee is three or four years old.  The snowball bush and the tree-pee have a sympathetic relationship.  They are one!  There is nandina, lilies: ginger and not, and a couple of other things planted in the space of the circle that the bush does not use.  Interestingly, every fall a couple of the snowballs bloom.  But in the fall, they are flat like little discs, rather than exhibiting their Seuss-like splendor in the spring.  You can see two blooms above.

At the farm down my running route, they simply put a small plastic ribbon on a wire about four feet off the ground and maybe every six to eight feet down the line.  That does it for a whole field planted with something deer love.  Amazing.

I use cedar from our woods as much as possible as that wood will last longer than any other around here.  The jagged protrusions I cannot help but think serve my purpose as well.

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This tree-pee rests on the side of the woods and protects an oak leaf hydrangea.  This was propagated by me, one of about 12 starts.  Only this one survived, and with the way the deer love this plant, I am interested in defending only one.

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This pyracantha is well protected by this heavy tree-pee.  The bush is doing all it can to attract bad visitors, but all that showiness is unsuccessful.  A Japanese climbing fern asserts itself on the rightmost piece of cedar.  There are also day lilies in this bed, and all to the left are tiny iris, purple; I call them Japanese, but that name is wrong.  They are however the iris one sees on Japanese byobu.

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So here is the new reduced-in-design tree-pee.  Again it houses a pyracantha, one propagated by me.  It was tiny when it was planted;  I fairly crocheted a little string net around it.  And as it grew,  bigger uprights were piled around it, and when my cat knocked the whole thing down last week, it had needed to go for months.

So what is different here?  Had my best idea in a year when looking  for three uprights.  Seeing one of the awful woods vines we have here that grow to a hundred feet and compete with almost any kind of tree, I realized that the cut vine would be flexible and would simply wind around the uprights, and wherever it crossed, it could be tied.  Simple.  And that is just what I did.  The tension created by the winding of that almost-live thing is quite extraordinary.  And the spiral extends beyond the uprights according to its own will.

Then the vine ended.  It was too short for the whole job.  Could not find another because a rampage was conducted (by me) last spring cutting all those vines in the front woods, and a fire ensued which provided much satisfaction.  So a very young tree, growing too close to another was clipped and it worked in the very same way!

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THE TREE-PEE STILL DOES THE TRICK

These snowball bushes are just amazing.  I wish we had a Dr. Seuss-like forest of them.  They are correctly called Chinese Viburnum, and shouldn’t be mistaken for hydrangeas which also bear the common name of snowball bush (which is why we need to use the latin words).

The habit is different between the two, even though they both have sphere-like flowers, and the Chinese Viburnum interfaces better with the tree-pee made to combat deer.

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Taken today, this viburnum is at a little less maturity than peak.  Each snowball starts out light green and slowly whitens.

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Have not noticed any evidence of a deer being near this tree-pee.  I consider this a cure!

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Immature nandina are just behind the spikes that foil the deer.

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A patch of ajuga blooms in one area.  This bush can reach 20 feet high; cannot wait!  It asks me for nothing bu protection, very easy.

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GARDEN REDESIGN

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Mistakes were made.  By me.  Planting two little red bud seedlings together stupidly thinking they would merge into one made our biggest red bud vulnerable in the last ice storm.  And we lost it.  It was in an area of the acreage that I had not paid enough attention to, so it is way past time a little creativity is applied.

And as I look at the space, all next summer is defined for me.  Hate that.

The universe contributed to the project by leading me to Lowe’s and eight red barberry bushes, a little less than dormant, ready to burst, for one buck each.  First thought about starting a garden area for my daughter who has horses; with the stickers on the barberry bushes I was pretty sure they wouldn’t eat them.

But evidently the bushes can create some kind of environment for mold or something that is not good for horses, so why invite trouble?  I took them myself and started the “garden” repair (this area never has been a garden, just three trees spanning the back of the pool).  Above, you can barely see the little bushes within the straw looking centipede grass which most of us use around here.  It crawls along sand “real nice”.

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We have both red and white barberry here, and the deer leave it alone.  It is all stickers during the winter.

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That is a huge consideration.  The deer take over at night.  Barberry shapes itself nicely and puts out a branch where the natural “sphere” it is making needs one.  The new growth is a ruddy pink as you can see on the tag.  It will work well with the trees.  There will be a lot of pink in the spring as the red buds offer a pink flower.

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Look at this grotesque wall!  It simply must have tile and my whole summer was played out for inside the wall on the deck.  Momentum is happening there after two years of work.  And look at the amount of sod that has to be dug out.

The picture above was taken from the point where a new Nellie Stephens holly will be planted to mirror the one at the end of the wall.   Can only find one currently, in a 50 gallon bucket and costing 250 dollars.  Although these will be uneven for some years, it will have to be.  We have nine of these giants around the place in all different stages of life.

The past few years, I have started laying tile on the wall outside perpendicular to this one.  All different shades of white with white grout.  Only work here at the end of the day when some thin set is left.  Same for white grout.  The finished work is slowly growing and no time to speak of has been spent.  My brilliant friend Judy says the wall looks like dividing continents.  She is right, always right.

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The nandina above is a volunteer.  We have them a couple of other places, and they propagate and move easily.   A whole line of them against a white tiled wall would be nice.  And we have the same thing going on elsewhere, which is a good thing for a composition.

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These palmettos are along the bottom face of the front porch.  Busy summer.

FEEDING THE NANDINA FANS

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Nandina (Photo credit: outdoorPDK)

So many people lately have been using the nandina pictures from this blog.  Hooray!  So as opposed to posting more simple pictures of the nandina in my gardens, here is how I think about the bushes in composition.

“Four Seasons” is the name of a work of art the late artist Marc Chagall gave to the citizens of Chicago in 1970.  It is permanently installed in the Art Institute of Chicago.  For fans of pattern, it is a masterwork.  Also for fans of Mr. Chagall.

What does “Four Seasons” have to do with Nandina?

Pattern sets up expectations in a work of art.  We see an organization of spots, for example, in one area of a painting.  When used in another area, the viewer says, “Yeah, I get it.  This is part of the same visual world, where the pattern is part of the language.”  The two spotted areas work together, or are unified.

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Identifying the pattern on the side of this three dimensional work is easy. The yellow areas of tile organizes the work.  The yellow is repeated all over this side of the mosaic. The repeat of the yellow is part of the fantastic world that Chagall presents.  Within this patterned structure, he can include all sorts of figures, and the strong yellow pattern will hold them all in place, no matter how different they are.  And above, the blue shapes of the figures are very different in size and strength.

Pattern serves this purpose in an area as big as the one above, but also in the details.

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The association of light blue areas next to figures suggest shadows, and serve to make the figures more dominant.  And also creates a subtle blue sub-pattern.

This is where the nandina comes in.  Having many gardens here, I use the repeat pattern of dwarf nandina to create a unity in the gardens, being careful not to push it too far.   Overuse would create a boring composition.  Nandina comes in regular size too, taller, and the use of the big ones can repeat the color and texture but not the size.  A mis-matched repeat.  All the better.

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This tall variety of nandina within our walled pool area always retains more leaves in the winter.  Have no idea why.  It gets brilliant red and is topped off with even brighter red berries.

Visually, it carries on a conversation with the reddest part of my tile composition, which is about 12 feet from the bushes.

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Some of the plants at the pool are physically documented in the tile, not simply their colors.

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The same nandina as within the pool area is missing more leaves in another area of the acreage, looking more like a Dr. Seuss creation than anything else in winter.

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The dwarf nandina below is in the same garden with the tall.

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To keep the dwarf nandina in little mounds, you have to move out the new sprouts.  Then make more pattern in different places in the yard.

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The tiny red leaves above are new plants.  Use them to create more red pattern in other gardens, repeating a theme.  On the other side of the house,  a new garden was planted next to the bedroom that was added on.

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The dwarf nandina has not gotten very red at all this fall, nor has the taller nandina bush to the right.  This place is protected on two sides.  In the tree-pee to the left is a pyracantha, which gets red berries in the winter.  This one is very young, and has not yet.

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Deer eat this.  It will probably always have some sort of barrier around it.  Along the back of this garden is cotoneaster.  It has been there maybe 18 months.

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When mature, it will look like this.

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More red!

CONFUSED SNOWBALL BUSH

If you live in the country, having a snowball bush as seen below is a simple act of generosity to the deer.  They love viburnum.  And so do I.  Keeping this bush is a test of wills between my nature and theirs.    Below is my bush several years ago, first without protection, and then with a tree-pee over it to keep the deer out.

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The tree-pee works.  I also have them protecting a mimosa tree, needed only during the childhood of the tree, and two pyracanthas.   With the pyracanthas and snowball bushes, the bush and the tree-pee are becoming a single element.  No need to think about removing them, and it probably would be disastrous to do so.

entire tree-peeAbove is last spring’s bloom of snowballs.  Their green cast means this is a Chinese viburnum (snowball bush). And this bush is an early spring bloomer; the grass is not even green in the yard.  Below is my future with this bush if the deer will let me.

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This bush is protected too, by an iron fence!

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Above is today, late September.  This bush did this last year as well.  Several blooms have popped out, but they are not spheres, they are flat circles of flowers.  Cannot find anything on the web about this phenomenon.

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Interested to nature’s response to climate change?  I recommend Barbara Kingsolver‘s “Flight Behavior”.  Amazing book.

FIRST CAME THE ICE STORM

And what year was that?  2004? 2005?  That was a difficult winter.

The ice storm continued for two nights, and my adolescent live oak tree about folded itself in half.  Living alone here then,  the damage was overwhelming.  I hauled and burned for weeks and FEMA picked up damage for months.  After they left, the county still picked up damage we all managed to haul to the road.

It was not until I figured out how to use some of the damage creatively that the work became easier to do.  In the pictures above, you can see that the gardens are circled by big oak branches.  I started doing that during the clean up.  And every year, I add more as the older wood disintegrates.   These pictures show just part of the gardens here.

The ice storm, or “Nature’s pruning” as some optimistic people call it, did a number on our woods.  Where the crowns of the trees had created a round and loopy line as they reached the sky, after the storm, it looked like Death Valley in an alternate universe.  There was no crown to speak of on any trees, and the tallest pines looked like Dr. Seuss designed them.  They had lost all their limbs save the very top ones, and those tops were round and poofy.

One thing this huge pruning did for our woods is that sun got into places it had not for a while.  It was maybe two years later that I noticed huge white flowers at the top of what I had thought to be bay trees.  Were they really magnolias?  This brings me around to my current topic, my new garden around the new bedroom addition.  Almost done with it now, and spending no money other than the 20 bucks spent on a pretty large Japanese maple,  I transplanted two magnolias from the woods to the new space yesterday.

Well I am confused between bay trees and magnolia trees.  Doing a little research, the names of these trees jump around in both varieties with a spectrum of hyphenated choices.  Google “magnolia” and you get a number of different names: swamp magnolia, swamp laurel, laurel magnolia, white bay, bay magnolia, sweetbay magnolia, loblolly- bay, holly-bay; it goes on and on.  It seems that both bay and magnolia have creamy white flowers.  Is anybody clear about these trees and their flowers?  Somebody is, but there is a lot of contradictory information on the net.

I also saw opposing opinions about whether deer like bay trees or magnolia trees.  It seems deer will eat the tender flowers of either, if hungry enough. Thinking that maybe I could deduce what we have here with the fact that deer do not eat what i know for sure to be a Little Gem Magnolia, this seems to be a specious task as well.

Above is one of my Little Gem Magnolias in a huge pot, during the ice storm and sometime after.  The tree is the perfect height for deer to eat it, but they do not.  Some entries on the web talk about deer not eating the trees, but rubbing up against them, which can do its own type of damage.  I see none of that here.

Back to the new garden.  Below, on the left with a shimmer,  is the first bay/magnolia transplanted yesterday.

And here is the second.

As one website advised, magnolias with their shallow root system like water that leaches from fallen leaves of their own.  So I raked up the fallen environment in the little magnolia (?) woods across the driveway, and imported them here.

CREATING LANDSCAPE AROUND THE NEW OUTDOOR SHOWER

AND SUBTITLED:  SOLVING OLD PLACEMENT PROBLEMS

Glenn takes a rest with our mouse after struggling with transplanting three huge Burning Bushes that have not burned for years.  They were in another garden where an oak is taking over and they were not getting enough sun.  Here the amount of sun should be enough to get good red leaves going in the fall, and also to camouflage our new outdoor shower.  Closer to the brick pathway are Loropetalum, very small, rescued from under bigger examples of the same bushes.  They spent the summer in pots and are now big enough to be transplanted.  Love doing things this way.

The Loropetalum are in a little crescent behind the cement planter that has Creeping Betty in it  among other things.

Other rescued plants are three Azaleas, two planted in the small space between the shower pathway and stairs, and the third to the left of the cement planter furthest away.

The removal of the three burning bushes has left a huge empty space in the garden in front of the studio.

Above is the area where the spindly and not red Burning Bushes were growing.  They overwhelmed the little path, and now it can be seen better, although more cleaning up needs to be done.  Ajuga is exploding here, and trying to grow over my mosaic tiled path stones.  After cleaning that up, I will find some shade loving things to replant.

Thinking about replacement, I found this good candidate.  Deer are my enemy and deer don’t like this.  Shade is needed and here we have it in abundance.  And this color is great.

  Aralia Sun King.

PROBLEMS WITH DEER

If you could have seen this acreage years ago, you would not believe what has been accomplished.  The series of circular gardens were born out of our huge two night ice storm,  around 2004.

The damage was devastating.  It was the worst natural event that I was “lucky” enough to live through, even with Hurricane Hugo in our history.

As with my cancer problems, I turned the physical mess into art.  It was then that this series of circular gardens were born; for months damage was burned, FEMA picked up a lot, but some defined these gardens.  Removing the damage was turned into a creative effort, and it was then that work did not seem so awful.

For me, with cancer, and with other problems, it is all left to art.  Or sometimes running.  It is in these venues that problems begin to be understood, and it always takes physical involvement.  Maybe the problems just perspire away!  Finding huge fallen trees long and lean enough for me to haul was just what was needed to turn this huge problem into something i wanted to do.  And it was free!

There are six of these circles on this side of the house, and a long parenthesis-shaped garden along side the middle circles. There are spaces between them large enough for the lawn tractor to get through.

This is the front garden from the line of circles and the newest one in this area.  This is yesterday.  It has a getting-bigger-all-the-time snowball bush in the center, and it had two pretty fabulous snowballs this spring.  It is the only one of three that has survived.  The deer love this bush.

Behind the circle, you can see that there are three posts with blue bottles hanging on.  There used to be a cedar fence along that line, which we removed yesterday;  it was getting a little worn, and my husband found cutting around it less than fun.

We took the parts of the fence, and made a tee-pee over the snowball bush garden to hopefully keep the deer from getting in close enough to snack.  If they needed the food last winter, what would happen when we have a normal winter?  This winter, even my annuals did not die.

This is the same garden this morning, with a tee-pee like barrier for the deer.  I have tried this before, unsuccessfully, but this is bigger and stands a greater chance of fending off the deer.  On one side, for an experiment, one side was left more open, but at the base,  we put lots of cedar bits with lethal looking side branches, standing up.  This winter we will see which idea is more successful.

Below is a Yoshino cherry tree which has been battling the deer for several years now.  Today we will make a better, bigger barrier.  Poor thing has never bloomed.