ANOTHER OUTDOOR ROOM

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Bought a great old bench at the flea market Saturday for five bucks.  It has been around.  Paint-dripped, heavy, weathered and constructed in a novel way, we have just the place for it in a new outdoor room being created next to the pool.  You would think I would learn.  Oh yeah, lots of fun creating all these gardens, and even adding three new zones to our watering system recently.  The plantings are doing great, but  funny how weeds respond to daily watering.  Who would think?

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The best part of the little bench is the seat back.  Made of one large piece of lumber, it has split and the pieces were moved a couple inches apart from each other to make a fine undulating line.  The top of that plane looks like someone took an axe to it.  There is a bit of a grey/blue color to it, which I knew would be enhanced when coated with varnish.  The bare wood would darken and make the combo better.

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The construction of the bench from the back reveals a complete “joie de vivre” in terms of engineering.  Notice the nails attending the close side.  Reminds me of my craftsmanship.  How fast can I get this thing done?!

As with my sculpture,  a shiny varnish is used to accomplish two things.  Protect the wood, and exclaim to the viewer:  this is intentional, the primitive nature of this piece.   It is varnished and shined up so there will be no question that THIS is the intended statement.

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Here the little bench sits on an almost blank canvas near a fairly recently laid eccentric pathway.  It is varnished now and the wood is redder and darker.  This will get watered every day by the new system.  Who knows how long it will last?

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Same for these partners in crime on the other side of the young fig tree.  Their rust is enormous, and heterogeneous so it looks like a heavy skin.  How much watering can they take?

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I have never seen chairs of this design before, and their style is a refreshing change from the norm.

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Soon the cut weeds out here will turn to centipede grass.

BALLSY

Yesterday’s post was incomplete.  https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/bev-lee-has-balls/

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The intensity of balls in this garden is stunning.  Above, an orb hangs from the porch armature.  Unbelievably, there is a glass tree inside this ball, visually linking it to its surroundings.

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Impossible to see the inner tree, this reminds of of how astronauts on the space station describe the earth.  Such a universal shape, this.  I have no doubt that the universe is in sync.  Look at the following.

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One day, Bev-lee was forced to observe one of the difficult parts of Nature.  A predator bird stole a frog from the edge of one of the ponds.  She captured on video the demise of the frog.  The ripping and shredding of the frog on the surface of her outdoor fan took a while.  The bird finally left, and Bev-lee stole towards the pond to see the remains of the poor frog.  One eyeball, one orb was all that was left.  Nature comments.

BEV-LEE HAS BALLS

And lots of them.

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Many of her balls are colorful old bowling balls which carry along the patina of age.  To install some of the outside ones,  she simply places a little rebar stick into the ground, and into the thumb hole of the ball.  She judges the length of the rebar to make them hover, and in this case, above the grass on Isa’s island.  Isa the greyhound used to make a bald spot in the middle of this island as she was master of this domain.  Kind of like the Little Prince on his planet, I always thought.   Isa is gone now, but the balls keep her memory on the island.

Bev-lee is old enough to have established her style.  Some never do, but she has loved orbs as long as I can remember.  She used to have an admirable glass office with her big job, and you could see the balls all through the adjoining work space.  Having an even bigger job now, she works from home and all those balls are in the home office.

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They hail from all over the world, and they are not just decorative.  These icons of hers run much deeper than just objects to collect (although there is much merit in simple collections).

Balls are Bev-lee’s visual language.  They integrate all the rooms of her house visually, and the balls on the inside and the balls on the outside claim the same nationality.  They are visual team players.

You have already seen outside balls and inside balls, but these balls also do jobs.  This is why we know that balls are far beyond a collection.  They solve problems, they create compositions, they move.  I told you Bev-lee had balls.

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Does your Mother-in-Law Tongue droop over the edge of its pot?  Use balls to keep it in place.

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Need a dust ruffle for your bed?  Why not use balls?

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Blank space under a tall table?  Fill it with balls and play with interesting texture contrast as well.  All good.

EVERYTHING is a composition.  The entire interior of this house is connected visually by repeated orbs.  All the rooms make sense together.  And this repetition is really important outside the house; in the front and back.

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The idea of balls is introduced to the viewer at the entry of the house.  Here the red annuals were selected to repeat the beautiful red bowling ball.  So now you know what you are in for in the back of the house.  Welcome to ball world!

Bev-lee has been working on a couple of ponds for many years, and creating the landscape around them.  It was many years ago, hotter than hell, when we were racing around the city doing what we do when we get together.  The “Waste as a Way of Life” world joins the orb patrol for a couple of days.  We saw that some enormous bushes were being fairly ripped out of the gardens of a shopping center.  The bushes themselves plus the root balls probably stood five feet high.  We asked about the future of the bushes; they had none.  Bev-lee talked the workers into bringing the enormous things, maybe eight, to her house, and then muscle them into the back yard.  She tipped them well.   We dribbled water on those big boys for a couple of days until she could get them planted.  It is shocking how many survived; I swear it was 100 that day.

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Above is one of those bushes, probably four feet high and wide now, and below is its context.  It is part of the landscape of the upper pond.

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There is a footpath between the two ponds.

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And the lower pond.

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Form plus function is the best, anyone will tell you.  This is what is so marvelous about Bev-lee’s universe.  She wondered  how to keep the netting that holds leaves out of the ponds in place for the winter months.  Her solution is brilliant.  She puts a big exercise ball in each pond in the middle.  On the edges, smaller balls secured from bins at Target.  After the nets are installed, the balls don’t move, and the leaves are excluded.  And her orb fetish is intact!

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It gets better.  For two years she has not removed the balls at all when not needed in winter.  She chose their colors appropriately in the first place, they are lovely as the little waterfall moves them around the lower pond (movement is a great attribute for a composition) and she has not had a fish taken by predators since she decided to leave them.  Trifecta!

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Bev-lee has balls.

 

 

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

Changes are happening in our part of the county; a little lesson in local government working for the people.  And it was pretty easy to accomplish, this relatively inexpensive project.  The dirt road which intersects our long drive is being paved.  Our neighbor has wanted this for years as the sand on the road finds its way to his pond with rain.  Asphalt will stop this, and probably keep the pond water higher all year.

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Glenn wants the improvement too, and gathered signatures.  Heavy rains cut waterways around the mouth of our drive and around the mailbox.  To me, the paving represents unwanted growth, but I relented.

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We will lose our elaeagnus bushes at the left of this picture.  It is OK.  Planted at the very beginning of my gardening career, they really make no sense where they are.  They do not match on either side of the drive as a car drove over and pruned one set one late night.  Happily, the construction guys will dig them up, root ball included, and lift them on a waiting trailer for us.  We are going to plant them at the very back of our acreage and let them do their fast growing best.

Another local resident has a crop of Loblolly pines growing in harvestable rows at the back of our acreage.  Since I have been here the trees have been thinned twice.  It won’t be long until they are sold and the whole process will start again.  It will mean big changes to the back of our property and we want those ten elaeagnus to be as large as possible to muffle sound and block vision.  It is a noble job for those bushes and we are sure glad we have them for this use.

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What else was positive about this road construction?  Well the way the bigger trees were cut down was interesting, and we got an example that will be the new mantle for the fireplace in the kitchen.  The old one was the victim of an accident.  It is difficult to imagine what kind of huge machine fairly took bites out of the trunk of this tree!

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We are going to try and save the bark, while planing about a three inch flat plane across the top of this.

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ABOUT AZALEAS

We have a lot of azaleas.  One cannot deny their brilliance at a certain time of the year.  They are stunning when flowering.  They simply take up space when they are not, but that characteristic can be used positively by a gardener.  Lush and green most of the year in the South, they still have leaves in the winter but not an abundance.  They are stick-y looking.  Serious gardeners like less common bushes.

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But part of my raison d’etre is to do things on the cheap.  I have extensive gardens, and propagate to populate them.  Therefore I have azaleas, mostly white ones.  We had a freeze the other day, a late one. Last year our last freeze killed almost all my blooms.  It was the right freeze at the right time.  This year only a few buds froze and only those that were about mid-age for a bud.  Smaller tighter ones survived, and blooms survived.  Buds that were about to open did not.  Below are some babies found under mature plants about six months ago.  I pulled three loquat trees out of this garden and extended the azaleas.  Buds on the back plant survived, but not on the front.

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The bushes above are bursting with buds.  To the left of this image are the babies which are replacing the loquats.

The first time I saw azaleas, home in St. Louis where they did not abound at that time (do they now?), was in a book that my dad had ordered through the mail.  It was a dream book for him.  It showed houses that you could buy, and they would arrive in a railroad car.  Cannot remember if this was around the time that he bought a couple of lake lots in St. Claire, MO, and he was thinking about building there.  This book had a house on the front that was overflowing with candy pink azaleas.  This was LONG before photoshop, but they looked totally fake to me.  That is the thing about azaleas.  Imagine a yellow sided house in the image of an old Florida postcard below.  There was my introduction to this plant.

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But more than that, I thought when seeing that book was that we were moving, and was horrified.  A sophomore in high school, my needs were paramount then.  I certainly did not want to move into a house like that from a railroad car and those nasty fake bushes all around!  It did not happen; Dad didn’t survive long enough to do anything with those lots.

Thinking often about what he would think about my ten acres,  I enjoy them for myself, but also for him.  I create compositions and breed plants and generally make something from nothing.

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Oh, and these are not azaleas.  They are loropetalum.  And not photoshopped.

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!

MORE NEW GARDEN

The garden sits and works on its own as we paint the new gallery, hike the AT, and nurse knees.  The Knockout roses are producing like well-oiled little machines, providing they are dead headed periodically.  Love to help them with that.

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Ginger lilies, transferred from other places on the acreage, are thriving here.  This area is full-sun and then some.  They were not moved until September, but many are blooming now.  Did not expect that.  And behind the ginger lilies is one of the five knockouts acquired at the “dead plant” section at Lowe’s.  One of the five is a double bloom!

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The heads are heavier and look down.  They are as disease resistant and have the same blooming power as the original Knockout.  They were developed by the same people as the original, some years later.

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Above is a detail of a single Knockout rose.  Behind that, you can see sod yet to be removed from the garden.

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Then finish off the line of bricks bordering the garden against that creeping centipede grass.

 

“Finally, atop foliage that is rather midway between a grass and a siberian iris, Crocosmia is related to gladiolus and provides yet another bright torch (most popular color is red, but also in orange or yellow) for the garden.   Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is one of the most intensely red perennials for the border, and reliably deer resistant as well.  It can take time to establish a mature clump and you might have to try more than one location to find its “happy spot” in a Spokane garden, but it is worth it.  Of course, if  you visit the Oregon coast, you’ll find that gardeners there consider this flower one of the staples.  It certainly enjoys regional popularity.  But I get out and about in Spokane and I see these thriving in many gardens.  The owner is often proud of the achievement since they may have had to try a couple of times to get it established, but once really settled, it has been reliable.  When yours is a gorgeous display, you’ll carry a torch for this plant as well.”

The description above is from the “Tower Perennial Gardens” blog, and what is stated here is right on.  The only “happy spot” found here for the perennial is within one of my round line of gardens which gets lots of sun.  I have taken for this use Crocosmia given many years ago out of the shade around the pool where it is just a lovely leaf, and dotted it all around this new garden in a pattern.  It sits under the pine straw now, only to prove merit or folly next spring.

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Aha, so with gardening, we are making a composition that we cannot see and react to during creation.  We try to make an interesting statement with plants that have similar sun and water requirements.  We have to consider deer, and varmints under the soil.  An exercise only for the very wise or very ignorant, choose one!

A NEW GARDEN

For many jobs around here, you have to wait for the cool weather.  We had an ice storm last January and final clean up and redesign is starting up again now.   We just burned  a lot of brush and limbs that have been piled along our drive all year.  I have slowly been working on a new garden which had to be created because of the trees we lost during the ice storm.  It needed work anyway.  And Glenn is all for reducing the amount of grass he has to cut!

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The largest Redbud behind the wall, to the left and out of the picture above, was taken down by the ice.  All three of the trees behind the wall were different sizes due to the amount of sun each got.  They just were not a team, so we removed them.

See the tinge of pink on the ends of the branches below?  The red buds are one of the first to bloom here, and at the point of the ice storm, they were on their way.

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Surprisingly, with the three trees gone, we can see the live oak in the distance much better from the inside of the pool area.

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To the far right of this image is a huge Nellie Stevens Holly, put in in 1997.  To the left of that, is the live oak, way further back.  It suffered ice damage too, but the branches are filling in.  It also was planted in 1997 and is a very young adult now.

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I was kind of led to symmetry for this garden, which is not my favorite solution for design.  First, I realized that the large Nellie Stevens had to be matched on the other end of the forty foot wall.  Could have paid almost as much as I wanted for one; saw one for 350.00, but I settled for a 45.00 big bush.  They grow fairly quickly.  This was my biggest expense for my 103.00 garden.

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Above is the 45.00 Nellie Stevens in the foreground with its huge mirror image in the background.  This bed is 8′ x 40″, the same size as my front and back porches.  This garden actually started out probably around March when at Lowe’s I found eight red barberry bushes, sleeping the winter as they do, in the “dead plant” area of the garden center for one dollar each.  Score, and the game began!   You can see them faintly on the left boundary of the garden, still surrounded by sod.  Almost killed them this summer putting too-fresh horse manure on them.  Lesson learned.

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All along that nasty looking stuccoed wall (which I do not intend to do again), Nandina is being placed about two feet apart.  This stuff procreates like rabbits, so the plant material is coming from other places in the yard.  It will be nice silhouetted against the white, and in the winter it gets to be a beautiful red.  My symmetry is not perfect, nor do I want it, and this side of the garden has some yucca from the pool area.  On the other side in the same space is Confederate Rose, free from my friend Janet.

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Two tiny heads of confederate rose are to the right of the taller plantings.  You can simply cut a branch from an existing plant, root it in water, changing the water every day and sturdy roots appear after about three weeks.  Easy.  This is a fast growing rose and has a very interesting habit.  Kind of thinly orchestrated.

This is what it will look like:

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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.