Bought the laurels above for almost nothing, played with them for a couple of years, and gave up. It is too hot here for Mountain Laurels, and they all developed holes in their leaves. So not a lot of money was lost.
Neither was it with all these Agave. They all come from one mother, which is in another place on the acreage. These love the sun here. Same pots on the columns; common Prickly Pear is in them now. This pool environment has lots of spiky things, counterintuitively.
The Holly bushes on either side of the entry gate must be about two years old here. A plywood box covers the machinery for the pool.
Above, the hollies make a tunnel over the gate. Brick has been added to the entry, tile to the pool deck and a little silo to cover the pool equipment. Confederate Jasmine almost covers the back fence now. It was completely covered about four years ago, so much so that its density absorbed garden space and we had to start over.
This is Sidney’s Live Oak, planted in 1997, the year he died. Look at the sandy soil. It is only with a system and a well that we can have grass.
Here is the adolescent live oak today. Have more of these, it takes some work to photograph and crop to make a good comparison.
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.
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.
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.
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!
We are going to try and save the bark, while planing about a three inch flat plane across the top of this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the plants at the pool are physically documented in the tile, not simply their colors.
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.
The dwarf nandina below is in the same garden with the tall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Less work is required if you do two things at once. As always, new gliders have to be integrated into the landscape both natural and architectural. This activity is ongoing as there is always more lawn furniture to be had. Concurrently, I am making new gardens around the new addition to our old farmhouse.
For years I used an old door native to this house but unused in the house, as a dining room table. Then that dining room turned into a bedroom for about a year. The door was shuffled out to the barn.
The other day when sitting and gliding and sensing the new garden space, it occurred to me that that door could be used as a spot of interest in the new garden, which is adjacent to our front porch. It happens to be red on one side, and I want to include lots of red in the new garden to highlight a red line which resides at the base of our front porch.
Here is the situation of the new garden. Very blank canvas. A satellite dish that will be a small pond has been put up on cinder blocks which are hidden by fallen tree trunks. Cotoneaster has been planted to the left of this image, down the side of the new addition.
The ones here are babies that were pulled from another garden. A goal for this garden is to use only stuff that has been propagated here.
In the space behind the single lawn chairs will be a pattern of dwarf nandina which gets very red in the winter, and a pyracantha that was propagated this past summer. I am amazed as it started getting new leaves this fall, and continues now. This stuff I will plant today.
Second job accomplished? With the new door in red, and the red line under the porch, we found the perfect place for Ruth’s glider, which at this point isn’t going to be changed, paintwise. Ruth and my niece gave it its happy paint job. Since we used the red side of the door on the porch side, we probably will paint the other side for the garden.
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.