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.

 

 

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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.

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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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!

THE SECRET GARDEN

Generations of girls have loved this book.  As a child in the suburbs of St. Louis, I could not imagine such a place as it presented: old walls and secrets and lost spaces that had been forgotten.  Unused rooms in a house. Romantic like a heath would be, or a cliff, or a moor,  or the ocean (any one of them) for that matter.  Anything other than poured cement streets and little measured squares, one house per.

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The aesthetic of Frances  Hodgson  Burnett‘s book, The Secret Garden,  is called back in old movies, black and white.  Jane Eyre, Heathcliff, you know.  Making woodcuts outside in the movie “Enchanted Cottage”.

Advanced now in finding waste for building (today is broken brick day), when I first bought this acreage, it was beyond me to construct a walled secret garden.  So I planted bushes for walls.

Much different now than it was when first planted, you have to live long enough to appreciate it.

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I planted four Nellie Stevens holly bushes,  two on each side of the gate entry, on both the pool side and the garden side.  They were planted too close so their spreads come together and a tunnel could be made.

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You can see in the picture above that I let the garden side hollies grow up before letting the pool side ones.  Used to trim them into cubes.  In the future when all four are the same height, I hope to trim all four tops into one cone.

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I do have walls around my secret garden, but they don’t contain it.

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On a little relief of grass sits a cement bench featuring an edge made of pieces of plates.  My pink oleander is straining for the sun these days.  Changes will have to come.  Ornamental grasses circle its base.

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A mound of azaleas on the right and elaeagnus, the only one in the area that I trim to this extent,  lead into the garden.  During September and October, the fragrance of the elaeagnus  is dazzling.  My mother called this “Russian olive” and it was in her garden.  Don’t remember it being as fragrant as it is here.

The white tile path has to be moved this winter as the bushes are overtaking it.  Always move the path, never the bushes!

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A line of red barberry interfaces another of holly, and they are the walls for the secret garden.  At the top of the picture are the Nellie Stevens hollies.

EXTERIOR DOOR

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.

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.