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.
Glenn has done a lot of work for Brad and Tracy. Actually we both have been involved in their recent home renovation. At a counterpoint in their professions, time and effort outside of that work is finely paired, and their home is a unique expression of their movement in the world. This is the way you are supposed to live. Feather your nest with stuff that helps define you as a person. Act on the stage of that theater; you will feel harmony.
As their boy worked through scouting, they earned “advanced degrees” as well. Their personal universe is built around the natural world, pulling symbolism from old Indian ways, to which of course the Boy Scouts is more than a little indebted. Arrows, spirals, rays of sun play in their personal iconography. The three images above show details of a mosaic “frieze” I did for their sun room utilizing symbols from the Boy Scouts and Indians of the Northwest. The third detail features an abstracted portrait of the family. The mosaic is just under the 10 foot ceiling on three walls, and little china bird collectibles found at the flea market are used in several places (I think there is one in the middle of the triangle of arrows in the third image, and top and center in the first image).
The materials used in the house as you might imagine are floor stone, lots of it, fine woods, light and dark, both as structure and as object. Look at nature and wonder how we think we can improve upon it! Maybe we can simply organize these wonderful raw materials to do specific jobs. Glenn has fabricated a limb with branches to help deter rainwater from puddling in the wrong place.
This steel limb has maple leaves that can be twisted to usher the rainwater into a better spot.
Above is another steel sculpture Glenn did for Brad and Tracy’s home. It is a life sized fox and bird, with the fox heated to a reddish color and the bird towards blue.
Recently they acquired a huge ancient pot. More than a thousand years old, they needed a display device to secure it in a home environment. Tracy bought a deer skin to use for cushioning material. The structure incorporates symbols of the sun and arrows used by Indians. The arrows will contain the pot.
Arrows keep the pot from moving sideways, and embrace its middle. The triangular base lends stability.
The hide covers parts of the armature that nobody wanted to see in addition to its cushioning of the pot.
All these natural materials present a lovely almost monochrome composition which contains amazing textural variety. They are happy, Glenn is happy. But know what? I am not going anywhere near that pot!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Several years ago a vendor at the local flea market had four of these (maybe it was three). He said that they had come directly there out of the inventory of a long closed up rural shop. They had their original tags intact (which I stupidly did not save). Paid ten dollars for it. Why didn’t I buy them all? Somebody needed a gift, Christmas is always coming.
New Years Resolution: Whenever something old and cool jumps out at YOU, buy them all.
The vendor said the baskets were made in the early sixties. They can have the shape of an hourglass, if you want, or you can pull out the middle and create a bigger basket.
I push the basket around my laundry room and feel like Betty Furness.
The base of the basket is made of angles as well, and has rollers of an old type of plastic.
The top of the basket completely collapses. Beautiful! Looks like a Busby Berkeley water show. Waiting for the legs to kick!
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.
Around here, these are called “Charleston bricks”. Have no idea as to why. Must be a small town South Carolina reference to the largest and oldest town around here created from bricks and cobblestones.
Last year, we began the piazza and then went on to other things. Bricks came into our life again and we attacked the old project with gusto.
Glenn has created two brick pathways that strike out against the otherwise linear pattern of the piazza.
Working with bricks is so simple here in the Low Country of South Carolina. Our ground does not freeze, and our soil is mostly sand.
We modify the lay of the work area with a box blade. The sand in our driveway is virgin like beach sand and we mix it 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement. Set the bricks, and let it rain, or water them.
Looking for a picture in my library that shows our sandy soil, I settled on this one, which features details other than the sand. This is our house, hovering on rails, having been moved three miles. Trenches are dug in the sand for the foundation block to go in, the next step in renovation. The charcoal smudge in the foreground is what was left from an old burn pile.
At the left of the foreground of this image is a poured 1/2 basketball court. The piazza will attach to that.
One edge of the “internal” brick path on this side has been measured out.
And now almost filled in. More discussions of brick:
Tannic acid. What makes the slow moving Edisto river waters murky/black and a symbol of equally slow southern living is also making the deck around my pool a mess. Above, the area under the blue line undulating like the Edisto behaves in the low country of South Carolina, was grouted only two days ago. Above the line to the left, today. Today, that grout is clean. Wait until tomorrow.
To be sure, my aesthetic is shabby. I do not expect perfection. Our house is a 1940’s farm house, mostly tongue and groove, and many planes meet other planes in a happy approximate way. It is filled with stuff from that decade and the next; my pocketbook can only afford these precious items that have a “history”—a history of being well used! We all have our bumps and bruises.
But I will tell you what. We have had a summer to remember down here. Today is the first day we have had zero chance of rain since the middle of the spring. Might have been the beginning of spring. My head is swimming.
Don’t even know how to describe how wet this spring/summer has been. Wilting, humid, dirty-feeling, wet-feeling, doing things outside in the rain because it just will not stop, crinkly body parts, fungus, mold, unrelenting, opposing optimism, ponds in places they do not belong, mosquitoes where they were not before, wet paper, wet bedclothes, wet wet wet.
I poured bleach on this black mold already where the bricks offset the old entrance to the studio. Dangerous stuff. You can see how it is still an issue. And then there is mildew.
I have heard about mildew in old television commercials. Saw it years ago on old cheap shower curtains. It was the old experience of mildew that made me decades ago declare that a shower curtain would never darken my door again, and ten years ago realize that showers did not need coverings anyway. Of any kind.
But I never saw mildew as a kind of indoor snow before. Inexperienced, this is what we did. Happily living here without air conditioning in the big house for many years now., we invested in a whole house attic fan. And Glenn had some kind of a system added with our recent construction to pull hot air out of our steep attic. Both things helped, kind of.
Man did that fan pull the cool air out of the woods and into the house! It was wonderful! And this has not been a hot summer for us, just wet. We would watch the indoor/outdoor thermometer and when temps equalized in the morning, we shut the house up and turned on the dehumidifier. It worked! Everything was tolerable until I found the white snow. First on a fine old hand made table with a marquetry top, which had some varnish problems anyway. Guess I kind of generalized the two problems together. Head in sand.
But then I saw snow on the side of the dresser, and looking closer, everywhere. Battle stations! And the end of a certain way of life. My weakness makes me sick. Do you know what pushed me over to the other side? Ringworm. I got a fungus this wet, wet summer on my ankle.
Good bye to this part of green living.
The other side of the pool deck has no damage from oak trees plus water. Around it are hollies, papyrus, acuba plants. Watch, next year we will be complaining about something else.
About the same in terms of work. But different in terms of impact.
This piece was done in the late nineties, and it relates to my cancer years in that decade. All of these figures are me, and they are adorned with surgical scars, of which I have many. Much of the work from this time was an effort to discuss the problem, and jettison it from my reality. Not healthy to hide it.
The picture plane is about eight inches by ten inches. The figures are made by satin stitch mostly, on a fabric plane pieced together by machine. Most of the fabric has pattern on it so two systems of pattern must work together, that constructed by me with the fabrics, and the pattern of the symbols stitched onto the fabrics.
I cannot paint. It is too direct. My shapes have to be put together in bits. Like in single stitches in the above case. They cast a slight shadow, rise subtly above the fabric picture plane. This phenomenon enriches the color and shapes.
On the pool deck, shapes are made also of bits, and color moves along by darkening or lightening the bits (pieces of tile), or doing the same with grout. Or both. The language is always concerned with pattern, and along with the interlocking pattern of the tile, there is layered upon a secondary pattern of, in this case, square brown shapes which are actual tile to be used for a pool, or open curves made of glass.
As with the embroideries, I like to build in as much detail as possible without breaking up the composition and making it unreadable. Above, within a big neutral shape, it lightens and darkens, contains screen printed tile of beige and white, creating a busier area, and white rectangles here and there and in a line add interest.
Terra cotta grout has been used in the area of the shadows of the pots. This picture was taken when the actual shadows and constructed shadows met.
I like for grids, or a kind of “organization” to coalesce in places among all the frenzy.
Another area of organization among chaos.
This darker shape has a pattern of bigger lighter square tiles, and dark orange actual pool tile appearing in organized squares. The grout in this area will slowly darken. White can kill color.
Two big storm systems are marching towards each other today. Light rushes against dark, and will create a vibrant implied line, much like the circular lines made of “jewels” in the foreground.
The shadows seem to be working fairly realistically on the cement deck. There was not much sun yesterday when this picture was taken. To the left of the pots it seems like there was.
This picture was taken from the steps down into the pool. Of course, this work is awaiting grout. If you look to the very left of the picture, you can see the real shadows the pots are casting at this time of day. The constructed shadows record the late afternoon.
The second cluster of pots to the left of the steps is gaining its shadow work. It connects to a pool rug created and grouted last summer. This tile is screen printed, light beige and white.
The second cluster of pots and their shadows connect at the lower right of the image above.