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!

temporary site for silo

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.

downed redbud

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

IMG_0072

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.

IMG_0075

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.

IMG_0074

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.

IMG_0081

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.

IMG_0076

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:

confederate rose

Advertisements

GARDEN REDESIGN

1-IMG_0782

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”.

1-IMG_0783

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

1-IMG_0776

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.

1-IMG_0785

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.

1-IMG_0777

1-IMG_0784

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.

1-IMG_0787

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

FEEDING THE NANDINA FANS

Nandina
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.

marc chagall detail 4

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.

marc chagall detail 1

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.

1-nandina at pool, tall

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.

1-pool image, going towards red

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

1-pool image, acuba and tile

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.

1-tall nandina in circle garden

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

1-IMG_0910

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.

1-IMG_0911

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.

1-IMG_0912

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.

1-IMG_0913

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.

1-IMG_0914

When mature, it will look like this.

cotoneaster_berries_big

More red!

ROSEMARY VEREY AND THE WINTER GARDEN

Nandina
Nandina (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just heard of Rosemary Verey the other day.  What she said about gardening had occurred to me already.  Gardens do not take the winter months off.  They do not go to Florida.  They are out there in the world, saying something visually and should not look like “scorched earth” in the winter.  This complicates even more their compositions.  One has to think about shapes, heights, colors, amount of water needed, amount of sun needed, deer, types of soils, yadda yadda yadda, not even to mention disease, when something blooms, when something doesn’t.  So now we have to think about how something looks when it is not there.  Baaah!

1-evergreen

One has to be thankful for the evergreens.  They stay in winter and provide structure.   In the case of hollies, as above, the deer don’t eat them.  You can count on them.  Around here, in December, when we want them to, they express the seasonal spirit with their red berries.

1-more hollies

In these parts,  easy to grow and propagate, dependable in its winter showiness is Nandina, both normal in size and dwarf.  It cooperates and gets red and ruddy in December as well.  The Nandina above is looking a little worse for wear.  You are supposed to cut down one third of it each year as it gets leggy and new growth should be started near the ground level at all times.  Although it is nice to see the sculpture behind it, I wish it didn’t have that great gap in the middle.

Still on the topic of the uneven, you can see in these pictures that there are four hollies that make up this “tunnel” at the gate to the pool.  The two inside the wall are quite a bit shorter than the two outside.  I used to square off the inside bushes, and then got the idea for the tunnel.  It was then that I let them grow as the outside-the-gate hollies.

My tunnel is uneven and the two sides bulge with entasis like a Greek column.  I will meditate on whether to get up on a ladder and solve these problems.

1-dwarf nandina

In another garden, see how leggy the regular Nandina has gotten?  I must go out there and implement the one third policy.  The dwarf Nandina in the foreground however is low and bushy and the only problem it has is that it is propagating all the time, and I have to remove the new plants interfering with the pattern that was set up.  Because of this phenomenon I have this pattern growing in two more gardens, but not nearly this mature.  It is like repeating a pattern in various parts of a painting.  The palm in the center here is good in the winter, and even the remainders of some tall lilies are still showy.  What is missing here to the back left is a massive group of ginger lilies that had to be cut down.  My garden is like a mouth with several teeth missing.

1-nandina detail

See how the Nandina gets red in the winter?  New growth which is red covers the older leaves from earlier in the year.