WHAT TIME LOOKS LIKE

Interesting exercise.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is the adolescent live oak today.  Have more of these, it takes some work to photograph and crop to make a good comparison.

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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NATURAL PARTNERS

We have masses of dead cedar in our woods, in various stages from just dead to very dead.  And we also have lots of deer.  Turns out cedars and deer are one of nature’s juxtapositions:  if you have deer, you are going to need lots of cedar to keep them out of your gardens.

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It is amazing how light and how strong cedar is.  With the right engineering, a protective pyramid can be built around bushes and young trees that deer can’t leave alone.

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I have taken to placing cedar not only as a screen, but am trying to interfere with the deers’  footing down below.  On the back of this circle branches with mean short limbs are pointing up.  The red bush is nandina which deer do not eat, but behind it is a snowball bush, which they love.  The snowball looks very shabby and lifeless this time of year, but it will be magnificent in the spring.

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So all manner of cedar branches are helpful, and cost nothing.    I know that is a pine to the right.  It was just so straight, and it will be helpful as a base.  True, it will disintegrate before the cedar, but all these gardens have to be refreshed every year or so.  The deer knock the branches out of place.

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Gardens like this are spotted along the sandy driveway with woods on either side.  They have either azaleas (very small now) or loropetalum in them.  Some of these gardens do not get enough sun.   The size of the bushes vary dramatically.  These gardens do not need pyramids as the deer don’t eat loropetalum, and only rarely bother azaleas ( there is some crunching now and again).

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The loropetalum are full of buds here.

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I painstakingly worked to propagate 12 slips of pyracantha last summer.   It wasn’t going well.  Ended up buying a small one, which is now protected by a pyramid of cedar.  Only one of my slips survived and it was doing sooooo well once it was placed in the ground.   The deer had not discovered it yet, and I was hoping that the new little garden where it lives would remain undiscovered to them.  NOT!

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I had to resort to a milk crate for its protection.  A tiny pyramid simply would not do.  That bad deer ate three inches of its hard fought four inches!

RUNNING

I run four miles a day, two up and two down, a little farm-to-market road that intersects the two-lane highway close to where our dirt road hits it on the other side.  Have been doing this for years, and when injured, I am missed.

I have friends and acquaintances on the road.  One man sells us shrimp.  He has made a little business for himself by riding up to North Carolina to a supplier, buying at wholesale and selling around here to us at retail.  Another man and his son are big farmers having land on each side of the road.  Clark helped me in taking out tree stump a couple of years ago and I gave him a mosaic in return.  Below is his handiwork on a load of cotton.

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Last year Glenn brought his Dad, Tommy, two cups of soil from the Midwest.  One from Missouri and one from Illinois.  Clark said that dirt was nothing like the su-gah sand we have around here!  He was amazed at the blackness and richness of the stuff.

Since their farm extends to both sides of my running road, and they have pastures on either side, sometimes traffic has to stop to let the cows and bull amble across the road leaving their particular fertilizer on the blacktop.

Love it when the cows cross the road.  The calves are nosier and want to look and wander as they cross.  The mama cows are better trained and have their eyes on the green grass of the far pasture.  Last week two employees in a truck were just closing the gate on one side and it was unusual to see that one cow remained on the first side.  She looked stoic.  I asked why and they said she just had a baby.  It was still on the ground and had not found its wobbly legs yet.  Next day, they were with the rest of the herd which is about forty girls and one boy.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a classic conversation with Tommy, as we waited for the cows to cross.  He is a man of few words.

Me:  How do you get them to cross the road and leave all that green grass?  Hay on the other side?

Tommy:  Ye-uup.

Tommy is a tall guy who has to bend down to converse with me.  He tilts his head a little, and his mouth looks a little like a peanut shape when he talks.

Me:  There is only one bull in this whole group (I had just noticed that with the forty plus crossing at that time,  only one had horns)?

Tommy:  Ye-uup.

Me:  All these babies are from just one bull?

Tommy:  Ye-uup.

Me:  If you had two bulls, they would fight?

Tommy looked at me for a few seconds and what he and I both knew about males flowed through the space between us.  He set his mouth in a particularly fine peanut shape, and layered a smile on top.

Tommy:  Ye-uup.

CHICKEN POSES AS SHADOW (porch and patio art)

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Mixed media including wooden window frames, tile, found objects, and graphite.

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Side view to indicate depth.

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Detail of tumbled glass.

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Detail.

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More tumbled glass.

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“Chicken Poses as Shadow” was created thinking of installation on porches or patios.  The size is 40″ x 30″ x 3″.  Terra cotta shards, tumbled wine bottles, flea market objects as well as window frames and tile headed for the waste disposal site are the means of expression in this piece.  POR.

PARDON MY CRASS COMMERCIALISM

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Glenn’s fine custom railings, long and short.  The short one is just amazing in its three dimensional aspect.

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Seen from the image above, the porch had a vacant space filled now by “moi”;  broken tile and found objects including metal dogs and hands, in a recycled wooden window frame.  All stuff from the flea market, or otherwise headed for the landfill.  The aqua lines are broken tempered glass.

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Art for the patio and porch.  You can have one too.   See the dog, just above the bottom of the window frame?

AM I A TRAVEL AGENT?

Back at home in SC, this picture from yesterday, travel day, seems like a dream.

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A bad dream.  But the holiday trip to the Midwest was the finest of bad dreams.  The snow and ice we experienced was like this:  beautiful, untouched and viewed from inside our car which was going at normal speed.  What I most love about snow is how it reveals the forest floor, which one can never see in the summer.  Ice defines the lines of the branches of deciduous trees, snow fills out the big shapes of the evergreens, and traces the forest floor.  Defined by snow and ice, the whole forest makes a fantasy-like sense.  In the summer, the woods are deep and spongy like one alive but unreadable shape.

We all know about last winter.  Here in SC, where we live with the most marginal of heat sources (gas log, occasional space heater) it was all so marvelous.  We could be outside all winter.  Making soup in the kitchen was enough to get warm (having lived without real heat for 7-8?? years, I now understand about making soup, washing dishes just after dinner [think 1945]; it makes so much warm sense).  Eating soup was enough to get warm.

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Contrast this picture above with the Midwestern winter; they were taken the same day.  My daughter’s two horses have a visit with the mother and grandmother of one.  They have warm sunshine and grass to eat.  Nice little vacation for two horses from Virginia.

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Yesterday was Garrett’s sixteenth birthday, and we planted this little magnolia in celebration of that.  We have so many trees that stay green all winter here.

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It is also warm enough to finish the construction of our third tee-pee which protects certain bushes and trees from the deer.  I feel so lucky to have so much cedar, dead and alive, on our acreage.  It is beautiful and can do so many jobs.

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This winter is not over of course, but here we are not seeing much difference from the moderation of last winter.

BRING IN THE REINFORCEMENTS!

The only life force around here to challenge my Mouse’s would be in the little yoshino tree on the drive.  It is about ten years old and is a pygmy.  The deer strip it down to nothing every winter.  Now the deer are eating tiny leaves on my new pyracantha, so on this quiet Christmas Eve I went collecting fallen cedar in the woods.  Love doing this.

MY MOUSE

This is my Mouse, almost sixteen years old.

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You can hardly see the little tree with all these armaments.  We have these amazing vines in our woods.  They get very large and feel dense like hardwoods.  They grip and strangle a tree.  When you find a dead one on the ground, they can be configured in useful shapes.

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This vine swivels on its crossbar.  That should shock the deer when they get their noses too close!  Maybe next year I will have some leaves, and later can lay off the tee-pee when the tree gets bigger than deer height.  I should live so long.

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Above is the pyracantha which needs saving.  Having planted it around August, it is still leafing out, in the winter.   Another,  one of 12 cuttings taken and the only to survive,  is making new leaves like crazy now too.  I have a lot to learn.

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This tee-pee, built last spring did a great job of keeping the deer from eating this snowball bush.  It has been blooming all fall, misstep-ping like the pyracantha.  What goes?  You can see the remainder of the last flowers.  In this fall blooming however, big full snowballs were not produced.  The flowers were less than half of a sphere, and flat on the bottom.

The “teeth” laying on the ground and pointing up did a good job.  Will do this again with the raw materials below.

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CRAYON METAL LAWN CHAIR

This chair is proving to have amazingly strong bones once the excess paint has been removed to reveal its more subtle painted history.

Most of the rust on the bent tubular legs was very superficial.  It could be brushed or shaved off with the rest of the excess paint.  If this area is going to be weak, it will be at the stress points for the tube, where it bends, or where it is attached to the body of the chair.

All four connections to the body of the chair have rust like this.  It is heavier than anywhere else, but not so bad as to effect the strength or the structure.  I want to separate the two pieces so a protective layer of poly can be applied.

How to do this?  My resident expert says that one would use two pairs of vice grips, and usually the rusty nut and bolt will break.  This is what you want.  Then you can clean up the rust and insert a new nut and bolt.

Above is an example of weakening steel to the point of breakage.  More than once one of us has slowly floated ground-ward as weakening chairs finally bit the dust.

Above is a different chair that has been repaired.  My husband used a high speed wire brush on an angle grinder to clean out all the weak rusty areas.  With an oxy-acetylene welder, he took replacement steel in a flat sheet, and welded the new into place.  He said that the act of using the welder will identify and destroy more of the rust not seen before.  The heat of the welding will help you curve the plane of steel into the necessary tube shape.  The final step is to apply something like Rustoleum to the new section to assure that what happened in the weather before will not happen again.

And remember those holes.  I am going to add some to all my chairs that don’t have them.  Water is the enemy!

POSSIBLE LANDSCAPE ELEMENTS

The adding of a new master bedroom to our 1939 farmhouse has created brand new areas for gardens.  That alone is exciting enough, but Glenn came home with something which could have been very lame—an old satellite dish.  And he wanted to make a water feature out of it.  I could imagine a huge thing with DISH painted along the edge, but what he came home with has possibilities.  Of course, the dish was free.  Who has dishes this size any more?

The dish is a bit over six feet in diameter, and the edge is three inches in depth.  It can hold water already as you can see the rain from last night contained.  There are two possible places to incorporate this into the blank yet-to-be gardens created by the new addition.  Below is the more sunny and public option, connecting with the central area of the yard, around which are the two other buildings.

The more private place to put the dish, which would be more shady,  is to the side of the front of the house to which the woods come up closer,  and is used less.  Come to think of it, our bed will look out to this garden and possibly we could get some bird activity going if we chose this side, with water and feeders.  The faint rectangular edges of two windows are visible through the house wrap.

The small tree left standing in this area was once at the edge of the woods.

The tile mess below is the floor of the old side porch which had to be knocked down to incorporate the new room.  There are two big chunks still here, and this one will be dug into the earth outside the new little deck and become the base for an outdoor shower.

Just got the plumbing for the new room and outdoor shower finished today!