Monday, October 31, 2011

One Last Warm Day

Today I got off a bit early from work. It's so nice to be home when the sun is still up, but today it was warm too. What a blessing! This time of year as the garden dies down, the countryside greens up; the opposite of Summer. It's a comfortable back and forth partnership. My attention now is so much more on the natural countryside because it's so beautiful. Plus, my garden needs work and I just don't feel like it. I'd like you all to know what it's like to really be here, so, in keeping with Town Mouse's idea, let's take a long view.

If you were to come for a visit here in Bootjack, you would drive several miles down a dirt road. If you were a skillful enough navigator, you might find our driveway. You might not.

Looking to the left, Oak Woodland.

Keep going and looking left and there's our little house sunk in a cut in the hillside.

Look down the hill left  again and you see into a tangled and beautiful wood.

Look up the hill and you see old, hollow, bat filled trees.

And "Manboob Rock". Christened by my daughters long ago for obvious reasons.

Left again, our house sits cozy in the hillside.

Left again and you meet the Fearsome Four. Why is there a thriving garden here smack in the middle of deer country? These girls, that's why.

To the right now is the vegetable garden. I've lost control of the situation here. That's okay. It's going to freeze hard Thursday. I'll bring in as many tomatoes and peppers as I can save.

A view of the house from behind the vegetable garden standing at the top of the back slope. The pomegranate grew like crazy this year.

To the right again from the very utilitarian and frugal gravel pathway, my bed of roses! This is their best season. In the Spring they're encrusted with aphids and in the Summer they are fried to a crisp.

Looking straight out the back, catalpa trees and the perennial border from seed. Everything knitted together for the first time this year. What a pleasure not to weed.

Same border looking North.

My Swamp Magnolia grew 3 feet this year! This is in a North/West facing corner that is under water half the year and hotter than Hades the other. Could this be an underused tree?

Continuing on counter-clockwise, the back slope becomes shady and there is a thriving berry patch.

Look down the hillside and there are so many distinguished old trees. It's humbling.

Around the house and left again, here's the front bed all cut back for the Winter. This is the one thing I've done so far. Good start!

Now right. Back at the bat tree.

Right now along the front walkway. This is right outside the big front window.

I walked to the end of the pathway and turned around to get a photo of the Fall roses as you walk in the gate. I started these from cuttings.

Walk down the path and to the left, the front garden is going to seed. I love the black Rudbeckia seed heads, the blooming grass, and the red maples. My old, cheap camera really doesn't do this justice.

Look right. The hydrangea blooms are the most vivid pink. See the twisted trunk?

It's a bay tree!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seed fantasy vs. seed reality

For Mother's day this year my girls got me a whole bunch of flower seed. They know me well. Look at this beautiful package. The graphic design is fantastic. I can certainly see why they found it appealing. Doesn't it seem like you can scatter this seed while twirling around in a long, flouncy sun dress and a floppy hat? Then by nature's mysterious magic, a beautiful flower garden will appear.

Carefully following step 1 I "removed all weeds". This section went from this,

to this. 

And this section went from this,

to this. It took all 3 days of my 3 day weekend.

On the front slope I raked the soil,

then scattered the seed and raked it in. This actually was fun and I confess that I did twirl around just a little, even though I was wearing dirty shorts and my husband's old baseball cap.

There was only enough seed for the shorter section, so I blended up a batch of homegrown seeds for the longer section.

The packaging isn't quite so appealing, but the seed is just as good.

Everything's planted now and the sprinklers will keep the soil moist until the little seeds sprout in the warm Fall weather. I'm resting my weary back and thinking things over. I've been looking at this lovely package of seeds for months now and something seemed off about it. I've realized the problem is this: there are no insects whatsoever on the label. Not a ladybug, not a swallowtail, not even a fuzzy bumble bee. Where are these seeds supposed to have come from anyway, a factory?  This is a huge missed opportunity to educate largely ignorant consumers about their important place in nature. We who are blogging about our gardens are mostly preaching to the choir, but Renee's Garden has the potential of reaching millions of uninformed people.

For God's sake, even my fancy china is covered in bugs! C'mon Renee, without insects you would have no seed to sell. If you change this label and add even a single happy little ladybug, I promise you I'll buy a dozen cans of your seed and give them away for Christmas.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rest in Peace ancient tree

b. Before the West was settled
d. October 2011

Our giant old oak went down in the storm yesterday. This makes me sad beyond words.

This morning Sugar Baby and I took a hike down the hill to say goodbye.

The part that rolled down the hill fills the entire creek bed.  I'm glad I wasn't home to hear the crack of the wood  then  the  wump when it hit the ground.

The part that fell uphill covers the entire hillside. My grandpa used to say sun rays are souls going to heaven. This tree was one very old soul. I used to look through its top branches from my kitchen window and  knew it was big,  but  had no idea until I saw it broken apart on the ground.

Here's the part where I always imagined I saw a face. See the big knobby nose?

Two old neighbors locked in a sad embrace.

I know there are lots of seedlings on the hillside and that I'll never see them grow any taller than me. This gives me hope for the future. I know I'll see a new generation of butterflies live and die every year. This makes me thankful for the time I've been given.. Hopefully I can stand tall and strong like my tree, help make others a little happier while I'm here, then go out with a bang when it's my time.
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