This Winter has been so warm and so strange. Instead of the Winter blasted landscape we would expect, we have warm Spring sun and little rain, no snow, no ice. The native plants are still in hiding and frogs are already singing in the shallow puddles from our last rain.
|Blackberry hedge in Winter|
Today I'll be joining Town Mouse at her First Views blog reality check. I love this because it keeps me honest and gives me great benchmarks to look back on and a deadline to meet. It's fun to look back and remember each season and someday each year. Isn't that what garden blogging is really about? I also love seeing all those beautiful native gardens! Thanks Mouse!
When I look at our place this time of year all the barren space makes me think of how it was when we first moved here and all the new decisions we had to make. See this giant expanse of rock? Not pretty is it? There is a reason for it though. If you want your home defended from wildfire, you need an open space for firetrucks to drive down and turn around.
|And why all that rock anyway? Mud. Vehicle engulfing mud.|
Here's our sea of rock looking up the hill. Why didn't we just build on top? Again more reasons, considerations, limitations unique to rural homes. Dust! The answer is dust. Never ever build your home on a dusty road unless you enjoy being smothered in dust.
|View down the back hill|
Why build on a hillside when it would be so much easier to build on flat land? Well, these are the foothills baby, and steeper is cheaper. We have seven and a half acres here. Why do we need all that land? We don't, but the county is zoned for five acre minimum parcels. My garden probably takes up less than an acre of land. The woodland below is totally wild. I love to walk there in the Spring when the wildflowers are out.
oh why all this grass? Five dogs, five cats, three kids and their horses, plus mud and dust does one big mess make. It would seem that mud and dust trump fine design, it does here anyway. The grass also really helps keep the house cool. I water and mow as little as possible and never fertilize. A few years back I planted White Dutch clover in the grass. It's beautiful and is always full of bees and butterflies.
These pears and apples were planted along the south side of the house to shade the wall in the afternoon. A basket or two of fruit is pretty nice too. Last year we got about a dozen 'Arkansas Black' apples. They were wonderful!
These Catalpas and London Planes are planted on the West side for afternoon shade. It will be so nice when they get bigger! I planted the trees back like this because I like to look up at the sky from the kitchen window. Even though it gets hot in the kitchen on Summer afternoons I still wouldn't put a shade structure over the window for the same reason.
My husband put a little swale along the back bank to draw water away from the house. Later I cut a little ditch leading to it for water coming off the driveway. This works nicely because as silt builds up, weeds sprout up in it. Then you can just pull up the shallow rooted weeds and their clinging silt and throw them in the compost. Butterflies love this place!
The borders are also very functional with their bee and butterfly attracting, deer repelling plants. It was nice to get all the lavender planted. I sure hope the gophers leave it alone.
|Back flower bed all cut back to stubble. In a few weeks the dormant plants will begin to show their pretty faces.|
A casual reader of this blog might think all I ever do is chop stuff down. And I do... in the winter. The reason I don't like working in the flower beds in the warm months is because of the rattlesnakes. One of our previous bloodhounds was bitten by a rattlesnake on the nose. The vet couldn't do much for her until all the poisoned tissue had died. We had to wash out the open wound for a couple of weeks until he could stitch her back together again. She ended up looking a bit like Frankenstein.
|Back rose bed|
Some things are here just because I love them. Hybrid tea roses have a hard time here. I try to prune them as late as possible so the new shoots don't get killed in the late frost. As long as you don't expect perfection, they're just fine.
|Double Delights under the kitchen window|
Roses have always been my favorite. They remind me of home. These remind me of my Grandpa.
There are two more rose beds in the front facing East. All little white shrub roses cut back for the year. This one is under the front window.
This one is several feet to the right next to the shady spot under the fireplace.
In between the two is my little bench. Pretty bleak right now, but it's my favorite spot in the garden. It's warm and sunny there in the mornings, cool and shady in the afternoons. There are salvia planted across the walkway. Hummingbirds and shiny black bumble bees constantly visit the red and white checkered blooms.
This is the front border. The deer grass glows here all through the Winter.
Have you ever smelled witch hazel? It's the one thing that makes Winter almost bearable. These are growing at the base of the hill at the front corner of the house. I don't know about you, but without rain, snow, or cold, I don't see much point in Winter at all. This barren warmth is not a bit comforting.