Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Taking my own advice (re gardening)

I've found doing landscape consultations both fun and rewarding (interesting, too).

What I love to do is help encourage people to consider all of their "needs" in their landscape (they're all SO different), but most importantly, I find, is to encourage them to focus on what kind of gardening they enjoy and what kind of garden welcomes them home.

We don't want to come home to containers or perennials that need watering ASAP, that's for sure, or have the same niggling weedy mess in the corner to look at, or the outdated pot collection.  Decluttering and editing in the garden is a process that rewards dividends.

So, in our Piedmont garden (1.5 acres) converted from lawn to natural landscape, it's now careened into something that I feel is totally overgrown after 20 years, but beautiful still.

I've realized that absent my gardening companion (while writing two books) over the last decade, I simply haven't thought about dealing with all of the shrubs!  Some of them have gotten really big. So, what do I do now?  Especially after a summer away, with another garden to tend, and just another academic year here.

Well, I follow my own advice. 

I don't think about what it "used" to look like, and envision cleaned up spaces.

view from my study
I work through the garden in phases, from the areas near the many large shrubs (which are perfectly attractive, to be sure), tidy up the borders, the main vegetable garden area (aargh), and do the equivalent of bush-hogging the front meadow.

Hmrhph.  I'll take a photo of the "meadow" and post it -- it's common milkweed and river oats now.  Yikes.

I clean up all of the weedy bits, celebrate the nice stuff, and enjoy the views from my study, porch, and front windows.

the front meadow (looking like a meadow)

Monday, August 18, 2014

An overgrown garden

Hmm, coming home to the Piedmont, I just want to run directly into the house.  The garden, front and back, is overgrown.

The front meadow is overridden with common milkweed and river oats (and needs a good bushwacking), there are weedy edges everywhere, and my "main" vegetable garden is full of weedy summer annuals, happy for a respite from the gardener, I guess.

I hardly want to venture forth.  My gardening companion has mowed.  A good first start.  He removed the champion-sized pokeweed (the biggest I've ever seen) from border I see from from my study window (the oakleaf hydrangea and butterfly bush look fine).  And the giant garden phlox next to my garden shed (viewed from my gardening companion's window) looks beautiful.

So, I'll venture forth and start weeding, I guess.  I've ordered garlic for fall planting and yet another sort of arugula (MyWay) to try!

Saturday, August 16, 2014


pocket meadow -mid-August 2014
The pocket meadow in front is being visited by all sorts of bees and butterflies.  What fun!  The Joe-Pye, Boneset, Phlox, and Ironweed are all in play, not to mention the South American Salvia guaranitica, which our native ruby-throated hummingbirds love.
Bumblebee on boneset

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fall in mid-August

It was an amazing day -- cool dry air blowing through.   Highs in the 70's.  This is September weather, even in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

We had delicious costata zucchini squash from the garden as part of dinner tonight -- the first squash of the summer. Totally curious, but I'm grateful. They were delicious.

It's really time for fall veggie change outs, but what am I going to replace?  The tomatoes, beans, and squash that are producing?

Hmm, I think I'm just going to sow greens, beets, and more chard along the edges, and maybe lettuces in containers, and hope for a late frost this fall?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Community gardening

I loved being able to help out with a median planting this morning.

It's nearby, and one of my fellow garden club members had established it, when she was the director (for many years) of Asheville Greenworks (a wonderful local non-profit that plants trees and small-scale green spaces throughout the city and county).

We weeded, pruned, and planted.  Totally fun.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Finally, some green beans

I never thought it would be mid-August when I'd harvest my first beans of the season.  They're lovely French filet pole beans (I think). 

I poked in seeds very late, not expecting very much, but finally, I had 5 lovely beans to harvest. They'll be great with the (first) Cozelle zucchini that will be ready tomorrow!  Curious.

I'm already thinking about fall vegetables, seeds, sharing thoughts with others about fall vegetable gardening, etc., so it's definitely an odd feeling to have first beans and zucchini. And having summer cilantro that's lasting, too -- how unusual is that?  I'd sowed it thinking 2 weeks, and I've been using it for longer than that, along with lovely large Italian parsley and basil.

We had over an inch of rain this morning - a welcome soaking. 

Time to sow some fall beets, chard, spinach and other greens soon. 

Without the darn woodchucks, I'd put in cole relatives. Oh, well.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A curious summer in the (vegetable) garden

I just now have a squash developing in my vegetable garden.  The pole beans are finally flowering.  But wait, it's early August?

Thankfully, I've been harvesting and putting up tomatoes since mid-July (also late!)

I'm also harvesting some chard and beet greens, and making pesto with both parsley and basil, hooray, and have some summer-sown cilantro, too.

A strange summer for veggies, to be sure.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Passiflora lutea

 A smaller relative of the much more common Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), Passiflora lutea is another beautiful native Southeastern passiflora -- much more delicate than its more assertive congener!
Passiflora lutea flowers

So I was delighted to see it thriving on the porch railing, without the woodchuck herbivory of earlier in the summer (nor without the Gulf Frittilary caterpillar herbivory which would be more welcome).

Passiflora lutea
These are iPad2 photos, so not so good.  I didn't have my "good" camera along. I'm looking forward to having a better "spontaneous" camera in the future...upgrading my ancient flip-phone to a iPhone?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back in the Piedmont

A quick trip back home to the Piedmont found an overgrown garden (which I expected).  Even though it's been a bit dry, there are weeds in all of my vegetable beds.  There's an ancient dogwood that's finally giving it up, but it's not entirely unexpected.

I harvested some (very small) fingerling potatoes, which I'll be eating for dinner this evening, and there will be more to come, as I clean up the beds in a couple of weeks, I suppose.  There wasn't quite enough rain to encourage any real growth of new "spring" or "summer" potatoes, apparently.

My SCBG colleagues (where I used to work, and now volunteer) and I recorded some nice material around a SC Botanical Garden visit this afternoon.

Great fun to "see" the Garden after some time away, and looking forward to fielding radio calls tomorrow on YourDay, a Clemson University production that airs statewide on ETV radio.

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