Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More Mayhem

Now that the lawn mower woes are behind us for a bit, we've gone back to gardening with a vengeance.  The weather this week has warmed up exponentially and the plants (and weeds) are growing rapidly.  We're behind on rainfall for May; it's quite dry.  I was surprised to see dust clouds billowing behind the neighbor's tractor as the soybeans were planted yesterday. 
Primrose putting on their last hurrah.

If ever there was a month suited to time lapse photography, May would be perfect.  Every morning I'm amazed to see how many changes are happening in the garden, I think if I had the time to stand still I could actually see a hosta unfurling.  Of course, what gardener has any spare time in the spring?  This is the time of year we're all running ourselves ragged, trying to get everything done.  
'Sargent Tina' Malus first year in garden.

Carl and I work until dark which means we rarely come in for supper until 8:30 PM, and the last two nights, it's been 9PM.  These long hours are very hard on Carl as he gets up for work at 5AM every day.  I hate to see him exhausted and I know we should quit earlier, but the truth of the matter is we both get caught up in the project at hand and the time simply flies.  Before we know it, the chickens have gone to their coop for the night.  Don't call them birdbrains, they're way smarter than we are.
Malus 'Louisa' a dramatic weeping crabapple

My GADS is in full swing; Gardener's Attention Deficit Syndrome, that is.  A typical morning finds me going out the door to open the chicken coop only to see the Girls need feed, so on my way to the garage to fill their feeder, I see a hosta that was transplanted the night before which I forgot to water.  Dropping the feed scoop, I traipse to the front of the house to turn on the water faucet, only to see the hose was disconnected and moved to the other side of the yard.  On my way to find another hose, I see the greenhouse door hasn't been opened for the day, so off I go to rescue my tiny plants.  I can't have them overheating.  Then I see that some of the plants in the greenhouse need water,  so I mix up a batch of fertilizer and tend to the seedlings only to be confronted by two of my hungry hens clucking at me from outside the greenhouse. 

"Did you forget something?" I swear they're scolding me, and they have a right to, GADS has gotten the upper hand again.

We've been trying to cut down on the amount of work we have to do in the gardens by using rocks and mass plantings as weed deterrents.  I try to eliminate the need to weed whack with my string trimmer as much as possible, so the beds are planted in sweeping curves that are easy to mow.  
Everything Greening Up

Our first project this spring was to remodel the back walls of the Quarry Bypass, a trail we established last year so people who didn't want to climb the stone stairs had a way to go around.  When we originally constructed the back of the Quarry we didn't intend for anyone to see this part of the garden.  At the time, we'd run out of big stones so Carl had to use smaller rock to finish the hillside.  Smaller rocks meant more room for weeds.  And weeds mean more work, so the logical answer (remember, Carl is Logical) is to put in more rocks.
Dwarf crabapple, Malus 'Guinevere'

While Carl was deciding what rocks he wanted to use to restack the wall, I was working on thinning out trees.  In places the spruce trees are almost entirely dead halfway up from the ground due to shading themselves and each other.  I'm constantly sawing off limbs and hauling them to the brush pile.  A limbed-up spruce isn't very attractive, but neither are a bunch of dead branches.  Sad to say even though we planted every tree in our garden from tiny little six inch transplants, now three decades later, they have already passed their peak.  It's a shame, but it's life. (And gardening.)  Things are always changing.
Carl's stone remodel job and my trimmed up, limbed up, sawed down mess.

We've been accused of being a little too saw-happy, but a garden needs light and movement.  At times it can be hard to remove a tree because of memories tied up in the decision, but we've yet to regret any of the changes.  Once the intial shock of 'what have we done?!" wears off when a tree comes down, the potential for the new vista and space becomes apparent.  

Adrian Bloom's book, 'Gardening With Conifers' has been my inspiration for years.   Adrian himself states  'the chainsaw is in constant use in my garden' and that when a tree is past its usefulness, there are always new, exciting specimens waiting for their turn to shine.  But even he admits that some garden areas are forever known by the name of the tree (or trees) that used to occupy it, even though the original plantings are long gone. (For instance, the late, great Willie the Willow-- already gone for one year but we will always call it the Willow Bed.)
With our cool spring, there are still a few tulips lingering.

We have a whole list of garden areas here: the Riverbed, Escarpment, Quarry, Waterfall Garden, Formal Garden, Quarry Bypass, East Quarry Hill,  Pachyberm, Front of the House, Lane Bed, The Main Hosta Bed, Tardis Bed, and the Vander Heiden Rock Bed, named after our friends who gave us the biggest rock we own. 
Malus 'Coralburst' up close and personal

So far this spring, we've weeded and mulched the Escarpment Bed, and the East Quarry Hill.  Yeah, I know, we've got to step it up, time's a wastin'.  Carl remodeled the entire north wall of the Quarry Bypass last week and I talked him into thinning out and sawing down several trees.  I replanted a few dozen 'Gold Standard' hostas in some of the problem areas for weeding.  I think there's enough shade there to keep the hostas happy and the weeds out. 

   You are now entering the Quarry Bypass; I added a bunch more hostas to the planting area, we'll see how they survive the sandy soil and light conditions.
All new hostas (just splits of hostas we already own) in this area, it's an experiment to see how they control the weeds. 

I added a small addition to the Escarpment bed to cut down on trimming.  I know, more weeding, but it makes the space more inviting.

More trees limbed up equals more light, equals space for hosta.

Sunset in the 'Coralburst' malus over the pond.

 We weeded the Formal Garden once already, but then I went in and made divisions of all of the 'Karl Foerster' calamagrostis planted in each bed, so there's holes to fill in. 

The dwarf Alberta spruce are gnarly looking due to the winter damage a few years back, but I'm not quite that saw-happy where they're concerned.  As the Japanese culture embraces wabi-sabi, the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, I often tell Carl we need to do the same.  Nothing is ever perfect, but it can still be beautiful.

 The 'Coralburst' crabapples put on a splendid show this week, it ws hard not to take a bunch of pictures.  The flowers are so fleeting, by tomorrow, I doubt there will be many left.  The scent of the blooming trees was everywhere in the garden these days; heavenly.

Hosta 'First Frost' 
'First Frost' is one of my favorite hostas; I divided one plant into thirty-six separate entities and planted them along the walls in the Formal Garden.  This year they are coming into their own.  Don't mind the weeds, look at the hostas, remember 'wabi-sabi'.

 Oh, boy, it's late......

 We did some major remodeling last night, here's the result of another bout of GADS:

Stay tuned to see where all of these branches came from.  

Joel and a rock were the two major inspirations...up next, Mayhem Part Five.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Loved this newsy, busy post about your gardens.

I LOVE your crabapples. They are beautiful!

Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

Karen said...

Always wonderful to hear from you, my friend! The crabapples are almost done already today, every time the wind blows, the petals sift to the ground.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Just delightful. I didn't see many weeds, but yay for wabi-sabi! I'm certainly practicing it here in my garden. ;-)

Beth said...

I love your gardens, Karen! Such beauty and creativity dwell must have been a stunning location for the wedding last summer. :)