Too Lofty Lately? Let Us Look Down
It has been fun to look up into the clouds while admiring the trees’ tribal dance complete with face, leaf paint. It is also fun to use fancy words to describe such antics. But it is fun to just talk regular about the garden. So let’s. The view out the windows draws one out into the midst of this exhilaration repeatedly. I don’t remember the leaves ever being quite such a spectacle. The Japanese maple sitting at the right hand of the pond is named ‘Garnet’. It is redder than the Crimson Queens still standing after the late frost of the spring of 2007 decimated four out of eight of these expensive trees. And did I mention slow growing? Garnet is starting to thicken around the trunk area, a bad thing for bloggers, but a good thing for trees. We purchased this very tree before our move to Texas from the other Tennessee house in 1997 to use in the landscape there. As it turned out, that part of Texas was not at all friendly to these trees, who knew?, and so we dug it up and stuck it in the largest pot that would fit into the minivan and drove it to the house we now live in. The pot was sunk into the ground at the side of the house along with many other plants that had been transported from one house to another to another. It was a fairly large specimen when we first bought it, over $100. To fit it into the van, it had many branches ruthlessly trimmed. Finally in 2000, the day came when it could be planted on the slope. We set it into the ground at an angle to grow over the pond area and cascade down to reflect in the water. This year it has begun to reach that vision. Well worth the wait I’d wager.Enough about the tree travels, we are supposed to be looking earthward not skyward or even slopeward or pondward. Down points the camera to look for likely lens grabbers. On the way down, near the base of the corner slope by the deck we spy Athena ( we believe this to be Athena after some discussion about it but could be mistaken) and her consort, the Heuchera ‘Silver Scrolls’ drifting in a sea of Sedum acre that gives way in winter to a sea of moss. Both seas are soothing and serene to sore eyes. Well the eyes aren’t so much sore really as they are vision challenged. And we like to look at the moss and the sedum.Scotch moss, Sagina subulata, has filled in between these stones that lead to the veggie bed between the hedges. The stones were too small for using in the rock walls so were just laid loosely at the intersection of the gravel path and the landscape fabric covered path that runs along the raised bed where food is grown. Bits of moss were borrowed from other areas and stuck in some spots. With no extra water during the drought we are still experiencing, the moss has spread well, even growing over the stones themselves. This is a look that we could use other places. Note to self…Following the same gravel path down toward the house we spot these two volunteer seedlings of fern leaf bleeding heart, Dicentra eximia. The mother plants are more than thirty feet away and we wonder how the seeds gets carried uphill. Do birds eat the seeds? I have never even seen seeds just laying around but sometimes notice seed pods dangling like earrings from the spent stalks. Most all of the self sowns of this plant have been in the gravel too. I always threaten to just plant all seeds in the gravel as a starter nursery but never remember to do that. One of these years though, it will be done.We have just climbed up the steps to the knot garden at the top of the hill. Let’s rest on the bench a minute while I catch my breath. We should have gone the more gradual climb by the shed. Okay, let’s look around. I know that some of you picky types might say that we are not looking down but rather out over the top of the house roof at the trees turning in the distance. It was just for a moment and I didn’t take any pictures. Well I did but they aren’t being shown in this post and didn’t turn out that great anyway. Back on topic! In the quadrants of the knot garden are various ground hugging plants growing graciously. We have tried many things in these quadrants since the beginning. All have failed except the thymes. So now we are going with a thyme mix dotted at the corners with heathers and when some of the heathers died they were replaced with santolinas, silver and green. Last spring California poppies were sown along the front edges. There are a couple of these plants that have made it through the summer and now are looking pretty good. Maybe they will even flower, but if they don’t the leaves are rewarding enough to be tried again. Maybe planting in the fall this time.Down the steps carefully we go to the area along the wall behind the main house. We started with a couple of these Euphorbia dulci ‘Chameleon’ on each side of the pond under each maple. Not very creative, I know but since then these euphorbias have colonized everywhere in the pond area and beyond. The unwanteds are pulled up and given away or thrown over the fence. We don’t want them in the compost for they want to rule the universe! The red color is sometimes a hot pink, dark purple or even just green, hence the name. This combination of the pansies and the purple leaf was just luck, good luck that is.Walking along the gravel path that seperates the wall from the building are the line up of planters. One of these containers is home to a group of tender succulents and a little silver thyme. We have had several frosts but this guy is holding up well. It is only a matter of time before he succumbs. I know it, it has happened too many times before. I think well maybe this is going to winter over, but they never do, not agaves, not bromeliads, and not these succulents. They will turn to slimey mush and will be composted. The thyme is the trooper here and will be trimmed back, maybe some pieces stuck into the knot garden, and will be the winter interest until next year.Oh rats, we forgot to look at the forest of foxglove babies by the shed corner. Back up we go, this time taking the easy side route. Now you know why the gym membership is not necessary to keep our girlish figure. Just look down at these healthy first years. Some are even pretty large. I think they are the apricot colored flowers, but the seeds were saved ones and there have been other colors so it can’t be presumed. All are wonderful and welcome in the spring. They look good in a grouping like this too and the shed blocks the wind to help keep the stalks upright.To end this downward trend we go all the way to the street. It is true that the rains will wash seeds down down down from the top of our property. We put the driveway in ourselves and the city came out afterwards and installed curbings and laid new asphalt at the driveways’ two entrances. It is a circle drive since we had two properties with two seperate gravel driveways that were joined with our renovations. The point being made here, for effect, is that the pavement in the street at the edge of our drive is fairly new. Growing happily in the paving surrounded by pine needles is a very healthy forget me not, Myosotis species of some kind. We first bought this plant when we first started gardening at our very first house in Pennsylvania in 1976. My girlfriend Connie and I, both pregnant, me with Semi, went to a nursery where you could dig your own perennials. They were wrapped in newspaper for you to take home. Several were bought, I had a new book from the Financier about gardening to help make the selections. The forget me nots seeded all over and were welcome everywhere they chose to grow. We shared some with the in laws living in the same town. Then we began moving all over the country. California, Tennessee, Texas and back to Tennessee again, all the while growing the descendants of the original forget me nots. The in laws did not move and I was able to harvest a plant or two from their front foundation planting whenever more were needed to start again at a new house. The in laws are no longer living, but they will be remembered always by the clan, and whenever we see the little blue flowers we will smile. Even as the flowers are growing in the street.