A River Runs Through It*
Don’t be misled by the title of this post. We have not had flooding rains, thank goodness. But we have had some welcome precipitation. The river referred to is a river of plants, cascading like a waterfall down a piece of sloping land. Sloping land is easy to come by in the Fairegarden, in case you haven’t heard. Come on around the bend in the pathway and down the steps behind the garage deck.
(Above: Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’ that has lost all traces of frostiness and a volunteer Perilla.)
Many types of plants could have been used to make the faux river, but the choice for this newest addition was a grass type plant. There are bodies of water composed of grasses already in existence, including the pool of Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’. Please watch your footing as we descend the steep steps, it is easy to get distracted by the garden calling out to us.
(Above: Rosa ‘Fairy Queen’ and a volunteer Perilla.)
We are now passing by the raised planter that the Financier built to shore up the space in front of the old existing block wall that was dug out below grade when the garage was built. The Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ and Nasturtium ‘Yeti’ have been a good pair in there. The cutting grown Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ will be blooming soon to really set off the fireworks.
This is a natural gully where the block wall ends. Because the earth was scooped out below the wall several feet down to help make the land level for the laying of the block foundation for the garage, it is a steep drop down. Originally it was mulched but heavy rains created nature’s own waterslide with the mulch ending up in the space below. Egg rock was laid along the ravine and that too was washed down. Dry stack rock walls were built and many plantings tried to stop the erosion. The recently pruned heath and heather to the left of the new planting have done a commendable job to hold the earth in place.
Little leaf syndrome abounds here. Tiny leaves, whether narrow and pointy or small and round, and all greens have been used to fill this sun drenched location. Silver hued velvety textured large leaf lamb’s ear, a passalong from my dear friend Laurie has begun to counteract the LLS. The color of the waterfall plant, a light bronze with greenish tints, which is very much to my taste, helps to provide more foliage color contrast.
These divided to smallish clump bits are seedlings of several bronze foliaged Carex that were growing in containers behind the main house for several years, including C. comans ‘Bronze Form’ ,C. buchananii, and C. flagellifera ‘Toffee Twist’. There may have been a C. comans ‘Frosty Curls’ in the
orgy church social as well. The small offspring were noticed growing in the gravel path below the containers one spring. They were replanted, make that the dreaded plopped here and there, all over the garden. At one time, they were used to fill the quadrants in the knot garden and almost became extinct in the hot, sunny dryness up there at the top of the property. This new space is much lower and the heavy clay holds water like an ancient hand made vessel although it is sunshiney bright. This is a good example of plants growing well where they are not supposed to, since plants cannot read. Added: This area has now been mulched with pea gravel, which matches the color of the Carex.
If you can tear yourself away from that impressive river, please come around the path past the newly renamed Gravel Garden, there are a few more things that would like to be shared.
Watered, fed and protected on all sides by Rosemary, Marigolds, pots of Cuphea and a wooden six by six as well as grids of bamboo stakes to deter digging critters of all types, (Kitty, I am talking about you!), I am pleased to present the offspring resulting from an afternoon delight of the mixing of pollen by the Fairegardener herself. The Mama was Hemerocallis ‘Heavenly Treasure’, the Papa was H. ‘Dave Rhyne’. There was a posting about the seed sowing, germination and growing on under lights in the greenhouse last winter that can be viewed by clicking here. The precious parcels were planted in our most prized home made compost with loving care. Regular watering, liquid feeding of sea kelp and no weed had better even think about sneaking into this space has produced some fine looking specimens. There were no hopes of blooms this first year, but fingers are crossed that there possibly might be a bloom or two next year. If not, we will hope for the year after and maintain the high priority TLC regimen.
Dragging myself away from the progeny, there are a couple more things to be shared along the bodies of water made up of plants theme. We come around to behind the main house, yes, there is a lot of coming around here, to the Leaf Man Trough planter. Leaf Man is a favorite mythological figure here, the protector of the gardens. His post can be seen by clicking here. He has been planted with several low growers and is now home to Scotch moss, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’, Armeria maritima ‘Nifty Thrifty’, Erigeron karviskianus, Thymus ‘Heigh Ho Silver’ and a small Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Pygmy’. The Sagina is loving these conditions and has formed a nice lake of chartruese, set off by the turquoise stones.
The last river is formed by the container plantings on the wall behind the main house. Something has happened in the last few days, a change is afoot. The sky is clearer blue, the humidity is lower, the haze is gone, the air temperature has moderated. But the most dramatic change seems to be the light. It is kinder and gentler. While sitting on the lazyboy in the addition, trying to capture the goldfinches feeding on the Echinacea and Rudbeckia, by the time the camera is on and ready the birds fly away with a haughty HA, a ray of sunlight was noticed. It illuminated the unknown Coleus in what seemed to be a magical spotlight. When the camera was brought outside, it did not spread wing and take off, but remained with a sweet smile while the shutter clicked.
*My apologies to Norman Maclean, author of . The movie made by Robert Redford of the same title is one of my most favorites. We own it on VHS format. Thinking recently about Brad Pitt, who doesn’t?, it was decided that this was my favorite of his movies. Even though his character is tragically flawed, as the author explains in much more depth than the movie depicts, Mr. Pitt’s portrayal won my heart. The scene of him fly fishing in the river of the title, performing the impossible to not lose the catch, has to be one of the most wonderful and memorable bits ever filmed. Be still my beating heart. He is so young. Click to view it here. Perfection indeed.