Too Lofty Lately? Let Us Look Down

november-2-2008-0421It 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.november-4-2008-060Enough 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.november-4-2008-112-2Scotch 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…november-4-2008-054-2Following 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.november-2-2008-0241We 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.november-3-2008-034Down 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.november-3-2008-039Walking 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.november-2-2008-026Oh 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.november-4-2008-024To 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.

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28 Responses to Too Lofty Lately? Let Us Look Down

  1. easygardener says:

    That was a lovely post and I feel slightly breathless having followed you around the garden! The Japanese maple looks very natural growing in that position and contrasts beautifully with the rocks in front of it.

    Hi Easy, thanks. I get breathless looking at the photos and remembering all the up and down climbing because I know when the photos go from one part of the property to another. I know that doesn’t show for the readers, but it triggers fatigue in my brain because it moves so fast from one spot to the next. Isn’t that funny? I am loving the maple over the pond this year. The leaves are almost pinky red.

  2. Zoe says:

    Loved the combination of the euphorbia and the pansy and also the aeonium? and the thymes. Just Lovely.

    Hi Zoe, thanks so much, glad you liked the shots. Aeonium? I have no idea. These plants are not labeled and are sold in very small pots as houseplants with the name *succulent*. The color is so pretty, we went with a blueish theme this year and liked it. The thymes do so well here with no care at all, and the fragrance is a bonus if they get stepped upon. Some are lemon scented and quite strong. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Jan says:

    Thanks for the tour. The Japanese maple is fantastic. Can’t wait to see photos of the foxgloves when they bloom.

    Always Growing

    Hi Jan, thanks for coming along, you are most welcome. There are foxglove seedlings all over the garden this year for some reason. Sometimes there are none and I have to start some inside. That won’t be necessary this year and they are easily moved to be massed for greater effect. You will surely be shown them in bloom next spring. ;->

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I can so identify with Garnet, I too am thickening around the trunk. Only my leaves, err hair, is white not red. Hmmmm…

    HA Lisa, good one. I looked down at my waist as I was writing that sentence. Now my hair is a very similar color to those red leaves, by my choice, not nature’s. Garnier number 56! ;->

  5. Gail says:

    Frances, Hi and good morning. Having been up and down these hills I know very well why you don’t need a gym membership. I can remember very well, where in the garden one finds the Chameleon Euphorbia, the lovely view from the knot garden and what a fantastic growing medium the gravel walks are. The thyme and succulent are perfect pot mates…too bad about the mush. A fun post! Gail

    Good morning to you Gail. Thanks. It is hard to convey the up and down climbing to show photos of the garden, you really have to have been here to understand just how much effort is used up to get around the garden. There are benefits to it though. I will miss the hillside view if and when we move.

  6. Gail says:

    Frances, If you move, we will all be in shock and mourning over the loss of Fairegarden TN. You do know that I will be there to help you pot up your babies for the move! In spite of recent evidence (the pink oxalis) I work well without supervision! Wish you were here…it’s lovely out and a trip to look at shrubs is in order or we could schedule an appointment at Growild! gail

    Hi Gail, no mourning over any moves. I am Fairegarden and will take and make the garden where ever I may be, hopefully with dirt of my own in the ground, but if not that some day, then dirt in pots. I have moved enough times to know that the joy is in the process, not the finished product. You will be welcome to come and help dig anytime you want. I have enough to share. I would love to go plant shopping with you, spending other’s money is the best!

  7. tina says:

    I love it when you walk us through your garden and describe the plants and their history. To think, moving Garnet across the country! It is quite big and a joy, as is your whole garden.

    Do you remember I asked you about some seedlings I thought might be foxglove? Nope, some kind of weed:( I had to pull them all. Still more are coming up and I have no idea what they are. Oh well, guess I’ll enjoy yours instead.

    Hi Tina, oh good, I love for you to come along with me since you know the paths and steps I am talking about. Sorry about your non foxgloves. I didn’t save seeds this year since there were lots of volunteers or I would give you some. If you come by I will give you some babies though, there is lots of time between now and spring.

  8. Frances,

    I thoroughly enjoy the promenades through your garden. The little things are magnified in importance.

    BTW…IF you move, come on over the mountains to North Carolina! 🙂


    Hi Cameron, thanks for coming along and also for the invite. Your part of North Carolina is the perfect place to live, but I need to be close to all the offspring! It is fun to look down at the little things, as you say, there is so much happening around us it is easy to forget to notice them.

  9. I enjoyed the closer look at the garden floor. Your plantings fit in well around Athena. I like the Heuchers ‘Silver Scrolls’ surrounded by the green leaves. The Sagina looks perfect nestled between the rocks, like a miniature mountain landscape.

    Hi Shade, thanks for getting down with me. That sagina is a beautiful groundcover and grows well here. I need to use it more in other spots. Athena always gives me a boost as I look out the window where she is holding up the daylily hill.

  10. Marnie says:

    As always, I enjoyed the tour of your garden. Forget-me-nots are one of my Moms favorites. I grew the among my hostas for many years but had to let them go when I stopped supplemental watering. Those charming blue flowers do add so much to a shady location.

    Hi Marnie, thanks for following along. The forget me nots do like extra water, but are somehow looking good here even with the drought. I think the rocks help hold the moisture in. I cannot explain the asphalt though! ;->

  11. gittan says:

    Thanks fore sharing the pictures from yuor garden. It seems like a wonderful place. This i s my first time visiting yuor blogg, and I’m sure I’ll be comming back. I found it while I was googling for Japanese Maples which I love and I have a few different / gittan (from sweden)

    Hi Gittan, thanks and welcome. I love Japanese maples and feature them often. None are mature yet, but they are starting to look like more than sticks. Do return! ;->

  12. Rose says:

    My “trunk” is thickening just as your Japanese maple’s is, but I don’t think I have to go to the gym this morning after this walk with you, Frances:) I haven’t had much luck with bleeding hearts, though I planted a few more this fall in hopes this time they’ll pull through. To think you have volunteer seedlings!

    Hi Rose, thanks for tagging along. The trouble with the climbing we do around here while gardening is that it does nothing to flatten the stomach that age seems to want to inflate! These fern leaf type of bleeding hearts are much much easier than the other type with the fancier flower, D. spectabile. I have trouble with that one also.

  13. Pam/Digging says:

    Frances, that was quite a tour. I almost didn’t make it past the story of the traveling Japanese maple–it was an arresting tale. The maple’s long journey and wait for the perfect spot surpasses the agave travails I’ve been blogging about. You were determined to keep it, and right you were! Just look at that beauty cascading over your pond.

    I love the sedum and succulent picture. It’s a shame they won’t overwinter for you, but you can treat them as beautiful annuals, right?

    Hi Pam, thanks, glad you hung on! It was a lot of wasted effort and money to buy that expensive tree and move it all over. Normally we buy the smallest ones we can find. They settle in better that way. It has turned out well, I was so afraid we had lost it in the big freeze, but both trees by the pond survived. The succulents are easy to find and cheap and can be replaced next year. They were a good choice for that shallow pot, my Texas garden!

  14. Cindy says:

    A lovely walk. I love the photo of the scotch moss. I am going to have to try and get some going again. I had it but then I lost it. This happens often in more than plants 😉

    Hi Cindy, thanks. That moss is the greatest plant. I think the gold is much tougher than the green sagina too, it can take more sun. And I feel your pain about losing things too, we must just keep moving forward and maybe they will turn up! ;->

  15. nancybond says:

    You still have such beauty in your garden, Frances. It just proves that every season does have its own special gifts.

    Hi Nancy, thanks. There will be many evergreen perennials to give us winter interest, but the sheffies are the only real blooming going on. It is raining leaves today, wish it was the wet kind!

  16. Cindy says:

    I’m so glad the Japanese maple found a hospitable place in which to share its beauty. I’ve tried 2 or 3 times to grow them, so it makes me feel a little better to know that it didn’t thrive even in the more northerly clime of the Woodlands. As for that little succulent, I’d be unable to resist digging it up and bringing it in for the winter!

    I have Johnny-Jump-Ups, bluebonnets, alyssum and more coming up in my granite and rock paths right now!

    Hi Cindy, thanks. Don’t feel bad about the maples. I don’t know why they even sell them there. The one to the left of the pond I bought at a nursery in Houston that was going out of business. There were two of them, Crimson Queens and they looked small and straggly. I knew they would love TN and brought them here at the same time because they were only $7 each! One died in our late frost of ’06 but the other sits at the left hand of the pond proudly. What a lovely assortment to be coming up in the stones! No room for any more in the greenhouse, no vacancy! ;->

  17. Randy says:

    This is a wonderful post! Try as I might I just can’t seem to get enthusiastic about fall. Your, photos are just wonderful. 🙂

    Hi Randy, thanks. I felt that way when we lived in Texas and California. There just wasn’t enough change in the temps or the scenery. Maybe you could plant some more fallish colored things?

  18. LindaLunda says:


    Hi Linda, thanks. I would really like to see you get a little excited for a change! ;->

  19. skeeter says:

    And here I thought I was the only one that dragged plants cross states and into new homes when moving from one house to another! The Saint and I left VA for Colorado in a Camero with all our clothes, a cat and that damed tree as he called it that his mom gave me! The car was loaded down and a long drive to CO with a tree and a cat in the back seat! We repeated that scenario when we left CO for Texas! Finally had to give that evergreen up when we left TX for Germany. Did not think Delta airlines would find the humor in me dragging a tree on board! I know the Saint would not… lol…

    I like the way you captured a stray leaf in some photos as a reminder that it is fall time… Great stroll today with you Frances…

    Hi Skeeter, yes we are a lot alike, some would say even stubborn! Are you by any chance a fellow Taurus? ;-> We did move with cats and the car loaded with plants from TN to TX. The people who bought our house there wanted the cats too!!! And they were so nice so we said okay. We got Hazel while we were still doing the reno, she was a tiny baby. We do have lots of stray leafs and more to come. They have really been falling today and the cold front will blow more down. Hooray!

  20. ourfriendben says:

    Thanks for doing all that legwork, Frances, so I could rest in the beauty of your photographs and prose! I especially loved the ‘Silver Scrolls’ heuchera with Athena, particularly heartwarming as my feline matriarch (who also, incidentally, has red hair) is named Athena (that’s Tawillow’s Athena Beaumaine to those not well acquainted). Good luck with the California poppies! I have tried and tried and failed and failed. I too have wandering bleeding hearts, and wherever they grow, I love them!

    Hi OFB, thanks and what a lovely name for your red headed kitty! I was very surprised to see the poppies. I read in the Washington Post that Adrain Higgins said to plant the seeds of them outside NOW! Maybe that is what we were doing wrong?

  21. Philip says:

    All so interesting, but two images really caught my attention. First is the Scotch moss with the leaves around the rocks. I am reminded of that story of the Japanese zen gardener and his apprentice. The young apprentice had goomed the garden completely. The gardener went to a Japanese maple and shook the leaves so they fell on the path.
    “Now it is perfect” said the zen gardener.
    The other image is of the myosotis…a great story, and I love the pine needles around it.

    Hi Philip, thanks for that great comment. I love that story and agree completely. The leaves do make it perfect. The gardens are full of stories.

  22. Kathleen says:

    You crack me up Frances with that comment about its good for the Japanese maples to get thick about the middle but not bloggers. If I keep sitting at this computer, it will totally happen! I’m exhausted just following you around today. I have to say, I dig many seedlings out of my rock pathway and replant them elsewhere too. It seems to be the perfect germination spot, doesn’t it?? And those foxglove seedlings incite envy in me. If my mulching doesn’t do the trick in getting some to winter over, I don’t know what I’ll do. I want them in my garden so badly but its trying to tell me differently. Okay, now maybe we all need to “sit a spell.” 😉

    HA Kathleen, good one. We do need to sit a spell. For years I struggled with the foxgloves and then this year there are seedlings all over. It is that Semi-Piet school I tell you. Don’t do anything, including cutting down and trying to save the seeds, just let them scatter into nooks and crannies. That seems to be where they like it best. Mulching should help, you do have to watch that they don’t push themselves out of the ground. Maybe rock around them, I have done that before with good results.

  23. Kathleen says:

    PS Some years I can’t stand the thought of my succulents going to mush so I bring them indoors for the winter. this year was one of those years. I have two potted up in my office.

    I bet they will give you lots of enjoyment too. I just don’t have room, and the orchids prefer a more humid environment than the succulents like. I will buy more next year, like the coleus.

  24. Lzyjo says:

    Ah Frances, everything is looking beautiful, as always. Especially love the Japanese maple cascading down the wall and Scotch Moss is lovely too, what a nice way to liven up a rock feature.

    Hi Izyjo, thanks. The scotch moss really surprised me by spreading so well with no water. Maybe I am overwatering it in other spots, no where else does it look that good. I sit and ponder the maple over the pond too, a good comtemplation spot.

  25. Lythrum says:

    I love your pictures, the Japanese maple is lovely. 🙂

    Hi Lythrum, thanks so much and welcome. Lovely name.

  26. Brenda Kula says:

    Frances, my doctor told me to please stay out of the garden today. (Which I failed to do.) But I got quite a bit of exercise in yours! I enjoy all your posts. I find I am really interested more and more in the sedums and succulents. The textures seem to have mesmerized me.

    Hi Brenda,thanks for your support. You always have adventures at your house, plenty of exercise in those too. I love the textures and forms too of the little plants. Lots of nooks and crannies.

  27. skeeter says:

    I am stubborn Frances but not like a bull. More like a head butting Ram named Aries. 🙂

    Ahhhh, that makes sense. A bit of a fighter more than just mad charging! ;-> I mean that in the best possible way too. HA

  28. skeeter says:

    Ah, Magic! I made a smiley face! 🙂

    So the smiley faces come with the straight smile? I will give it a try. 🙂

    AHA! 🙂 🙂 🙂


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