There is an area of the Fairegarden that gives the eye of the wandering path follower a jolt of joy as said eye falls upon it. This bed is referred to as the flat bed. Even the untrained eye can see it is not exactly flat, but in comparison to the rest of our property, it is. This is a most difficult planting spot for at one time it was the parking destination at the end of the gravel driveway of the house next door that we bought, knocked down and replaced with our garage. While it looks quite pleasing in the above photo, ah the perfection of early April light in the earliest of morning sunshine, …
… or peeking through a spiders web strung gracefully on the Arborvitae hedge in glorious fall, …
… late July’s earliest morning light finds its charms much more difficult to discern. The term *little leaf syndrome* used to describe an affliction that plagues many spots in the garden here should be substituted with *long pointy leaf syndrome* in this case. The compacted gravel base, heavily enriched with compost and mulch always defeats the efforts of those amendments. One happy consequence is that this is the only alkaline soil we have, thanks to years of gravel additions by the owners of the former rental property as the stones washed down into the street with heavy rains and vehicles traveling up and down the steep incline. The driveway is now a half circle, joining the original house with the garage, and paved with concrete. A gravel path leads from the new driveway around the side of the garage and into the back, mostly hidden with a hedge of Arborvitae to add some mystery and surprise for first time visitors.
From a crouched position below the flat bed, the image is enhanced with color dots of assorted Cupheas. These were added after a C. ignea overwintered here successfully.
Looking down from the top of the steps also gives a pleasing image, with the central planting of Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ taking top billing. In the three dimensions that the human eye views the world, this flat bed is always thrilling. In the world of two dimensional photography though, it is often lacking. It needs a focal point to help the eye find a place to rest. It just so happens that a certain magazine article has been gazed upon nearly daily for the last year and a half. Daily because it sits on the glass shelf next to the commode. I never tire of looking at these photos from the Horticulture December/January 2008 article about photographer Clive Nichols’ garden ‘Photo Finish’, pages 26-33. My friend Pam of Digging even wrote a post about this same story. Click here to read her take on it. While I love every single thing about this garden, his use of a twenty foot piece of driftwood as a sculptural focal point, seen in the upper left corner of the left page, seemed something that could be done here. All that was needed was that piece of driftwood. And where does one find such a thing? …
Well, the beach is a good place to look, wouldn’t you say? It just so happens we recently enjoyed our yearly beach vacation, this time at Isle Of Palms, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. On a walk along the shoreline with family members Semi and Lynn I mentioned that on the agenda was to find and bring home a seven foot long piece of driftwood. Twenty feet long would not fit into or on top of the car. Seven foot seemed doable, if it could be found. This was a very clean beach. There was not a lot of flotsam and jetsam that had washed up into heaps along the dunes. But there was one lone single solitary item noticed on this particular walk.
Perfect! Thank you to the gods of the sea for anticipating a humble gardener’s request. It was not heavy and was summarily drug back to the rental house and placed in the screened in porch to dry out. Figuring out how to present the idea to The Financier that this simply must come back home with us would be cogitated on and brought up at an opportune moment before the cars were loaded for the return trip later in the week. (The broom standing just outside the door brings to mind the Disney masterpiece ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ starring Mickey Mouse.*)
And here it be. Did you doubt for a moment that the prize would make the seven hour car trip back to Tennessee? Although The Financier did mention yesterday that the wood poked a hole in the leather of the car interior. He is the one who packed the car, but still, pangs of guilty remorse cloud an otherwise happy ending.
The daily rains this last week have inhibited photo shoots. Do not read that statement as a complaint please, for we are ever so thankful for each drop of life giving liquid from the sky above. It is just to explain the lack of clarity in the image showing the driftwood, which is attached with copper wire to a metal electrical conduit pipe found under the garage deck. This set up was to give an idea of placement and position for analytical assessment. It should be better secured in the future, but for now does provide a place for the eye to alight. Maybe it needs something dangling from the end? Food for thought.
Photo tip: A focal point can be nearly anything, a large pot, a tree, shrub or plant, art, just so it draws the eye. Situating the focal point at the end of a path, in the center of a circle, or as the first thing seen when a hidden vista comes into view, as used here is an effective design device to bring interest to an otherwise boring spot.
* To view the clip of brooms in revolt, click here.
My name is Frances and I am a lifelong gardener, having lived in various parts of the USA over many years. I am now gardening in USDA Zone 7a east Tennessee. From 2000 to 2014 I was gardening on a slope in a small town in Tennessee. I have been blogging about my gardens since December of 2007. Thank you for visiting!
The slope in spring
The slope in fall
The slope in winter
Visit The Hop Ice Cream Cafe When In Asheville, NC
640 Merrimon Ave.
or The Hop West
721 Haywood Rd.
Asheville, North Carolina
Older Posts Of Interest:
The story of the day a throng of cedar waxwings descended upon the garden, shown in the header image. (2009)
An awkward title that explains about making those very tall asters, mums and others shorter by cutting them down by half in May. Now is the time! (2011)
A book inspires the growing of lilies from seed. (2009)
How ten lily bulbs became hundreds. (2010)
A rant about the mistaken thoughts of non-gardeners. (2009)
There was something hidden in the forest and we were lucky enough to be able to see it. (2011)
Dreams turn into reality, in a way. The Green Man/Leaf Man faces live well in my garden now. (2011)
A yard without a lawn. (2010)
A history of all of the faire gardens and a couple of choice tidbits about me. (2009)
Very difficult to only pick your six favorite plants, some of us bent the rules a bit. (2009)
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