Oh, hello there. So nice to see you here on the middle terrace of the sloping Fairegarden. What’s that you say? You are here for a tour? Well alrighty then. My name is Kitty and I will be your guide. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. Remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid
humans. Oops, Frances says that is neither nice nor correct, it should be only stupid answers. I promise that my answers to your queries will be highly intelligent. Shall we begin?
Most garden tours here begin with the gravel entrance path at the side of the garage. Just past the row of Arborvitae you can see the flat garden that used to be the driveway of the house next door that was torn down to build the garage. The drying seed heads of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ will be seen hither and yon as we traipse around, it is a very fine grass. Do I see a hand raised in question? The common name? Feather reed grass is the answer, but we prefer the botanical latin to make sure we all are speaking of the same exact plant. Just beyond the swaying grass is the Black Garden. The star of the show there is the Lilium ‘Black Beauty’, seen just to the left of the purple leaf peach foliage. The piece of driftwood that is wired to a metal pole was brought back by Frances from a family beach trip in 2009. She wrote a post about it that can be viewed here-In Need Of A Focal Point. Question? Yes, the driftwood did poke a hole in the upholstery of The Financier’s fancy shmancy car. We are not to speak of it, however, so please forget I mentioned it. Onward.
Please watch your step as we follow the path upwards. This is a relatively modest slope, nothing like the steep pitch of the slope behind the main house. We are still on the property that came with the aforementioned house that got knocked down. A working clothesline came with that house but the wires were removed and the rusted metal poles are now used as trellises for roses and vines. Frances would like for me to point out her new Astilbe chinensis ‘Purpurkenze’ that she brought home on the plane from her recent Buffalo trip, seen to the right. I would like to point out the copper topped birdhouse hanging on the metal clothesline pole to the left, a gift from sister of The Financier, Lynn. Often I will sit just under the scattered birdhouses here and hope for a baby bird to fall into my waiting mouth. So far it has not happened. Oops, Frances says it had better not ever happen, either. She is so rigid sometimes. Let us proceed.
We are now at the bottom of the old concrete steps that used to lead to the backdoor of the house that was torn down. The Financier built half round planters on each side of the steps from concrete blocks. Frances planted Astilbe ‘Peach Blossom’ at the base on each side. The planter seen in the photo holds Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ and Nasturtium ‘Yeti’, among others. The round balls on the old wall are made of hypertufa mix, instructions can be found by clicking here-How To Make Hypertufa-Concrete Balls. The small planter on the step is also hypertufa, made using plastic flower pots as the forms.
As we climb the steps, please note the yellow/white garden just to the left. Last year Frances added this Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ for some late season flowering. Last year this same plant was two feet tall in flower when planted. This year it is six feet tall, something of a surprise, but a pleasant one. The photo was taken looking across from the garage deck using the zoom. Those spider webs are somewhat disturbing to me. I do not share the love of spiders and their webs to which some humans around here profess. The webs make me sneeze.
There are two Hydrangea paniculata grandifloras here, both trained as standards. One is in the yellow/white garden, the other joins a standard butterfly bush in the Azalea Walk that runs parallel to the back of the garage. More of the Karl grass can be seen dancing in the welcome breeze as the PeeGees come into flower.
Pardon me whilst I nibble a bit on this Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubrum’. Must keep my tummy in tip top shape and you might have noticed how sleek my fur is. A feline must keep up appearances you know. I believe Frances has whipped up something for you to savor after the tour, in case my eating in front of you has aroused your appetite. You will need all of your faculties as we approach the steeper slope, no distractions like eating or drinking will be allowed. Also, I may have forgotten to remind everyone to please silence their electronic devices during the tour. It is in everyone’s best interest to be able to hear what I am saying. We appreciate your cooperation. And now please watch your step as we proceed, for some of the stepping stones are at different levels. This can only be considered a design flaw on the part of the contruction team of The Financier and Frances. Or perhaps the ground settled under some of them. Either way, it can be jarring to step lower, then higher, as we stroll along, even if one knows of the problem. The garden will draw your attention when you perhaps should be watching your footing.
Allow me to direct your gaze downward to the pond. Standing above it on the middle terrace, the glass baubles do look festive. Let us take the wide steps down to have a better look. Do be careful, these steps are erratically spaced and the lower one has become wobbly. Again. Heavy rains have a way of washing the soil out from under the four foot by sixteen inch by four inch thick treads. It was wise of The Financier to insist on rebar being pounded into the wet concrete for added stablility. Who knows what state the steps would be in without that reinforcement.
Ah, here is my favorite playmate, Casey the Koi. Well, he is not really my mate, but I would like him to be. Here, fishy fishy fishy. Casey was a gift from the Gardoctor to Frances. He used a net and captured him at a friend’s pond, with permission of course. Gardoctor is the one who brought me to live at the Fairegarden, and he is still my favorite human.
It may seem that this is an ornamentals only type of garden. It is true that the majority of plants fall into that category. Do follow me to the hidden from view veggie strip, between the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mops’ that backs the Azalea Walk and the row of Arborvitae, Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ at the back property line. Frances decided to leave the heavy lifting veggie growing to the local farmer’s market folks this year, but she did plant some smaller salad type tomatoes like this Yellow Pear and one called Black Cherry. She has a few plants of catnip for Hazel, my indoor sister cat and me to nosh. We both love to eat those pungent leaves, hop around a bit then take a well deserved nap on top of the stems.
A food crop that is being grown for ornamentation is this red okra, Abelmoschus esculentus ‘Bowling Red’. Frances thinks the flowers are beautiful and wishes to make a wreath from the dried pods. The pods from last year are in the shed awaiting reinforcements to make a nice display for the front door with a harvest theme for fall. Her seed source, Baker Creek, advised to allow the pods to remain on the plants until they become leathery, but not crispy dry. She followed their instructions and was pleased with the results. The same thing will be done this year and a possible wreath of okra will be displayed around Hallowe’en.
The mention of Hallowe’en allows for a segue to the last item on the tour today before refreshments are served on the lower deck, or inside the air conditioned addition if some of you are sweltering on this hot, humid summer day. This ripe pumpkin was thought to be squash, growing in the raised bed by the flat garden. That is the type of seed recorded as being sown there, the variety Eightball. Not so. Oh well, there are squash aplenty at the farmer’s market. A good thing since the food being offered to you today is squash casserole and some cold iced tea on this hot July day. I will be having the usual Iams Hairball Care ProActive Health crunchies. Yummy!
Thanks to all of you for being alert and attentive visitors during this brief tippytoe through the delights of Fairegarden. Join us again soon, for the garden is a living organism, in constant flux. It will be different each time you visit. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces. You’ve been a great audience. Meow, meow, meow, purrrrrrrrr!
Kitty (transcribed by Frances)