Sunday, December 16, 2012

Restorative musings as we approach the winter solstice...

On a rainy and chilly December afternoon, thoughts turn inward as we move to nature's cycles.  I'm doing more time looking out into the winter garden than spending time out there, and that is to be expected.  Cozying up by the fire, mug of tea warming my hands, I am feeling the deep peace of a restorative yoga session just completed at The Yoga Center in Corvallis.  Each year around this time they hold these sessions and I was lucky enough to jump into an open spot for someone who couldn't attend at the last minute.  Once again, the experience was heightened by poetry readings from Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and others.  This one came to us today.....

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
Peace and our place in the nature of things is a key theme of my thoughts lately.  And, as I begin the process of creating the woodland garden, this feel right.  A quote from Ann Lovejoy's "A Year Along the Garden Path" sums it up...."We make gardens not just to embody our dreams but because our spirits are uplifted each time we touch the earth."
And, I would add, to find peace in the grace of the world.

Friday, December 7, 2012

On borrowed landscapes...and Sydney Eddison

Where to begin with how this book touched me.....I savored every chapter and came away wishing that Sydney was my neighbor.....such inspiration....

One of the last chapters discusses borrowed landscapes and has given me great motivation to begin the woodland garden process in earnest this spring.  One of her quotes, "What the eye can see, the heart can possess". 

Just a short post, with more to come as the woodland garden gets underway.  Today, I bought 75 daffodil bulbs...hey, it's a start!

Looking for inspiration in deep December....

Just discovering Andy Goldsworthy, a English born artist, now living in Scotland, who works in large site specific sculptures and what is called "land art" I finished watching the mesmerizing documentary of his work,  "Rivers and Tides" and am now thinking of creating something in the garden that evokes the concept of portals....but, I haven't filled in any of the details, yet, and am making this post just as a memory jog.  Here's the link to the documentary online...Rivers and Tides.

The question is, how does he get such a deep black for the center of the portal?
What if you were to use a mirror to create the same effect?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Risking a tired is a garden...

Some random thoughts have been rattling around and ready to spill out.  No "drop the chicken" moments happening (thank you to a fellow writing classmate for that handy metaphor...Kristina is a talented young writer and you can follow her blog here  Kristina's writing blog Bird Droppings).....just recurring minor observations.  Hanna Rion has written, "The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses"....and this is so true.  But, it occurs to me that there are so many other "senses" that also awaken in the garden.  The sense of anticipation, the sense of wonder, the sense of accomplishment....well, the list goes on. 

Plants make it to wish list after visit to Dancing Oaks

Well, the wish list just got longer.  A visit to Dancing Oaks in Monmouth, Oregon, revealed these lovelies that now must find a place in the garden.  I was also happy to find the botanical name and tag information for a ground cover plant that I bought at a recent local plant sale which came with scant to no information.  Turns out it could be a pretty good score for that blasted slope which is plaguing us.

Heuchera Plum the foliage color
And, another "must have"...a sizable plant, Crambe cordifolia....this one easily topping 5 feet.  It is also known as Colewort, and said to easily grown to 8 feet.  Whoa!

For some time I've admired this plant and now I finally have a is a Sambucus, possibly Black Lace cultivar.  Also, known as an elderberry.  Another statuesque specimen from 4-5 feet.

This is the mystery plant...turns out to be a creeping raspberry.  Who knew?

Monday, May 14, 2012

A few things that are working for me right now......

One or two parts of the garden are beginning to is this Stipa Gigantea ornamental grass that I caught in the act of being backlit by the setting sun.

The thrill of plumage on grasses starts at this time of year (and I admit that I am a complete sucker for plumage).  And, so abrupt....only a few days ago it looked like this.....

Granted this is photographed from a different angle and time of day...but, you get the idea.

So much can change so rapidly at this time of year!

I'm also really beginning to like how the front foundation planting is coming along.  It consists of Moon Bay Nandinas, Japanese Forest Grass, Carex morrowii, one Skimmia and one vine maple in the corner with Christmas ferns at it's base.  The red blooms are Girard's Hotshot azaleas...the only blast of relatively short lived color amongst a green palette of foliage which I find a soothing place of welcoming to the side gate.

And, one last thing...this is an unusual color combination but I'm beginning to find it quite fascinating.....a vine maple and an artichoke wrestling to see whose foliage will get the upper hand....stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reusable, recylable....Trader Joe's in the garden!

The edge of the grass we wanted to keep was chiseled out with an edger to form a small trench, into which the bags were tucked.
Well, today was a busy day in the garden, so here is a snippet from the activities.  Trader Joe's paper bags come with suggestions on how you can reuse or recycle, but this was not on the about using them to reclaim some grass for a planting area? 

Let's say you have too much grass.  Want to get rid of it and create a nice planting area?  Don't dig up the grass....nature put too many goodies in there to discard!  Just paper over, with handy Trader Joe bags (or newspaper, or cardboard, also work well), spray with a bit of water to get 'em nice and soggy, and then cover with bark mulch or any other organic material.

Once you get the paper bags in place, spray with water and top dress with mulch, and they will stay in place (try not to step on them too much for the first couple of weeks).
In a couple of months the grass will have died back, lending all that good natural nitrogen and other organic elements to the soil underneath  (and, I can attest from my own observations that the earthworms just go crazy under that cozy layer of damp material, giving the soil a lovely texture). Then you can start gently digging and planting whatever suits you.  Meanwhile, you have a tidy mulched area, and the best mowing or watering!

Here is a larger view of the more of the planting area created in the last couple of days.  All of the mulched area (reddish brown in color, as our local mulch here in the Willamette Valley is a deliciously aromatic mix of chopped Douglas Fir wood) has been treated in this way and was previously lawn area....very tedious to mow.

There is quite a slope to this section, which made mowing downright treacherous...a terrace will go in to provide easy planting and maintenance, as well as a small rocky path to climb the slope.

And now, Oh, the possiblities!  The summer will be spent designing the planting for this new area and in the Fall when the rains begin again to provide water to the new plants, the digging will begin.  What fun!

Monday, May 7, 2012

It begins.....starting from seed

So begins the first post....May 7, 2012, and the sunniest morning yet here in the early Summer of the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  So, what am I doing sitting at the computer when I should be out madly working the garden?  I ask myself this, and other questions.....more to come.....