Form Follows Function - June, 2019

Newpatio1Anyone who gardens knows that nothing ever stays the same. I started gardening many years ago on my plot of land. The first garden was a vegetable garden but as the gardening addiction grew a border became a goal. The first was a border behind the house. It was southwest facing and away from the hubbub of a daily life filled with active kids, their friends, and pets. It was a border which would not suffer from thrown balls and furry feet. But, it was behind the house. It provided a nice respite from a long day. I clearly remember taking friends over to see it and one of them audibly gasped at the display. Nirvana to a gardener's spirit and soul. As the kids grew, the niche carved out of the woods for the homestead grew bigger-pines were cut down for more sun and more play area. There was a sandbox added and the woods were pushed back a bit further.  A sunroom was added to the house necessitating the cutting of more trees. The large pine holding the swing hit the dirt. The kids didn't use it anymore anyway. A patio was added and many a meal has been enjoyed on that patio. The area adjacent to the patio was the bird feeding station and it is situated right in front of the double, west facing window. Very useful for entertainment during cold winter months but a difficult area to plant in season as it had an irregular shape. It was a wild space in the summer. PatiotobeBee balm scampered around with abandon and a stray sunflower arose from the bird's sloppy dining habits.  The existing patio seemed smaller for friends more than ten. PlanviewThe garden evolves and so does the garden space. Louis Sullivan, architect, lived by the principle 'Form Follows Function' and while he applied it to buildings, it has become a maxim for landscape design as well.
As such it seemed an additional patio space would be a good solution to the problems of space and Ongoingconstructionpatiothat of taming a garden. There would be more room for sitting and chatting. More space for fun. A nicer space to view from the living room window. Work began. With the help of my awesome neighbor, Rocky, I started the dig. The Equipment Manager, also known as husband, Chris,  was not really on board for another project. He left for Maine for two weeks. I started work. I planned to add a rectangular addition to the curved patio. I kept digging....how many wheelbarrows of soil were removed from the designated area? I know I removed about ten before Rocky showed up with superior strength and a bigger wheelbarrow. I think it must have been 30 or 40. Processed gravel was added and then sand. The brick arrived. 630 bricks-I had to get 200 more as we went a bit bigger. Rocky is in construction and he has a good eye for leveling and all things construction. We decided during the process to add a rill under the drip line of the house. I love the rill and it has handled 2.6" of rain with no problem. WithrillWe finished the day the EM arrived home. He was less than thrilled but I do think he is now embracing the space since we have had a couple gatherings which have been much more comfortable with seating and space.


We have had morning coffee on the new patio and evening wine. I saw my first cedar waxwings from the patio chair. Have they visited before? Were they there in the garden all the time and I never noticed? Cedarwaxwing2I don't think so, I think they came to celebrate the new patio.  


Walk This Way

Walk mosaic2August has brought with it high heat and lethargy. I have a new appreciation for those who garden in warm and down right hot areas of this country and the world. There is nothing that saps the strength like heat and humidity. It is time for porch swings, adirondack chairs and tall, sweaty glasses of cool drinks. Or, one could do piece work. The walkway to the front door runs right through a patch of ledge. A jackhammer was required to level the area for the brick walk. On either side of this area there is the still existing ledge and pockets which are too shallow for planting resulting in a  design dilemma. Walk projectFor years I have had decorative rock in these spots. Beach stones are pretty and smooth and solved the problem of planting in these spots but they also got dirty and weeds were a problem. They  grow pretty much anywhere they can grab hold. Another solution was necessary. A friend of mine is building a new patio and she mentioned that she wants some mosaic laid in the hardscaping. She is artistic and will probably do it herself. She told me this some time ago. That thought steeped and settled and finally percolated to the top. I would do a mosaic of the beach pebbles on the right side of the walkway. It is a small area and a manageable project. Walk mosaicSo, I picked up some polymeric sand at the local stone supply company. You can read about polymeric sand here. It hardens once water is applied to it making joints stronger. It is fairly impermeable which means there is little option for weed seeds to germinate. I then cleaned out the existing rocks, washed them and settled down on a very warm summer afternoon to create. I laid a two inch base of poly sand in which to set the stones. Done overview mosaic Once the stones formed the pattern, I added more sand to the top and swept it between the joints. Then, water was applied.  Two hours later, the job was done. Not perfect but very pleasing to my eye.
Walk with mosaic 2Now the question is 'should I attempt the other side'? It is a larger area and a bigger project. I am undecided. I would love your input. 



The Dog Nose

Maine and Gisele's 022Do you have a dog in your garden? Many of us could not garden without a dog or two but others find dogs just a nuisance. They get in the way, trample plants, DSC_0002knock over planters, DSC_0056play in the mud and generally can make pests of themselves. They also supervise most garden tasks, DSC_0004take walks with you, pose, DSC_0035watch the baby IMG_3577 and, on occasion find lost items. There are two dogs here at Ledge & Gardens, Tucker at 14 is getting stiff and sedentary but he still resides over the garden with a dignity he has refined over the years. Tucker is never one to push himself into your lap. He likes attention but doesn't crave it. Not so with Cooper. Cooper is two and he is a bundle of energy. If there is something to get into, Cooper will find it. He has a great nose for any kind of scat and always wants to share. DSC_0062
This morning he found a frozen pile of something. Fearing the worst, I gave him a call and he trotted over to show me what he had found in the frozen leaves. DSC_0057Ahhhh, I knew that glove was among the missing. DSC_0056-001I can't imagine gardening without these two. I am appreciating Tucker every day. DSC_0022At 14 his days are numbered but then all of ours are numbered as well. Dogs just do not live long enough. If we only lived 15 years on average do you think we would appreciate life more? Do you garden with a dog? What does your dog add to your gardening adventures?  

Scenes of Summer

August 1st 036 Is it late summer yet? I don't think so. Late summer is after the 21st of August when only a month is left. Still, the above spring blooming azalea is throwing more blossoms than it did this spring. It has re-bloomed in the past but with just one or two flowers. August 1st 035This year, this August, it is putting on a good show. I have no idea why as it is not supposed to re-bloom. Just an added bonus. I don't remember its name. Anyone?  August 1st 030I have a love-hate relationship with any plant bearing the color 'school bus yellow'. On one hand, it shows up very well in the garden from a great distance but close up it is garish and harsh and doesn't seem to blend well with other colors. Black eyed Susan's were one of my childhood favorites so I give them a bit of a pass. It is hard to dislike black eyed Susan's. They can be thuggish and persistent but these look quite at home next to the anise hyssop blooming in the Winter Garden. Yes, it is behind the corn patch which hides it from direct view but there should be a reason to walk behind the corn.
Phlox paniculataThe tall garden phlox are in bloom and those that have reseeded are large, fragrant and purple. I have several cultivars of Phlox paniculata. Phlox paniculata 'Peppermint Twist' is coral and white although it does revert back to just coral. It has little fragrance.Phlox paniculata 'Peppermint Twist'Still, this phlox is pretty and at 24" tall fits on the edge of the garden quite well. August can be a bit of a garden bore. The borders rely heavily on the color of annuals and the textures of earlier blooming perennials. The real stars of an August garden are vegetables: corn, squash, beans and tomatoes. Well, my tomatoes are not ripe yet with the exception of 'Sungold'.  That is a topic for another day. What perennials are you enjoying in your garden in early August?


Flower Fairies

So, have you ever made flower fairies?  I had not made them before but a friend of mine, Lois, told me that she spent hours of her childhood making these creatures and since she was visiting she showed me a few of her techniques.  I don't usually have time for this since weeding must be done and other garden chores beckon.  Having a grandchild does make one pause a bit and little HED does enjoy picking flowers.  DSC_0121
She was here also and seemed quite uninterested in the process but then she is only two. I thought it would be a fun technique to learn for her future fairy follies. One needs a Y shaped stick to start.  I was told that my oak sticks were a bit bulky for fairies but then I come from bulky stock so it seemed only right to have bulky fairies. DSC_0122
I was not chastened one bit.  Once the body is in place it just needs to be dressed with arms, skirt, bonnet and poppy seed heads make great heads but with a bonnet a head is not really necessary. DSC_0128
Campanula flowers, foxglove flowers (she was never poisoned), lamb's ear and whatever else your imagination dictates, can be utilized for clothing.  I think friend, Lois, had the most fun. I can see why, these are quite cute don't you think? DSC_0129
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that you have to name your fairies and Rose lily is the most popular name.  Mine is named Ginger. She is the bulky one although I think her dress slims her right down. Do you think there are flower fairies in your future?   


Nature's April Fool

DSC_0008 April came in like a lion.  A slight roar and just a couple of inches of snow but still, it is April and Mother Nature is just not paying attention. Or, she is and this is the joke. The brick edging is warm from the sun and leaves a nice outline as the snow melts quickly from the surface. DSC_0004I think we are about a month behind schedule with temperatures but they always have a way of moderating quite quickly so 'out like a lamb' will probably happen mid month.  DSC_0009 On a positive note, the Christmas lights are down and the crocus don't really care if there is snow on their heads. DSC_0007I hope this is the only April Fool's joke which is played today here at L & G.  Who has played a trick on you today?


Cedar apple rust

In the past week some warm and wet days occurred  and in addition to encouraging the perennials to bloom, the Eastern red cedars sported these orange growths IMG_1858
which are the fruiting bodies of the fungal disease, Cedar apple rust.  This disease is usually non life threatening to the host trees.  Apple and crabapple trees exhibit spotting of the leaves once the spores are transferred from the cedars, Juniperus virginiana.  You can read more about this disease here with the experts.  I find that nature creates some of the most interesting forms in the garden and in life.  I can see the toy makers perusing scientific journals to come up with all sorts of new items to entice sales.  Haven't I seen squishy balls that look just like this in the store? 31XDNHKYgVL._SL500_AA300_
I don't know who took this picture but in the interest of fair play, you can find it here.  Of course I did have to cut one down from the tree and feel it.  It felt like those 'grow in water' creatures which grow to hundreds of times their size when you set them in a bowl of water.  I wonder if the same technology which allows these galls to grow tentacles from a hard little ball was used to create those critters also?  


Just a random garden shot from July '08
Most of us who blog have been asked horticultural advice from others at one time or another.  Some of us give horticultural advice as part of our jobs and part of our lives.  It is very satisfying to share one's knowledge with others and it is equally satisfying to receive the benefits of other's experiences in the garden and in life.  We all know how difficult it is to throw out plants although seasonal plants are easier to dispense with due to the limited shelf space of the indoor winter garden.  Poinsettias are just so festive during the holiday season and so garish the days after. Entry Garden
Another gratuitous garden shot
Once the bract color starts to diminish it is hard to justify the space this plant takes up on the shelf.  One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is 'How do  I keep my poinsettia healthy and how do I get it to rebloom"?   Keeping it healthy is one thing especially when it gives so little after the holiday and is so susceptible to white fly.  Getting it to rebloom is not difficult it just takes the attention to detail for which many of us lack the time.  What am I getting to?  Well, below is a picture of my poinsettia from '07 which I decided to keep and grow on in the hopes of the rebloom.  Let me say that this plant was growing quite well all through the summer of '08 but someone (Tucker) knocked it over and broke the main stem.  Hence it's diminutive size.  I did NOT give it any special treatment and yet it did reward me with this diminutive red bloom.  If only I had the time to take some of my own advice.DSC_0001


Shadows in the snow

High 16 F
Low  3 F

DSC_0007 The new year arrived with the bitter cold of winter and a new blanket of snow.   The stark gray of a snowless landscape is an energy drain for me and, I am sure, many others.  The pristine snowfall  inspires more energy.  Perhaps it is the added light from the reflection of brightness or just the clean look of the landscape which seems to improve my mood.  Tucker and I took a brief walk today which started in the garden DSC_0002 and then wound down by the DSC_0005 winter garden or GFSD DSC_0006 and then to the field.  DSC_0011 The shadows are quite long this time of year.  We finally entered the woods DSC_0012 to clear our heads and in his case, to sniff the world.  The woods are quiet this time of year and a good place for reflection and inspiration.  We took the short loop through the woods and Tucker stopped every few minutes to sniff some invisible but apparently highly scented spots along the path.  I saw very few wildlife prints.  A few deer trails and this little creature's tracksDSC_0013 in the snow.  They were too small for a rabbit but probably a rodent of some sort.  I am not up on my tracking identification.  The trail emerges from the woods down by the barn and  along the way back towards the house this Helleborus foetidusDSC_0014 is a bright bit of green lushness in an otherwise monochromatic landscape.   It is such a surprise to find a green so hopeful withstanding the winter temperatures and looking cheerful in the cold.  Hope springs eternal as another year marks the calendar.  Anyone making New Year's resolutions? 


Happy birthday to me!

DSC_0031I celebrated a day early by joining Kris from Blithewold, along with Gail, Lois and many others at their annual fundraiser which featured Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden blog.  Margaret gave an excellent and entertaining presentation on the life of her garden.   I am going to break tradition and print a couple of pictures.  Here is the Blithewold crew working hard at the registration table.  Gail and Kris are smiling and probably happy that they are inside on a cool, rainy day rather than in mud boots.  Img_4253-1 (3) Next is a picture of Kris and Margaret after lunch.Img_4275 (2)   And here is the final of myself and Lois Img_4273 (2) who is a fabulous gardener and a great friend.  We had a wonderful time sitting with like minded gardeners.