Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shady Sanctuary

In my opinion, shade gardens are harder to pull off design wise, but when done correctly, can create a sense of space, peace quiet and nature like nothing else.    The riots of color from your average sunny border always bring a smile to my face, but a cool shade garden is the place that makes me want to sit down and feel the humidity, the slight breeze though the trees, and take a deep breath of that green/dirt/growing things smell.

It could also be that I've noticed that sitting down in a not-shade garden here, from May-October, is torture.

My shade garden, which is my SW corner (NE exposure) is the only part of my garden that doesn't get direct sunlight, and it is the part of my garden that has the least cohesiveness to it, despite the fact that it is also the only part that has any actual 'backbone' to it, in the form of the palm tree and small raised bed.  

The fact is, my collective images of gardens and experience from my mom's gardens (which has about zero shade in it) has left me without a solid image of how to get what I want.    Also, the shady south isn't the shady Midatlantic or Northeast, and a lot of stuff just doesn't like it here... at all.  

But I have hope that one of these days I'll be able to create my little slice of inky shaded paradise, because shade gardens abound in Charleston, and I only have to walk around a little to get some good ideas.  

Our city is covered in closely spaced 18th and 19th century houses, nearly all 2 to 4 stories, nearly all with 10+ ft ceiling heights, and it makes for some shady lanes and moss covered brick patios.  Think hidden nooks with crumbling statuary and benches under a massive arching live oaks with moss and ferns hanging from above.   I have no hope of this, my patio garden just gets too much sunlight, but that macro feeling is what I so love about those shady spots.  It is shadowed, dark and an inviting retreat from the glare of the sun.  Like you might just find a romantic Anne Rice-type vampire or witch hanging out there in the twilight.

Now I'm not quite exactly sure what to PUT in the shady spots to make it look like that but I'm working on it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yarrow Flop House

About a week ago, without pausing to look at any note I might have made to myself on, lets say, plants that should not be fertilized, I went and fertilized the entire garden.    Even the roses got their own special fertilizer.  

Before, when I still looked good
Within 20 minutes, the 'Appleblossom' yarrow grew an additional six inches and promptly flopped all over the place, sprawled over every plant near and far.  
Still looking good....on May 5th

Somewhere deep in the back of my mind, when I planted this stuff, I knew that it liked lean soil.   But until the great flop this week, I had quickly failed to be bothered with remembering.   Now reading the likes and dislikes of this plant again, I am recalling all sorts of stuff.  Like it is going to be huge.   I am not joking here either.  I planted this mid to late March and it was a 5 inch round 1 inch tall mat of fernlike bristles.  I planted two of them because there is some gardening compulsion to never buy just one of anything.    Following the directions properly I did plant them about 2.5 feet apart, so I must have had some inkling at the time.   Today each of them are probably about 24 inches tall (ahem, long) and about a 20 inch round wild floppy mat.   And growing.   5 weeks old and they are monsters. 

Today...not so good :(
See how small I was in March?

I must stop and say I do love the look of the flowerheads.  They are exactly like the picture of them in the magazines.  The colors are great.  But this sprawl.  I am not liking this.  It isn't a pretty let me just intermingle with your flowers and leaves kind of messiness.  I love that look, but no,  it looks like a dog laid on it and had a full night of running dreams.

Okay, so what to do?  Can I stake it somehow?  It looked much better before the great fertilizing event, but its a little late now to reverse that.    

Monday, May 10, 2010

Honest Scrap: About Me

Heidi, over at Gippsland Garden, has passed on the Honest Scrap Award to me a few weeks ago now, and I'm finally getting down to it.  I think it is a very nice idea.  Many of the blogs I read regularly have a little something to them that keeps me coming, and its generally the personality behind the blog.   It's always peeking out here and there and it makes following those garden stories richer.

The whole idea is to list 10 things that readers might not know about you... honest stuff :)!  So here you are, a few things that might be hard to guess:

1)I consider myself a world traveller.  What I mean by world travel is that I have tried my best to experience different places and cultures from various angles.   You can do this across town as well as across the world and I have done a lot of both.   I have been fortunate enough to be able to do some things that no getting around it, you just have to pay for.  Going on a first class overnight train trip is something that sticks in my mind.  I had my own fancy room, but I also had a porter waiting on me, I met great eccentric people in the first class cocktail lounge and dined in fine form with a sharper than me 80 year old woman who had just gotten married for the 5th time.  What a riot she was.  It really was like Murder On The Orient Express.  Minus the murder part... I did bring the book though.  And I'm not sure my dinner partner didn't off one or two of those husbands.  On the opposite spectrum, I spent an entire 63$ for 2 weeks in Bolivia, camping in the altiplano at 17,000 feet.  I saw children working in a mine we bribed our way into (very scary) where the average age of death is 40 years old.  I saw otherworldly landscapes entirely made of salt.    I didn't take any showers and we jumped in some hotsprings to help ourselves out in this department.

2)I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up.  I had acquired a whip and the hat by age 9. I was ready.

3)Before I moved to Charleston I lived and worked in Manhattan for 13 years.  I definitely had my 'Sex in the City' years (though I worked a heck of a lot more than those girls did), and I feel that that city will always be a huge chunk of me.  Yes, I was there during 9/11 and it was horribly awful. Still don't talk about it much.

4)My favorite hobby, bar NONE (even gardening) is reading.  I am a reader of all things.  Put the Cheerios box in front of me at breakfast and by the end of breakfast I will have read the back enough times to be able to recite to you the Niacin content in your spoon.

5)I am an anglophile, and can't remember a time when I wasn't.   I definitely think this has to have come from reading as a child.  Have you ever noticed how many classic children's books and tales take place in England?   I mean, they have a)princesses b)dragons and knights c)wizards and witches d)worlds inside of rabbit holes e)worlds inside of wardrobes and f)Sherlock Holmes.   They also have secret gardens, grand estates and seem to throw fabulous black tie cocktail parties at an alarming rate, at least in fiction.   Anyhow a piece of me lived there even before I ever set foot in the country.

6)I am the eldest of 6 children.

7)I rarely ever watch TV.  6.5 out of 7 nights I never even turn it on.   However, I'm not sure I would survive without my laptop.

8)I own, let say, a lot... of shoes.  As I was mentioning to Meredith, I have been known to be dressed to the nines with 4 inch heels on in the garden with my watering wand helping out a few plants that need a drink before I have my cocktails out on the town.   Not as into clothes and handbags, but the shoes thing gets me.

9)I am 100% a type A personality.  Occasionally I pull off looking like a type B person, but it takes a lot more work than just being my normal type A self!  And besides, only a type A person would even try something like that.

10)I have won the NCAA basketball pool I've been in for the past 2 years straight, picking the champion.  I've won another NCAA pool, and have also won an NFL perpetuity pool, 2 Superbowl pools and an Oscar pool.   I do not watch sports.  I just get lucky. That said, I haven't won a round of Texas Rummy with my family in 4 years.

Now, a lot of people have already gotten this award, so I won't list new requests here, but if any of my readers who have blogs are up for it and haven't done it before, let me know right here and post some Honest Scrap yourself!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Pretty Shots

Into The Garden Gate

More Coneflowers Coming

Double Knockout

The Yarrow Is Growing (a lot)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Star Jasmine With Or Without You

Great Griefous, I have been working like a maniac.  It's out of control.  I've checked on the garden each day for about 2.4 seconds, and fortunately it seems to be growing just fine without me.

My kitty, Siggy, who has decided that she'd rather run away then never see me if I was going to be at work all the time, took off one night this week out into the streets of Charleston, and after a full 10 hour day of work, half a second to eat something and 2.5 hours of trying to find her and finally succeeding, I have had enough for one week.

She really really wants to be a garden cat.

During the week without me, the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) went from half bloomed to fully bloomed, with the heavenly smell so strong that I can smell it inside when the doors and windows are closed.  This might potentially be because my house has the R-value of a pasta strainer.  It IS the most smelliferous at night though really all the time its just pretty fabulous.    The night bugs also came out this week.  Yay, night bugs.   You can tell they are still a little trigger shy, like "Oh crap? Am I the only one out here? chirrrrrrrp. Dang. This would suck." But they are starting up bit by bit.

Last fall I planted a small stick of star jasmine by the gate not realizing that the anemic looking vine on the other part of the fence, with most its leaves fallen off due to scale, was also a star jasmine.  A few treatments last fall, and a good dose of neem oil in February and what do you know, healthy and happy and blooming back wall.  And the real treat is over on the other side where my parking area is.  (ignore trashbin area please).  

They are also blooming everywhere in town.  I'm not sure how this can be because I feel like the banksia roses are also everywhere, like there could not possibly be enough fences in the city to support such populations.  When one fades the next seems to take over the city.  I wonder what will be on those (same fences?) come July?

PS. for those of you considering this plant, its hardy to about 40F (5C),  but seemed to handle a few below 30 nights we had this past year.  The ground never freezes here, so thats probably a consideration.  Also, mine blooms in both shade and sun.  Its says its a sun plant, and certainly its more bountiful on the sun side, but it has plenty of blooms in what I would call a full light shade situation.  Evergreen too, if you don't have scale all over it!