Savannah Garden Diary

May 23, 2008

Lotus

Filed under: In bloom now, Pond — karen @ 9:15 am

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The lotuses have burst out all over (Nelumbo lutea). They are bigger and more beautiful this year. You can even see the seed pods clearly. They are impossible to photograph because you need an aerial view. Thom says I can borrow the 17′ ladder.

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I am slightly concerned that the lotuses are taking over the pond. They were supposed to stay in the deep end and leave the shallow end to water lilies. But I have had only 2 water lily flowers this year and there are lotuses in most of the pond. I shall have to get rid of some of them. They are native, and obviously happy. I believe there is also a more yellow version, but I like this creamy one.

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And in the lawn by the compost piles, the ground orchid Spiranthes vernalis. I am so happy to see it. We had it at our old house, but this is the first time I have seen it here. That’s what you get when you seldom mow the lawn. (The wildflower book calls it “Spring Ladies’-tresses.” I don’t think much of that for a common name.)

May 7, 2008

Purple and Blue

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My favorite Lobelia, ‘Crystal Palace.’ Unfortunately, it won’t take the heat of our summers, so it is with us only briefly.

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The bog has turned from yellow to blue because the Iris pseudacorus is over and the purple pickerelweed (Pontaderia cordata) is in full bloom. It’s not really purple. It’s a clear blue. A few deep blue Siberian iris add to the blueness.

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And the bees love it.
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Verbena bonariensis in full blow. It will soon get untidy and need trimming. It’s a pity more of the California poppies behind it are not still out. That’s a pretty spectacular combination.

April 29, 2008

Spring Colors

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I finally finished this over the weekend. This dragon guards the entrance to the vegetable garden. It was once much bigger and it was once a fountain (long story). Now, it merely guards the water feature. (What do you call one of these overflowing pots with a reservoir under the gravel?) I’m not sure whether the colored aquarium gravel tastefully echoes the color of the dragon or is merely tacky. There a still a few bits and pieces I need to tidy up.
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Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ will fade to a fairly ordinary green by midsummer, but it is a lovely color at the moment.
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The first water lily blooms in the pond, surrounded by white nymphoides. It’s a bit early this year. We don’t count on water lilies until June.
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Pontaderia has burst into flower in the last week. As usual, the blue color is washed out compared withe the original. I also have a few white pickerelweeds. The bog is supposed to be full of purple irises–Siberian irises and Iris pallida. I think, however, that I. pallida doesn’t like to be as wet as that. It doesn’t look happy, so I have hauled it out of the bog and planted it as a marginal and we’ll see how it looks next year.
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‘Souvenir de la Malmaison.’ This is my idea of what a REAL rose should look like. All those cabbagey overlapping petals.
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I simply love this chartreuse variety of Tradescantia, which I acquired over the winter. I don’t remember the cultivar. It looks particularly good with the turquoise cinder blocks of the yaupon holly planter! This photo doesn’t do justice to the very deep purple of the flower.

April 8, 2008

Pond and Bog

At Spring Fling I sort of promised that I would post about building the pond. I’m also still mulling a desultory conversation about creativity. I said something along the lines of my creative outlet is gardening because I’m no good at design. Which didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to the audience and, when I thought about it, didn’t make a lot of sense to me either. I realize, however, that a garden is always a work in progress, so my designs progress by trial and error, which seems to be the only way I can achieve anything that satisfies me.

Design Considerations
marsh in January
Our back garden is constrained by our view of the marsh. Here it is at its most beautiful in January. (The neighbor’s dock house collapsed in a January storm, so that is no longer there.) The garden has to be over, under, or to either side of the marsh view; it can’t be in the middle. (Except for the palmettos. When we removed the trees from the middle of the garden, Thom wouldn’t let me take out any palmettos, so there they remain in their uncompromising solidity, to be worked around.)
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After the patio was finished, here’s what we had: one palmetto trunk, a path from the patio to nowhere, bare spots in the lawn where trees were removed, and the vegetable garden, which was sited in what was the only sunny spot in the garden when we first moved in. (The bird feeder is at the left of this photo. Despite its concrete anchor, Thom knew he was going to have to move it because a particularly agile squirrel had learned how to jump onto it from the palmetto.)
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It was obvious where the pond had to go. Borrowing madly from every pond I had ever admired and wise words in various books, I wanted a beach, a viewing area, water deep enough for lotuses, hiding spaces so the herons couldn’t eat all the fish and, most of all, a bog garden reminiscent of a ditch in Okefenokee Swamp, my probably favorite place on earth. Here are a few shots from Okefenokee:
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Golden club (Orontium aquaticum) and water lily (Nymphaea odorata) in Chase Prairie.
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Water lily and nymphoides from the boardwalk.
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Ferns and a pitcher plant (I think it’s Sarracenia minor) by the boardwalk. While my imitation of an Okefenokee ditch has been modestly successful, I do not have a pitcher plant. My bog is not a true peat bog and all pitcher plants are endangered, so I haven’t dared to try one.
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Construction

With the help of a backhoe rented from Westside Rental for $275 for 3 days, I dug the hole. It wasn’t exactly the shape or size I had imagined. While there are no rocks in our sandy soil, I encountered mega roots. A better backhoe driver than I could probably have gotten them out. I just worked around them, leaving some odd ridges in the pond where none had been planned. The pond isn’t as deep as I had planned, either. This was the fault of rapidly approaching summer. I wanted to have something to show for my labors before summer heat took over, so I sacrificed depth. As with all such compromises, I shall have to pay for it with many hours dredging muck out of the pond so that it doesn’t become any shallower.
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The next step was to put the liner in the pond, put some water in it, and find out where the banks are too low. Probably the most difficult bit of designing a pond on even the slightest slope is ensuring the edge of the liner is more or less horizontal so that water doesn’t flow out of a low spot. Never cut off so much as a millimeter of the liner until the pond has been full of water for a month. (Everyone does it, and everyone regrets it.)

You can see here that the bog/ditch is going to be a horseshoe-shaped thingy around the east (left) end of the pond. Opposite it will go the viewing patio (which is partly laid). The beach will be in the upper left, and a low wall on the right will prevent everything washing into the pond from the path to the patio. Two of the necessary piles of rock are shown here. In addition, there are 2 pallets (how do you spell that?) of pea gravel and 5 tons of “river rock.” (The pallets wouldn’t be any use for Simon’s construction projects. Most of them are falling apart already.)

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I couldn’t resist putting some plants in the pond, even though the stonework was far from complete. The thought of a naked pond for the summer was intolerable. Stones hold down the edge of the liner, and separate the pond from the bog on the left. The deepest part is the far left portion of the pond. Here, I built a sort of brick carport to give fish somewhere to escape the herons. It is also just deep enough (nearly 30″) to plant a lotus. Water lilies (foreground) make do in shallower water.

In the left foreground, surrounded by bricks, is the water inlet. Water evaporates at a rare rate of knots (about an inch a week) in this climate, so a pond needs a permanent dribble of water. While installing the plumbing for the pond (PVC pipe buried in the lawn), I extended the water works to the east side of the garden so that I could start a new vegetable garden over there.

The low wall that prevents junk washing into the pond is complete to the right of the water inlet, and the path from the patio is dug out but not laid.
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I didn’t complete the path until the following Christmas, when my son paid a visit and helped with some of the heavy lifting. Here it is in mid-winter.
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The following spring, here is the little patio (there must be a better name for it than that) with the rather handsome bench from Gardeners Supply, two Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ in flower, and a Fatsia japonica, which I stuck by a palmetto for reasons that now elude me. Beyond the bench is a trio of box. These are supposed to echo the esferas, three of artificial stone and two of box, at the edge of the patio by the bird bath, but they are not yet very spherical.

I cannot think why I got into spherical boxwoods. They are the devil to prune. Square or conical would be much easier. Every box in the garden (and there are some large ones) is a cutting from one that a friend on Tybee tore out about 10 years ago. Here is the final view from the patio, one chilly winter morning. The bird feeder has been moved to a long way from the nearest tree and in front of the kitchen window.
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Plants
The bank of the bog was the last thing to be planted. The first summer I planted pond and bog. Last summer we spent in Europe and trumpet vine invaded everything. This winter, I cleared out most of the mess, and started planting the bank, which is a work in progress.
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The pond is not very colorful because I stuck to native plants. No flashy purple tropical water lilies; just dear old Nymphaea odorata. The lotus, with leaves held above the water, is also native, Nelumbo lutea. There is a yellow Nymphoides, but that is about it for color in the pond itself.
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Here is the lotus. Its only vice is very tough stems that I can’t reach from the bank, so they stick up brown and bristly in the winter after the elegant seed heads have fallen off.
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I don’t seem to have a good photo of a water lily. Or of the flowers in the bog for that matter. Here is a solitary purple iris. The bog also contains healthy populations of white Sagittaria latifolia, Sagittaria graminea, and pickerelweed (Pontederia lanceolata).
There are also some non-natives because I had to find a home for a number of irises that I moved from the front garden, where they were not happy in dry soil.
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Here is Iris pseudocorus (I think it’s English), photographed this morning, with some of the early efforts at planting the bank in the background (also a bluebird box, currently inhabited by brown-headed nuthatches). Those white concrete pavers are a permanently overgrown path around the pond. People are going to walk around a pond, no matter what you do, so you might as well give them a path and minimize the number of plants they step on.

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And here is the bench in April with a clump of rather horridly colored snapdragons in the foreground next to a palmetto. I show this because the snapdragons are something of a horticultural triumph, since palmettos have millions of tiny surface roots and getting anything to grow on top of them is a struggle.

March 27, 2008

You can’t Fight City Hall

Filed under: Projects, Trees — karen @ 2:13 pm

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Wilmington Island Garden Club and allies protest the destruction of 2 mature live oaks by Chatham County, Georgia. The oaks are the first two in a glorious, mile-long canopy of live oaks, each more than 100 years old, that meet over Johnny Mercer Blvd. on Wilmington Island. At the zoning hearing for this site’s development, the site plan showed that the oaks would not be harmed, and all seemed well until a notice of traffic disruption to fell the trees appeared in the paper.

The police, standing dangerously in the road, are arguing with the protesters. About a dozen armed policemen confronting about 15 little old ladies in tennis shoes looked pretty silly, as you can imagine.

The police said, “Move.”

We said, “We’re on a public right-of-way, not private property, and we won’t move.”

Possibly because 2 television cameras were rolling, the police drifted indecisively away to the other side of the road. All this took place at a fairly major intersection with traffic lights. The miracle is that nobody was killed. The inattentive driving as people peered to read the signs and then honked and waved encouragement was a sight to behold. We certainly have the support of the islanders.

One contractor stopped by to chat and told us how contractors and developers circumvent the zoning laws and ordinances of the Chatham County Commission. No surprise, because it’s exactly the same method we civilians use: show the planning board an acceptable plan, get it approved, and then do exactly what you want because never, in the 20+ years I have lived on the island has the county ever enforced building codes, zoning laws, sign ordinances, etc. It doesn’t matter how many rules and regulations you promulgate, if no one enforces them, you might as well not have them.

We stayed until the tree-cutting permit expired, which means the trees are still standing, although not, I imagine for long.

I told a colleague what we were planning and he said, “Oh Bobby Chu owns that property, doesn’t he? In that case, you’re toast. He’s a big contributor to the county commissioners.” As if I didn’t know it.

We got great coverage on 3 TV stations and in the newspaper (with photo) and the Wilmington Island Garden Club gained a little stature in the community, but I’ll bet the trees are toast.

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Next day, here are Garden Club members tending some of the 135 live oaks and crape myrtles we planted on Johnny Mercer lo these many years ago. These were to beautify the island for the Olympics. In exchange for the thousands of dollars and hours of volunteer labor we put into this, the county promised that it would complete the bike paths around the island. 12 years later, I need hardly say that the bike paths are incomplete. The only thing the county has planted on the island in the last 25 years is half a dozen hollies, which they put in the wrong place and which are now merely dead or nearly dead.

Ah me, what can you say? The rich get richer and we the people get screwed.

February 19, 2008

Spring, Perhaps?

never-wet.jpgRather to my surprise, since I hacked everything in the bog to the ground about ten days ago, this never-wet (Orontium aquaticum) has started blooming. The bog was designed as a homage to a ditch in Okefenokee, a reminder of possibly my favorite place on earth, and it is full of unglamorous natives. Never-wet is so-called because its leaves are very waxy and repel water more than most leaves. 

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  Viburnum tinus is in full flower in the front hedge. This particular one is a very slow grower, only about 5 feet tall at 5 years from a cutting. 

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Lady Banks is in full flower on the pergola. So is Lonicera sempervirens, but I can’t get up high enough for a photo. I know Lady Banks blooms only once a year, but that’s NOT a problem since there are 7 or 8 other vines on the pergola that bloom at other times. And what’s not to love about a thornless rose that is such a glorious yellow.

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Chionodoxa luciliae is just beginning to flower. There’s probably something I can do to the camera to produce a better blue than this washed-out affair, but I don’t know what. I should really take a course or get a better camera, or read the instruction book, or something. 

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After considerable debate about various species of jasmine, I am convinced that this is pink jasmine, Jasminum polyanthum. I moved it to the veg garden fence about 18 months ago and it is doing just as I hoped, working toward an imitation of a gorgeous fence I saw on a Charleston garden walk:

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February 1, 2008

Birds chasing our Goldfish

Filed under: Animals, Pond — Tags: , , — karen @ 9:16 am

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Here’s a great blue heron sitting on a bush that looks too frail to support it. It is lurking at the edge of the marsh hoping to have another go at our goldfish. We seem to spend our time recently shooing large birds out of the pond. First the egrets, now this. I hope the pond still has the goldfish shelters that I built into it in the first place: hideyholes under large stones propped up on bricks. I know stones and debris have fallen into the pond. I just hope they haven’t blocked the hiding places, but it is much too cold and wet at the moment for me to get into the pond to find out.

January 26, 2008

Building Patio and Pergola

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It’s a wet, chilly Saturday. In lieu of the things I should be doing such as window-cleaning, I will belatedly get into by recounting the building of my patio. This is a view of the newly finished project. The pergola is now about 18 months old and already in desperate need of a paint job. (This is going to be a pretty boring read for anyone else, but I want a fairly complete record of my major projects.)
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Before: View of the house from the back garden, with Scylla drinking from the bird bath, the decaying wooden deck, and horrible stains on the roof from a zillion pine trees.
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Here I have already begun to dismantle the railing around the deck. And I see one of my pathetic attempts to grow Dicksonia antarctica in a pot in the distance, along with some pretty nice amaryllis in the foreground. The white pond on the right is the sink I removed when I remodeled my bathroom.
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Tearing out the deck was fairly easy once I decided not to try to rescue the boards intact. (In fact, I saved a heap of boards of various lengths which eventually went into a fence.) Chopping up the deck with the circular saw was a lot easier than taking it apart with pry bars. The toughest bit was excavating the pilings upon which the deck rested. Thom did most of that.

The old shed is in the background, soon to be replaced by Thom’s storage shed. Also my potting bench. All of the gardening junk in that corner of the garden was moved to the east side of the back yard for sorting out later.

Also noteworthy is the mess to the left of the shed, not clearly seen in this photo. We called it “the jungle.” It contained some very unpleasant spiky things, brambles, overgrown azaleas, and the loquat seedling which eventually ended up in the front yard. The Robot I rented for the patio project proved very useful in demolishing the bramble thicket.
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Also visible, in bud, is the magnolia I brought from Walthour Road (where it was in so much shade that it never flowered. Here it got more sun and flowered in that blowsy magnolia fashion. But the foliage was horrid–-diseased and turning brown early in the fall. I don’t remember the variety. It was one that Wayside Gardens swore was perfect for southern gardens. Mary Stoller inherited a huge one by her garage, which remains horrid to this day. I eventually replaced mine with a Prunus mume.

Tearing out the deck left a pretty big drop from the French doors out of the house, so for some months we entered the garden via the cinder block steps seen here.
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This photo shows most of the materials for the patio (from Maxwell Beatty), as well as a good “before” view of the east side of the back garden. The gravel pile is in what is now the pond. It’s hard to imagine that I actually moved all that sand and gravel in a wheelbarrow. But that’s what happened.

The dump truck that delivered the gravel got thoroughly bogged down in the muddy low spot behind the Savannah holly. It managed to grind its wheels down to the roots of the mulberry we had removed 3 years earlier. Said roots were still very hard and very slippery.
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The JCB Robot rented from Westside Rental made excavating and leveling a lot easier. Not that I was very good at operating the Robot. And I couldn’t figure out how to use it with the landscape lines in place, so most of the grading had to be done by hand. The patio area is 19 x 41. I’m not sure why, but that was what emerged when I had done all the calculations about where planters, steps, and pergola were to go. So far, I have spent $3,800 on materials and Robot rental.
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With rare forethought, I realized that painting anything after the patio was finished would be a real pain because you’d have to keep the paint off the steps and pavers. (Which might not be a problem if you’re a tidy painter, but I’m not.) So here I am painting the main wing of the house. I haven’t touched the garage wing, and I’m not going to because it is two very high stories high, and we don’t need this little old lady with artificial hips falling off ladders onto the driveway. And Thom’s not going to paint it either. He can hire someone.
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This seems to be my only photo of grading the gravel. You stake out the whole area, string landscape twine between the stakes, hang levels on the lines, measure down from the lines, and rake, and rake, and rake. A wedge-shaped 2 x 4 with a level on it gives you the slope away from the house. My notes say: Made a horrible mess of the lawn with the Robot. Feb. 1. Finished grading gravel. What a killing job! Feb 4. Rented plate compactor and compacted gravel. In the middle of all this, I discover from my scribbled notes, I was starting tomatoes and pimientos from seed and deciding we’d have to stay home this summer because the pimientos would need t.l.c.
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Built forms and poured concrete for footing of herb planter: 5 wheeelbarrows full of concrete–killing. Lay out all concrete forms and rent a cement mixer! This, in practice, turns out to be difficult. Rental places have just about given up renting out cement mixers because they get stolen even from garages. After the patio was finished, I discovered I could buy an electric cement mixer for less than $300 and I did. Used it for various projects, but it would have been a lot more to the point to buy it before mixing 53 (a guess) wheelbarrow loads of concrete for the patio.

The metal poles sticking up mark the position of the pergola.

Potted up 2 tomatoes. Plants arrived from Parks. Potted up blueberries, clethra, pomegranate and gloriosa lily for later. (The pomegranate and gloriosa are the only ones that survived, which just proves you shouldn’t buy plants in the middle of a construction project because they will be neglected.)

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Making progress on all three planters and on the steps to the breakfast room. Steps to the study were the last bit of construction. By that time we were both pretty exhausted with lugging concrete and cinder blocks.

The other thing I like about this picture is it shows so clearly the eastern side of the garden in “before” state. There is nothing there except a few wax myrtles, the neighbor’s dog fence, and, I think, that sugarcane from Seabrook. I’m not even sure the boats are there. Where were they? Amazing! When I think of the jungle of brambles, pine trees, oaks, and sugar cane that I cleared out after the shed was built in fall, 2006, I am amazed at how rapidly the jungle grows in this climate.

The other thing I like in this shot is the magnolia flowers. February was the only time of year that that tree had any socially redeeming value.
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The planters have concrete footers and are made of cinder blocks mortared together and topped with pavers at what I hope is sitting height. I’m pretty pleased with the designs, as a matter of fact. They are based on the size of the cinder blocks: two small planters for herbs near the kitchen, and one large planter for a shade tree and experimental plants near my study.

In retrospect, the completed project cast a lot more shade than I anticipated, partly because I assumed palmettos throw almost no shade, which turns out not to be true. Also, I had no idea that the ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtles would grow as rapidly or be as generally weedy as they turn out to be.
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We finally collected from Miles Nursery the plants I’d ordered: two ‘Natchez’ crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica), Yoshino cherry, ‘Nelly Stephens’ holly, yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria). Love that name. Apparently, the Guale Indians on this coast made a tea of it for fiestas and sat around throwing up and enjoying themselves. (Not nearly as weird as some of the things we do.)

All the plants are pretty big. The pickup was groaning and it was a good thing there was a hefty youngster to help load. The yaupon holly was so big that I built the planter around it as shown here. There are already herbs in the herb planter by the kitchen window in the background. Time’s afleeting. I knew this would take forever, and if we’re to have any plants this summer, it’s time to plant.
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I concreted the uprights for the pergola in place, but Thom kindly undertook to attach the rafters, on account I’m not fond of heights. Painting all this wood took about 2 weeks! And I now think I made a big mistake in using untreated lumber for the superstructure (although the uprights are treated).

Why is this a pergola and not an arbor? According to the book I’ve been using to tell me how to build all this, an arbor is freestanding (or, I guess attached only to a fence or wall) and a pergola is attached to a building. Why, then, is it not a cloister? Or, alternatively, what is a cloister? Never mind.
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Much soul-searching and argument with spouse over what color to paint the planter walls. My initial idea was to stucco them and then paint. But I am rapidly running out of steam and stamina for this project. While painting the cinderblock foundation of the house (revealed now that the deck has been removed), I discovered that mixing cement paint with textured ceiling paint does a pretty good job of disguising the blocks without bothering with stucco.

There’s a note in my journal that says this blue-green color is horrid and not what I thought when I bought it. But it’s amazing how you adapt to a color, especially when replacing it would be wretched hard work.

Also visible to the right of the picture is the makeshift bird bath (saucer on an upturned terracotta pot) that was our temporary fix until I got around to building a proper one. It was a bit of a nuisance because saucer and pot were not attached and raccoons kept knocking it over.

The steps to the breakfast room are complete, although not tiled, and the forms are in place for the steps to my study. Behind this is the ‘Nelly Stephens’ holly. I’m slightly afeared that it is going to get too big for that spot, but I suppose it can be pruned. It serves a useful function in blocking the view from the road into the back garden.
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It’s now so late in the season that getting plants in the ground is more important than finishing the paving. This is the Yoshino cherry in flower with the ‘Nelly Stephens’ holly looking very tiny on its left. I loved that cherry, but unfortunately it turned out to be much more drought-sensitive than I realized (since you are always told they hate wet feet), and I am no good at watering, so it died.
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This trellis hides the mess around the back door from the patio. I decided it was unrealistic to think the back door’s surrounds would ever be attractive. It is where everyone washes paint brushes, and drops pipes, hoses, junk when coming in for a meal or escaping from the rain. Better to hide it than hope to tidy it up. The main vine on it is Bignonia ‘Shalimar Red.’ In retrospect, this was a mistake. Crossvine is native, and gets much larger than I realized until I saw one climbing 3 stories up the naked concrete wall of the parking lot at the South Carolina Aquarium. Two years later, I am still hacking it back twice a year to prevent it taking the roof off the house. Why does it grow toward the house instead of out toward the sun as I’d hoped? I need to replace it with something more manageable. I also stuck in some morning glories for a little rapid cover. Amazing to see that despite the total mess everywhere I went to the trouble of planting a few pathetic annuals! What a nut for flowers I am to be sure!

I’ve begun laying the patio pavers here. Like everything else achieved by trial and error, this took more time than it needed to because the patio was half done before I discovered that a diamond-tipped blade for the chop saw cost only about $30. I had already used more than $30 worth of cheap concrete blades, which were a royal pain to use.
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This is the planting area by the breakfast room steps. (I had already started tiling the steps.) It contains the Lady Banks rose (Rosa bansksiae), which had languished in the front bed for two years because it gets no sun, as well as Gelsemium Rankinii, (swamp jessamine, from Secret Garden). This is native, but less common and larger-flowered than the Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine or jasmine) which scrambles all over our pine trees in February and March. As its name suggests, it is supposed to like lots of water, which it won’t get here.

The little boxwood on the right hides the outlet from the a/c system.
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Here is the Lady Banks on the pergola one year after it was planted. This has to be absolutely the best shade vine for this part of the world. What’s not to love? It is a thornless, evergreen rose with gorgeous flowers. Admittedly, it flowers only once a year and you have to prune occasionally to keep it from dripping and drooping all over the place. (The largest tree in the world is believed to be a Lady Banks in Arizona that covers about an acre of land.)

Culture is easy in this climate. She needs full sun (as I discovered with one partly under a live oak at Walthour Road which did not flower as well as its neighbor 6 feet closer to full sun). Not fussy about water or fertilizer. (Which means I have never watered or fertilized a Lady Banks more than 6 months old.)

The book says that outdoor ceilings should be higher than indoor ceilings not to feel claustrophobic and I believe it, so the pergola “roof” is almost 12 feet from the ground. This presents a problem when pruning and painting. The pruning problem I have solved with a truly excellent pruning shear-like gadget with a sliding trigger supplemented by a rope. It is powerful enough to prune the bougainvillea, so it makes light work of the Lady Banks.
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Finishing touches include some furniture, which I don’t now like and planters of Pennisetum rubrum to prevent shortcuts across the gravel.
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Here is the plumbed birdbath surrounded by fiberglass spheres, which are a homage to the esferas we so enjoyed in Palm Sur.
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The esferas are echoed by spherical boxes on either side of the path to the pond. The one on the left needs a haircut.

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Low-voltage lighting runs right round the patio and there are uplights in the Phyllostachys nigra. The white containers are wildly expensive Italian fiberglass jobs (the 5 of them cost $1,000 from Design Within Reach), but I love them and they are the only expensive items on the whole patio. (Well, I suppose the cobalt blue tiles on the steps weren’t exactly cheap.) I vaguely regret that I didn’t spring for proper stone for the patio, but that would have cost a fortune and the concrete pavers are pretty inoffensive now they have weathered somewhat.

January 13, 2008

Kalanchoe luciae

Filed under: Design, Plants, Projects, Succulents — Tags: , , , — karen @ 10:48 am

kalanchoe-luciae.jpg

I love this kalanchoe that Mary gave me. It’s been in this pot for 10 months. It gets absolutely no attention. (Well, I’ve pulled one weed.) And it is producing babies.

I’ve never known much about succulents, but I have to embark on a concerted search for them now because Lex and Beezoo gave me a “green wall” planter for Christmas, and I can’t imagine that anything will survive in it except small, drought-resistant plants. And they also need to be colorful. This kalanchoe is too big, I think, so I shall have to find small ones. Not that my wall is going to look anything like as good as but…..

I see that has just finished a book on hardy succulents that I believe I shall have to purchase.

January 5, 2008

Color on the Paint Chip

Filed under: Design, Projects — Tags: , , — karen @ 12:20 pm

pink-bench.jpg

This bench certainly hasn’t come out the color I expected. I don’t think I’m very good at color. In exoneration, I will add that the bench is one Thom built from a $30 kit more than 10 years ago and that I have probably given it a few extra years of life.

blue-bench.jpg

This is what the bench looked like before. I thought that color was pretty daring at the time, although admittedly it has faded.

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