Welcome to the Chilly-Hot(?) or
From the Winter into Spring Garden
Went out last week to check the burgeoning buds on both leaf and flower and found
the widow's iris in full bloom, just below the steps down to the garden next to our
house. Although not strictly speaking an iris, Hermodactylus tuberosus, the snake’s
head or widow iris, with its velvety brown falls and the off-white petals is closely
related to Iris reticulata. For continued late winter flowering provide a
well-drained soil in a place where it gets a hot, dry summer.
Image List for Last Night's Talk in FairviewThe New Small Garden-2013 Peter Loewer--www.thewildgardener.com 01. Title 02. An English train made of flowers.
03. Potted caladiums on an Asheville terrace provide color all summer long.
04. Hens & chicks do very well in a pot made for a bonsai tree.
05. It might be a Phoenix rooftop but it's just a big container.
06. An Italian salute to grass.
07. Another Italian grass salute this time covering a car-but still a small garden.
08. A great use for an aging truck.
09. Another truck continuing to earn its keep.
10. A number of pots in a California garden.
11. Spring crocuses in a glass container--like ships in a bottle.
12. If your ground space is limited, how about hanging pots of succulents.
13. In England, one of the biggest hanging containers I ever encountered.
14. Blocks removed from a pool edging and planted with ornamental grasses.
15. My friend Budd Meyers used a cold chisel to open up a planting area on a huge glacial rock.
16. Common horsetail in an old enamel container.
17. If the mountains are too far away, bring them to your backyard.
18. And remember, even a collection of forgotten junk becomes a great addition to a small garden.
19. This is an ad from a 1970's issue of Horticulture magazine, showing some things have improved.
20. Always use good pots and good soil for growing containerized plants.
21. A delightful addition to a small garden.
22. Elephant ears summer on a back terrace and this year will have a better and more decorative pot.
23. A bubbling fountain recycles the same water and makes a most refreshing sound.
24. Here's a small water garden planted with azolla and floating glass balls.
25. A great backyard fountain made from boiler plate.
26. A box store amoeboid plastic pool edged with flat rocks and planted with purchased and found water plants.
27. A birdbath holds a small pot of the dwarf variety of the common horsetail.
28. My collection of water plants summer in a large enameled container.
29. An old pottery saucer holds four large scallop shells for a delightful small water garden.
30. Another plastic pool, edged with flat stones, and holding a collection of aquatic plants.
31. A weekend project: A small pool made from a rubberized pool-liner, edged with stones.
32. An oriental glazed pot full of water with a floating hibiscus blossom.
33. A garden of containers at the Conservatory of the Biltmore Estate, with papyrus, horsetails, and palms.
34. A restful waterside garden with chair, sculpture, and tin pail full of lilies.
35. A garden of pots featured at the Biltmore Estate.
36. That's a potted pony-tail palm backed by a banana at the Biltmore Estate.
37. Variegated geraniums, a cut-leaf maple, and an antique amphora make a great small garden at Hever Castle.
38. One of Christopher Mello's collection of old, cast-off machine parts with a succulent doing quite well.
39. From Savannah, a gardener took mussel shells from the river and glued them on a pot.
40. An azalea flowers in a great Japanese pot at the Japanese Garden in Seattle.
41. Another Christopher Mello arrangement of succulents in rusted gear casings.
42. Daisies in a wooden tub.
43. A small garden in a tub delights for the entire summer.
44. I use potted plants throughout my Asheville garden.
45. A tree in the bonsai collection of the North Carolina Arboretum.
46. In John and Jeff's Wake Forest garden, a gazing globe looks great behind a crop of red clover.
47. Gloriosa lilies bloom twice a season in pots on my back terrace.
48. An aloe in an old metal pot sits outside for ten out of twelve months.
49. A collection of potted plants at the great English garden of Sissinghurst.
50. The owner of this garden knew that the pot she found at a garage sale would finish her garden border.
51. Keep your eye open for the perfect sculpture for the garden.
52. The North Carolina Arboretum specializes in all kinds of containerized plantings.
53. A canna cultivar set off with Devil's backbone (Pedilanthus tithymaloides variegatus 'Red Bird').
54. Tony Avent's garden of succulents, most in pots but displayed as a group.
55. A garden of cactuses and succulents at Asheville's White Gate Inn.
56. A garden with a collection of potted perennials.
57. Majella Larochel's moss garden is the size of a closet door, about three feet by seven feet.
58. The Japanese style moss garden in John Cram's Asheville garden; literally a no-care garden.
59. Clipped boxwood squares planted yearly with spider-flower cultivars.
60. A Brooklyn brownstone celebrates spring with potted bulbs in profusion. 61. Another city garden with pots full of spring bulbs.
62. A small city garden in Hoboken, New Jersey.
63. A small garden outside of a Bed & Breakfast in England.
64. Potted maples spend the summer in this backyard.
65. Here's a week-end garden project: A garden hose was used to make the curves for the plot of grass.
66. Edith Edelmann's backyard garden beckons the visitor in Raleigh, NC.
67. Here is Judy Ferris' backyard garden outside of Oxford, Ohio.
68. Anne Halpin's all-white garden is a mix of annuals and perennials.
69. A garden of hanging baskets allows for the ease of cutting grass.
70. A rooftop garden has only one caveat: Make sure it's strong enough to hold potted plants.
71. Late spring: The grass at center left is Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'.
72. Mid-summer: The same grass with flowers.
73. Early autumn: The molinia begins to lose its green.
74. Early winter: The molinia is still the star of this garden corner.
75. Neil Dibbol's backyard garden features native grasses and wildflowers.
76. Various pots include sun coleus, lily-of-the-Nile, and white lilies.
77. Another small garden of potted plants accustomed to heat.
78. A prize-winning Japanese-style garden at the North Carolina State Fair.
79. A Japanese touch to a small garden.
80. An abstract arrangement of annuals.
81. My first scree garden survived winter is Upstate New York where ground froze to a depth of nine feet.
82. The various perennials around the edge of the scree bed.
83. The scree bed with a light dusting of snow.
84. Peter Lincoln's backyard gave up grass for a rock garden.
85. Peter Wallenborn's Asheville garden is an eclectic collection of perennials, bulbs, and annuals.
86. At John Cram's garden a background of English ivy is intertwined with morning glories and Cobea scandens.
87. St. Fiacre guards the spring with azaleas and wildflowers.
88. In mid-summer the saint is almost hidden behind ligularias.
89. The saint's still there but it's now going into fall.
90. A spring bulb bed made with stacked stones and planted with summer annuals when the bulbs are through.
91. A jug surrounded by blooming celoisa in the University of Tennessee garden in Knoxville.
92. Even the smallest deck has a place for a trough garden with rock garden plants.
93. Millie Elmore's backyard garden in Asheville features a great gate as a focal point.
94. Budd Meyer's small garden in an old soapstone sink.
95. Budd Meyer's Pennsylvania garden is easy to care for and only needs a new dish to make everything new again.
96. Sylvia Redwine in Raleigh features a great selection of succulents. Photo by Pam Beck.
97. Asheville roof garden with copper containers lined with wood and replanted with Boston ferns every year.
98. So whatever happens with global warming, development, or just plain greed, greet every day with joy!
99. Always try to be just a little different--
100. --and make sure that your red wagon is full of great plants for a small garden.
From a Winter Garden
My good garden friend and traveler Randy Harter has a great garden on the side of a hill overlooking trees, forest, and sky not far from the Asheville VA. A few weeks ago he took some time for taking photos of what he found of interest in his garden. The image above features the now-dried seed pods of an alpine peony that bloomed last summer.
A January Afternoon
It's warming up again and this lovely Monday afternoon of January 7th, welcomes a warm sun, a Caroliona blue sky, and gentle breezes from the south. If that marvelous sculpture called "Fat Persian Cat" could talk what a climate tale he could tell.
"The Wild Gardener" is back on the air!
--that's cyber-air but air none-the-less. Once a week I'm again voicing my hort-thoughts on Asheville-Fm and all you have to do is click the link The Wild Gardener and the voice and the thoughts are there, if you know how to listen to radio from your computer.
--and "The Wild Gardener" is back again,
Peter Loewer - Printmaker
Vitreography: Hand-pulled prints using glass plates instead of stone.
I also have a new Web site devoted to my prints, powered up by Microsoft with sound and fury, possibly signifying absolutely nothing!
A Salute to Leeks and Garlic:
Morris Graves (1910-2001) remains today one of the more interesting of American artists, a man who devoted most of his life to extolling the wonders and beauties of nature. In 1932 after graduating from high school he settled in Beaumont, Texas but soon returned to the Northwest living around Seattle. His early work featured oils and often touched on birds, especially birds that were metaphysical orphans of the storm. In the early 30s he bagan to study Zen Buddhism and in 1934 built a small studio in Edmonds, Washington that soon burned to the ground and included all his works to date. In 1940, Graves began building a new house, which he named The Rock, on Fidalgo Island. He lived at The Rock with a succession of cats and dogs, all called Edith, in honor of poet Edith Sitwell.
The following pictures (except for the Arundo donax, phototgraphed in a Wake Forest garden) were taken in my garden during the late spring, summer, and early fall of this year. I call them tough plants because they are growing in garden clay laced with shredded leaves and if in pots, bagged potting soil that is fertilized two or three times during the growing season.
The Wild Gardener Blogs:
When thinking about the madness of today, remember what W. G. Sebald wrote
about Austria's Thomas Bernhard, as quoted in the December 25, 2006
issue of The New Yorker:
The following digest of a poem by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is a salute to the continued stupidity of the White House and the Cabinet and the Generals and the Congress and the whole ball of Washington wax.
The Conundrum of the Workshops
The tale is as old as the Eden Tree-- and new as the new-cut tooth-- For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth; And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart, The Devil drum on the darkened pane: "You did it, but was it Art?"
We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yelk of an addled egg, We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart; But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: "It's clever, but is it Art?"
Recently, thanks to the instigations of Byron Belzak and Byron Belzak's salute to Asheville, I have started my salute to the upper level of Society Asheville and its all-in-fun, continual pursuit of pleasure here in the mountains. Of course The Green Road is the road less-traveled but eventually, the public will jump on.
Here's another bit I was tardy about:
Some months ago I promised to run the old column on what you can grow in the vicinity of walnuts. Walnuts, as most gardeners know, produce a poison known as juglans, a chemical that attracts a number of other plants causing them to languish, then slowly fade away. But there are a number of plants that appear to be immune.
And let's not forget the squirrels of Asheville, rather entaining but by some considered trouble-makers, as they spend their fun-filled days in eating birdseed, chewing off high branches of oak trees, and using all the tactics of jewel thieves in Topkapi when finding that birdseed. Look below and hear that tap of clashing sabers. Listen! You can almost hear the memorable score of Manos Hadjidakis as these furry critters play at fencing (courtesy of a Victorian stuffed-animal display in a small antique shop just down the road from Sissinghurst).
Remember the world of strange flowers--
There are a number of very, very strange flowers living in the world today,
having nothing to do with prehistoric times. One belongs to a group of tropical
plants with blooms referred to as peilican flowers or calico flowers.
It was a phenomenal spring, the spring of 2006. For some reason (closely connected with the passing winter, the temperatures, the rainfall, and the mountain psyche), everything seemed to bloom at once: Red maples vied with camellias, in turn blooming above crocuses and daffs, providing one of the best floral shows that we've seen in years. Then came the trilliums on parade. The image on the right is the noble yellow wake robin or toad shade (Trillium luteum also called var.luteum or T. viride var. luteum), a yellow-flowering variety of the common deep maroon toadshade, with flowers usually lemony yellow to a very pale green. The yellow wakerobbin is native to the American Southeast, and found in damp woods ranging from Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, to North Carolina and Tennessee. Three yellow petals stand upright in the middle of three green sepals that either lay flat or are somewhat upright like the petals. The elflike mountain dwellers call it the goblet trillium and unlike the maroon variety, this form has a light scent of lemons. Like its maroon relative, the three large leaves are mottled and if somebody could develop a variety that would keep its leaves until the fall, their fortune would be made--many times over.
Last October the toad lilies bloomed in my garden and the election came and went--with about twenty percent of Ashevillians voting while eighty percent sat at home, apparently watching survival shows on TV as their city continues to embowell itself with dirt, traffic, noise, and woeful development. This year Asheville pits those who want to keep the city green and thriving with those who want commercial developement (like the Grove Park Inn condos in our downtown square, a project soundly defeated by the citizens of the city), brought in to eventually strangle that golden goose who only awaits more developement in order to burst! The rain promises to wash out our air remember, the higher up the mountains you climb, the worse the ozone levels get. But be of good cheer, the power companies to the west of North Carolina, continue to spew smoke and the President wants to roll back any responsibilities for those power companies. And the congress (lower case, here) bows to political pressure believing that if the citizenry want to breathe, let 'em don masks!
A while ago, moving some houseplants around the livingroom, I disturbed a very small napping spider who was resting from building a little small web that stretched between two branches on a flowering maple. It reminded me to watch a great Sherlock Holmes' movie that I have on VHS entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman, with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock, Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, and Gale Sondergard as the Spider Woman. In a dank basement in Soho, The Spider Woman was busy raising a special breed of poisonous spider using a cultivar of the night-blooming cereus as pet food. Upon reaching her goal, she was prepared to attack the Houses of Parliament, freeing dozens of the spiders and aiming them in the direction of politicians in general. Only two things could stop her devilish scheme: The government could pay her big bucks (or pounds) or Sherlock and Dr. Watson would foil her dastardly plot. The government went to Sherlock and the Spider Woman fell victim to her own little beasts. It all reminded me that Vanilla Sky was very, very bad and would have benefited from spiders somewhere in the plot.
Dear Wild Gardener:
I realize there is often no answer to what market forces perceive to be
in the public's interest but I thought I would bring the latest threat
to good gardening to your attention (I will keep the process called
"Donut Mulching" for another letter). It comes from northeast
Pennsylvania where "colored mulch" has hit the scene with the physical
force of an old mushroom but the mental "POW" of a juggernaut. The
wood-chips are dyed with a fast color that borders on bright orange but
(thankfully) does fade over time. But, today, orange! Tomorrow,
possibly red, yellow, and blue! Imagine: Smiley Faces to beat the band!
Adding insult to injury, they spread the mulch over layers of black
plastic sheeting. I realize that education continues to be under
assault in our United States but imagine the future of gardening as
these folks continue to march in the name of the masses?
NOTE: The term donut mulching might be in transition as the new moniker turns out to be volcano mulching, the mulch being the volcano cone and the tree assuming the guise of the spurting lava, usually brown instead of fiery orange! And so it goes...
Occasionally, bad taste rears its ugly visage in the garden and often the horror is brought to the backyard in the name of art. Remember, I'm not talking about rubber tires, turned inside out, painted white, then filled with masses of petunias because I salute this method of container gardening, finding it far more respectable then nothing. No, I'm talking about gnomes, elves, and the polka-dotted garbed rears of rotund ladies who are made of plywood and painted in primary colors. For example, at left is one of the uglier elves (if it was a gnome it would be subterranean), I've yet encountered and quickly point out, it's not from around here.
Here's a case where the urge to do something decorative has been pushed into service with no thought given to what is one of the fastest fading trends in society, that of good taste. I am reminded of the old addage: "Everybody to their own taste," said the Old Lady as she kissed the cow. As to the "OL" look for her to the right where she continues to garden away, possibly there until the mountains fall, all based on the longevity of the plywood and the paint.
Peter Loewer: The Wild Gardener, Asheville, NC Email The Wild Gardener
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