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Saturday, May 16, 2015


native rhododendron

It is the time of year for the second run of flower openings. First, daffodil, forsythia, crocus. Rhododendron are popping open now,the cucumber trees in  full flower, the bluets in full flower, the heart-shaped leaves of the wild violets pull their stems tight reaching for the sun. The rhododendron are covered in clusters of a pink found only in flowers. Mountain laurel will bloom next month. Irises are beginning to bloom. Yellow Dutch iris are opening, the purple ones yet to open. I've transplanted a dozen small clusters of purple Dutch iris from a place where they were spreading out into a tire track where a pickup goes to drive through the gate to the suburban donkey meadow. The irises needed trimming back. I'm taking them to Carpenter's summer cabin where I plant them strategically to inhibit erosion. Somebody you find in the yellow pages under landscaping was hired to direct rainwater away from the house's foundation. He fixed it so the rainwater could only flow directly to the foundation. I've been doing damage control ever since. After a few years of being knocked off my track by what he did, I'm seeing what can be done for damage control. He put treated 6x6s around the parking area to make it into a pond during a big rain. He put a drain in the parking area that doesn't work like new after a few years. Water runs over the 6x6 rail creating ruts from water flow in the same place every time. I planted the Dutch iris clusters to slow down the flow of water downhill from the parking space runoff at the lowest point in the rail. 

new dutch iris bed and rhododendron

Already, I've put in a large area of purple Dutch iris that spreads wildly and some yellow Dutch iris that spreads just as fast. Irises, daylilies and at least a dozen Joe Pyes, more come up every year. I've found a couple of small mountain laurel for digging up to transplant. Thought I'd do it later in the day to give them the night to adjust to their new spaces before a day drenched in sun with torn roots in new soil, though the same soil, moved no more than thirty feet. I'll look after them with water daily to keep what they have left for roots supplying water to the leaves above. I get their core roots, but the root tips with the root hairs feeling their ways through the soil are largely lopped off. I keep them watered good, without drowning them, to give new root tips a chance to develop and begin their explorations through the topsoil. The ground is what I call glorified beach sand. My feeling is that corn was grown there for so many years, plus DDT, year after year, the soil was depleted. I remember plowing old man Tom Pruitt's garden. The soil was gray. The garden was in the same place since the house was built, around 1908. It would only grow things that grow in poor soil. He would hoe a trench for the seeds and sprinkle fertilizer along the rows with the seeds. This land the Carpenter's house is on has been let grow up into woods for eighty or more years. The spot the house was built on was naturally bare with a grove of mountain laurel beside it, telling me the laurel will take the transplant well. Mountain laurel blooms profusely in the sun. The big flower bed will keep them happy with light. I've planted only flowers that return every year and like full sun. Our winters are not cold enough anymore to keep tulips without digging up the bulbs, wintering them in the freezer and replanting them. Other people do tulips. 

flowering cucumber tree

Initially, I was thinking the vertical leaves of the Dutch irises would hold the autumn leaves in place, accumulate them, a leaf trap. It worked out. Rain and winter dissolved the leaves into the ground, topsoil, nutrients for the roots, a new layer every fall. Seeds are caught too. Small saplings rise up throughout the bed. They're beautiful too. I let them grow among the flowers until they grow three or four feet above the others, still easy to eliminate with long-handled loppers. I'm not growing just pretty flowers. I like to let the flora that grows naturally here mix in with the mostly irises. The irises will have their way. I like to keep it green. The Joe Pyes grow up to ten and twelve feet, saplings the next level in height, then a bed of dutch iris spikes sticking straight up, the flowers a purple only seen in flowers. I placed the iris clusters in a sort of diagonal line to deflect water away from the house, to slow it down and  hold some of it. I made a long berm of leaves and dirt to deflect the river of water flowing down the tire trails from the higher level with the old cemetery. Alas, my berm deflecting the water away from the house can only lead the water to the pond that collects in the parking area. It flows over the barrier during rains, and now has begun to make trenches. I planted the irises to slow the water flow, spread it out, collect and hold some of it. Another slope, the other side of some downhill steps, I planted with fifteen fern clusters last fall. They're all coming up but one. They will spend this year adjusting to the new soil and next year will flourish and start spreading.  

ferns at home

The landscaper who knows nothing about water dug a big trench and put boulders in it to catch water from the roof. The trench is perfectly placed for water dripping off the roof during a sprinkle. But when it rains, the water runs two and three feet beyond the boulder trench and has made its own trench. I wanted to put dutch iris along the new trench to slow the water and redirect some of it. It concerns me about the water beating the leaves to the ground during a rain. Thought I'd pick up some of the smaller rocks from the boulder trench and place them along the parallel trench to slow and redirect the flow of water from the parking zone and roof, thinking in time the Dutch iris will seed the new trench and grow some iris from seed strong enough to withstand the water flow from above. The boulder trench collects leaves and silt. I'm thinking the best thing for it is to let it fill up with silt and leaves and make a flower bed of it, more Dutch irises. Or a fern bed. Ferns and the iris are hardy and love this soil. The boulder trench is nothing but ugly. It's completely in the wrong place. It is in a good place to water a flower bed gently and have runoff below. Making lemonade of lemons. I had two banks covered in daffodils. The landscaper buried them all. I never think of him by name. To me, he's the one who knows nothing about water. I'm over the shock of his travesty by now. This spring I'm there every day doing something. I've seen by now the damage his landscaping has done, a good time to start damage control. Change a place from a lawn canyon to a flower bed that will send seeds downhill every year, ultimately to make a big flowerbed along the edge of the woods. I'm looking to make the place lush with flowering greenery that needs no mowing or any kind of care but trimming saplings and snipping a few things that take up from time to time. 

oak leaves opening


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