A Visit under the Oaks

At this time of year chores at Entwined Gardens include raking the leaves and acorns from under the Oaks.  It somehow seems like a never-ending task, but one that always elicits a mixed bag of frustration and wonder, as I visit under the Oaks.

The grove of Oak trees was on the property when my husband purchased this woodland paradise.   He hates the thought (and expense) of  thinning them.   So many hardwoods were cut adjacent to our property when the woods became a golf course community – habitat lost.

But their  limbs have begun to hang over our rooftop,  making the back deck and terrace a constant battleground… and a potential threat of roof damage in some crazy storm.

I know – first world thinking!

Overhang

The acorns under foot can be dangerous, the leaves slick…  and with a back that easily twists out of shape… I do get annoyed from the raking and sweeping.

It is not an easy task to establish new plants under the Oaks, as they provide a dense shady canopy for most of the year, so I often grouse (to myself) that I’d really like a more refined view from my dining room and kitchen…  more light would be nice.

Most recommended woodland plants I’ve tried have languished, as the roots of the Oaks are far-reaching – sucking  up any available moisture from the hard packed,  root bound clay soils.

Then  comes the fall when the thick drop of leaves builds up an anaerobic layer, smothering anything below.

To have any success,  I have learned to plant specimens in pots. Should they survive the deer, then  I create a modified raised bed – planting on top of the of the woodland floor adding good soil amendments  around the root ball and  spreading out the  hauled in soil around the plant – yet not too high to smother  the roots of the Oaks.  It’s a learning experience and indeed a delicate balance.

I grumble more as most of the acorns sprout with ease just laying on top of – well anything –  in the pots in the raised planting and across the woodland floor…  while nothing else grows with vigor under the thick woodland floor of  tannic acid…  each spring I have a sea of Oak seedlings.

Oh a good remainder  when raking – to limit the amount of Oak leaves added to the compost pile –  no more than twenty percent  because they take forever to break down and will create an acid, anaerobic mess.

While on the topic of tannic acid, (Plant Geek Alert!)  it  is also found in acorns… this is the true reason that squirrels and Jays hide the nuts… waiting for rain and melting snows to wash away the tannic acid  over time to make them palatable.  It is also nature’s way of distributing the nut seed with squirrels acting as dutiful gardeners planting them in new locations where often they forget to retrieve.

Or, is it Mr. Squirrelly shrewdly planting a tree for ensuring a future harvest?

The deer eat acorns and don’t seem to have a digestive problem.  Then again the deer seem to eat just about anything, except poison ivy or just plain ivy!   Dang!

The sprouted acorns cannot get raked,  so this becomes a zen like meditation of tugging them out one by one.  There  are hundreds each year! It always amazes me how quickly they can put out a tap-root of several inches long once they get growing as temperatures become mild in early spring.

Last year I had an indoor mini forest of Oaks growing in a large pot of Aspidistra – cast iron plant – which we bring in for the winter.  It was amazing that 15 or so acorns sprouted and developed leaves!  Note to self: to look for photo.

So in the midst of raking, hauling and grumbling,  I am reminded to pause, look up and ponder…

OakWonder… good for the back, good for the soul – the majestic Oak.

Today with milder temperatures  under a Carolina Blue sky,  I laid down in the leaves to take the photo, resting and hoping to capture some frolicking squirrels, as they perform aerial feats of delight, soaring from tree to tree, but no suck luck.

I am reminded that these giants are also woodland habitat to Woodpeckers, Jays and lodging for migrating flocks.

Squirrel NestMajestic crooks are protected nurseriesfor the baby squirrels called kittens.

Shelter also for butterflies and host plants for moths.

All in all – grateful for their beauty,  the  shade for our home.  The Oak flooring we walk on, and Oak furniture we use.  The delicious wine that is aged in Oak barrels…

Grateful for the Oak table our family gathers around.

Now back to work…

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Thanks for taking the time to visit under the oaks…

Leave a comment on your what your favorite Oak …

Hunkering down for winter and Elephant trumpets…

The fall is upon us… the excitement of the NC State Fair, leaves blowing and swirling, critters foraging…   colors now yellow instead of the pervasive green.  Hits of pinks, reds and oranges – emerge across the horizon.

Over the last few days with temperatures dipping to 38 degree F.,  we are hunkering down for winter at Entwined Gardens.

The careful lists of selecting which tropicals to dig up, re-pot  and drag into shelter for the winter,  have been checked off the ‘To-Do” list.

The Korean Mums  by the white garden gate – lovely with their peach tinged petals are open for diners – the last of the visible pollinators.  I notice that these two insects  have the same  striped markings – the one on the upper right is quite a bit smaller, wings perpendicular rather than angling, as they feast on nectar.

  DaisiesDendranthema rubellum – Korean Mum

Walking the paths, I reflect on each plant as a quest or gift from a friend.  The Dendranthema –  a division from Gail Ingram – from the back of her pickup truck after a Master Gardener meeting in 2000,  a feeding frenzy of outstretched arms… hoping to feel the plant material fall into their fingers… What Joy!

Hence my Motto:

“It’s always a great day when you bring home a plant!”

Entwined Gardens has been the recipient of many such plant shares  and trades from amazing horticultural giants and mentors – I’ll refrain from much of the name dropping.

I’ve dug, dragged, dumpster dived (from the JC Raulston Arboretum ‘plants only’ dumpster),  put on waders bogged and slogged on a quest.     Shopped till I’ve dropped, then traveled hours with a with a coveted Acer palmatum ‘Okukuji nishiki’ – a lovely variagated Japanese Maple specimen  –  stuck between my knees on a road trip from Athens, Georgia to sweet home North Carolina!  Thanks goodness my friend Jean was driving!

Over the years, friend Mitzi has shown us how to pack in the plants on these expeditions.    And in the horticultural Mecca of the Triangle,  it is not uncommon to see all types of specimens in all shapes and sizes of vehicles being driven on highways and byways!

Nearby I reflect on a  stand of Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’  which will stay in the ground.  Although only known to be hardy zones 8-10,  it over wintered well in my Zone 7B garden last year.

To date,  in all my shameless, plant obsessive (OK, addicted) escapades – my 5’2″ frame was no match for the these elephants!

ThaiGiant

I laugh every time I think of this Elephant Ear… a share from friend and divine garden writer Helen Yoest.

I arrived at Helen’s Haven with some thick gauge heavy-duty giant lawn bags.   Gratefully, Helen had already heave-hoed them out of the ground for sharing.  How sweet was that!

Elephant Ears like their large mammal name sakes,  must hold a heck of a lot of water which is the only logic I could give to their weight.  I struggled to lug their root balls into the bags.   I strained to budge them around the side of the house and down the garden path without trampling one of Helen’s borders.  I tried dragging, then pushing them in the heavy gauge plastic.  I think a stubborn Pachyderm would have been easier to coax than this Colocasia gigantea!

Laboriously breathing, I finally made it to the intersection of walkway and driveway…   I wondered if I could roll them down without damaging the magnificent leaves and roots, but decided against this option.  I walked around the house and couldn’t locate any thing with wheels.

Dazed, my short arms straining,  I took a breath pondering, “If only I had a real  elephant… an elephant could easily use its proboscis or trunk to transport these down the drive – easy peasy…  and most likely for a couple of bags of peanuts.  This would really give the neighbors something to talk about!”

Reality check… when did Helen’s driveway get so long and steep? Even going downhill it seemed like an abyss!

My desire for these plants once again snapped me back – pushing me forward like a goat in quicksand…   I was one with them,  I was not letting go –  and then it hit me like a ton of elephants, if I do get to the street, how will I ever hoist them up to the bed of the pick up?   I wanted to weep.

I felt like I was in an Abbott & Costello escapade, but I sure wished Abbott (my Hubby) was there as  I struggled comically down the driveway.  I would take a few steps,  teetering with the weight over head, stop and walk around this stubborn as a mule plant predicament – barely budging a few inches.

I thought for sure Helen would find me in heap at the end of the drive, trampled by an elephant stampede.

The neighbors would complain… about some horticultural circus act gone very wrong, peering out behind a jungle of designer draperies, but afraid to come outside of their climate controlled environs.

What seemed like hours later, I climbed into the truck bed, positioned myself on bended knees and prayed for strength… I wish I had thought to bring some rigging and a winch for the aerial act  that ensued!

Focus.  Rest.  Sip  some water.  Bend the knees. Pray to the Almighty Horticulture God and by some  miracle… it was in the truck for the transport home.  I have no earthly idea how these were hoisted or levitated from above or below or what kind of other worldly pact might have been made.

That night and the next morning, I ached everywhere… but the prize was mine!

There is nothing like a shared plant from a friend’s garden.    This gargantuan punctuation in the garden unlike any other.    In my mind I hear the sounds of  loud (click listen and hit back button to return)  Elephant trumpets which then elicits a break into an enormous ‘laugh out loud’ every time it comes into view.  OK sometimes I preform the elephant walk… a joy of living in the woods!

So once again I will leave it in the ground, keeping my fingers crossed that  it will be a star attraction, after the spring migration of warmth summons it forth.

A last peek behind its big top ears  finds a surprise – tree frog hunkering down against the incoming frigid air.

ThaiFrogDid you know: that the American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea

converts glycogen into glucose – acting like anti freeze – during cold months?

Listen to the (click listen and hit back button to return)  song of the tree frog.

A second, smaller clump of ‘Thai Giant’,  also dragged from Helen’s Haven,   spent the winter inside the barn last winter.   It emerged at a reasonable time last spring.  I  planted it out, but  it stopped growing at a mere 7 1/2 inches!   Although planted just feet from its giant friend, perhaps planted in an area where the light is being shaded, but definitely a freakish curiosity.

Tiny EarsI laugh at these tiny leaves…    “That’s IT???  That’s all I got for pulling my back muscles out?”

I am delighted none the less.

Thanks,  Helen for your amazing gift a giant plant, a story to tell, Elephant Trumpets in my ear and being a friend with Horticultural Benefits.

Helen’s new tome is available for preorder:   Plants With Benefits: An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden

Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

Growing Pains

The clock ticks… hours pass.    The heart longs to be digging and pruning.  As the “to do” list grows.   Seasons change, nature takes it’s course indifferent to the task at hand.

There is dry stack to repair, the Wisteria to be whacked.  Fence to be strengthened and freshened… Microstegium controlled –  growing pains; mulch to be hauled – chores for the soul.

Longing for the bothersome muscle aches and the sweet smell of steamy leaf mulch.

Dear Trio

The mind wanders…  Do the containers need watering or have they been eaten by the deer twins, who by now have lost their camouflage?    As their spots fade… I notice a few more of my own on sun damaged arms…

As the salesman I so patiently waited for, now rushes over to the pert young girl twirling her hair who has just come in, idle chit chat that seems like an eternity.   I wonder, “Is this the camouflage, that now more frequently makes us invisible?”

I’ve been waiting  for some advice on new ear buds too… I also listen to Lady GAGA, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift (yes, I am musically broad minded) & “What does the Fox Say?” …  I must get back to the garden.

Colorful borders and bird songs are replaced by the dim light of LED’s and the distant beeping of monitors … I am focused on another garden – a garden of souls… waiting to be healed;  or  transformed – the hours turn into months.

Scabiosa

The beautiful miniature flower bouquet freshly harvested by my father, stems carefully wrapped in wet paper towel, bound with rubber bands in a plastic cup vase, knicked from the nurse’s medicine cart…

A daily offering to 62 years of love…

Narcissi

This simple daily kindness brings joy to those who have come to nurture, change dressings, or diapers; brush golden hair, offer swabs of lemony flavor or give soothing shots.  Each gives pause to admire, take a whiff of a sweet smell  and offer a kind word or  smile… A welcome distraction to brighten a day in the Hospice garden of angels.  Ah the language of flowers… finding a connection  of words to speak  when the reality seems unspeakable.

Butterfly

In a quiet moment… Mom’s eyes lids flutter open, like butterflies…  After days of transition… bright clear beautiful blue eyes sparkle as they emerge from their cocoon… straining to see something in the distance… an interlude to last a lifetime… Then with a flutter she was gone… metamorphosis.

Monarch

Weeks later, I was awakened by the the soft touch of butterfly kisses on my cheek… The  fluttering of a mother’s eyelashes on a sleeping child’s cheeks… It was our secret, from years gone bye.

I opened my eyes but she wasn’t there or was she?

Call it a sign, call it a beautiful dream – I am grateful.

It was the morning the fog lifted, growing pains began to recede and the overgrown soul of Entwined Gardens began to be restored.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Gardenia

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

Art from the Garden – Botanical Realism

Succulents are HOT!

For this Wordless Wednesday I am sharing Botanical Realism from the Garden…  the art of southern artist WILLIAM COLCLOUGH THOMAS –

Silver dollar plant, crassula arborescens…  in acrylics.

Thanks William for allowing me to share your vision of incredible gardens!   I am inspired to paint!

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Grady Garden – A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat…

Under the high shade of these tall pines, is the relaxing garden of Pat & Perry Grady.

I love to visit a garden and  sit  in the chairs or benches along the way… to pause and take in the views.   There is usually a reason a bench or chair has been placed in a particular spot… if for no other reason than to just contemplate what goes into a garden, or an EntwinedLife.

The Grady Garden has many charming places to sit, if only for just a minute or two… to notice the rather steep grade, listen to birds, then quiet; enjoy the majesty of the tall trees – the rustle of wind, juxtaposed to the interesting textures on the ground.  Then the eye catches a glimpse of color off in the distance  which beckons on to explore the next visual delight to explore.  A beautifully woven horticultural textile retreat  high above the stress of the hectic world.

Grady lng view yellBut don’t be fooled… from my observations this is a tough challenging location… the shade, the heavy mesh of tree roots unseen which will greedily suck up the water needed to establish any new plant additions… let alone the fortitude and strength it takes be able to dig a hole though the tangle, worthy for any new plant addition! (especially at today’s dear prices) and hope for its survival.  Another challenge is defining paths  – there is quite an elevation change both front and back,  and the constant maintenance to tidy the leaves and pine needles before  the signs are put up and visitors welcomed  – is a task of patience only Zen Master gardener will rise above. Yet, this all looks so easy woven together.

We honor you dear gardeners for sharing your private spaces with us!

Pat, how long have you been gardening at this location?

29 years

What is the first thing you added, removed or changed in this garden?

Added shrubs and took out a few trees

Do you collect plants and if so what?

Anything for shade

Any favorite garden tools?

Rake

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

About 6 hours a day

What is your mulch preference?

Pine bark and pine straw

Anything new added to your garden?

Arbor in back yard

What is your first memory in a garden?

Living on the farm and having a row of zinnias and gladioli planted in my mom’s vegetable garden

What is it that got you started gardening?

Being outside

Grady Chair

Where do you go for inspiration?

Just take a walk in garden and visit other gardens

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

J C Raulston Arboretum

 Do you have a favorite Garden Magazine?

Carolina Gardner

 Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

Ann Clapp

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden

Front porch

 If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

More gardens and paths

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share? 

Just work and enjoy

Grady Birdhouse benchPat & Perry Grady look forward to seeing you during ‘Open Days Tour’…  You’re more than welcome to try out all the chairs and benches and relax.

DSC00767Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen’s Haven – a wildlife habitat in the heart of Raleigh

Playground to garden guru – Helen Yoest, husband David Philbrook and their charming brood, The Yoest /Philbrook Family are surrounded by Helen’s Haven – a wildlife habitat in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina.

You are invited to  visit and meet the newest additions to the family – Pepper and the Chicks. Saturday September 21!

Pepper

Pepper on patrol!

Helen inspires an adoring public with wit, wisdom & whimsy…

Just an uncanny sense of solid Horticulture mixed with thoughtful solutions and non stop delight.  Frankly if she doesn’t empower you to Garden with Confidence… Perhaps you should try Mahjong!

Let’s meet Helen:

Helen

David is my husband of 25 years, but he doesn’t do anything in the garden. But I thought I should mention him since he does let me get away with gardening.

 How long have you been gardening at this location?

 16 years.

What was the first thing you planted in or changed at Helen’s Haven?

Hmmm, I had to think about that! 

I put in a privacy hedge of Leyland Cypress. Yup, sure did. They are doing SO well, but not a day goes by that I wonder why I wasn’t more creative at the time and put in multi-species hedge instead. The privacy is wonderful, though.

Do you collect plants and if so what?

Dear oh dear, I have to admit to an addiction? No wait, I see you are only asking about a collection. Elephant ears, any native wildlife plant, weeping trees, rock garden plants, and any BIG, BOLD, LUSTFUL plant.

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

Every Sunday. It may be for an hour or 6 hours, but that is the only day I have. It is my most anticipated day of the week. If something should get in the way of that, I will pick up another day to cover my lost time. I couldn’t go a week with out getting my hands dirty. But I visit daily.

Any favorite Garden tools?

My knees.

What is your mulch preference?

Composted leaf mulch from the City of Raleigh

Anything new added to your garden art collection?

I have a couple of new pieces of garden art. You will have to come see them for yourself.

DSC00244

 What is your first memory in a garden?

 Planting tomatoes with my dad.

 What is it that got you started gardening?

 I wanted to be with my dad and be like my dad.

 Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

My horticultural hero are the staffers at the JC Raulston Arboretum. I’ve even dedicated ” Plants with Benefits” – to them, specifically naming Mark Weathington, Tim Alderton, and Chris Glenn. Then there is John Buettner. Thew, I’m one lucky gardener!

Where do you go for inspiration?

Everywhere. I’ve never visited a garden I didn’t like. I get to see lots of them as a Field Editor for BHG and my other garden writing travels. I get ideas from every garden I see. I was just in Anthropologie and took away a gardening idea.  Once your eyes are open to something new, ideas just jump out at you.

 Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

Oooo, this is a tough one. Public garden I’d say Chanticleer. Private garden I’d say the one I just scouted.

 Do you have a favorite Garden Book?  Website – Blog – Magazine?

 My favorite garden book is Gardening with Confidence ® of course lol.

 And my second favorite book  is naturally my next book due out the first of the year,

But seriously, Fallscaping  – Extending your Garden Season into Autumn- is an all out fave. I guess it’s because I’m such a big fall garden love.

My fave magazines are Country Gardens and Gardens Illustrated.

How much time do you spend just enjoying your garden? And what type of things…

About an hour a day. Usually take a walk through to feed the chickens, throw the ball to my dog, Pepper, and hang with the kids.

If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

I would feel less guilt. lol  Dang if my kids don’t eat a lot of beans and rice….

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share? 

Nope. Just get out and experiment. If I have to convince you to garden, then your heart isn’t in it. You’ll know when the time is right.

DSC00253

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden.

The back porch. I invite everyone to just come and sit. It’s very relaxing. The mixed border is before you, giving you an opportunity to watch the wildlife.

See you at Helen’s Haven!

DSC00767

Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Garden Conservancy Regional Representative

JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer

Plant Collector’s Garden – Designed To Inspire…

This manicured ray of sunshine reflects the personality of inspirational lecturer and UNC – TV Host Bryce Lane and his ‘behind the scenes leading lady’… Sue Lane!
A virtual horticultural classroom & plant collector’s garden – designed to inspire…

I had the pleasure of hearing a talk by Bryce Lane over a decade ago, at a Master Gardener meeting… 

The topic was “Soils”…

As a city /suburban gal  from Chicago, I was new to getting my hands dirty.  I had no earthly idea that there was a field of study called Horticulture or Plant Science… but on that day, after Bryce’s lecture, I came away inspired…

In an hour, Bryce made soil sound so fascinating.  We were all so “fired” up about dirt!  I had only wished I had heard that talk before heading off to college, I might have chosen Horticulture Science as my major.  But instead that lecture changed the way I thought about well… everything!  It is the source, the root of the plants we grow, the food we eat!  What happens in the soil stays in the soil…I had no idea it could be so down right provocative! 

Bryce Lane has received so many awards for teaching and inspiring at NC State University, I can just see him blushing as he reads this.  

 He is also a sought after speaker/lecturer with talks such as: 

  • “The Birth of a Greenhouse: A history of manipulation!”
  • “Gardening on the Edge: Latest Trends in Gardening”
  •  “Is it Warm in Here?” New Approaches to Gardening in our Changing Climate
  • “You’re not From Around These Parts”: Gardening With Native & Exotic Plants
  •  “Eliminating Murder: How Not to Kill Plants!”

Bryce shares two Emmy awards with his Garden – the co-star of his virtual classroom on his weekly television program – “In the Garden With Bryce Lane” on UNC TV and his high school sweetheart Sue Lane. 

They welcome you to the Lane Family Garden

DSC00286

How long have you been gardening at this location 

30 years!

What is the first thing you did on the property?

Removing over 100 Liriope that were planted everywhere! I gave them to the the person who sold me his house for his new home!

How much time do you spend working in your garden?

Varies significantly, 5 to 20 hours per week. Less now that it is established.

Do you collect plants and if so what?

Depends on the month… I have been through many plant stages… Japanese Maples, Datura and Brugmansia, Colocasia, Heuchera, Dwarf Conifers, etc.

 Any favorite Garden tools? 

 AM Leonard soil knife and Felco pruners are the bombs!

 What is your mulch preference?

Cheapest, most available and what suits my mood at the time of year.   I have used pine straw, hardwood bark, yard waste, compost, and soil conditioner.

 Anything new added to your garden?

Driftwood piece from family vacation this past June at Emerald Isle.  Fished it out of the ocean with my 4 year old Grandson Ellis.

If money were no object what would you add or do differently?

Water element maybe, I might find 5- 50 acres!!  Actually my garden is the perfect size.

 What is your first memory in a garden?

Mmm, let me see…  Mom’s rock garden growing up in Massachusetts.

What is it that got you started gardening?

A part time job in High School at a Garden center…fell in love with plants… the rest is history.

 Where do you go for inspiration? 

Bible, nature, other gardens all over the world, other gardeners

Do you have a favorite Garden you’ve visited?

No, not really I love visiting them all, however, if I had to name one I would name one not created by humans…Bristlecone  Pine forest at the Inyo National Forest in California.

Do you have a favorite Garden Book?

Not really. Cut my Horticultural teeth on Donald Wyman’s Gardening Encyclopedia

Who is your Horticultural Hero? Or Garden mentor?

Can’t really name one…so many have influenced my horticultural development…  JC Raulston was my colleague, mentor, and friend.

Describe where you most often sit in your garden or looking out at your garden.

A few places, Our sun room looks out into the garden so sun room time on Saturday mornings is special… feel like we are sitting out in the garden.  The patio is also a great place to sit.  Kitchen window is also a great vantage point.

How much time do you spend just enjoying your garden? And what type of things…

See sun room time answer.  Anytime I am in my garden working or otherwise, I enjoy it!

Do you have garden wisdom’ to share? 

In gardening “disaster spells opportunity”. And as gardeners we need to honest with ourselves about how much direct sun we actually have!

 DSC00263

Perhaps we’ll get an advance peak at the latest featured Plant of the week!

Hope  to see you in the Garden of Bryce & Sue Lane!

Proceeds benefit the Garden Conservancy and locally the JC Raulson Arboretum!

DSC00767Enjoy – living the  EntwinedLife

Jayme B
NC Certified Environmental Educator
Garden Conservancy Regional Representative
JC Raulston Arboretum Volunteer