Growing loss

This time of year, I long for the Cherry trees. White blossoms tinged with hint of pink in March, a sweetly scented confection, attracting all sorts of bees to a drunken pollen orgy. Often their legs so full of pollen, they cling to the branches lazing in the successful harvest as if dead to the world.

April brings a snow flurry of petals, lazily drifting down covering paths & driveway, exquisite organic snowflakes that melt as quickly under the warm spring sun. The leaves now emerging large, soaking up sun and rain, camouflaging shelter for birds.

Next emerge the delightful bulging fruits, in an array of Spring Greens as the begin to plump. The chatter of baby birds fledging… Flying here & there following their parents’ calls.

May oh, sweet May, fruits change from green to pink to deep dark plump red jewels glistening in the sun.

Robins, summer tanagers, bluebirds, cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, mockingbirds, and woodpeckers flock to snatch a fruit, or snack on insects attracted by the bounty.

When my future husband found the 7 acre wooded property back in 1983, there was a clearing in the woods with 3 Cherry trees in bloom. A shaft of light hitting them like a message from God “Thou shall build your home here!” And so he did.

He designed the house & garage around those Cherries.

For years, he & his young daughter picked cherries every Memorial Day weekend. The bucket of the large Green John Deere would be fitted with a seat, with a seat belt, and up, up Katherine would be lifted with a bucket to harvest, giggling with delight.

Other years when I joined the family our vintage red pickup would be backed up to the hill and ladders lashed securely to climb up to into the canopy. Buckets and buckets of cherries would be harvested.

These Cherries were not sweet like Bings sold in groceries stores… These were a tart variety. Freshly baked pies with lattice tops were made, dusted with cinnamon sugar. Pies, or tarts, or cobblers and buckets of cherries in cute blue plastic pails would be delivered to lucky friends and neighbors.

Cherries would be pitted, then frozen for a taste of Spring later in the year or made into creamy Cherry ice cream.

Slowly the trees began their decline. Life expectancy is only 20 to 25 years. One by one the were removed as the remaining tree languished!

I miss those trees at Entwined Gardens. I miss the anticipation, the picking, pitting, baking & sharing. Most of all, I miss Katherine’s excitement of bringing new friends over well into her twenties to share the joys of picking cherries.

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 …

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lasting Impressions

This is a Cool Plant!   Scilla peruviana.

After Visiting Amelia Lane’s Garden – Under the Loblolly Pines – one always leaves with a Lasting Impression! … And a list of Cool Plants!
This Saturday, in Raleigh – you can take home a Lasting Impression and Cool Plants!

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Seasonal Heritage, a Native Refuge – Roots that Fashion a Sanctuary for the Soul…

When I stopped by to see Nancy & John Brothers at their inner belt line Raleigh home, the third week in March, the garden was already coming alive.  I had never seen so many Trout Lilies cascading down a hillside, at one time. 

 Erythronium americanum - eastern North American dogtooth having solitary yellow flowers marked with brown or purple and spotted interiors  amberbell, trout lily, yellow adder's tongue dog's-tooth violet, dogtooth, dogtooth violet - perennial woodland spring-flowering plant; so many names so little time before it disappears. Only to await next years appearance.

Erythronium americanum – eastern North American dogtooth having solitary yellow flowers marked with brown or purple and spotted interiors amberbell, trout lily, yellow adder’s tongue dog’s-tooth violet, dogtooth, dogtooth violet – perennial woodland spring-flowering plant; so many names so little time before it disappears. Only to await next years appearance.Most likely won’t be in bloom this weekend, but as I reassured Nancy – time and spring marches on. 

Most likely  the trout lilies won’t be in bloom this weekend, but as I reassured Nancy – time and spring marches on.I could see the tapestry beginning to emerge – spring ephemeral pleasure – yes – it is fleeting… feeling sap of my spirit begin to run – I  thought,  “This indeed is a sanctuary for the soul!”

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