A piece of cake and a slice of pie.

Entwined Garden it is a Cake—a sheet cake—large and cut into sections.   The house designed by my engineer husband Phil is on an east west axis back to front and north to south. On the Solstices we have light streaming in across the floors… it is always a celebration!

Entwined home & garden

Facing West

The gardens evolved as therapy for my soul in the long years of construction—I needed color against the red clay and sense of purpose—fluid swaths to soften the edges—frosting on the cake.

Entwined Villa View

Entwined Garden South

It is there I always know where I am and what direction I am facing. Continue reading

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

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