Thoughts on Gardens & those who garden.

Since becoming a gardener, I have been lucky to have experienced many gardens and met so many inspirational gardeners…   I have been inspired by petite pocket gardens in urban areas; potted vertical gardens – flowers and herbs  spewing from pots precariously attached to the walls of houses in ancient cities,  gardens which dangle off cliffs in the High Atlas region of  Morocco;   Tomatoes growing  atop the Acropolis;  as well as DSC01860luxuriously endowed and staffed gardens.

I think of the times when I have been away for 3 months and return to thigh high vegetation growing in our gravel drive – as nature pushes back and weed seeds have blown in…  it has taught me that gardens are precious, without a gardener to maintain the vision and nurture it, they can so easily revert to wild.  And, that  I need to purchase a machete the next time I’m away for an extended period!

What matters…  is that these exterior visions are fragile and important to our culture as art and architecture of the times. They need to be respected and saved.

Plan to vist a garden – one can always learn something, or at least breathe some fresh air, but more importantly experience the gardener’s work in progress… their vision…  their need to plant, sustain and enjoy nature.  The fragility of these visions… which creates a memorable sense of place and balance.

Enjoy – Living the EntwinedLife!

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

 

 

 

 

The Web We Weave

Walking through my Zone 8 Garden, pondering the web we weave…

Spider

My wise friend Hilda always cautions with a kind voice, “Be careful what you wish for…”
Like most things in life, an action causes a ripple not to be reversed.

Native Americans honored the spider long before Charlotte’s Web was penned or became a delightful film with the memorable, sound of Julia Robert’s soothing voice. I’m certain a whole generation of children left their screens in search of a Charlotte of their own, heading outside to explore!

“So it was that Spider wove the first primordial alphabet, as she had woven the dream of the world that had become manifest. Spider’s dream of the physical world had comer to fruition millions of years before.”

“Spider’s body is made like the number eight, cons of two lobe-like parts connected at the waist, and eight legs.  Spider is the symbol for the infinite possibilities of creation.  Her eight legs represent the four winds of change and the four directions on the medicine wheel.”

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“If Spider has dropped from her web into your cards today,”  (I prefer getting into nature and then looking up the animals/insects I encounter), “she may be telling you to create, create, create!” … from Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson

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And so I shall!

Reminder: September 24 – 30, 2015 is Take A Child Outside Week

Enjoy – living the EntwinedLive!

Jayme B

NC Certified Environmental Educator

Philanthropic primum mobile

 

Open Days Progam—Finding Soul—The Yoga Garden

Tucked away below a rocky ridge, a stream slowly bends and flows carving a craggy plateau. Wildlife abounds—sounds of water on rocks, frogs chirping and birds twittering—a wildlife habitat—welcome to Peace and Harmony—Welcome to The Yoga Garden.

SithesYogaGarden 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 …

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