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Archive for January 14th, 2008

I haven’t really talked about the stroll garden lately.   I want to assure you all that it has not been languishing on the back burner.   

About a week ago Jim and I got really busy and laid out cardboard and mulch along the west fence to delineate the beds that will go there.   I have clematis to plant along that fence.  I am thinking it will climb there very nicely, and look positively lovely in about two years.  

I have also been working out on the east side of the sauna, where I put cardboard and mulch at the end of last summer.   I have been laying out a line of flat rocks to sink into the ground to make the border for that bed.   I got busy today and started setting the rocks into the earth and in the process discovered that I made a cardinal error when I began this job.   When I laid out the cardboard and the mulch, I should have gone along the edge of the cardboard with a shovel and cut through the rhizomes and roots of the bermuda grass that I laid the light barrier on top of.    This would have caused that mass of plant material to die out.   Instead, all those roots under the mulch multiplied and started collecting water for the grass that was out in the sun, and they got very happy indeed.  I spent no small amount of energy today getting rid of that stuff before it completely infested the new garden.

What really pushed me to get started on these two particular areas was a gift I received from Jim’s sister out in California.   She was on a ski trip a few years ago and noticed a huge group of conifer seedlings that were trying to grow in the path right outside the back door of the condo they were staying in.   She put them into a pot, and brought them home.   We have identified them as Calocedrus decurrens, the California incense cedar.   They should be hardy in this zone, planted in the right area.

We already tried shipping them from California to Missouri once, and learned two things.    One:  that you should know where you are going to plant things before they go through the trauma of being shipped; and two:  we did not really know how to package trees for shipping.   The first group did not arrive in good shape and ultimately succumbed to being played with by Ruby while they were living in pots waiting for the “right place” to live to present itself.  We studied up on the subject of shipping baby trees and identified and prepared the home for the seedlings.  This winter a pair of cedars from the group, which was getting very crowded in its pot by now, got shipped out here.   

It was just a tad too chilly to transplant them out when they got here, but today it warmed up enough so I planted both the seedlings in their waiting homes.    One is in the grouping of evergreens by the west fence.   If you look at the plan for the stroll garden, you will see two little shrubs marked “junipers” along the west line.   The first incense cedar is planted to the north of these.   In about twenty years or so it will probably get to be 45 or 50 feet tall and ben 2 or 3 feet in diameter.    By then the two junipers will have grown up to flank and blanket its feet beautifully.

Right now that area looks like this:

14-january-2008-stroll-garden-looking-north-2.jpg

Now, because of the way the light is this time of year, you can’t really see what is in the shadow.   So I played with the image and in the following shot you can see one juniper and behind it the tiny little incense cedar seedling.  In the foreground is an extremely young Mugo pine.

14-january-2008-along-the-west-fence.jpg

Out on the east side of the sauna, the grouping looks like this.   In addition to the cedar seedling, please notice the excellent rocks that I have placed to accessorize this tree.   Behind it is the amazing rock my sister Judith gave me for Christmas.   In addition to being moss covered and embellished with wonderful lichens, it has a whole ledge of crystals (which are not shining in this picture, unfortunately).   In front of the seedling is one of the rocks from my rock pile.   This is a particularly wonderful rock and reminds me very much of the cliffs and valleys in Hawaii.

14-january-2008-east-side-sauna.jpg

While I was planting the little trees, Jim and Jesse were busy out in the vegetable garden.   They are continuing the project of grass removal.   The area of attention right now is the central aisle.   Once they get the grass out of that, they will lay down landscape fabric and then fill in with sand.    Once that is done, we will lay out the rocks we bought in the auction at the landscape company.     They have one more day of work to do to remove the rest of the dirt.  The central aisle looks like this right now:

14-january-2008-vegetable-garden-path-excavation.jpg

If you go stand next to the shovel that is on the left in the above picture, and look across the central aisle, this is what you see.

14-january-2008-vegetable-garden-looking-east-across-center.jpg

You can see the sand bed of the east/west aisle waiting for rocks.   Also, you can see that we moved one of the cold frames.   The lettuce that was under it was completely infested with aphids, gnats and little flies.   We uncovered it, and the cardinals and carolina wrens think that is the best thing that has happened all week.  In a couple of days the sun shining on the cold frame will have warmed the soil underneath it up enough that I can plant some lettuces.   They will be going great guns just in time for spring.

The work is never over.   But then again, the garden never stops growing either.   I have completed this post just in time to get cleaned up and rested for the spate of massage work that comes at what amounts to the end of the work day for the rest of the world.   

I guess it is the end of my work day too, or at least of one phase of it —  the really fun phase!  Life is good.

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