I hit the driveway with intent. The new digital in my cargo shorts pocket, the small houseplant shears in my other pocket, and my garden hat securely on my little coconut head to keep off the sun's rays on my little ears and to shade my eyes. I should have brought the umbrella, if only to shade the flowers as I took pictures. I was a woman on a mission. I had left the dawgs inside, and their wails of angst almost made me let them out. I didn't want distractions that would ruin pictures. Whereas Smeagol is craven and won't try to come outside, I knew that given time, I'd hear the rusty violin creeking of the screen door and she'd be out, slipping quietly to join me.
I started at the nook gardens, the railing has the smaller pots of cacti and succulents that are thriving in the blistering sunlight and heat. Not too many, just enough with room for Maggie to lounge about on the wide board with front arms dangling in hilarious poses. The spiny euphorbia are blooming those dark red flowers up top of the spines and leaves. I also have a yellow one. Zoom in and stand still, take the picture. I see the textures beneath them under the railing of the Fallopia. The heat and recent days of deluges has put some rust on the leaves. Nothing can be done, I don't meddle in these things. I only treat things as I will.
Today is not a day of more than snipping and light pinchings and lots of recorded images of the over growth that make up my fairy gardens.
I backtrack and pour out the water in the rain gauge, noting that I'd gotten just a half inch this last time. But I've gotten an inch and a half in less than 15 minutes, then later another inch, then 3/4 of an inch and now this less than half inch. The blue tub that I bought for placing Brenda, my cereus cactus into this winter is filled with rain water and is warm to my hand. If it were larger, I'd probably sit in it......LOL
Glancing over to the corner, I am shocked to see the Indigofera bush has grown a few more inches, and is LOADED with pink spires of fingers reaching for the overcast sky. I AM impressed. In a moment of insanity, I had gone into the steep NSSG and carefully plunged my Fiskars spade into the clay soil last week and made a red hole and plunked in the "Pink Delight" butterfly bush I'd bought in Michigan to replace the one that youngest son killed in rebuilding my nook deck. I'm hoping she will girth up and join arms with the false Indigo and wow me with long pointy bouquets of honey scented flowers. I make mental note to top dress the shrub with some rich soil later on and some Ironite.
Totally getting into the textures now, I make my way back towards the over stuffed brick gardens. The attraction for everyone now is the deep purple phlox I salvaged from the side of the road where an old trailer used to be parked. I noticed one day that the trailer was now gone, and around the edges of the concrete pad were the spikes of many deep purple phlox. So I went home and snapped up my shovel and a garbage can to put the roots into and dug them all up. I later went back down that road and saw my instincts were right. A bulldozer had scrapped the whole area, leaving only the young maple tree beside where the pad used to be. Even the concrete pad was gone now.
The phlox are old fashioned, and prone to mildew, but so far these have escaped the ravages of powder and the hummingbird moths, bees, bumblies and hummers frequent the up-turned blossoms in search for stray hints of pollen and nectar.
Oooo, there are BUDS on the cactus again! WOO HOO! I get closer and get a picture of the fat little nubbies that promise screaming yellow flowers. The pencil cactus interfer's as I try to get close to snap the picture. I'm like some deranged child with a camera and too much to take pictures of, I move and back up and snap, snap snap. Paying attention to the textures and heights of everything. Recognizing returning friends. oooooo, the Obedient plant has returned at the edges of the Frakartii aster. No signs of the pink turtle heads. Rats. The asters stalks are now as tall as me, so they're at least 5' 4" now and they're not finished yet.
I move along the driveway, and get a closer picture of the sedum blossoms that are covered in little fliers. The fairies are oblivious of the heat and smothering humidity and have unleashed their pets and workers. Busy, busy, busy. The wall of orange yellow beckons me, but I refuse her pleas to come take pictures of her yet and get close to capture the textures of all the prickly Euphorbia's sitting on the glass and metal table in front of the furtherest end of the eastern bed near the extension.
The finches were kind this year and gave me ONE multi-branching sunflower which a male cardinal has staked claims to already. It's risen to an impressive 10 foot already and has passed the line of gutters on the front of the dog run. At it's feet, obscured are no signs of the burgundy gaillardia's I tucked into the edges of the bed. Maybe their spent seed heads will surprise me next spring when it's cleaned out. It was a quick tuck and shove when I got them anyway. I much prefer the sunflower tree, but would have liked to have kept track of the gaillardia's.
The tangled mess of foliage reminds me again of odd marijuana plants, but I know they're the impressive bush like swamp sunflowers that will soon enough burst open to reveal huge coreopsis like blossoms in the hundreds. I didn't have the heart to rip out more and now I'm over run with them. Their ferny, but disected leaves almost taunt me as I see them everywhere.
I move further up the driveway, stopping to get close and capture the asters who threw lanky, woody arms and are now tight with crinkled buds at the ends. They sneaked past me or I would have cut them back for a fuller display. Nevertheless I get close to a purple aster which is opening and not quite perfect. I don't mind. Imperfection is enjoyed.
More sedums, this time the Matrona in a huge pot, and her blossoms are loaded with fliers, doing the biddings of the fairies who tend them.
Now the wall of yellow orange. This is the huge swath of Herbsonne rudbeckia that sprang up outside the bed from the mother plant to take residence around the Chinese almond bush. You can barely see the branches of the almond bush, and in front of the stepping stones that Squire had laid down and then placed the fairy water fountain, resides pots of sempervivums who had sneaky inhabitants of Angel blush lychnis this year to pop up in perfect combinations. Pots of textures of sedums and spring phlox. Two pots at the back of the fairy, are the black leafed elder and the lime yellow elder in seperate containers but perfectly complimenting each other. If you brush against them, their acidic odor isn't very pleasant but I admire their textures way more than to trifle with the smells of bruised leaves.
Above me I hear frantic high pitched trilling and chirps. I know what it is, but I am quietly ignoring them. I feel something brush past my head as I bend and snap a picture of textures and feel the breath of an ethereal fairy child. I hear more high pitched chirks and weeps and almost angry retorts as I glance upwards towards the tangle of spent and still blooming trumpet vine and am rewarded with seeing the flash of electric green hummingbirds chasing each other thru the branches and flowers.
I'm elated with this new revelation and prepare myself for a show I've not seen yet. This one will be far different from when I was repairing the fish pond's pumps the other day....quick, lets step into Mr. Peabody's "Way Back Machine" with Sherman and go back to that afternoon I decided to see if I could get the water to pump through the tubes.
As I knelt against the wall that provided the depth of water for the residents around and in the water (specifically some impressive goldfish with beautiful Disney like tails, and the assorted sizes of frogs and the two unexpected Koi that were what we first thought to be just different goldfish) I noticed that the Creeping Jenny was flourishing nicely and had cascaded down into the water and was spreading nicely across the tops.
I reached into the wire basket that Squire had rigged for the three pumps that pushed the water through various tubes to trickle out the winged fairy's shell from her algae green hands (her wings have fallen off again, we'll just have to be mean and glue them this time)from the hidden tube in the bottom of the first dish up top of the stream bed, and out the pot held in the goddesses hands that splashes noisily into the first pool that the frogs adore most of all.
I find the problem easily enough, and as I try not to cramp up, and remove some of my rings that will hook on edges of things, I feel around in the cool water and above me, I hear the frantic sounds of a scuffle. I stop my feelings in the water and look above me through the Pawlonia leaves and see just in time, a green clad hummer tearing thru the leaves of the fig tree, strafe thru the trumpet vine, hook back in hot pursuit of a freaking out chickadee who is trying to out maneuver this arrogant Rufus hummer. She's not doing much good, as the hummer darts and weaves and performs feats that truly astound me and I suppress my laughter as I watch as the Rufus male is poking the bird and I see bits of leaves and feathers falling where they are flying above.
I can't help myself, I chuckle quietly and watch enraptured. The hummer beats the living shit outa the chickadee and eventually the chickadee flies out of range of where the hummer had cornered and out flanked the poor bird. Success, territory reclaimed, the hummer stopped, perched on the thin stalk of my pink anemone over in the central bed in the west side yard, and stretched her wings and pooped. Then straight upwards, and darting off in an angle that still blows my mind in maneuverabilities, she was gone, chirking her happiness as fending off a marauder for other acts of acrobatics at a later time.
I had to laugh out loud this time and was amazed at the show I had just witnessed and proceeded to go back to working out the problems temporarily with the hoses and got them flowing at least partially. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back now to the present day, I am reminded of this memory by the sounds of not one or two hummers but LOTS of them. As I move quietly and slowly towards the watermelon Crape myrtle that is blooming along the white Crape myrtle, I take a few close up's and then glance above me trying to see what all the hub bub is about. It's a who flight squad of hummingbird juveniles chasing each other through their little paradise here in Fairy Holler.
I stop and watch them, and once again the magic of the moment captures me and lifts me up. I squint to see where they go. Ahhh, into the pink puffy blossoms of the mimosa that is growing thru the chain link fence along the driveway on the south side just a few feet from me. They dart and weave and cut thru at mach speeds of only their measurements and I see not one or two or even three, but as many as eight or nine young hummers just chasing each other like giddy school chums or siblings who for the moment are getting along and playing with each other.
The cut thru the leaves and flowers and a few of them slice past me too intent on the chase to give me much heed, as they fly and fuss and chatter in their languages that thrills me when I hear it. A lone female stops in the mimosa and sits on the ends of a branch near some flowers and hovers over and has a sip, then lights back and sits quietly as I stupidly try to get a picture of her. I slipped the camera into landscape and took off the micro setting and moved the focus to as far away as I could and snapped a couple. I could see her, but I'm sure I didn't capture the magical moment. But one had to try.
They continued to do these chasings until finally I spotted a darker green color and a larger size and realized it must be a papa breaking up the party and chase, and just like that, it was over.
I sighed my pleasure for being given another gift, regardless of the heat and humidity and thanked the fairies for the moments and moved back to take pictures of resident arrivals. Ahhhh, the Ironweed is setting blossoms. That will thrill these butterflies that have started visiting more and more lately. And the Joe Pye weed has started setting buds on top of scraggly stalks that almost reach the edges of the gutters along the sophet over the dog run.
Move through the knee high weedy grassy stuff of undetermined identity and see the Catmint is drowning. I pull the grassy stuff from away from the galvanized tub that it's residing in and admire the Diablo nine bark. Then capture pictures of the watermelon Crape myrtle from my side of the fence, and notice that the rains have been kinder to the Oak leaf hydrangea now, but the blossoms this year were pathetic. I will top dress it deeply this fall and shore up the roots with something to hold the moisture in and feed it and hope it bounces back next year. The flowers were just, weird this year...
Moving in the weedy grass, I notice a clump of Lemon verbena and stroke through it releasing the lemon fragrances that I love more than cats love catnip. The Vitex is blocking my path, as I carefully push into the limbs that reach across the path to the variegated Weigelia that lives next to the compost pile.
A good picture of the Forest Pansy redbud next to the quite dead mimosa trunk that should be removed, but the Virginia creeper is wrapped around it in a death grip. I carefully move down the steeper slope and search with my toes the evil cedar stump that Squire left in the ground when he cut out the cedar tree 11 years ago, and go to the Butt rock. You can't hardly SEE the Butt rock because that weedy grassy crap is grown up into that path too. I'm dismayed at all this growth, but keep moving and snapping my camera.
Pinkish tired blossoms on the Endless Summer hydrangea, the white edged leaves of the variegated Blue Lacecap hydrangea, and the shiny leaves of another one of lost tags and unidentifiable linage greet me underneath the Bridal wreath Spirea and Button spirea. The bed across the path has some frustrated cone flowers and the red and white striped tree peony that adores it's deep rich soils.
I plow through the grassy crap and notice the Diane witch hazel has leafed out more and is making a better trunk. Maybe eventually she'll bloom for me. Not yet. Beside her, along the rocky terrace the Beauty berry bush is loaded with berries. This will be a great year for her. But next to her the red and yellow broom has dead branches that remind me I left my pruners inside the house. So I make a mental note to return another time and do some judicious pruning and whacking.
As I move on past underneath the daughter Pawlonia that I MUST cut down this fall, I see my daddy's old Indian shot canna's are lush and flourishing in the gray water and muck from the sinks in the house and laundry overflow. The Bengal tiger has also returned but it's not nearly as lush as the old Indian shot's. But the Bengal has an orange flower already. The red crimson of daddy's hasn't formed yet. As I stand there thinking about this, something white catches my eye and I move down the last paver like step and approach the "woods" box that desperately needs me to yank out all this grassy stuff from around the edges. It's a whitish yellow hollyhock I had planted years back and never knew if it survived or not.
As I stood and positioned myself to capture the tattered image, something extremely familiar snagged my sight. Oh my gawds! It was a fig tree. A small fig tree and it was loaded with figs!!! Then as I searched my memories I remembered cutting a rooted branch a few years back and tucking it in at the back of the Jack pine and behind where the box was at. Just where Squire had cut a young pin oak and who had resprouted limbs. I'd have to cut the oak's regrowth back after seeing the young fig. This is awesome. I'll have two fig trees, in totally different environments and hopefully over time I will see how they respond to their locations. I will never cut this younger one either, just so it can attain it's own height.
Wow. As I moved back up the western side of the yard, I got a picture of the spent seed heads of the Beauty bush (Kolkwitzia) and saw that brudder John's Deutzia hasn't grown another branch this year. I'm just glad it bloomed for me this year. It can take it's time now in producing limbs for me to enjoy every late spring. I will always think fondly of John Skeffington whenever this amazing shrub blooms.
As I climb the steep path, I hear the frantic barking and moans of Smeagol as he keeps trying to tell me he wants to be with me, he KNOWS I'm outside somewhere......and as I ignore his pleas to let him out or acknowledge that I hear him,I move with purpose to the deck. A few captured shots of stuffed pots full of assorted things. Zhan's Bear's Breeches that I lifted this spring and put into a huge pot with rich compost soil to catch it's breath and maybe grow after all these years it was sulking in clay soils.
The Carolina yellow baptismia that I put into a huge green pot full of the remaining compost and sitting in one of the trays I use to water things with. I am still amazed at the return of a reseeding deep pink petuna that came up not only in the window box I tied to the deck railings that houses ice plants and Angelina sedums, but also reseeded into a pot that has bulbs and Poinsettia euphorbia now. The contrasts are interesting to say the least.
I have one tomato ready to be plucked in the pot, and I figure this year I will have to stop planting tomato's into it and refill it with richer soils. And to also retrieve the blue pot down in the woods that has a stubborn rhubarb plant that refuses to do more than bloom for me every year.
The mortar tub has two very happy Stachys plants at the corners and a Japanese sedge at the back. Behind that one, an old fashioned porcelain colander has some common sedums I dug up in Michigan, the other mortar tub that used to be the Peace rock chicken planter with all the various assorted hens and chickens, it's now been over run with fever few and I will have to sit and dig out tens upon tens to remove them all and see who has struggled to survive amongst the pungent leaves and tight roots.
I even have fever few in the window box above this one on the deck floor. As I gaze down into the tops of the canna's and lavender butterfly bush, I remember the tropical plants along the bricko block soldier off the downstairs corner. The schiffilera's are lush and have georgous leaves. These are the umbrella schiff's. Zhanataya's Korean Crinum is thriving underneath the electric meter next to one Schiff that has a crooked and twisted trunk. Square pots of heavily striped mother in law tongues of three types rise in thick punctuations, and I get closer to capture the difference in shades and colorations. Too much Virginia creeper I mutter to myself as I notice the balcony off son's room above me and to the east. It's a veritable jungle up there, and I see lush growth that has slipped my notice. So I climb the steps and slip into the kitchen.
I'm not fast enough. Smeagol hears me and come running with his crying and pawing and frustrated dog exasperations as he tries to convey his anxiety of being left inside while I was outside without him having fun........I pet him and Sugar and talk quietly working my way down the hallway and move son's chair in front of his computer desk and open the door into a steamy sauna on the north side of the house.
The dogs stand there trying to figure out their next move and decide to abandon me and jump into bed with the unconscious son who doesn't even flinch, and I see everyone residing here in the shade of the oak and black walnut and whatever else are thriving because it's a jungle. The humidity is thick enough, and it's still hot enough despite being on the north side of the house that the bush split leaf philodendrum that Cindy gave me a couple of years ago is lush and you expect to find some great iguana underneath it's huge leaves. The split leaf vining philodendrum has recovered from winter and I see huge tendrils thru the cracks of the boards. I hope it doesn't attach to the boards before I have to bring it inside this fall.
The corner shelves have the Angel wing begonia, and after repotting her in rich soils and larger pot has rewarded me with new growth and larger leaves. The textures go perfectly with the fuzzy Tradescantia in the blue square ceramic pot. Above the pink, green white and cream striped leaves of someone I've lost the name tag, is the pot with the Rubra oxalis that resembles a miniature redbud tree now. At it's feet, the revived Gold and Silver oxalis that looks just like a bush has regrown the broken stalk and has yellow challises in rings around the top. The flowers are true fairy flowers, and the Rubra also has yellow challises positioned in strategic points on the many odd branches. This little oxalis is amazing and I adore it.
Pen's Clivia is bulking up nicely, and it warms my heart to see the spent stalk of Mary Emma's clivia that FINALLY bloomed for me this year, almost going unnoticed in the frantic schedules of this year's seasons. I happened to see a flash of something orange and white as it was just setting buds and opening and got to witness what I call a miracle. This plant never bloomed in all the time it was Mary Emma's or mine. and I've had it for 11 years, Mary Emma had it for about four.......... Now if I can just get the yellow one that Pen sent me to bloom, I'll be happy.....LOL
As I finish taking pictures of the balcony jungle, I see that Pudd, or Polluxx as he's otherwise known as has joined me and announced that despite that he's still a bit addle-brained from being struck by lightening last year, he's coming back, because he's lord of THIS jungle. As he ambles over to the split leaf bush in the tub, he chats and mumbles and kvetches something horrible as he tells me his intentions to whatever is on his pea brain. I listen and talk back to him, and he lifts his cock-eyed gaze up to me where I capture a great picture of him humoring me. The dogs can't stand all this attention and come out and harass him until he goes deep into the undergrowth where they can't reach him and you almost hear him snickering as he eludes them.
I close the door almost completely but leave it just cracked enough to allow him re-entry back into the house and that was it. I had to see what images I'd captured. And how many.
Now can you believe it? I never made it to the Black Cherry tree and the hosta border, and when they finally loaded into my Paint Shop Pro folders, I had over 159 photo's to go over and copy and tweek a bit and resize.
Just as I was about to settle down and work on the photo's, I heard the dogs raising Cain and went to see what was up and my UPS guy had thought I wasn't home due to the absence of my van and had left a large box on the front porch for me...oh boy, more adventures! I'll tell you all about this tomorrow if you'd like! <gbseg> I feel a planting of another container garden coming on..................LOL
Thanks for the patience you've had with my lack of writings this season. I've almost decided to just write the things that have stuffed my head, regardless of the out of order sequences. I hope Summer has been kind to all of you, and that garden harvesting has begun in seriousness for those who are able to grow their own veggies. My perennials now are slipping into late summer mode and soon I can talk to you of more earnest arrivals, since I've been so behind in the other babies around Fairy Holler.
madgardener, up on the very hot and steamy ridge, back in a sultry Fairy Holler, overlooking a totally hazy and obscured English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36