Friday, August 24, 2012

This Means War.....

     Three years ago my husband installed a 28’ long stream which cascades into a small pond.  This stream is at our nursery and serves as a visual for customers interested in a water feature.  It is also a place where I can grow our plants to show customers what that small plant they just bought will look like in a couple of years.  It is also my favorite place.  I never get tired of the sound the stream makes, and the sound changes as you travel around the area.  The water lilies are always beautiful and the cattails sway in the breeze.  Frogs hop into the water as I near it and dragon flies dart about.  But my fish are my pride and joy.  They are just dime store goldfish, bought with the intention of replacing them with expensive Koi, once I was sure fish would survive in the pond.  Over the past three years I have become attached to my cheap fish and this year they rewarded me with some new additions.  About a half dozen of the fastest ones avoided being eaten and are now large enough to swim with the big boys. 
     Last week my spot of paradise was disrupted when I walked outside and found a Blue Heron standing in the middle of my pond.  Yelling and waving my arms I chased the bird away, though I must admit, I was very impressed by its 6’ wing span.  I ran to the pond, relieved to see that my three large goldfish were still there, but not sure about all the babies, as they move around so fast.  The Heron has returned a few more times and I have repeated the same actions mentioned above.  One of us is going to win this battle and I have every intention of being the victor, just not sure how I plan to do it. 
     This Heron has no idea who he is dealing with.  I have previously spent a summer dealing with a family of groundhogs, who turned my garden into their personal ‘all you can eat’ buffet bar, so there is no way I’m letting this bird stake a claim on my pond.  Let the battle begin. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sway With Me

                                Like a flower bending in the breeze
                     Bend with me, sway with ease
                        When we dance you have a way with me
                     Stay with me. sway with me
                                                 Pablo Beltrán Ruiz

   Gaura or wand flower is a billowing perennial which makes quite an impact.  This somewhat shrubby plant reaches 3’ in height and develops a long taproot allowing it to be heat and drought resistant.  Narrow lanced shaped leaves are sometimes tinged with maroon.  But what makes this plant so wonderful are the  buds along the wiry, wand-like stems which open to reveal its 4-peteled, orchid –like blossoms.   Blooms are either white or pink, in combination or fading from one to the other, and it continues to bloom from spring to autumn.
     Gaura sways with the gentlest breeze, bringing beautiful movement to your garden.  
Butterflies and bees have no problem landing on these swaying arches.   I have mine planted on the stream where it almost seems to keep time with the sound of the water.  This plant also does well in a container, but make sure where ever you plant it, it gets plenty of sun. 
     Gaura is a great plant as a single specimen or its arching wands mingle well with other plants in a boarder.  Add this plant to your garden and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Making Beautiful Music

      When a garden is designed, certain design elements are used, such as, form, texture, shape, color, and scale.  One of the most overlooked design elements is sound.  Sound is often taken for granted and just assumed that nature will provide, which it usually does, but when you incorporate sound into your garden, you enrich the gardening experience. 
      There are a few types of sound we find in the garden.  Geophony is sound created by geophysical activity in the earth system such as wind, rain, thunder and water flow.   With this in mind, planting certain trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials can create unique sounds in a breeze, such as, whispering, rustling or rattling.  A fountain or a stream and pond can bring the sound of water to your garden.
     Biophony encompasses the array of sounds generated by the earth system’s living entities.  These include birds, amphibians, insects and mammals.  Planting large growing trees will attract squirrels, which can fill the air with their chatter.  Trees and shrubs offer protection and nesting areas for birds and planting plenty of berry bearing plants seed head perennials will supply winter food.   A pond will attract frogs which not only help control mosquitoes, but will provide a nightly chorus.
     Finally, there is anthrophony, or man-made sounds.  These are the sounds of traffic, lawn mowers and leaf blowers, or rowdy neighbors and playing children.  Some of these sounds we welcome and others we can do without.  Planting a dense hedge not only creates a visual barrier, but it can also block sound.  A well placed water feature can also help to reduce unwanted noise.

From the sound of birds and squirrels over head to the sound of cicadas from all sides, frogs croaking or splashing into a pond and the crunch of gravel or crackle of leaves under your feet, the sound of garden music can surround you. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

As July Melts Away

   This is such a miserable time of year for gardening.  I look out the window and see all the plants struggling in the heat, grass is dry and brittle and downright painful to walk on, and if you do venture outside for a closer look, the heat sucks the breath out of you.   Creativity seems to melt away in this sweltering heat. 
     Fading garden, fading spirits and fading energy are all par for the course in July.  But, this is where all your hard work throughout the rest of the season can pay off….that is if you did it.  A plant, planted in the fall, and given the time to adjust and send out some good roots, will most likely deal with this heat by going dormant, as opposed to a plant that was put in the ground in June, which just swivels up and dies.  A plant living in amended soil is much happier than a plant trying to survive in our red clay which is more like a brick in July.  Doing some research and knowing which plants can tolerate hot dry conditions will help your garden survive the summer.
   Is it any wonder most people leave town and go on vacation in July?  Most will say it is to head to cooler areas for some relief, but I think it is so they will not have to look at the pitiful state of their garden.  Spend sometime this fall getting your garden ready for next summer and you may decide to stick around next July.