Thursday, August 25, 2011

Project: Rustic Leaf Trellis

I have been working on an area of my woodland edge garden that was recently "exposed" after my neighbor cut down what remained of a box elder. There is a small rental practically on our property line and three peeping windows – way too close for comfort.

This photo (above) was taken last year, but you can see how the box elder screened the neighboring building.

This photo (above) was taken recently. Hello neighbor. The dogwood will benefit from more sun and should top out at 10 ft., but it does lose its leaves come winter. Though once mature, it should have a thick network of branches. The blue spruce will also fill in this space once it matures. And I took this opportunity to plant another evergreen.

This Filicoides Fernspray Cypress will mature to 8-10' tall and 4' wide, a perfect size for this space. It is soft to the touch and really does remind me of ferns. Its foliage also has hints of blue that compliment the blue spruce nearby. But until it grows 10 ft tall ...

We decided to put up some curtains – a bamboo shade to screen those windows. It's attached directly to the existing chain link fence. Some volunteer Virginia Creeper is also benefiting from more light and is already growing through the bamboo screen, yippee! But the space still felt too open and exposed so I decided to make another rustic structure in keeping with the rustic theme of my garden. This time a freestanding trellis. It is sort of my tribute to the missing tree. I decided to make its walls resemble the structure of leaves. Again, my source for the branches is our local dump although some of these branches are from the box elder itself. Construction began in my shed, one of my favorite retreats. The trellis was put together with various lengths of drywall screws and a power drill. I began by making two "sides" sort of like a ladder, and then used branches to connect the sides together so that I had a square base that could stand on its own.

Here I am visualizing leaf shapes and adding veining.

Hours later I have my rustic leaf trellis.

  Here it is in place as viewed from the new screened porch.

The leaf pattern on this pot repeats the leaf shapes on the new trellis.

The birds now have a new perch. This garden bed now has another layer between us and them. I have a Clematis Virginiana, a beautiful native clematis, on order that I will plant at the base of this trellis. Hopefully it will twine its way through the leaves.

A friend of mine gave me these beautiful garden ornaments. I thought I would hang them here to honor the trees – new and lost. What about you? Do you have an area of your garden where you would like to have more privacy? Consider making yourself a freestanding trellis or a tribute of some sort to your favorite or lost plant.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's Growing

What's not growing in the potager this month is squash. I did manage to harvest a few patty pan squash and will grow this again with more diligence. If I had paid closer attention I might have been able to save it. The price for my blinding neglect? Squash vine borer. It is my first year growing squash. I haven't before since it is so readily available at the Amish farms, but I just love the flowers and rarely see the patty pan variety. Big heavy sigh – at least I enjoyed a few. May all this year's squash rest in peace.

Last month I complained that my lettuces were ridden with insect holes. This month I now know I have flea beetles. Next year I will plan to plant my greens in between rows of garlic – a natural repellent plant. On the sunny side, maybe these beetles will attract a toad – a natural predator.

I have just harvested the garlic and more beets. Lots of beets.

Garlic chives are also blooming now.

The tomatoes are turning red and it's a daily cherry tomato harvest.

I have to say that this year my favorite crop is the tomatillos although they are sprawling all over the ground. Next year I will have to grow them with support. Tonight it's black beans with tomatillo salsa.

I even have jalapeno peppers this year to add to my salsa! The sweet pimento lipstick peppers are looking good but should turn red at the tips. Same goes for the cayenne peppers.

The basil isn't affected by the flea beetles at all. This week we had fresh pesto for dinner.

The Scarlet Runner Beans are now producing. They and Exotic Love Vine are now twining along the roof of the rustic arbor, but still no flowers on the Love Vine. This year I planted a Trumpet Vine at the base of the arbor. With our short season I am running out of patience with annual vines. I want flowers!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's Blooming

Garden bloggers' bloom day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month. Be sure to visit her and add yourself to the growing list of blooming gardens across the world.

Here's what's blooming in my garden right now ...

Russian Sage and Black Lace
Unknown Phlox (purchased from a gardener next town over)
Helianthus microcephalus is stunted this year from a very wet spring
Mint and Miscanthus 'Morning Light'
Joe and Susan love affair
Great Blue Lobelia siphilitica and Persicaria 'Firetail'
Common Ironweed, Vernonia fasciculata
Green or Cutleaf Coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata reaching the roof of the shed
Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum
Bee in Borage
Bees napping in sun

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Going Native: Culver's Root

I love the tall candelabra-like spikes of Culver's Root, Veronicastrum Virginicum. This was a plant I did have in my Maine garden and that I am now happy to have again in my NY garden. It adds a beautiful heightened architecture to any perennial bed adapting to both part shade and full sun and a range of soils. This plant is now part of my woodland edge border and as you can see, has flowered in its first year from a bare root planting this past spring. The flower spikes can take on a purple/lavender hue. Mine seems to be more white at this time. The leaves are interesting as well – dark-green in whorls around an erect stem. Culver's Root can grow up to 5 feet tall.

If you are looking to add tall spikes of flowers to your perennial bed, consider our native Culver's Root. It is attractive in the border as well as to a wide range of pollinators.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting Plein Air in an Artist's Garden

During the milder months I paint plein air (in the open air, outdoors) with a group called PAPTIR (Plein Air Painters of the Thousand Islands Region). We usually meet at various locations every other week. These locations are always beautiful and most offer very different subject matter from what I would normally choose to paint. I have far from mastered the art of painting plein air. Truthfully, I just had a long talk with myself that went something like this: "You are painting a studio painting instead of the essence of plein air. Broaden your view and include the mood of the landscape and location. Stop closing in on your favorite elements. Step back." Good advice in designing a garden as well, now that I think of it.

As an example, the featured painting this month Unfurling Ferns I painted plein air a few weeks ago. But this view is tiny and close up, and should not have been the focus of my painting that day. I do not typically paint landscapes and this is my problem. I prefer objects, close up views. My real dream is to paint my own garden (once I build it to the point where I have lots of subject matter), and so I am drawn to foliage, flowers. Thus, I chose to paint ferns – close up – something that I have been wanting to paint. Much more difficult than I imagined, I might add. I will need to attempt ferns again in the studio with more study.

The location where we painted was a country home that belongs to a very talented artist and extremely gracious host. The grounds offer beautiful views and gardens. I took many photos for future studio paintings. Anyway, the locations where we paint are so beautiful and inspiring I think I should share them with you.

Cattle bones found on the property and now are part of this garden wall.
View from inside the gazebo.
Astrantia, Masterwort
Bird nest sculpture made by the artist.
Eryngium, Sea Holly
With inspiration like this, I really must strive to achieve more with my painting and garden. Hope you are inspired as well.


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