Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall light

This is the first full week of clear, crisp sky we've had so far this fall.  The characteristically soft, hazy light of spring and summer blew away, leaving behind dramatically blue skies.

We don't see this kind of blue very often in the southeastern U.S.  Today's walk felt different, almost like I was in an unfamiliar place, even though it was one of my usual routes.

Bass Pond, Biltmore Estate
Yesterday's walk around Bass Pond found the sky reflected in the pond;  I was amazed to see that the camera managed to capture the reflection so clearly.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An amazing mushroom

I've never seen a mushroom that looked like this before (nor had my gardening companion).

Its markings echo long-ago learnings about selective pressure around moths, and industrial Britain. (They became darker as coal ash polluted the air over a century ago).

Nevertheless, this was an extraordinary-looking mushroom, seen on a outing this morning to Biltmore  -- in the Winter Garden.

mushroom near Japanese maple

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tapping into the creative side of gardening

I've been thinking about this topic for a while:  this post a couple of years ago reflected on some of my thoughts then.

I totally rediscovered my creative side through gardening and thinking about designing with plants, in general.

Writing about my nature and gardening observations has been a wonderful creative outlet, I've realized, too, for the past seven years.  And through many posts. Teaching classes about gardening, too, has focused my attention back to creativity as well.

What do YOU really want in your garden?  It's all individual.  We all have different tastes, color preferences, plant memories, etc.

An artist friend of mine said "creativity" was a word that would scare folks away from a workshop or class;  she was right.

I've not managed to have a workshop or class make (around gardening and creativity) until this fall, now with the "Tapping into the Creative Side of Gardening" title).

It's puzzling to me, as so many gardeners are truly creative, but perhaps don't recognize it as such?

Artists who are also gardeners frequently create extraordinarily unusual gardens.  I was reviewing images this afternoon from some that I've seen (on Garden Bloggers Flings) -- amazing gardens!

Here are some images from Kayla Meadow's garden in the East Bay (Berkeley), CA, from 2012, visited during the SF Fling.

tiles, lilies etc.

a colorful combination
out a side door
a wonderful tiled area
my clogs matched the tiles
inside her house

Friday, October 10, 2014

Still more monarchs

one of many monarchs nectaring on the large Buddleia
The flow of monarchs continues;  the abundant Buddleia flowers are actively being visited, with the nectar resources shared with Painted Ladies, skippers and other butterflies, and bees of all sorts!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monarchs, in abundance!

I wish I'd managed a photo today, but our one butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) was covered in nectaring monarchs all afternoon, along with a few painted ladies and frittilaries.

There were at least 25 monarchs visiting, at about 4 pm, when I went out to check with my gardening companion (and assistant, too).  Marvelous.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Remembering...

We often walk through downtown after dinner, when we're in the mountains. 

We enjoy seeing the scene -- tourists, locals, street musicians, and restaurants full of folks.  Our dog Woody likes the walk, too.

Asheville has been a destination for visitors throughout its history, from its heyday in the early 20th century, to its resurgence over the last three decades.

There are many "travelers" of all ages who pass through, too, as well as people that are really at the end of their resources, too. Fortunately, Asheville has bed and soup kitchen capacity for most all of them, unlike many southern cities.

This evening, we walked past a fellow on a bench near Pack Square (clearly 'down on his luck') who noticed Woody.  Woody's a rescue Golden, so is sometimes a bit timid, but he responded right away to this fellow.

It was magical to see how the man on the bench responded.  It clearly brought back memories of dogs that he had loved in his past.  It brought tears for me, too.

It reminded me of another moment, some years ago, watching a homeless woman, waiting for a meal, transplanting weeds.

These experiences are magical for all of us.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thank you, garden clubs!

In an odd twist, my garden club group in the mountains is co-hosting our District meeting (it cycles around the member clubs) tomorrow.

I never thought I'd be a member of a federated club, but was recruited by someone who's become a good friend, and who was one of the founding members of what is a wonderfully eclectic group of folks -- young, old, and everything in between.

We meet at different times and days each month, unlike traditional clubs. This helps mix things up and also includes many folks who work during the day, too.

I've TOTALLY appreciated the contributions of garden club work and my associations with garden club folks for the 3+ decades that I was a botanical garden staff member.

They do good things, and have done so for many decades. 

So, thanks, garden club members!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Echoes of the past (Lycoris radiata)

I've been totally diverted away from chronicling my gardening and nature observations over the last couple of weeks, with my attention pulled towards managing details around an upcoming event, classes, and programs.

But the practice of observing doesn't stop, and I was delighted to see, in a scruffy edge next to a fence by an older rental house, a patch of "Naked Ladies" -- Lycoris radiata.

Also called spider lilies, hurricane lilies, magic lilies, resurrection flowers, or other names of that ilk, seeing them reminded me of when I first saw them, long ago, in front of our first house, in Georgia, whose landscape had been carefully planted by devoted gardeners.
Higanbana (Lycoris radiata) in a woods (from Wikipedia)
The bare flower stalks emerge in September looking exotic without foliage.  Here's a photo of Lycoris (from Wikipedia) in possibly its natural habitat (Japanese woodland communities).  The photo is labelled "Higanbana in a woods."

It grows well throughout the Southeast, and can naturalize.  And clearly old patches persist for a LONG time, echoing past gardeners and gardens.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beans, tomatoes, and greens

This is a shoulder season in my vegetable gardens, maybe a bit earlier than normal, as mild weather has slowed tomato and pepper ripening, and fostered early sowings of fall greens and root crops.

I've pulled up most of the tomatoes, which were fading, aside from the cherries, which just keep going, in order to sow fall veggies (spinach, lettuce, mustards, beets, turnips, kale, and collards, etc.)

I've had great poblano peppers for the first time -- curious -- they were in a lower light bed below the house, and maybe with the milder summer?

The pole beans (romano, lazy wife, and Kentucky wonder) are still producing, and there were finally some yard-long beans developing last week in the mountains.

A final spurt of beans
But they won't make much more progress, and will turned over to fall and winter greens, as well, sometime soon.
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