The predicted 8-10 inches of snow turned in to 24+ inches here at my house! We spent most of the day yesterday just digging out. The fascinating result of a true blizzard (winds of 35 mph+) are the drifts. Oddly shaped mounds and curtains of snow have formed around and over everything---quite the winter wonderland! Today the sky is clear and brilliant blue-time to go adventuring...
In my snow bound state I decided to re-read an old favorite: James Herriot's Every Living Thing. This is just one of a series of colorful and charming books that recount the exploits of Mr. Herriot as a country vet in post WWII Yorkshire. Herriot is a wonderful storyteller with a great sense of humor; he so obviously loves his animals, the countryside, and the peculiarities of his clients' owners. It's the perfect book to curl up with on a wintry day (or night!).
This is a perfect time of year to take a mental break from all of the holiday hubbub and think about your gardens and landscape. I've had several inquires about gardening on a slope, so here are some things to keep in mind while you dream and scheme:
The number one concern with a slope is preventing erosion or, in other words, promoting soil stability. First, determine if the slope needs to be supported artificially by means of a retaining wall(s) or a series of boulder groupings (a good solution for a more moderate slope and/or a rustic-natural appearance). This work should be done prior to any planting.
When you are ready to select plants, look for shrubs and perennials-especially- that have these characteristics:
- Plants that spread or have fibrous root systems.
- Plants that are evergreen or hold their foliage through the winter. Hint: think grey!
- Plants that are drought tolerant.
- Plants that are low maintenance. This is for your safety!
The goal is to cover the slope quickly and permanently. As always, a combination of contrasting plant sizes and shapes as well as foliage color and texture will make the garden more beautiful and interesting.Even drought tolerant plants need water to become established (often for up to three years), so it's important to have a watering plan in place. Low volume drip, pop-up spray or leaky hoses that can be set to run repeatedly for short time periods are ideal for use on a slope. This type of system and application method will allow the water to soak in more easily and help prevent water run-off (and soil erosion).
Take the time, now, to enjoy planning for the future!
I am pleased to announce that I have been invited by Denver Botanic Gardens to participate in their "garden gallery" tour on August 4th, 2007. This will give you an opportunity to visit my garden and see my artwork as well. I'm pleased with the August date --- it will give my grass garden and container plantings a chance to really grow in---things should be looking great then!
My challenge will be to figure out a clever way to display my fiber pieces outdoors. All suggestions welcome!
Sneak preview: Photo above shows a detail of "Cultivation." Stay tuned for more information on this event!
Wow! What a difference a week makes! This photo, taken a few days ago, shows the start of the warm up. What caught my eye was the thin blue line of water being exposed as plates of ice separated. Inspiration for a new art quilt, perhaps?!
The weekend weather promises to be delightful. I'll be busy helping my daughter move to her new digs (an empty nest once again!) and stringing a few twinkly white lights around the yard. I may also putter a bit in the garden shed and get my tools cleaned up. Here's what I do:
- Scrub with soapy water.
- Oil metal surfaces with WD-40.
- Rub wooden handles (unpainted) with linseed oil - wipe any excess.
I have my few favorite tools that I use a lot, so I try to keep them happy!
Mahonia is a broad-leaf evergreens (as opposed to a needle type conifer such as pine or spruce) that do especially well in the mountain west. They tolerate both full sun and full shade, although I think the ideal siting is in morning sun with afternoon shade. Mahonia is also an ideal choice for dry shade---one of the toughest conditions to select plants for. Commonly known as Oregon grape holly, this plant is available in three different sizes; standard (M. aquifolium) is 5'-8' tall by 5' wide, compact (M. aquifolium 'Compacta') is 3'-4' tall and 4' wide, and creeping Oregon grape holly (M. repens) is 12"-18" tall and is a groundcover type-plant them about 2' apart and they will fill in after 2-3 years (fairly slow to get established).
I love this plant! It has glossy green leaves during the growing season that turn to a burgundy-bronze in the winter. Clusters of small, yellow flowers in mid-spring are followed by blue berries that are a great favorite of birds---I see young Flicker woodpeckers chowing down on them in the summer.
So if you want a xeric, versatile evergreen, choose Mahonia!