ravensgarden: (snakeflowerR)
[personal profile] ravensgarden


On the thirteenth of February, my aunt called me to offer a tree for me to plant to memorialize my father. She suggested a weeping cherry, because she had always wanted one. She also wanted to meet me the next day for lunch for valentines day.

At lunch we discussed trees, and I told her the story of helping daddy root weeping willow trees that he planted in the back yard of the first house he purchased after retirement. I told her that one day I planned to go to that house, see if the trees were still there, and ask for cuttings from those trees. Daddy’s favorite tree was a red oak, but I am living on ten acres of oaks, no need to buy one of those. After lunch we went to the chamber of commerce and my aunt asked about nurseries. We found the place mentioned, and were both blown away.

The weeping willows were so large that they could not stand up, so they had them laying on the mats. They had already broken dormancy. My aunt wanted to see all the weeping trees and I found one that I have been trying to ID since I came back to Arkansas. A weeping Norway spruce. We came out of there with three trees to start my father’s memorial weeping garden. A weeping willow,

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a weeping cherry

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and a weeping Norway spruce.

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I had to tie the willow to the house, as it would not stand on its own and I needed to research the best place to put it for aesthetics and survival. That is the problem with accepting gifts from others; it is very often not on a convenient schedule.

My mother (who divorced my father and married his best friend 30 years ago) was part of the negative aspect surrounding my father’s untimely death. I have had a lot of trouble getting past my anger at her, but the refrain kept running though my brain “honor thy father AND thy mother”.

I was cruising though the local wallyworld and notice an end cap with Susan G. Komen plants for hope bulbs – plants that would donate a portion of their price to breast cancer awareness. Now for years I have planted calla lilies in pots, I would purchase one high priced corm off the internet, and plant it in a pot with “complimentary” callas purchased for a much lower price at the local box stores. Over the years, the expensive corms reproduced, and I have quite a collection. One of the Plants for hope was a dark pink calla lily.

The breast cancer awareness garden was born that day. My mother has survived it, my aunt is undergoing treatment for it, and both of my grandmother’s faced it – once survived the other did not. It seemed a good way to honor my other parent. We all grieve in different ways. Gardening seems a good way for me to do it.

Two days after I brought the trees home, another ice storm hit. Not a bad one, it began one afternoon, and did not get as cold as predicted overnight, and by the next afternoon ice was raining sideways down all around. It sounded like gravel hitting the metal roof of the cabin! We stayed inside until the shrapnel fall was over. I did manage to get a few pictures just before sunset of the first day. Pretty.

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Unfortunately my willow tree froze to the house, after it had fallen across the gate to the porch.

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It was not a big deal for me, I have several ways out, but one of my neighbors stopped by during that time and I found her standing perplexed trying to figure out how to get to my front door. *grin*

I started trimming up the trees around the spring, and dragging dead trees and limbs out of the woods around the house to get started on cleaning the place up, but have not had the opportunity to burn the debris yet. The wind has been incredible this year, and despite the moisture, I don’t want to start a wildfire, so the burn piles sit. I am concerned that with so many song birds feeding at my feeders, that they will start to nest in those smaller debris piles, and I will kill babies when I do get to the point that I can burn them. The large burn pile certainly has a large bird population in it. Not to mention squirrels.

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On Feb 24 it was a beautiful warm breezy day, and I had the need to be outside. I raked the leaves off of the dog yard, and raked the soil with a garden rake to loosen it at the flattish area by the house foundation. I finally got around to planting my wildflower lawn mix and stomped it into the dirt. I could not stomp or rake the hill portion of the dog yard, so I just walked around and sprinkled the seeds. I had enough to sprinkle a light coating of those no mow seeds on three sides of the storm shelter. It was a good day for me.

However I watched the birds scarf up the wildflower seeds from one side of the storm shelter hill over the next week. Mostly the dark eyed juncos that feed exclusively off the ground.  we will see if anything comes up.

I have been monitoring the wildflowers as usual, and was surprised to find one in my stacked stone flowerbed in front of the porch.

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It is a cult leaf toothwort. Despite the pinkish cast in this picture, this is the white version. It does come in a pale pink in the wild as well. There are 11 daffodils coming up around the center stone in the shale garden, and all of the hyacinths have broken soil along the storm shelter ramp walls. Nothing has broken through on the sides of the storm shelter hill where most of my birthday daffodils were planted.

I have been trying to decide the best place for the weeping willow. I want it at the flat area above the spring where the large burn pile is currently, but I do not want it to obstruct my view of the rocks on the hill on the other side of the spring from my kitchen windows. I finally found a place and started a debris pile there to burn before planting.

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It is not ideal, it is too close to the road that will lead up top and it is only ten feet from the oak trees that line the spring. I think it needs to be thirty feet from any existing trees. Unfortunately, thirty feet puts it right at the edge of the large burn pile that will have to be moved first.

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I noticed over the winter with the increased precipitation that a LOT of water comes out of the storm shelter drain, and it is always wet going across the road to up top, and kind of sits in the flat area in front of the spring.

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That area where the water pools would be ideal for the willow, and it is the right distance from the existing trees. I think I will need to wait for that end of the burn pile to be moved before planting. Haven’t even thought about where to plant the weeping cherry or the weeping Norway spruce.

The last day of the month I had to get bird food and dog food from the college town to the south of me. I wanted to pick up greek food for lunch, but had to kill an hour before the restaurant opened. I headed to lowes to research pavers for the storm shelter path.

The cinderblock stepping stones (meant to be temporary) are treacherous in the rain. The soil is so unstable, that they shift when walked on when the soil is wet. Last time I had to run to the hidey hole, I almost didn’t make it. I had planned on using small pavers similar to the ones I brought with me from GA, but those turned out to be worse than the flat cinderblocks. I knew I was going to have to go with at least a 15 inch paver for more stability.

A big problem with the pathway to the storm shelter is the drain runnels that are forming from the sides of the storm shelter hill. Two of them cross the pathway, and need to be dug out and worked around to drain more quickly. The instability in the soil in this area is widespread. When the rain runs down a hill, it brings up the sand in the soil. You can see those areas in this photo,

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the lighter areas are sand that has risen out of the clay soil. Over time the sand washes away leaving the rock and gravel in the soil in place, in a little ditch.
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This one has been created over about a two month period, since the storm shelter went in and the hill created runoff. You may notice those lighter areas of raised sand in the following pictures of the storm shelter path. All will eventually wash out to little gravel ditches if I don’t redirect them.

While at lowes I saw the cutest little English daisy, and thought it would look good in the breast cancer awareness garden. So I picked up a few of them to plant in a pink pot when it warms up.

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They will look pretty alongside the breast cancer awareness callas I purchased earlier in the month.

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As I was walking along the paver isle I saw a 15 inch exposed pea gravel stone that would really look good on my property. Somewhat natural. It was about the standard price at just under ten bucks a paver. I would really rather have all natural stone for my pathways at this property, I don’t like the look of squared off, and man made but the natural stone is slick when wet, and smaller than I need, so I am going to have to compromise. I walked around the other side and found a concrete paver that looks like cobblestones, and it was just under five dollars a stone. BINGO, that is my paver. I didn’t really like the color, it is listed as charcoal, but looks like red tinged brown to my eye. Still poor people can’t be choosy so I purchased 25.

The guys who loaded my car had to get creative with them. Eight of them had to go in the front seat to keep the car from bottoming out. I will stick to ten on each trip in the future.

Got home and unloaded them.

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Ten at the shelter entrance portion of the hill and the rest at the top of the hill by the house. It was a cool day with a very chill wind, but lifting and hauling pavers warmed me up, so I decided to get started.

When I started moving the rock, small pavers and cinderblocks to start leveling and laying the path

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I looked up from the pavers and realized that they were the same color as the roof of my house!

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I hope that helps integrate it into the landscape. This is a good shot of the drainage runnels crossing the pathway.

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The two main areas crossing are between the second and third (from the bottom of the picture) cinder blocks and all the way down by the ramp entrance, just below the dog bowl.

I started at the shelter ramp. I really didn’t know how I was going to curve the square pavers. My initial plan was to but them together on the inside of the curve and fan them out on the outside, but that meant I was going to have to have some kind of fill in between each paver. When I got the first two laid, I was at the first drainage runnel. I realized that even when I dug it out deeper, that the sand was going to wash from around the pavers, so I lined the ditch side of the pavers with natural stone to help divert the water from them and to make the gap that has to be stepped over smaller.

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I really like the look of this. It kind of fuzzes the strait edges of the pavers. I hope to be able to lay the pavers, then line both the inside and outside with natural rock. That drainage gap also gave me the opportunity to “turn” the pathway to follow the natural curve of the hill – allowing me to bump each paver next to the other, and create a solid walkway.

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The next drainage runnel allowed me again to turn the angle of the path and I should be able to step edge all the way to the top. I dug out the second drainage pathway, and had to alter its natural course a bit to accommodate the pavers and the natural rock.

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I was pleased to find a natural rock very similar in color to the pavers. I was running around the woods looking for surface stone to choose from. The stones that I have piled in the area of my incomplete rock patio are too large for this purpose, and I have a pile of smaller rocks, about the size of a large hand that are too small. I stopped at that point to wait for it to rain to see if the drainage ditches were going to work to keep the pathway stable.

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I purchased enough pavers (I think) to create a path one paver wide all the way up the hill, but I want to eventually make it two wide. That will give me a nice wide 31 inch pathway all the way down, that I can plant along to stabilize the soil.

It has been an unusually cold spring after an unusually warm and dry fall/winter. We are typically in the mid 60/mid 40 range by this time and able to start planting veggies. So far we have hovered in the low 40s daily and below freezing at night. I am jonesing to plant seeds! Good thing it isn’t warmer, as I haven’t moved forward on the raised beds for the veggie garden.

I need to work on that. Along with hundreds of other projects!

Date: 2013-03-05 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pondhopper.livejournal.com
Just saw this, Raven. You are so handy with DIY projects! I like the look of the reddish pavers, too. And with the "real" stone you've added, it'll look great. But don't you have to set them in concrete?

Date: 2013-03-06 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ravensgarden.livejournal.com
No, they are thick enough to place on sand or ground. There is a plastic piece that can be used to stake the edges to keep them from sliding down the hill. Lowes didn't have any of that in stock, but that thing can be added at the end.

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