A nice landscape garden and dealing with the stump from a large uprooted tree

A garden visit and Dealing with a stump from a blown over tree  “Oh, My God, the wind is doing something weird. The trees are dancing through the sky, There comes a tree top into the middle of the back yard. This is scary!!!” It was April 27, 2011, a little after eight in the morning. I was at my office and Dekie had just called me. A tornado had gone through the Summerville Park subdivision in the middle of our conversation.  The winds went away quickly, though, leaving quite a number of the stately trees on and around Oakwood  Street down in yards, across the road, and on top of houses. Fortunately, no one was injured. By the time I could get there to look at it, the streets were blocked with trees and workers with chain saws.  Ken Nance lives in a beautiful house across the street and down a bit from our house. He called me a few days after the basic rubble had been cleaned up. My brother and I had both done some work for Ken about twenty years ago and he wanted me to look at a stump that was left in his yard after the winds. The tree had been laid neatly out across the road, missing Ken’s house and a decorative fence. When the tree was cut away from the stump it almost righted itself but was left partly out of the ground. There was a big air pocket full of water and old roots beneath it. The question was “how to handle it”

dealing with the stump from an uprooted tree presents problems

dealing with the stump from an uprooted tree presents problems

I looked at the stump and thought about it. It seemed that no matter what we did, there would still be a problem with the area under the stump. Grinding it would leave us with a lot of wood chips and we would still have a hole under it. If we left the base of the stump, we would still have a problem with the water and a big air pocket. Anything we did on top would slowly sink, too, as the wood rotted underneath. I had to think about it. I was very busy with spring plantings and getting ready for a wedding to be followed by a two week trip. I told Ken to be patient and that we would fix the problem in June.  I got back from my trip and started on a hectic schedule trying to take care of neglected customers. Every day, though, I had a small stress attack as I drove by Ken’s house and looked at that sideways stump. Finally, it hit me. “I’ll have to call Lee,” I told myself. I was lucky, too, in that I ran into Lee Bagley, owner of Maloney’s Tree Service, in the Home Depot parking lot. We made a plan for Monday, June 27. I left the conversation grinning. My assignment was to move all of the nice plants out of an area that was ten to twelve feet from the stump. I called Mike Hutchins and scheduled a delivery of a load of compost for 1:30 that same afternoon. It was a tight schedule, but I wanted to make a show.

digging up good plants to save them for the replanting after stump removal

digging up good plants to save them for the replanting after stump removal

We showed up on Monday morning and started digging plants. There as a number of nice nandinas among other plants. We dug a good root ball and set the plants to the side to be used after we took care of the stump. I told Ken that the tree service would show up between 11:30 and 12.             Ken asked, “Will he bring his machine?             I said, “Yes, he will.”             “A large stump grinder?”             “No. You’ll see.” And right on time, Lee showed up with his machine. I could see Ken’s face light up. Lee backed in the driveway and Lee proceeded to unload a digger that was equipped with rubber tracks.

A cost effective way to take care of a stump from a blown over tree

A cost effective way to take care of a stump from a blown over tree

All of the plants had been removed and the site was prepared for the stump to be dealt with.

plants have been moved out for a problem free stump dig

plants have been moved out for a problem free stump dig

Lee operated the back hoe with skill and confidence. He began by wiggling the tree back and forth to break loose any tenuous roots. I was reminded of a dentist pulling a tooth.

Lee Bagley, owner, Maloney's Tree Service, Rome, Ga.

Lee Bagley, owner, Maloney’s Tree Service, Rome, Ga.

Lee carefully explored the area all around the trunk, gently cutting and digging. Several times he put so much pressure on the dig that the entire machine looked like it would tip over. I wondered if the idea would work.

wiggling the stump kind of like a dentist works on pulling a tooth.

wiggling the stump kind of like a dentist works on pulling a tooth.

After a while the stump came out of the ground. Lee’s helper was standing there with a chain, but we didn’t think the machine would lift it. I wondered what would happen next.

pulling out a stump from a blown over tree

pulling out a stump from a blown over tree

And then Lee pulled one of the slickest moves I’ve ever seen. He used the back hoe shovel to pull the stump over to the top of the blade which had been lowered to the driveway. Next, holding the stump firmly against the blade, he raised the blade and the stump came up off the ground.

A slick move. A good tree man understands leverage

A slick move. A good tree man understands leverage

  Everybody grinned. The stump pulled the backs of the treads off the drive now and then as Lee slowly moved the stump toward his trailer. Watching the back hoe move up the trailer was tense, too, as the back treads wiggled off the ground and the entire machine was perched precariously on the ramps. I looked at Ken and said, “Tight, ain’t it?”

Headed for the city compost pile

Headed for the city compost pile

Lee drove off to take the stump to the city compost area. We cleaned all of the left over roots out of the gaping hole and had time for a short lunch break before the next delivery.  At exactly 1:30, just as scheduled, Mike Hutchins showed up with a ten cubic yard load of his wonderful compost. I don’t think I could run my business without this stuff.

Mike Hutchins brings me the finest compost I've ever found. This stuff will grow anything.

Mike Hutchins brings me the finest compost I’ve ever found. This stuff will grow anything.

In between the stump removal and the compost, we decided that we needed to run a pipe out from the downspout so that was hooked up before we started finishing the contour of the bed. We planned to make a mound of the compost to compensate for any future settling. We packed it firmly as we put it in the hole and on the surrounding garden area.

Spreading compost and building a mound. Note drain pipe from downspout

Spreading compost and building a mound. Note drain pipe from downspout

One spot in the undamaged part of the garden was crying for flowers, so we use some left over compost to create a raised bed.

flower bed preparation with mounded compost

flower bed preparation with mounded compost

The next day, Mary worked with me on the plant layout. She loves the nandinas for their ease of maintenance as well as for the free and open multi colored leaves and the berries in winter. We moved some azaleas and other plants around to create a natural looking “woods floor” motif. We used a palmatum Japanese maple for height and accent pretty close to where the stump had been. For the “forest floor we use plum yew (cephalotaxus), lenten roses (helleborus), and lily of the valley. I also found one plant of Solomon’s seal for the back entrance. This garden will show off every day of the year. I made Ken one of my WONDERFUL SPRINKLERS He loved it and asked me to build another one. I showed up a few days later and got this picture of Ken and Mary admiring their new garden

Ken and Mary Nance admire their redesigned garden. The ugly stump is history

Ken and Mary Nance admire their redesigned garden. The ugly stump is history

I stood back and took a picture of the finished garden

A beautiful new garden instead of a tree stump. Fair exchange?

A beautiful new garden instead of a tree stump. Fair exchange?

I decided that I needed to take a short walk to the Nance’s delightful back yard. I entered through the neat arbor that my brother TOM SCHULZ, ARTIST had built a number of years ago. I really like the meditation bench that he worked in to the left side.

A beautiful entry arbor. Note the meditation bench to the left

A beautiful entry arbor. Note the meditation bench to the left

I admired the comfortable looking series of walkways and sitting areas.  The entire area brought a feeling of peace and relaxation. I enjoyed looking at Mary’s sculptured container plantings. The facade of the old garage with ivy on it really makes a good backdrop.

Peace and serenity abound in this beautiful and relaxing back yard garden

Peace and serenity abound in this beautiful and relaxing back yard garden

Ken and Mary enjoy their garden, their morning coffee, and a bit of a reading break in the garden. Ken has just started Mike Ragland’s new book, Bertha

Mary and Kenneth Nance enjoy a morning cup of coffee in their lovely back yard garden.

Mary and Kenneth Nance enjoy a morning cup of coffee in their lovely back yard garden.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? ******

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Living and Giving-more than a plant shop-in Rome, Ga.

Living and Giving—A beautiful plant shop in Rome, Georgia.

NOTE: This is a good and popular article but Living and Giving has moved down the street. A more recent article can be found here:

I had been in Living and Giving a number of times—to do some shopping, make a delivery, maybe to visit or to deliver some copies of Requiem for a Redneck which sell well at the store—but I never really paid attention to the scope and detail of the inventory until the other day when I showed up to take pictures for this article.  As I concentrated on light and composition I started noticing that the presentation of the store’s merchandise was a work of art in and of itself.

Living and Giving, Rome, Georgia

Living and Giving, Rome, Georgia

Living and Giving, owned and operated by Lisa Landry, is situated in a front corner of the historic Forrest Hotel in downtown Rome, Georgia. Windows that wrap around to the side of the shop look out on downtown through a small garden of azaleas and ginko trees.  This forms an ever changing background for Lisa’s displays which she calls ‘vignettes.’

Each display stands on its own while blending pleasantly with the others.

Each display stands on its own while blending pleasantly with the others.

I worked on some photo composition and then finally noticed that everything was already arranged picture perfectly so to speak.  Wherever I turned there was a decent picture all set up. All I had to do was get the light right, but the entire place was already beautifully lit.  I studied this ‘vignette’ from several angles and chose this one because of the way it flowed into others:

A pleasing display with Broad Street as a distant backdrop

A pleasing display with Broad Street as a distant backdrop

I turned toward the window and my eyes were led from the red cyclamen to the really neat painting of peas (by Ellie Mahon) on top of the shelf.  After making that transition, my eyes were drawn to the center of the composition.  I loved the way it was backlit by the window looking out on Broad Street.

It took my eye from bottom to top and then moved it to the center

It took my eye from bottom to top and then moved it to the center

While I was studying the shop, Lisa had been listening to a customer who was looking for a gift.  I watched as she listened to what the lady was saying, nodded her head, listened a bit more, asked a quiet question, and listened again.  Lisa then picked up one of the best grown rabbit foot ferns I had ever seen—and I’ve seen a lot of them—It was perfect for the situation described by the customer!  Next Lisa showed the client several pots that the fern would fit in.  She moved to her work table in the center rear of the store.  She asked, listened, and suggested, finding just the right items for a delighted customer.  As Lisa worked, she paused, grinned at me and said, “This is our best selling item, a plant and a pot.”

"our best selling combination-a plant in a pot"

“our best selling combination-a plant in a pot”

While Lisa worked on her plant project, I started studying other arrangements.  I looked at colors and found what I call a “study in lavender.”  As a side note, an old rock man had told me long ago that instead of “giving a color” it was best to “cast a color.” It worked for rocks and I found that it worked for Lisa.  I’m not artist enough to know why, but I did enjoy the way a number of associated and disparate colors had been combined to “cast” an envelope of lavender.

"Casting" a color"

“Casting” a color”

Over on the far left, I liked the gold accent with the sun coming through the bottles. I don’t know what was in them.  I really meant to study the trees but I was enraptured by the forest.

Do I look at the "trees" or the "forest"

Do I look at the “trees” or the “forest”

I found that when I concentrated on a foreground, the background color changed.

A display that draws you into another

A display that draws you into another

Another of Ellie Mahon’s paintings intrigued me.

Butterfly by Ellie Mahon

Butterfly by Ellie Mahon

Lisa got some time to talk.  I asked her about the name “Living and Giving.” She told me that the initial concept for the shop was to have items for home décor or “Living” mixed with gift items or “Giving.”  I was told that flower pots were part of the original inventory and that Linda Haga was her first employee, hired to help with winter and fall sales.  Linda came to her one day and said, “We need plants for these pots.”

"We need plants to go in the pots"

“We need plants to go in the pots”

Lisa said, “I found out that Linda was a Master Gardener.  I didn’t have a clue as to what that meant.  I didn’t have a clue about plants, and didn’t even know what a hydrangea was until later.  Marion Shaw joined the team and added her extensive plant knowledge.  The plants became a large part of our business.  You might say that the store took on a life of its own.”

"The store took on a life of its own"

“The store took on a life of its own”

“As the store took on a life of its own, I found birds, too,” Lisa said, “I started noticing all kinds of bird related items that I thought would do well in the store—and I was right. I like these ceramic bird figurines.”

"I love these little birds"

“I love these little birds”

While Lisa was holding the figurines, I heard a bird chirping.  I looked at the birdies in her hands and decided that the sound was coming more from her left.  I looked through some plant foliage and traced it to this bird:

I heard a bird chirping and found it in the fern foliage

I heard a bird chirping and found it in the fern foliage

Lisa looked it and laughed, “It’s time to water.  That bird has a moisture sensor that makes the bird chirp when the plant needs water.  I’ll have to see to that.”

Lisa continued, “I got a dog a couple of years ago, and the experience helped me to notice and procure doggie items.  The name ‘Living and Giving’ talks to me on a regular basis and leads me into areas that I never would have considered otherwise.”

I have a Lisa Landry story, also.  During our interview, Lisa had said, “Everything I know about plants was taught to me by Linda Haga, Marion Shaw, and David Johnson.”  David Johnson owns a wholesale greenhouse in Alabama.  He is one of the most knowledgeable plant people I ever met-and I’ve met a lot of them.  One day last summer I had gone to pick up a load of bedding plants from David and I saw Lisa there.  I watched her as she picked up one plant and then another, taking time to examine them thoroughly to make sure she was getting the best.  I was also impressed that she was hand picking her merchandise instead of just picking up the phone and placing an order.  She was still picking as I was preparing to leave.  Lisa looked up at me with her bright smile and asked, “John, do you have any more room on your truck?”

As we came near the end or our interview, Lisa said, “I don’t know what else to tell you other than business is really GREAT!”

Thank you, Lisa for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon visit.

*************

Marion Shaw is mentioned in this article.  You may see her beautiful gardens here:

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/hydrangeas-in-the-landscape-a-tour-of-a-beautiful-garden/

And you may see her back entrance being built here: (part one)

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/building-a-flagston-walkway-and-garden-entrance/

And part two:

https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/building-a-flagstone-walkway-and-garden-entrance%E2%80%94part-two/

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist in the North Ga. area, contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

 

 

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A no maintenance front yard and a Tennessee mountain walk

A “no maintenance” front yard and a prepositional walk on a Tennessee mountain top.

 Almost every time I discuss a yard design with a new client, they immediately mention ‘low maintenance.”  I always try to explain that we can do “low maintenance”, but that there is no such thing as “no maintenance.”  I have been corrected.  Last weekend I saw a no maintenance front yard.  Brad Robertson owns it.  Here is a picture of Brad waiting for us to show up.

 

 

a no maintenance front yard

a no maintenance front yard

 

Brad is an exccellent wholesale plant grower in north Georgia, and I have been using his plants for a number of years in my landscaping business.  He has mentioned his “cabin on a hill” several times and this week he had invited Dekie and me to a small gathering. 

 The directions said to go way north of Chattanooga, look for a street sign that has been torn down, turn left, and proceed in an upward curvy direction for ten or twelve miles or something like that, taking all left forks.  The directions worked and we knew we had followed them well when we got to the part where the road ended.  A gravel driveway about a half a mile long took us to the house. That’s when I saw the maintenance free front yard.

The rain washes it, the winds clean and prune

The rain washes it, the winds clean and prune

 

 

 The house looks out over a deep valley to another peak.  Only one house can be seen from Brad’s front porch and binoculars are needed for that.  Brad told me that in order to accomplish the no maintenance effect, he had removed all of the pockets of dirt from the expanse of flat sandstone.  Now, he enjoys the rocks.  I was told that when the leaves fall on the yard in the fall, an strong wind will come and blow them away.  I walked out to see where the yard ended rather abruptly

The yard ends rather abrubtly

The yard ends rather abrubtly

 

 

 While the other men watched Auburn struggle to contain the Georgia Bulldogs, I wandered around the front yard enjoying the shapes of the naturally dwarfed pine trees growing among the dwarf grasses and clumps of moss and lichen.  Dekie and Laura enjoyed the view from the porch.

It's almost like "nature's bonsai garden"

It’s almost like “nature’s bonsai garden”

 

 

Here’s the view from the front porch

Laura said, "Brad's a plant guy, so every morning is a whole new world for him."

Laura said, “Brad’s a plant guy, so every morning is a whole new world for him.”

 

 

The dwarfed trees and lichen were off to the side.  I liked this combination:

nature's landscape art with dwarf pine and lichen

nature’s landscape art with dwarf pine and lichen

 

 

 There was also a no maintenance back yard and patio area. We had eaten a very good bison chili dinner while we watched the Tigers just barely squeak by to win the game after which it was time for the party to move outside.  A fire was built right there on the patio and chairs were brought out.  It was a nice evening sitting around the fire, toasting marshmallows and telling lies. 

A big rock is ideal for a campfire and marshmallow roast

A big rock is ideal for a campfire and marshmallow roast

 

 

 

Part Two: the prepositional walk (over, under, around, and through).

The next morning, Brad asked if we would like to go for a walk through a part of his yard (the entire “yard” is 80 acres).  The ponderous sky was cloudy and misty. Brandy and Laura declined, mentioning the fact that they had done that before and adding on something else about butts and “fat man’s squeeze”.  I didn’t understand at the time, but I found out quickly.  Brad, Brian, and Dekie led the way and I followed with my trusty camera. A lot of the “walk” was done on a sideways basis.  We started out going downhill through a narrow opening between two of the rocks.

oooooh! squeezing between the rocks

oooooh! squeezing between the rocks

 

 

 I understood what the other ladies had meant about “butts and fat man’s squeeze” when Dekie got stuck.  Here’s a picture of her approaching the ‘squeeze’.  I had to lay the camera down right after this because it took Brad on one side and me on the other side to get her through. I’m probably going to get in trouble for this but it’s also probably worth it.

fat man's squeeze.  Will "you" make it through?

fat man’s squeeze. Will “you” make it through?

 

 

 I had trouble with the next one.  We had to get down and crawl through a small opening between two rocks that couldn’t get any closer.  (I sure did hope they couldn’t)

"Tight, ain't it?"

“Tight, ain’t it?”

 

 

There was a rather large and comfortable overhang as we exited the narrow crawl space. I could picture some Indians and later on Daniel Boone building a fire under the shelter.

(The Cumberland Trail National Park is a few miles to the east.)  The overhang looked out on a small clearing.  I got this picture of Dekie and Brian resting and enjoying the view.

Brian and Dekie enjoy the hidden clearing

Brian and Dekie enjoy the hidden clearing

 

 

Across the clearing was another overhang and crawl space.  Brad told us that there was a “turkey buzzard” that had regular batches of babies under there.  He said that as he would approach the nest, the mother would move off into the distance and let him pass.  He told us that the babies were solid white and didn’t get any color until they exited into the light.

The dark cave beckons. Careful, "It does not do to leave a sleeping dragon out of your calculations."

The dark cave beckons. Careful, “It does not do to leave a sleeping dragon out of your calculations.”

 

 

The way home was somewhere on the other side of this narrow passage.  I remembered Daniel Boone as saying: “I’ve never been lost, but I have been confused for weeks at a time.”

"I always take the long way home."

“I always take the long way home.”

 

 

 The adventure continued and we ended up on top of a cliff where I saw one of natures bonsai trees enveloped in the hanging moisture
It seemed that all that held it down was the weight of the clouds.

It seemed that all that held it down was the weight of the clouds.

There was one more later adventure to an old coal mine.  The mine went under the rocks, but apparently the Indians had liked this overhang and left lots of relics.  Brad showed us where raiders had sifted the dirt for relics and piled the siftings in front of the coal mine entrance.

.

An old coal mine under a natural overhang

An old coal mine under a natural overhang

 

 

 We found small iron train tracks heading up the mountain which would have once supported a mule cart.  Let me tell you, that would have been a long, hard way to haul some coal.

 It was a memorable trip.  Thanks, Brad.  Here’s the parting shot:

I just kind of liked this one eyed tree looking out over the valley.

I just kind of liked this one eyed tree looking out over the valley.

 

********

Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

******

A labyrinth in a meditation garden

A labyrinth, a healing garden, and a chapel.

Allow me to introduce Tom Schulz.  Tom is a philosopher, a creative thinker, a builder, and a brilliant artist.  I have paid attention to Tom’s work over the years through pictures and other correspondence. Last week I was able to visit with Tom in Charlotte, N.C.  The conversation was most interesting and I was given a tour of Tom’s lovely home and studio, followed by a visit to one of his installations.

Tom Schulz, artist pontificates over morning coffee

Tom Schulz, artist pontificates over morning coffee

Tom is a painter.  But, then, he is much more than a painter because over the years he has developed a unique genre in which he molds his designs, his pictures, and his philosophy into environmental creations.  He has the ability to listen to a need, turn it into a concept, and then to design and also build a finished product to satisfy that need.  After a visit at his home, Tom took me to see the installation of a “healing garden” at the Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.  I had seen a picture of the labyrinth, but walking into the garden itself was most impressive. Here is a picture of the Jack Matney Memorial Courtyard.

labyrinth and prayer wall, looking through the garden

labyrinth and prayer wall, looking through the garden

Tom explained to me that as the hospital had grown the garden area had been enclosed and somewhat of a problem.  Since the area could be viewed and accessed from all sides, it became a perfect place for a meditation garden.  Tom came up with the more specific idea of a “healing garden.”  I was able to go up to the fourth floor and get a picture of the garden through a window.  “Walking the labyrinth” is a wonderful meditation process.

Labyrinth at Jack Matney Memorial Courtyard, Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

Labyrinth at Jack Matney Memorial Courtyard, Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

Back to the garden, I was taken with the prayer wall and its theme:  “Yet also be still, for healing most likely whispers”

Prayer Wall-Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte

Prayer Wall-Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte

Prayers and prayer requests may be inserted into the openings in the wall.  I thought about what a good feeling a person could have while sharing their needs or prayers with others in the garden.

prayer wall detail with prayers-Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

prayer wall detail with prayers-Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

Tom took us back upstairs to see the chapel that he had renovated.  The chapel was quiet and beautiful.  I was taken with the craftsmanship of the pews and kneeling pads which Tom had built.  I was taken with the altar and the back lit 23rd psalm.  But most of all I was taken by the levels of conceptuality that had provided this lovely, spiritual environment.

Weisiger Chapel, Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

Weisiger Chapel, Presbyterian Hospital, Charlotte, N.C.

It was difficult to get a really good picture of the area behind the altar due to the backlighting.  The installation is done with plexiglass which was etched with a laser and then colored to a pleasing halftone.  Tom told me that the circle would represent the totality of spirituality in a non denominational manner.

The 23rd Psalm etched and backlighted behind the altar.

The 23rd Psalm etched and backlighted behind the altar.

To design and build a labyrinth, Tom will first paint a picture of what it will look like.  These paintings are most often presented to the owners of the installation.  After the design is finished, the installation is made by pouring just the right mix of concrete then using acid stains to imbed the colors into the concrete.  It’s quite the process.  Tom said that he will use liquid latex to mask each area to be stained before applying the color. When he is finished, he will have a sixty foot in diameter replication of his painting.

Painting of a labyrinth in the planning stages

Painting of a labyrinth in the planning stages

Now, here’s a picture of Tom with his friend Almetto Alexander. Almetto is in her 90’s, I think and she is working on funding for the first U.S. afro centric labyrinth to be installed at the McCrorey Family YMCA in Charlotte.  Details are at http://www.almetto.org/

Tom Schulz and Almetto Alexander enjoy the labyrinth

Tom Schulz and Almetto Alexander enjoy the labyrinth

Tom is helping Almetto raise money for her project in several ways.  One of them is to produce a limited number of prints:  Tom says: “Like this image but can’t afford to bid on the original? I will make a limited run of 100, 20 inch by 24 inch archival Giclee prints on archival watercolor paper. Each print will be signed and dated and include a certificate of authenticity”—READ IT ALL HERE

Labyrinth painting for Almetto Alexander's project

Labyrinth painting for Almetto Alexander’s project

Tom has done a number of installations using concrete and stain to put his paintings in locations where they will remain until, as Tom says, “someone takes them out with a jackhammer.” One of the latest was installed in New Bern, N.C.  I really liked the picture. Here’s Tom finishing it up:

Tom Schulz finishes an installation in New Bern

Tom Schulz finishes an installation in New Bern

Oh, Yeah, I almost forgot.  Tom has also produced some magnificent note cards featuring four of the labyrinth designs that he painted for the Allmeto Alexander Labyrinth.  To help support the project, you may purchase a set. Check out these pictures.  You could have  unique note cards or give them as gifts.  Check out the pics below:

Labyrinth note cards by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note cards by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

Labyrinth note card by Tom Schulz

These totally different a beautiful note cards may be purchased at

THIS SITE

I guess I could go on and on about Tom’s unique work, but I can do better by sending you to his websites:

http://www.ennisart.net/projects/index.html

and to his more philosophical site,

http://www.empathinc.com/

You will find a very nice article on the history of the labyrinth  HERE

So, become a Tom Schulz fan. I’m one.

***********

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

 

********

Stone walls and a designer garden

Stone walls and a designer garden

My job as a landscape designer allows me to see unique situations and to meet some rather interesting people.  Last Friday evening, Dekie and I drove way out on a one and a half lane road through the foothills to meet Tom Adams. Tom is an excellent gardener, a philosopher, a lover of living things, and quite a delightful character.

Tom Adams shows me his garden

Tom Adams shows me his garden

I had been told to drive across the county line and go a few more miles. I was to look for a nice garden on the right and the house would be across the street. The well marked two lane road lost the center line after a while and then got narrower and narrower.  The scenery was wonderful.  I took a hard left and then another hard right across the bridge and drove a while longer.  I was almost late.  My appointment was at 6.  Around another curve I saw what must be my destination.

A rock garden entrance

A rock garden entrance

I was greeted by Tom Adams, my friend David Lamb, and three dogs.  I wanted to go immediately to see the garden since I wanted pictures and I was losing light.  I guess I missed the garden in its glory, because Tom was changing from summer to winter crops, but I could imagine what it must have looked like a few short weeks ago.  The garden is constructed with halfway sunken treated 2X6s.  With the exception of the corn plots, the beds are laid out in what appeared to be 8 foot by 36 foot rectangles.  Immaculately groomed Bermuda sod formed the pleasant, wide walkways.  The okra patch was still growing and producing.  If I’m wrong on the dimensions of the beds then please remember my favorite saying:  “Never allow a few facts to get in the way of a good story.”

raised vegetable beds with grass walkway

raised vegetable beds with grass walkway

I couldn’t get a picture of the entire layout, but I did get this one from the back of the corn plot showing the sprinkler head raised up on a post and the scarecrow.  To the rear, you will see a blackberry patch in front of a trellis of beans.  Tom said that he was going to take out the blackberries because, even though he got a good yield on the outside, reaching the inside fruit became a form of self punishment.  He told me that the “teepee” frames for the beans were not effective and that next year he would build frames that were straight up.  He said that he found the beans didn’t want to grow sideways.

A fallow corn patch, blackberries, bean trellis, and sprinkler head

A fallow corn patch, blackberries, bean trellis, and sprinkler head

Tom told me that he uses the beds to experiment and that he has grown diverse crops such as zinnias and flax.  Then he explained how flax is treated to make linen.  Not that he made any linen, he’s just interested.  After a very interesting conversation about the garden and the perennial flower border at the front wall, we began talking of stone.  It seems that When Tom bought the property, he inherited mountains of stone—which suited him well.  He likes to build with stone.  I walked up from the driveway and found this pile.

A beautiful pile of building stone

A beautiful pile of building stone

We admired the new front steps and retaining wall.  All of the stone masonry has been done with stone from the property. Tom said he thinks that when the road was built, the workers just piled the stone to the side.  Here’s the wall and steps that lead to the road and the mailbox:

stone steps and retaining wall

stone steps and retaining wall

David Lamb was finishing up his days work and his crew had already gone.  Dave is the owner of “Lamb Enterprise Group” and is a most exacting stone mason.  Tom Adams told me that he had laid a lot of stone in the building of his house but it just got to be too big a job for him.  Here’s Dave.  If you want to see more of David Lamb’s stone work, CLICK HERE

David Lamb the great stone mason.

David Lamb the great stone mason.

We got so involved in the gardens and stone work that I never got to see the house that Tom built  from an old barn.  I did sneak a picture of it in the fading light, though.

The house on the hill

The house on the hill

We walked down by the bold creek to look at more stone.  Tom said he had piled a lot of rocks in this area and it was ugly, so he turned some of it into a wall around the rest of the pile.  Dekie took a bit of a rest and petted the well behaved English shepherd.

A rock wall in front of a pile of rocks.

A rock wall in front of a pile of rocks.

As we walked back toward the car, I remarked on an interesting mowing pattern in the pasture.  Tom called it “lawnmower art”.  He said that he used to cut the whole field but then he figured out that the center part was where the deer liked to have their babies. So he left it untouched.

Mowing around the deer "maternity room"

Mowing around the deer “maternity room”

I don’t know for sure, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet that there is a lot more to see at the farm which has been named “Snail’s Pace 88”.  We’ll visit Tom Adams again.  I promise.

related post: https://johntheplantman.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/raised-beds-for-a-vegetable-garden/

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Try “see inside the book”

 

**********

Maintaining a special yard on the mountain

One of the reasons I call my business “John Schulz, Landscape Artist”

I spent the day Friday helping to tweak the beautiful plantings at the Magee’s house on Mount Alto.  I was told that the house style was “French Country” I have worked on the installation for almost 20 years.  I thought the story and the yard were worth sharing.

a well sculptured garden

a well sculptured garden

I met the beautiful Yolanda Magee and her husband Nelson about 20 years ago.  They had been busy working in construction management in Saudi Arabia for 13 years and in Spain in resort development for two years.  The house was built in 1964, and bought by the Magees in 1972.  They left for Saudi Arabia in 1976.  Instead of selling the house, they rented it for fifteen years.  When they returned in 1991, the yard was a shambles.

I was hired to repair and rebuild the plantings.  Yolanda had been told that the existing boxwoods were beyond repair and had to be taken out.  I figured that we could save them and save them we did.  We started with a basic renovation and the installation of a private patio behind the house off of the lower sun room.  The patio is accessed either through the sunroom, or by a set of flagstone steps that go from the driveway next to the carport

Still snuggling on the patio after all these years.  Awwww.

Still snuggling on the patio after all these years. Awwww.

Before we started, I told Nelson that my mother Jane B. Schulz, who lives in Kingsport, Tennessee, had told me that if we prune the knockout roses on Labor Day, we will have flowers until the freeze kills them.  That got the project started and we went on to shape up the entire yard. Here’s what the knockout roses looked like before pruning:

My mother said to prune the Knockout Roses for Labor Day and they would bloom until a hard freeze.

My mother said to prune the Knockout Roses for Labor Day and they would bloom until a hard freeze.

The knockout roses are planted so that they will show over the brick wall from the road side and may also be enjoyed from the house as they rise over the manicured yaupon hollies.  Nelson pitched in and pruned one group of roses while the landscape crew worked on the other side. Nelson is an amazing perfectionist.

Nelson helps to prune the roses.

Nelson helps to prune the roses.

We gave the yaupon hollies their fall trimming and the result looked good.  Mom said that the knockout roses will re bloom in two to three weeks and will last out the season.

Pruned knockout roses on September 3

Pruned knockout roses on September 3

While we worked, I got this shot of Yolanda as she watered the geraniums on the upper landing.  She loves the pots on this front accent and keeps something there all year. We have usually planted geraniums in the summer and pansies in the winter.  I think that next year we will use impatiens instead of geraniums.

Watering the plants on the upper front landing.

Watering the plants on the upper front landing.

The boxwood garden that I mentioned earlier was a shambles when we started.  We were told they couldn’t be repaired and would have to come out.  I decided not to listen to the advice and over a number of years the garden has grown in well.  I am a great fan of boxwoods and I knew it could be done.  Looking at them now, I’m glad we took a shot at it.  “No guts, no glory”

The renovated boxwood garden

The renovated boxwood garden

I always liked the thought of landscaping from the inside out, so I went into the house and took a picture through the window.  The boxwood patio is like a painting on the wall from the living and dining rooms.

Boxwood garden and patio from a living room chair.

Boxwood garden and patio from a living room chair.

While I was inside, I decided to take a picture from the ground floor sun room in the back of the house.  It is a delightful room and over the years we have trimmed and cut the existing trees so that there is a “window” through the trees to the valley below:

The mountain view is like an ever changing picture on a glass wall

The mountain view is like an ever changing picture on a glass wall

At the start of the renovation, a couple of the boxwoods were large, scraggly, and almost beyond repair.  The choice was to either take them out or turn them into topiaries.  I thought the latter sounded like a lot more fun.  Here’s how one of them turned out after careful training for a few years.

Turn an ugly, misshaped boxwood into a beautiful topiary

Turn an ugly, misshaped boxwood into a beautiful topiary

Two of the trees in the following picture were originally in planters and got too big, so we planted them over to the side and then added a live Christmas tree from years back.  We have now turned them into modified topiaries.  They’re not finished yet-actually, they will never be finished-but they are really shaping up fine.

topiaries in the garden border

topiaries in the garden border

The zoysia grass flows like a river around the side and down to the rear side of the house. When we installed the sod, Nelson asked if it would be advisable to install a brick border.  I told him that my Uncle John had once said, “It only costs a hell of a lot more to go first class.”  The border was installed and I think it offers a wonderful finished touch.

zoysia sod flows like a river down and to the rear

zoysia sod flows like a river down and to the rear

One funny thing that Nelson told me is the house has a “mansard roof” and that the bedroom walls upstairs are slanted the same as the roof is.  He said that hanging pictures becomes an art form because you must hang them from the bottom as well as the top.

As I was finishing up, I glanced at the back to see Yolanda enjoying the September afternoon with her—you guessed it—Kindle.  Nelson told me that he loves the Kindle and has bought five of them this year, two for the house and three more for members of his family who have trouble finding books overseas.

Enjoying a Kindle on a wonderful September afternoon

Enjoying a Kindle on a wonderful September afternoon

I realized that I am blessed with the opportunity to work really hard on a project for an entire day and enjoy every minute of it.

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As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Or the print edition: http://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Redneck-John-P-Schulz/dp/0981825206/

Try “see inside the book”

 

John visits the Gentleman Farmer

John visits the gentleman farmer.

Bob Hicks is an very young eighty something years old with a tremendous love for the land.  He is a recently retired Atlanta attorney and lives in Marietta with his lovely wife Micheline.  He also has a wonderful 300 and more acre farm on the Chatooga River right outside the small town of Lyerly, Georgia. Bob is very well read in the classics and enjoys Conrad, George Elliot, and Proust among many others.  He is working on developing a heard of Angus cattle.

The cows disappear into the woods during the heat of the day and come out to graze in the early evening.

The cows disappear into the woods during the heat of the day and come out to graze in the early evening.

I needed a rest.  I had been working hard for a while and my knee was hurting.  I figured that Dekie and I could visit the farm and I could relax, get my leg up, and read a book.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Bob is Dekie’s father and Dekie is my wonderful fiance.  Anyway, we loaded up the coon dog and headed out.

We found Bob in his well equipped wood shop.  He was making a walnut frame for a rather large map that he had recently purchased for his library at the farmhouse.

"See, John, this walnut tree fell and I had it milled.  Now, I can build me a picture frame"

“See, John, this walnut tree fell and I had it milled. Now, I can build me a picture frame”

I really don’t know that Bob wanted a diversion from his project, but he greeted us warmly, and after a bit of conversation, he said, “Come over here, John, I have a question for you.”  We walked with him over to the nice arbor which was covered with an old wisteria.  He pointed and said, “would you study this and please tell me how far to prune it?” He went back to his shop project.  Something in my mind told me that my plans for the day had changed.

"Could you show me how to prune this monster wisteria?"

“Could you show me how to prune this monster wisteria?”

Dekie got the lopping shears and made a cut or two while I studied the project.

I really couldn't just stand there and watch.  She's not tall enough, anyway.

I really couldn’t just stand there and watch. She’s not tall enough, anyway.

Then, figuring that she wasn’t tall enough and that it would be easier for me to do the cutting than to hold a ladder for he, I went to work.  The idea was to get inside and cut the vines high enough so that I wouldn’t have to duck when I walked into the arbor.  I tried to cut everything that was lower than seven feet.

Try to cut off anything under seven feet.

Try to cut off anything under seven feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I think wisteria is a beautiful vine, and I admit that it has pretty flowers in the spring, but if it isn’t kept under control it will take over a kudzu patch.  This particular wisteria planting was loaded with seed pods just getting ready to shoot seeds all over the place.  Underground roots were putting up shoots all through the sitting area.  It took a couple of hours to get things under control, but looking back it was worth the trouble.

almost finished pruning the wisteria arbor

almost finished pruning the wisteria arbor

With the hard part done, Dekie and I took care of the detail and stepped back to admire one of the gnarled trunks.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  I always advise my landscaping clients to avoid this plant like the plague.

cleaned off wisteria trunk

cleaned off wisteria trunk

The farm is really a big garden.  A caretaker, Scott Kiger, sees that the major farm chores are provided.  Scott is also a well known horse trainer.  I asked Bob about his reasons for buying a farm and he told me that he had bought a 25 acre farm in Marietta in the late 50’s and moved there in 1962.  He watched Atlanta and Marietta grow and to his dismay, in the early 80’s, fifteen acres of his farm were taken through eminent domain for a school building.  He told me that he liked the farm in Lyerly because it was far enough out that he should be able to keep it.  He bought this farm in ’89 at an auction.  He said, “I was the only one there in a suit.  I learned that one should never wear a suit to a country auction.”

One of the attractions of the farm is a gazebo built looking over a beautiful lake that Bob had made early on.  After having finished the wisteria, I was delighted to see the table being set for lunch—pork loin, cous cous (“pearl” cous cous, not the cardboard looking kind), and a delightful salad that Bob referred to as “rabbit food”.

Oooooh, lunch at the gazebo on a pleasant afternoon

Oooooh, lunch at the gazebo on a pleasant afternoon

I wanted to take a picture of the hay barn on the other side of the lake, but about that time, Speck, the Walker coon hound decided to ask me if I would “please pass the pork loin.”

"Would you please pass the pork loin?  Pleeeeeeeese?"

“Would you please pass the pork loin? Pleeeeeeeese?”

After dinner, I was given a good tour of Micheline’s Kindle.  I had never spent much time looking at one and I was impressed.  I guess I really must get my book, Requiem for a Redneckformatted for Kindle and other e/books quickly.

Micheline loves her Kindle

Micheline loves her Kindle

As we talked, I noticed that the horses were leaving their cool spots in the shady woods to come out and graze.

The horses come out to graze in the early evening

The horses come out to graze in the early evening

Micheline told me that Shingle was one of her favorites.  She went out to say hello and Bob joined her.  What a nice picture.

Bob and Micheline Hicks with Shingle

Bob and Micheline Hicks with Shingle

It had turned out to be a rather restful day after all.  The sun was making its move to hide behind the foot hills to the west and it was time to go home.  I wish to thank Bob and Micheline for the wonderful day.

********

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Try “see inside the book”

 

******

A Redneck Garden in August

A Redneck Garden in August

Bud is proud to be a redneck.  He grew up on a farm on Sand Mountain, Alabama and moved to town for work a number of years ago.  One day I showed Bud some of my blog posts and he said, “Why don’t you show them folks a redneck garden?”  I agreed with him that this would be a good idea, so here it is

Bud checks out the rabbits across the road.

Bud checks out the rabbits across the road.

I showed up to find Bud weed eating his front bank on a 95 degree afternoon.  He had seen something in the woods across the street.  He turned off his weed eater and looked up to see me and said, “They’s a bunch of rabbits over there.  I’m going to have me some good Brunswick stew this winter.  You wait and see.”

We talked a few minutes about how he should prune his ten foot tall and wide knockout rose, and then, he said, “bring that there camera down back and I’ll show you my real garden.”  We walked around the house and I saw the vegetable garden at the bottom of the hill.  It is about a 30 by 30 foot area prepared by using cross ties and filled with a good compost I had gotten him a couple of years ago.

I looked down the hill at the raised vegetable garden.

I looked down the hill at the raised vegetable garden.

The crossties hold everything together, and the compost is well mulched with wood chips that were provided free by a local tree surgeon.  The tree surgeon was happy to have a place to dump the chips and Bud was glad to get them.  “The chips really hold in the moisture” he said, “and that there dirt keeps on getting better and better every year. I add a little manure every time I take a notion to, but I make sure it is well rotted.”

Crossties hold in the compost. Note the mulch of wood chips.

Crossties hold in the compost. Note the mulch of wood chips.

On the east side of the garden is a seven foot high trellis of beans. They sort of form a back “wall” for the project.  Bud said they are “Blue Lake Runners” and that they produce until they freeze and that, “it takes a really good freeze to kill them.”  I asked where all the beans were and he said, “Helen picks everything every day and puts them up.  The more you pick, the more you get.  Look at them vines, they’re still blooming.  That means more and more beans.”

Beans.  Blue Lake Runners produce until they freeze if you keep them picked.

Beans. Blue Lake Runners produce until they freeze if you keep them picked.

The tomato plants have a good bit of dried up leaves low and inside, but the tops are a lush green with lots of flowers.  Bud had already picked me a bagfull of tomatoes and peppers because “I knowed you was coming.”

Tomatoes will keep producing all summer if you keep the tomatoes picked.

Tomatoes will keep producing all summer if you keep the tomatoes picked.

The peppers were loaded with fruits ranging from dark green to dark red.  I took a big bite of a beautiful jalapeno and smiled as the top of my head broke out in sweat, allowing the warm breeze to cool me off.  I was told that there were four kinds of Cayenne peppers

Cayenne peppers almost ready for harvest

Cayenne peppers almost ready for harvest

I noticed a lot of lush and beautiful sweet banana peppers.  Bud said, “If you plant the hot and the mild peppers together, the sweet bananas get a little heat to them.  That makes them better when we make our year’s supply of ‘chow chow’ next month. I just naturally got to have chow chow with my black eyed peas and hog jowl.”

Sweet banana peppers are an essential for chow chow.

Sweet banana peppers are an essential for chow chow.

I saw some young okra plants and was told that they would probably produce a crop of late okra if the heat held up.

Young okra plants in August.

Young okra plants in August.

Bud had given me a carton of “aigs” not long ago that looked like Easter eggs.  They were all kinds of different colors and almost too pretty to eat.  When I cooked them and ate them, they didn’t taste the same as the ones from the grocery store.  Bud has fresh eggs all the time.  The chickens were hiding in the shade.

The chickens were hiding in the shade

The chickens were hiding in the shade

I got to thinking and I asked, “What do you do with all of the produce?  We’re talking a lot of food here.”  He grinned and took me to one of his sheds.  I walked inside and looked around. I was impressed to say the least.

I couldn't believe the racks of preserved vegetables and fruits.

I couldn’t believe the racks of preserved vegetables and fruits.

Bud pointed to a stack of boxes.  “Every morning, Helen comes in here and gets a couple of empty boxes.  Every evening, when I come home from work, I carry the full boxes out here from the house and try to find a place to put the jars.” He pointed to one jar which radiated bright yellow, “look at that pickled yaller squash.  I love that stuff. We got enough food here to last the winter without going to the store much.  We give a lot of it away, too.”

"We ain't gonna go hungry.  We give away what we can't eat."

“We ain’t gonna go hungry. We give away what we can’t eat.”

Bud grinned and said, “remember the other day when I told you about all them catfish me and the grandyounguns caught up in the pocket?  Lookie here.”  He opened the freezer and showed me bag after bag of filleted catfish.  “We’re gonna have us one more fish fry one day pretty soon.” The freezer was packed with meats and vegetables from the current season.

"I'm gonna have me a big fish fry one day.  Nothing is better than these here catfish fillets all fried up"

“I’m gonna have me a big fish fry one day. Nothing is better than these here catfish fillets all fried up”

If you follow this blog you will know that I always go looking for garden art.  Bud’s yard contained an interesting collection.  I asked about the little boy with no hands and Bud said, “Wa’al, them rich folks always have old stuff that’s kindly broken.  I figured I could have some, too.  I might get around to gluing them hands on one day, I reckon…well, maybe.”

"I'm gonna glue them hands back on one day....maybe"

“I’m gonna glue them hands back on one day….maybe”

The front porch is graced by a pair of almost welcoming cement dogs.  I kind of liked the idea of a big old dog bringing momma a basket of flowers.

A front porch sentry with a touch of class.  "I brought you these flowers, ma'am."

A front porch sentry with a touch of class. “I brought you these flowers, ma’am.”

There have been a lot of conversations around a pitcher of sweet tea held on this shady front porch.  Bud says, “come on by and set a spell.”

A nice front porch.  "Y'all come set a spell and have some sweet tea, Y'hear?"

A nice front porch. “Y’all come set a spell and have some sweet tea, Y’hear?”

In the winter month, Bud said he grows, “turnip greens, radishes, spinach, carrots, beets, collards, English peas, and lots of other stuff.  It is a year-round garden.”

A couple of years ago when I was writing my book, Bud and I had a lot of discussions on the topic of “just what is a redneck.”  He helped me immensely with my research.  Our collaboration turned into a story that really gives you the true meaning of “redneck.”  You may read an excerpt titled “What is a Redneck” by CLICKING HERE

I hope you enjoyed the garden tour.  This garden shows that all you need is some scrounging ability, a little hard work, and a big grin to be successful with your garden.

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Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard?Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Try “see inside the book”

Hydrangeas in the landscape–a tour of a beautiful garden

A June tour of hydrangeas in bloom

Marion Shaw has loved gardening all her life.  She learned from her mother and grandmother.  This week (June 7), she had suggested that it was a good time for me to bring  Dekie and Sylvia and Randy Eidson for an evening viewing of her blooming hydrangeas. (Sylvia’s garden is featured here)  I’d like to share the tour with you.

Hydrangeas provide an abundance of color in the late spring.

Hydrangeas provide an abundance of color in the late spring.

First off, Marion loves all living things—except snakes.  The dogs and cats (and probably some ants and earthworms) followed us as we walked around the beautiful mountain garden.  Marion has been working on this particular landscape garden for almost 20 years.  She has done almost all of the work herself.  I was honored to be told that I was the only landscaper to ever work on this yard, and then humbled when I realized that all I did was install a rock walkway.  I had taken my camera for a tour of the garden earlier in the year on February 20.  You may wish to see that article here.

 I fell in love with the “lace cap” hydrangeas.  I love the way the blooms form as a small mass in the center and then open from the outside to the inside.

The "lace cap" hydrangea forms its bloom in an interesting and lovely manner.

The “lace cap” hydrangea forms its bloom in an interesting and lovely manner.

Marion told me that she only bought a few of her plants and then rooted cuttings for the rest.  Here is a photo of the wild “woods hydrangea”.  I guess this is where all of the unique varieties come from.

The "woods hydrangea". This must be the mother of all hydrangea varieties.

The “woods hydrangea”. This must be the mother of all hydrangea varieties.

Below is a picture of the low growing blue lace cap, “Beni-Gaku” It is very hard to find blues for the garden. Marion said that it turns a bright red in September.

The low growing Beni-Gaku, a blue "lace cap" hydrangea

The low growing Beni-Gaku, a blue “lace cap” hydrangea

The Annabelle hydrangea flower comes out a brilliant white and then turns to a light green as the season progresses.

Annabelle blooms are a pure white, later turning into light green.

Annabelle blooms are a pure white, later turning into light green.

I had to stop and take a picture of this lichen covered bench.  I don’t know about sitting on it, but it sure is neat looking.

How to cultivate a lichen garden on an old bench?  Neglect it.

How to cultivate a lichen garden on an old bench? Neglect it.

I saw a big patch of red on the hillside and asked about it.  Marion said it was “monarda” or “bee balm”.  She told me the variety was “Jacob Cline” and that she liked it because it wasn’t as susceptible to fungus as are the other varieties of monarda.

monarda "Jacob Cline"-- fungus resistant.  Also known as "bee balm"

monarda “Jacob Cline”– fungus resistant. Also known as “bee balm”

Further up on the hill was a grouping of Oak leaf and Nikko blue hydrangeas with a spot of yellow daylilies.  Marion said she was going to take out the daylilies because the yellow, while pretty, was out of place.

Oakleaf, Blue Nikko hydrangeas background for yellow daylily.

Oakleaf, Blue Nikko hydrangeas background for yellow daylily.

“Feel the blooms on this Ayesha hydrangea”, Marion said.  They are soft and pliant like a sponge.  We all got a feel and grinned.

hydrangea "Ayesha" bloom--soft and spongy.

hydrangea “Ayesha” bloom–soft and spongy.

We moved on to another specimen “Beni-Gaku” hydrangea.  I think this could be one of my favorites, but there are so many to choose from

"Beni Gaku" hydrangea, just beginning to show off

“Beni Gaku” hydrangea, just beginning to show off

A wall of oak leaf hydrangeas forms a screen from the neighbors on the other side of the driveway.  Some varieties other than the old fashioned oak leaf are “Alice”, “Haye’s Starburst”, and “Snowflake” which is a double oak leaf.

Using hydrangeas for a summertime privacy screen

Using hydrangeas for a summertime privacy screen

I was taken with the “Haye’s Starburst” which, she told me, “holds its head up even in the rain.  It starts as a brilliant pink, turns to white, and then to a blue in the fall.”

Oak leaf hydrangea, "Haye's Stardust"

Oak leaf hydrangea, “Haye’s Stardust”

Here’s a close up of the bloom on the blue lace cap.  I love the way the blooms form.

blue lace cap hydrangea

blue lace cap hydrangea

Another oak leaf hydrangea was sticking its head up over a rock wall.  This one, with lime green leaves is called “Little honey.”  The light green leaves add a nice focal point to the garden.

hydrangea, "little honey"  I like the lime green leaves as a garden accent

hydrangea, “little honey” I like the lime green leaves as a garden accent

The “Lady in red” is named for its red stems that add color to the winter garden.

"Lady in red" hydrangea.  Provides colorful stems for the winter

“Lady in red” hydrangea. Provides colorful stems for the winter

A pink lace cap is inter planted with southern woods fern.

Southern woods fern and pink "lace cap" hydrangea

Southern woods fern and pink “lace cap” hydrangea

As the available light was going away, I stopped and enjoyed this multi level planting of southern woods ferns, pink lace cap hydrangea, and a climbing hydrangea which will bloom later in the year.

woods fern, pink "lace cap" hydrangea and climbing hydrangea in an arrangement

woods fern, pink “lace cap” hydrangea and climbing hydrangea in an arrangement

After the tour, as we enjoyed a glass of sweet tea on the veranda, Marion told me about having her garden featured in Southern Living in June of 2002.  I told her that lots of gardens get featured in Southern Living, but hers is one of a very select few to be chronicled in Johntheplantman.  I enjoyed that.

If you wish to see how Marion’s garden looked in February, click here

 I hope you got some good ideas, or at least enjoyed the tour. Is it any wonder that I love my job?

Got Questions?  Enter a comment.  I always try to answer.

I try to put up a new article every Sunday. Stay in touch.  Share it with your friends.

If you live in or around the northwest Georgia area and would like to have a consultation with johntheplantman, you may contact John Schulz by email at

wherdepony@bellsouth.net .  Do not send pictures or attachments as they will be deleted.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Garden accents part two.

Special places in the landscape garden—part two.

Special places in the garden intrigue me and I keep finding more to share.  This week’s article started with a trip to prune a loquat tree which is not supposed to be able to take the north Georgia climate.  I don’t know if the loquat will take the climate or not, but it’s been thriving here for over 20 years.  Mrs. Milner gave me a list of extra jobs to do and left to get her hair done.  While working, I took a break to walk around the back yard.

When I drove into the driveway behind the house, I was rather taken with the back yard  garden entrance which features a set of steps that proceed up the center of a brick retaining wall.  The retaining wall is covered with fig vine (ficus pumila) which is one of the easiest to control of the climbing vines. I also enjoyed the topiary at the top of the steps which seemed to serve as a subtle invitation.

Fig vine softens the brick retaining wall and steps.  The topiary suggests a treat at the top.

Fig vine softens the brick retaining wall and steps. The topiary suggests a treat at the top.

I was taken by the “welcome” sign which added a touch of age and interest to the wall. I laughed when I thought of pruning the vine to the outsides of the plaque and how that act would incur the wrath of Mrs. Milner.

A subtle, aged looking welcome with fig vine

A subtle, aged looking welcome with fig vine

The loquat is located to the left of the entrance, going up, and is getting a bit stringy.  It has faithfully produced fruit for many years, but the squirrels feasted on it this year.  We had decided that a careful trimming would help to improve the strength of the stems.

Loquat needs trimming in order to strenghten the trunk

Loquat needs trimming in order to strenghten the trunk. I like the little accent garden below.

I had done a bit of work on the ladder when Mrs. Milner got back from the beauty shop and I couldn’t resist taking her picture as she critiqued my cuts and made a few pointers.  She is one of the most knowledgeable plant people I have met during my years as a “landscape artist”.

"You need to get those tips over there"

“You need to get those tips over there”

I enjoyed this touch.  Instead of an arbor leading to a garden, there was a nice slate patio and sitting area with the arbor to the rear, signifying another “room” to the back yard.  A nice water feature is to the left of this patio, but I will save it for an article on water features.

an arbor behind the slate patio suggests yet another treat.

an arbor behind the slate patio suggests yet another treat.

As I looked from the patio through the arbor, I found a most inviting garden path of flagstone which led to a meditation bench at the rear of the yard.  The bench is backed up by a rather large planting of mountain laurel.  I could imagine sitting here and listening to the birds with a morning cup of coffee.

slate stepping stones pave the path to a secluded meditation garden

slate stepping stones pave the path to a secluded meditation garden

I looked around, enjoying the subtle plantings and noticed a very nice oak leaf hydrangea.  On further examination, I saw a little creation below a window that looked through the fence into another beautiful garden. I enjoyed the potting bench, watering can, and butterfly house that had been added for interest and intimacy.

Is that another beautiful garden through the window?

Is that another beautiful garden through the window?

WAIT! It’s not a window! I giggled quietly to myself as I took another picture of the window and found myself taking pictures of…ME!  So, it wasn’t really a window, the glass had been replaced with mirrors.  The French call this “trompe l’oeil”, meaning “something that fools the eye.”  Trompe l’oeil can be accomplished in many ways and mirrors are very effective.

"trompe l'oeil"  exposed.

“trompe l’oeil” exposed.

I could smell the gardenia and I enjoyed the bird bath below it.  This particular bird bath was cast from an elephant ear leaf and colored with acid stain.  It was most likely made by the DIGGS program, which is a local (Rome, Ga.) organization dedicated to providing housing for the handicapped.

Elephant ear bird bath, molded with concrete.

Elephant ear bird bath, molded with concrete.

Being rather tall (6’3”) I am often asked to fill bird feeders.  As I walked around the side of the house to do so, I admired the privacy planting on a hill between Mrs. Milner’s house and the rental property next door.

boxwood privacy screen with statuary and bird feeders.

boxwood privacy screen with statuary and bird feeders.

I had a little time left in the day and I decided to go up on Mt. Alto and do a little flower planting for Nelson and Yolanda Magee.  This is a yard that I renovated about twenty years ago and have worked on off and on since.  One of the most striking features of the yard is a slate patio surrounded with meticulously maintained boxwoods.  Grey slate was readily available maybe thirty or more years ago, but there is little or any to be found these days.  I think that it is no longer being quarried.  A boxwood border such as this takes lots of care and time to establish.

Manicured boxwoods lead to a slate patio

Manicured boxwoods lead to a slate patio

To show a totally private  sitting area, I walked to the back of the carport and took a picture of the flagstone patio on the lower floor level.  It may be accessed by a walkway around the side or from the inside down a set of narrow steps that aren’t suitable for tall people.  I love this area.

a most special flagstone patio

a most special flagstone patio

A water feature in a secluded corner off the patio adds the gentle sound of falling water.

A slight sound of falling water for ambience.

A slight sound of falling water for ambience.

For the water to fall on, about 18 years ago, I took a sandstone rock to a monument company—I figured if they could put inscriptions on tombstones, they could do what I wanted.  It took several hours for the sand blaster to make the rock look like water had been falling over it for hundreds of years.  After almost twenty years, the rock has gained not only the shape of age, but also a wonderful patina.

A special "Zen" rock for the water to fall on

A special “Zen” rock for the water to fall on

This has completed the article, but you may wish to see a remarkable site that I found on “trompe l’oeil”

I hope you got some good ideas, or at least enjoyed the tour. Is it any wonder that I love my job?

Got Questions?  Enter a comment.  I always try to answer.

 I try to put up a new article every Sunday. Stay in touch.  Share it with your friends.

If you live in or around the northwest Georgia area and would like to have a consultation with johntheplantman, you may contact John Schulz by email at

wherdepony@bellsouth.net .  Do not send pictures or attachments as they will be deleted.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

or the print edition. The cover is worth the price.

http://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Redneck-John-P-Schulz/dp/0981825206/

Try “see inside the book” Harce’s picture is on the cover

 

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