Saturday, March 26, 2016

Spring has Sprung

Spring has arrived in my North Carolina garden and it has been exciting watching the garden come to life. Most of the plants that I moved and planted are breaking ground. Each day something new in the garden appears. I have been cleaning out new garden sites and discovering plants that I did not know were in the garden. I was delighted to find that the two dogwoods in the front yard were actually four dogwoods and two are white and two are pink. The front of the house will look great when they are in full bloom. The top picture shows the first of the dogwoods starting to blooming.

I have cleaned out one new garden site and given it a Japanese garden design. I continue to add stone to the site and I have planted several different colors of azaleas and camellias to this area.

I have been adding rock to the creek bed area and collecting moss to age the area and the Japanese garden.
We are having the wood retaining wall removed and replaced next week. That should improve the look of the garden. The plants in this garden are really growing very well. I do wish we would get more rain. It has been very dry for this time of the year.

My husband and I have leveled a small section of the garden for a storage shed. The shed is to be installed in about two weeks. I really need space for my garden tools and we have a small 8 x 12 cedar shed being installed that will match the house colors and have two window boxes for flowers. I am looking forward to having a place to store my tools. I am really tired of having to search for tools when I need them.

This is the retaining wall that is being replaced next week. After it is complete, I will add additional gravel to the lower path area and give the area a good weeding.

The garden is starting to show color in blooms. The following photos show some of the flowers and new plants that I have added.

That gives you an update on the progress of the new garden. In two weeks the shed and retaining walls will be complete. I am excited to see everything coming together - finally!

Have a wonderful Easter and Happy Gardening!


Update - The pond fish are doing very well in their new home and it seems that we have baby fish now in the pond!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Designing the New Garden

I have had time to clean up the existing garden and to take a good look at it. The garden is a shrub garden on the side (near the top) of a mountain. My soil is clay and sand with lots of different types of quartz and granite. I have lots of trees and I can start a compost area for improving the soil. I have added additional flowering shrubs and perennials to the garden. I also have added a fish pond that my husband and I installed. The bones are good and I have lots of ideas!

In this post, we will take a tour of the garden and I will share some of my plans and ideas for it.
I plan to enlarge the garden and the new garden entrance will now begin at the gate in the upper picture at the top of the hill.

From the gate, a path takes you down hill to a creek area with a bridge. On the left side will be a large shaded bed for hybridizing hellebores. This garden will have a Japanese theme. I will need to add steps to this area due to how steep it is.

 The creek area is really a drain pipe that removes water runoff down the mountain. The creek needs some cleaning out of collected debris but it will look natural when I am done with it.

There are many different types of mosses in the area and I plan to age the creek with moss. At some point the creek will be green and alive as a moss garden. The garden path which will be mulch, now turns and heads towards the woodland fairy garden.

Here is one of the many types of moss that grows around the area and in the garden.
As you leave the creek area you are now at the lower existing garden. I am adding a shaded fairy garden to this section filled with woodland plants like ferns, hellebores, and other shade loving perennials. The large round cement container is a fairy garden. The path in this area is gravel.

Some of the retaining wall in the upper picture will need to be replaced due to rot. I would like to replace it with a material that allows me to plant ferns and other small plants into the wall.

From the woodland garden you now enter the sunny area where I have planted a butterfly perennial garden. I do have several decorative bird feeders, but I do not keep food in them. In this area, we are asked not to feed the birds due to bears and snakes. To the right you can see part of the beautiful mountain view in the garden.

At the end of the gravel path is the new fish pond and a large fountain. The fish pond is kept covered  this time of year with a leaf net. I will be adding a protective wire covering to the pond to protect the fish from bears.

The two large rocks support a stone bench top that I am moving to the fish pond area. The rock bench existed in the garden, but I need some extra help to lift the heavy stone seat. When the bench is in place you can sit and enjoy the fish pond. The pond has a biofalls for keeping the water in good condition.

At the pond area you find the old existing steps that takes you back up the hill to the house. The steps needed some repair due to loose stones. That task was completed early in my garden work.

Next to the steps on the right of the hill is my rose garden. I have planted it with climbers, drift and carpet roses.

That is the new garden and my ideas. When the weather permits, I spend the day working on it and on cold or days with rain, I am inside painting and remodeling. I am really loving where I live and I look forward to sharing my life on the mountain in my blog. I live in Lake Lure, North Carolina, which is one of the most beautiful lakes and areas to live in. If you saw the movie "Dirty Dancing" then you have seen Lake Lure. Stop and check back on my blog for all the beautiful sights, waterfalls, garden shows and other things the area has to offer. If you live in the area, please leave a comment in the comment section on garden shows, garden tours or gardens to visit in the area. I am looking forward to seeing all that North Carolina has to offer.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Moving, Moving Fish and the New Garden

I admit, I have not written for awhile. Life has been very busy with traveling between Indiana and North Carolina, remodeling one house, keeping the other house ready for showings, keeping one large garden neat and trying to install a new garden. Between traveling, LOTS of cleaning and LOTS of painting, the spring, summer and fall flew by. When I look back over the last nine months, I feel that I did not accomplish much until I look at the results and know better. Now to update you on what has happened. The garden is planted and the plants are establishing. Weeding, mulching and additional design work will come this spring. I did move my fish and I thought I would tell you how I did it.
The first job was to dig a new pond, since the new garden did not have a pond. It took several days to dig and with the help of my husband, we got the job done. The new location allows me to see the fish from the house and provides a protected area for them.

After getting the pond dug, I leveled the soil around the pond. I also removed rocks, roots and other items that could damage the new liner.

The liner was installed and I filled the pond with water. I did not installed rock around the pond due to how late it was getting in the year and not having enough time to complete the job. The pond was allowed to sit with the new water for several weeks before the fish were delivered to their new home.

I used an old cooler that was double lined with heavy duty trash bags. This was designed to prevent any possible spills of water during the 8 to 9 hour trip. The fish were moved late in the season and the water temperature had already dropped enough that the fish did not need to be fed anymore. If you move fish when they are active, cut off food to them at least 3 days before the move. This eliminates waste build up in the water. It took three different trip to North Carolina to move all of my fish.

Since we left early in the morning, the fish were captured the evening before. I only took a few fish at a time to protect them during transport. Once the fish arrived to the new pond, I took them straight to the new pond for release and monitoring. The pond was covered with a large net to prevent leaves and other animals from getting into the water.

The fish seem very happy in their new home. I do have some alarms surrounding the garden to keep animals out of the garden and pond.

When the fish were loaded in the cooler, I added a battery operated air stone to provide air during the night and during the journey to their new home. The batteries would be changed out to fresh ones just before we hit the road. I would check on the fish during rest stop breaks along the way. Every fish made it to the pond alive and happy to get out of the cooler.

After the fish were in the pond the pond net was secured for winter. I will continue to check on the fish until I open it back up in the spring. I worried about moving the fish, but found that it was easier then I thought it would be. This spring, I will complete the work on the pond.

Update - All moved in and getting lots of indoor work done. The move took place just before a winter storm hit the mountains. I can't wait for some warmer days to start working in the new garden and I can now get back to writing again!

Happy Gardening!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Moving a Garden

The new garden in North Carolina.
In my last blog post, I mentioned that I would show you how to move a garden. I spent time studying both of my gardens and making plans on how I would tackle the problems of moving garden plants from Indiana to North Carolina. I cannot take everything in my current garden and there are some plants that I would not want to move. Over the 13 years of building my Indianapolis garden, there are some plants that I have got tired of, are thugs, volunteers or plants that are at a size making them difficult to move. My new garden is far smaller than my current garden and I can't use or need everything. I am very selective as what will be moved to the new garden. I also need to leave a garden with the house when it sells and hope that someone will enjoy it as much as I have.
I studied the weather of the new garden including rainfall, temperatures and temperature extremes. I also reviewed the plants in my current garden as to which plants could survive temperatures and sun in a much warmer zone and without always having water available to them. I do not have an irrigation system in the new garden. I also reviewed which plants can grow in my new plant zone. I can actually grow more different types of plants in my new garden than I could in my Indianapolis garden. Which makes the garden move worth it. 
Plants that have root systems that can hold water longer were moved first and they have been surviving in the new garden with only rainfall. I also moved aquatic plants that could live in containers of water to the new garden. I have not spent much time weeding or removing old leaves from the garden because the old leaves have helped retain soil moisture for the plants. Each time I leave the garden to return home, I make sure everything is watered heavy and hope for rain while I am gone.
The fountain repaired and filled with water.
My first plan for the new garden was cleaning it up, making repairs, starting the new fish pond and moving the plants. Some plans will take longer than others, but it all will slowly get completed.

I have a beautiful fountain in the garden, but it had a crack in the base and would not hold water. I spent several hours removing old paint, wire brushing and repairing the crack. I used silicone in the crack then sprayed a clear rubber sealant in the base. After it dried and cured, I filled it with water and it stopped leaking. I was very happy with the results. I was really happy that after four years of the fountain sitting in the snow and heat that the pump still worked. The fountain is beautiful in the garden.

 Digging a new pond for the garden.
My next project has been digging a new pond. I found a protected area and a site that would allow me to see the fish from the house. When I have the opportunity and need a break from painting inside the house, I go and dig. I dig early or late in the day when the temperatures are cooler. I hope to have the hole dug soon, the liner dropped and have the pond filled with water. If our house sells, I have a home for my fish and I can always do the stone work later. I hope to have this project finished soon.

Digging up a favorite daylily to move.
Back home in Indianapolis, I have been preparing the plants that I want to move. I am limited in the size of plants and age of plants that will be moved. Many small trees and shrubs that I wanted to keep were dug when they were dormant and transplanted into containers. They have been surviving in containers for several months. Many perennials that I want were dug up or I took a division of the plant, leaving the mother plant behind. I dug many plants early in the season or I have allowed them to flower. Flowering allowed me to make sure I have the correct plant since my memory of where I have planted things over 13 years isn't that good and many plant labels have disappeared over the years.
When I dig a perennial or take a division, I pot or bag the plant root ball. The hard part is cutting the plant back. The plant will be easier to move, transport, replant and reestablish as a smaller size. I label all the containers and bags with the plant name or flower color. 

Cutting the plant back in size is hard, but it will make the transition much easier for the plant. I can enjoy it again next year.

All bagged up, watered and labeled.

These plants are ready for their 8 hour trip to the new garden.

I keep the plants watered and the night before the trip, I load the plants in the truck. The truck area is enclosed to protect the plants from wind and heat damage on the trip to the new garden. Once I arrive to the new garden, I start the process of planting and watering. This process of moving plants will continue till all the plants arrive to the new garden.

I hope you have a great gardening season and please check back on my progress with the new garden. Have a question? Send me a comment!
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Beginnings of a New Garden

In my last blog post, I mentioned that a new garden was on the horizon. I am doing the one thing that I said I would never do - Move. After spending years starting a garden from scratch, the home that was to be the retirement home is now not going to be the retirement home. We decided to move from Indiana to a warmer climate. I did not want to go as far as Florida, because it is hot and I could not grow many of my favorite plants that I enjoy in my current zone. We decided on moving to a part of North Carolina that we had visited before and had enjoyed. We started looking for houses and found the house that was perfect for us. I didn't know if it had a garden or not and after some research on the Internet I found some information that said the house had an "English Garden". I was thrilled and when we went to see the house the first thing I did was to go looking for the garden. It was everything I could have wanted in maturity and variety of trees and shrubs. The bones for a great garden were there and I was happy.

 I will need to change my gardening practices some. The garden is on the side of a mountain ridge and it is up and down hill where my current garden is flat land. The zone is different and in a thermal belt which will give me a longer growing season that I don't have in Indiana. In Indiana, I only have squirrels for pest and now I have deer, bear and a few poisonous snakes. My soil in the new garden is also clay, rock and more for acid loving plants than my silt soil along the river in my current garden in Indiana. I now can grow plants that I could not grow in Indiana, but still grow many of my favorite plants in the new garden. Here are a few pictures of the new garden that were taken on the coldest record breaking day in North Carolina this year.

Steps down to the garden.

Some of the new plants that I will be growing and that are in this garden are camellias, azaleas,
crepe myrtles, summersweets, pieris, Oregon grape holly, mountain laurel, Carolina jasmine, rhododendrons, hollies and much more. Each time I see the new garden, I discover new
plants that I was not able to identify on previous visits.

I plan to add a stream bed and pond in the future on the slope going down to the garden and in the lower part of the garden as seen in the picture above. I also would like to add a stairway down the slope to the garden. It will all come with time.

 Did I mention the view from the garden? If you look at the picture above, that's the view.

The garden is now starting to show color.


I look forward to working in the new garden, but I realize that it could be sometime before I can move plants from Indiana to North Carolina. Due to temperature differences, weather and not being able to keep new plants watered, the garden plants will need to stay potted up and in Indiana. That will give me time to design, clean up and weed. Timing will be everything! I currently have multiple plans on how everything will play out and now, I just wait.

Check back for future updates on the move and the new garden. My next post will be on how you prepare to move garden plants for starting a new garden.

Happy Gardening!