Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Garden, sort of…

Well, I have to be truthful - the above photo is not a picture of my garden – it is a vintage postcard from the turn of last century – but if I had placed a picture of my garden instead – I would not have many visitors come to this post because it is certainly not as colorful. We do not have a garden.We have a wooded lot and some potted plants. As I mentioned in earlier posts, we are in the middle of our little rain forest. This is what one can see from the road – with more trees on both sides. (Please click on the photos to enlarge them as they look so much better.)

When we bought the house there were less trees in the front yard. I planted a rose garden – I had 150 rose bushes then. The trees grew and with more and more shade the roses did not last. We bought the lot next to ours and it is covered with trees. The other problem is that the soil is mostly red clay and rocks. We planted a couple of new rose bushes last year in a spot with a little morning sun.

Just to dig the two holes for the roses my husband had to first remove the rocks shown below.

All these trees certainly give us a lot of cool shade in summer. It is also a bit scary during tornado times when the trees wave wildly – one fell on our vehicle once, and totally flattened it. My husband is an environmentalist by profession and always wished to keep the land in its natural state- so that’s the way it is – au naturel. It is very green in summer and attracts many birds.

(Click on collage then on each picture to biggify)

It also attracts loads of mosquitoes –

Looking up we know the sun is there, way above the tall trees – but we never see a sunset – we see a red hue behind the trees. I can never get a good picture of it – I tried with my telephoto but it shows just a red light at the end of a tunnel of trees. We have even driven several miles to find the sunset, but it is always behind trees.

When I yearn to look at pretty flowers and nice gardens, I look at the gardens shown on my friends’ blogs. They have graciously let me copy some of their photos so I can place them on my post. Vicki Lane from the blog Vicki Lane Mysteries lives on a farm in the North Carolina hills. She has a big garden with vegetables, flowers, herbs and wild animals, like the little turtle below, and domestic animals such as her sweet cows in the second collage. Her pictures of flowers and of the sunrise or sunset she can see over the hills from her window make me dream. Below are some of her photos.

Then looking west, my friend Naomi of the blog Here in the Hills lives in a house perched on top of the Hollywood hills.

Naomi has a wonderful view of Los Angeles and extraordinary sunsets but she has also a stunning succulent garden. Some of her cacti have grown very tall. She has a large amount of exotic plants such as Euphorbia and Cereus. Her lovely blog shows her garden often. Below are some of her pictures.

Going even farther west, to Alaska, my friend Elaine of the blog Arctic View lives in Fairbanks and has a green thumb. Her summer season is short but she has a colorful garden. Her plants grow fast during the long daylight hours. She took the top two pictures in the collage below shortly after midnight. We went to Alaska and it is strange to be outside at 11 pm and still be in daylight. Elaine also has wildflowers in her garden.

Now going the other way, to France, my friend Diane of the blog My Life in the Charente has a lovely and comfortable house in that region of France. She grows luscious looking vegetables as you can see by her collage below

and her flowers are quite vibrant as you can see below.

In our “garden,” we have some vegetable which is just a great variety of wild mushrooms, but I hesitate to cook them as I do not recognize them.

We also have wild fruits – muscadine. Muscadines (Vitis rotundifolia) are native to Georgia. They are like large grapes. The skin is thick but they do have a nice flavor, not too sweet. The vines and fruits appeared one day on top of some trees. I usually have to wait for the muscadine to fall on the ground as I cannot reach them.

Years ago a friend gave us suckers, or shoots from two of his trees – a fig tree and a black walnut tree. We planted them and forgot them. Now we have a large crop of figs and many black walnuts. I make jam with the figs but don’t know what to do with the black walnuts. They have a heavy shell which I cannot remove from the nut. The picture below shows the nuts in the tree, when they are green, but after they fall their skin get black. My husband tries to pick up the figs before the birds eat them and he also picks up the muscadines for me (he does not care for them.) The fig tree has grown so much that it looks for sun over the roof – I wonder if we should prune it?

There are also some wild flowers in our yard (I just can’t call it a garden) such as violets and honeysuckle in spring. There is also a pretty lavender flower and a trumpet like flower – don’t know their names.

In the front yard we have placed some pots with easy growing plants and flowers. There is a bit of sun in the morning and it keeps them happy it seems.

My husband also planted some flowers and herbs on the patio in the backyard. We had to keep them close together so they could catch a bit of sunshine in the afternoon. The plants of basil and rosemary are strong and the herbs taste delicious in many dishes.

We have not had to water the pots often as it has been raining several times a week. We placed our house plants in the back yard and they are looking lush. We had to prune the pot below once already as it is growing too large and won’t fit back in our den.

The area I like best for our potted plants though is right in front of the kitchen window under a pine tree. We placed plain shade loving plants like impatiens there and they bring a nice spot of color among all the green. In the spring my husband planted several pots and they were doing fine and were expected to grow well.

But when we came back from one of our trips the flowers were all gone. We moved some of the pots to the front yard and planted some more flowers but left some pots in the back to see if we could find out what had happened.

Before we left we had seen some new visitors – ducks. There is a lake not far from our house, maybe they came from there. Of course we always have squirrels eating the bird seeds. In the photo below, taken before our trip, the flowers are still there (in the upper right hand corner of left photo.)

But several days later I saw something moving in a couple of pots – I took my camera with the telephoto and this is the series of photos I took, below. They are squirrel bandits with no shame. They were rolling in the pot dirt in pure delight, then stopping, looking around. Then after finding the right spot – they stayed there for a long while looking the yard over. What a nerve!

I bought new bird seed feeders- guaranteed squirrel proofs. If a squirrel sets its foot on the feeder perch, then the opening closes but will stay open for little birds.

As I took the photo above I saw our squirrel bandits arrive in the yard. In no time one had chased the bird and came on top of the feeder. As I was watching I saw the squirrel open the top of the feeder with his teeth…

So I tapped on the window. The squirrel stopped and watched me while munching on a seed. I yelled at him and called him names : “Will you stop eating my seeds – you rodent thief!” So he moved away from the bird feeder and sat on the bar for a while looking at me – he had the same look people have when they can’t understand my French accent. So much audacious effrontery, I say! Then he went back down, stopped and stared at me in disgust. Insolent animal!

I told my husband that if he could catch them I would make him a nice squirrel stew with wine gravy, potatoes and herbs. But he said he found them charming. So, goodbye pretty flowers! I guess I’ll just have to keep looking at my vintage postcards as our “garden” (sort of) … will never be that colorful.


Diane said...

Love this post and thanks for using some of my photos. I would love the trees and the wildlife but maybe not the squirrels! Have a great weekend. Diane

Kittie Howard said...

What a fabulous collage! Really enjoyed the photos and how you tied all together. That LA view is amazing. However, I'll also pass on the squirrel.

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful post. There's a lot to like about your yard. I'm actually a fan of squirrels. And I really enjoyed visiting your friends' gardens.

I believe your little lavender flower is periwinkle. And the orange one looks like trumpet creeper aka cow itch vine.

Sally Wessely said...

Oh my gosh, you do have varmints that are making your life miserable. I can't believe what these squirrels did to your potted plants!

The collages of the gardens of your blogging friends are really nice. I love your creativity.

No wonder you don't have many flower beds. The soil is not exactly easy to dig in where you are. Enjoy the beauty of the trees. They are lovely.

Sally Wessely said...

Oh my gosh, you do have varmints that are making your life miserable. I can't believe what these squirrels did to your potted plants!

The collages of the gardens of your blogging friends are really nice. I love your creativity.

No wonder you don't have many flower beds. The soil is not exactly easy to dig in where you are. Enjoy the beauty of the trees. They are lovely.

Margaret said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I find gardening here in the south is so different than from up north. However, this summer, we really didn't have a "brown" spell and the grass is still green. You have inspired me to do a post thanking my husband for all his hard work on our yard. The last post card is stunning!

Friko said...

Ah well, c'est la vie. You'll just have to put with the marauders.

t's fun watching cheeky squirrels but not so much fun if they eat your plants. I have pigeons who eat my vegetables. Like I said, there's nothing i can do about it and, really, if I am honest, it doesn't much matter. There are worse things that can happen.

Gardens change with the seasons and every year anyway, I shall keep at it until I can't do it any more, with more or less success.

At least you have your wonderful trees and plenty of shade in the heat of the summer. Be grateful for small mercies.

Cloudia said...

ah the scent of Summer!

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
> < } } ( ° >

Rosaria Williams said...

You have a real southern woodland, and without much work, it rewards you with shade, fruit and native flowers. I guess this is an ideal set-up if you travel a great deal, and don't mind losing some plants to ducks and squirrels or...
This was a lovely meandering through your neck of the woods. Thanks.

✿France✿ said...

Bonjour je n'ai pas pu faire marcher la traduction, mais j'ai bien regardé ces photos
dire qu'ici il n'y a presque plus de fleurs mais chez toi le bonheur
et tous ces animaux
C'est un régal de venir chez toi
Merci pour ce partage et bonne journée

Pat said...

I think your grounds have their own charm and lots of wild life for entertainment although I could do without the mozzies:) said...

Bon jour Vagabonde..
I simply love your great big garden and all those wonderful southern trees.
The squirrels are amazing. what clever little creatures. Poor birds. I adore the plants you have in your yard and its so wonderful to know that you like natural beauty.
Your friends gardens are very lovely too.
Thank you so much for sharing this super post
happy sunday
val said...

hello once again Vagabonde.

Did you really mean that you would cook the squirrel. I took it that you were joking!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I know those squirrals are a pain---But, like your husband, I think they are cute....But I certainly wouldn't like them eating all the goodies in my gaden...! Those are great pictures of them, my dear...!
I LOVE your 'yard' looks so lush and green with those big tall trees...!
Thank you so much for including my Garden in this really special post...! It was great to see the other bloggers gardens, too!

When you go out of town---who waters your potted plants---I mean the ones tht the Varmints haven't destroyed? (lol)
Lovely, Lovely Post, my dear Vagabonde.

CrazyCris said...

Des figues!!! Mon fruit préféré! Malheureusement pour moi c'est un fruit avec une très courte saison...

I've lived in a apartment ever since I moved to Europe in 1995, and I miss gardens! Have a few potted plants on the balcony but that's it...

I like your husband's idea of a garden, "au naturel"! :o)

And your blogging friends sure have some lovely flowers! Nice of them to share with you!

Frances said...

Vagabonde, I think your home has such a lushly green setting with all those trees. The tall trees and rock hard soil remind me of the area in Virginia where I grew up. It was also difficult to find many areas in our yard that would welcome flowering plants, but my father always managed to find a few.

You've also reminded me of just how pesky and clever those "cute" little squirrels can be. They can be fearless acrobats and trapeze artists when a bird feeder is available. We also used to have many chipmonks around that loved to create burrows throughout the back yard.

Ahhh, memories. I think that your vintage posts cards are quite lovely, and also enjoyed seeing the photos of your friends' gardens. (And of course, I can testify to the delicious jam from your fig tree!)


Thérèse said...

“Will you stop eating my seeds – you rodent thief!”
Are you sure that's the words you used??? :-)
I simply love you trees' garden... I wish we had one too. I would soon relearn to climb up there...
Je me suis bien régalée avec toutes ces photos Nature, merci!

Down by the sea said...

I love your natural garden and also lovely to see the wildlife it attracts. The soil looks so difficult to work with!
Sarah x

Ann said...

such a beautiful post!!!!
your tress and all are so wonderful..those squirrel,bad little critters!!! ah,but the nature surrounding you is magnificent!
i so enjoyed the photos of your friends gardens.
i so know about the red aunt had such a difficult time getting out of my cousins baseball uniforms!!!
red clay and kudzu ......!!!!

Elaine said...

I enjoyed seeing your garden very much! A natural woodland surrounding your house to keep you cool in your hot summers looks perfect. With soil that is difficult to work with growing in pots is ideal. I scatter a great many pots around my deck and house and it provides lovely color all summer. You've done a lovely job of brightening the green of your woods.

Thank you for including my garden in the ones you visit. I love the wide variety of styles in all the gardens you included. I could happily stroll through all of them.

I had to laugh at the photos of the ducks and squirrels together, and the cheeky squirrels delighting in the empty pots. I wonder if there is such a thing as a squirrel-proof feeder. Somehow they always seem to find a way!

I love the gardens in your vintage postcards. I would love to have a garden like that, but I would want a gardener or two to go along with it!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Your garden of trees is very pretty and looks so peacful and cool! I also admired all your blogger friends varied and prolific gardens. My house has very little property, so I grow flowers and herbs, and even a fig tree, in pots. The house I am moving to has larger property but is in an area where deer and elk visit, so I peobly won;t be able to grow very much.

My husband would love a fig tree as large as yours!

Mary said...

Such beautiful and special gardens all - loved viewing them in different states.

The squirrels are a problem here too - they only leave if we stop filling the bird feeders!

My two fig trees grew rapidly also and I'm going to think about some pruning, especially one which now cover part of the lawn - I need to read upon that, thanks for reminding me!

Have a wonderful week dear.
Hugs - Mary

Ginnie said...

Don't you know by now, dear Vagabonde, that the squirrels in Atlanta are RODENTS! PESKY RODENTS. They have done more harm than good, I'm afraid, all over the city...chewing wires to outdoor speakers, etc., etc. Whatever happened to their ability to scavenge for nuts and bury them for later, instead of stealing birdseed!!!

Sigh. But I must say, I have already tasted your fig jam and LOVE what you have there in your garden. Well done...for a hot place like Atlanta, with red clay as soil. You say you've had lots of rain???? That's so unusual! I wonder if we'll have some while we're there?

3.7 metre garden sheds said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PeterParis said...

I think I agree with your husband on sqirrels. I would not taste the stew! :-)

Living in the middle of Paris, I of course regret my own garden, but I have "my" little park quite close. ... and my daughter - also in Paris - recently moved into a flat with a very small garden in front of it (rez-du-jardin). She lets me into it!

joared said...

This is a delightful introduction to your garden and resident/visitor animals. Can appreciate your wish for a bit more sun, the frustration with some flower growing limitations, but you do seem to have quite a few really lovely ones.

In my midwest youth for a few years during squirrel hunting season we did enjoy the delicacy of squirrel. The occasional creatures, including rabbit, or fish a relative brought home were eaten. Their demise was never for sport or fun. We had a large vegetable garden, chickens, two loving pet milk cows and a very large friendly brood sow.

Years later when I lived elsewhere after I wed, we enjoyed watching the squirrels at the bird feeder in cold snowy weather.

In recent years here in So. Cal. I've become very angry with the squirrels when, after several years, they found my bird feeders and destroyed them to access the feed. A neighbor's cat has started staying in my yard a lot, so birds avoid here now. West Nile Virus took a toll a few years earlier which I think is still reflected in a decreased bird population. The hummingbirds love when my Bird of Paradise blooms outside my living room window.

I have five half whiskey barrels on my patio, each with a dwarf citrus, but I've been neglectful properly caring for them since my husband died. Don't know why, 'cause they were my idea and I always cared for them when he was living.

Your figs sound good. Black walnuts must surely be special. Must be way to get to them -- maybe like macadamia nuts my bro on Hawaii's Big Island sent me one year (as a joke I think) 'cause they can't be opened with a regular nut cracker.

DJan said...

The squirrels and house sparrows are the bane of my existence, in relation to bird feeders. I finally stopped feeling the chickadees and goldfinch and have kept the suet feeders up, which bring the woodpeckers. We are moving at the end of the month anyway, and it's a good time to make a new start.

Squirrels have decimated my plants, too! I sure did enjoy this post, though. Those pictures you got of the cheeky marauders are priceless! :-)

Marja said...

oh I love au naturell I love trees but yes all these gardens with flowers and vegies are amazing as well. Although I adore gardens I am not a gardener myself. My husband is. I grew up living in a town centre without one. I planned to fill up lots of pots this spring and I hope they will look so good as yours.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, I so enjoyed this posting and being linked to garden all around the United States and elsewhere. I have to admit to liking figs so much that each autumn I wait for them to arrive at the grocery store. And like your husband, I find squirrels "charming." They are so smart. So nimble. And such scamps! Peace.

Pondside said...

I enjoyed this post. It was lovely to have a closer look at where you live. We are in the woods too, but there are really no mosquitoes here. The ducks and squirrels are a bother - sweet, but a bother, aren't they? We have deer too, but are now fenced to keep them out. One year we planted lots of lilies in our ponds, only to have the ducks eat them all. What a waste!

claude said...

C'est un vrai jardin botanique chez toi ! Tu dois avoir beaucoup de feuilles mortes à l'automne.
Les moustiques, pas pour moi. Ils m'adorent mais moi je ne les aime pas.
Il y a un noisetier de l'autre côté de la haie côté backyard et un petit écureuil vient manger ses noisettes dans notre jardin..
Très joli post, Vagabonde !

This is Belgium said...

Oui en effet, très joli post !! Je "connaîssais" déjà Diane de Charente !
belle journée

Reader Wil said...

What a lovely post! I like flowers, but I love woods and shade. I was brought up in Indonesia, where the heat was unbearable and we were forced to sit in the shade. These squirrels are really cheeky, but I agree with your husband: they are charming as well!
Thanks for your comment on my delay in Hong Kong. There were no hotels available, for no taxis could drive in the gale. Well we were helping each other and sort of fraternizing. That's a good thing, isn't it?!

Jeanne said...

You post is lovely, and so funny about that squirrel. We had the same thing happen at our country house with racoons. Very brazen. Do love you postcards!

Fennie said...

Am late in catching this. But most entertaining. Especially about those intelligent squirrels! You are lucky to have so much space, Vagabonde. Do you have racoons there as well?

snowwhite said...

Hello Vagabonde,
Colorful gardens in your vintage postcards are beautiful.
But I love your greenery garden very much. Once I wrote about spring green in my blog inspired by the words "In every wood in every spring there is a different green." from "I sit and Think" by J.R.R.Tolkien.
Trees or leaves show millions hues of green. They are not less gorgeous than flowers!!

Mitsouko(Mitsuko) is a name of Japanese woman. Guerlain has the perfume named "Mitsouko". I wonder what fragrance it has. Even though it is the Japanese name , for me it sounds very mysterious. I love and have used "Shalimar" by Guerlain for a long time.
Great Buddha in Todai-ji temple also was originally covered with gold leaf and shone in gold. As Japanese prefer subdued color and natural condition, the Great Buddha has remained as he is. I hope to see the great Buddha in Thailand someday.


Arti said...

This is such an interesting post, and as always, thorough and diverse. I love seeing what gardeners in different parts of the world plant and harvest... cause, I'm not a gardener, and can only look and admire what's in others' gardens. Just to let you know, I've enrolled in an Autumn bird watching course starting in Sept. so I can join you in observing all the wonders nature.

Jeanie said...

Well, one garden you won't ever highlight is mine! This dreadful heat has taken its toll on everything. The grass is like straw -- it crunches under foot. My garden is all in pots, apart from some perennials in the yard and some hostas (which I don't think you CAN kill!) The tomatoes look terribly stressed, the basil lovely. Go figure!

I hope all is well with you! Take care and have a lovely Labor Day.

Jenn Jilks said...

That's a hoot. I've given up keeping bird feeders for birds. I give the squirrels their fair share, and they leave the bird feeder alone! Everyone has to eat.
We live in the middle of a wetland. The deer love my gardens, too.
Love your trees. A beautiful property.
Cheers from Cottage Country!

hidden art of homemaking said...

I love all of your trees and your attitude about learning to love your property and just share others flowers via their blogs...I hope you come and visit my garden via my's fun to have you visit..Mona

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