Compost Blog

Frozen Noise

FOUND IN: Garden Design, Nature on January 29, 2014


                                     (A late winter callistemon flower is encased in frozen precipitation.)


It starts noisily with gusty winds and heavy rainfall.  It ends in silence. This is the kind of quiet that might go unnoticed until a walk reveals missing elements. The chirping of birds, dogs barking and the hum of automobiles are gone. The marsh, usually bustling with colorful waterfowl and long winged herons, seems to eerily hold its breath. Bridges are empty at noon; no humming, no beeping, no screeching. I walk alone up the slippery incline, no angst at losing limbs. The urgency to dart from one side to the other, as I have had to do so many times, is gone. I am literally standing in the middle of a street where hundreds would race. Slowly breathing in the icy air has my mind frozen, not exactly knowing what the next step might be.



                                        (A view over to Johns Island reveals a missing element.)


I did not come here expecting the calm. With chatter all around screaming bad weather closings, mad rushes for last minute sundries and the approaching doomsday gridlock, my mind thinks "frantic". And while today's focus from the camera was iced precipitation, in the end it was all about the frozen noise.



                                     (Mahonia 'Summer Sun' dips in the weight of frozen rain.)


The potential for fluid motion is not possible as the temperatures continue to plummet.  As if in a second, time stills, so water can gracefully extend, but then stop. These are the opportunities that come with an occurrence seldom felt. Can you hear it?

On Being 11

FOUND IN: Garden Design on December 04, 2012

It came in the mail today. At that very moment, time stood still. Nothing the second before mattered. Getting lost in the pages felt no different than it did at 11.


Only then it was Burpee's catalog. And it made going to the mailbox bearable. The anticipation of spring, color, and the absence of cold toes and fingers. It was today's prize and I had won.


Annuals, big seeds planted in cardboard egg crates basking under grow lamps made spring come quicker.  I didn't know then what an annual really was. They grew fast and flowered as summer started.They died before the pumpkin foliage turned brown. Most times, they returned next year.


One of my favorites was a zinnia called Candy Stripe. The catalog pictures didn't lie. It produced handfuls, enough to see from a distance and just as many to cut and carry indoors to mom. If they ever had powdery mildew like they do down here, I've imagined it gone.  The near perfect foliage, apple green and blemish free led the eye to the cheery multicolored petals.


There won't be much snow, slowing my walk to the mailbox. Cardboard egg crates have been replaced by fancy propagation flats and engineered soil mixes. I now know the definition of an annual. Everything is different now.


Or maybe it isn't.  Senorita Pink glows brightly as she is revealed through the opening in today's mailbox.  I can't keep my eyes off of her, a sure sign of an early spring.






Dancing Elephants

FOUND IN: Garden Design on October 27, 2012

                    Colocasia 'Noble Gigante' and Coleus 'Silk Stockings' make for a dramatic match-up.


There were countless elephants standing around, all waiting to be discovered. Most didn't think about dancing. On a coffee table she leapt, twirling as though weightless. "Look at me", she screamed, pandering to the audience below.


They came wrapped in newsprint, sealed in tiny plastic bags. The root balls looked like they might fit in a bubbles bottle opening. Quickly they were assimilated into open ground. It didn't take long for two to rise up above the rest.


The leaf moves like a canvas sail in a light wind.  Water beading on the foliage slides downward as if tiny marbles succumbing to gravity. The ebony foliage of Colocasia 'Noble Gigante' is a dancing pachyderm.  Mine, now reaching 4' has mastered the summer, growing happily tucked irreverently between coleus and a seedling basil. The leaves, rising above have claimed their space, adding solid color to its fine textured trio.


Several horticultural friends, hovering over the plant recently,  marveled at the deep black color and asked what it was.  "It is the blackest I have ever seen", they exclaimed. This is a sure sign something is remarkably right about this selection.  Unfortunately they had to ask me what the name was more than once, a sure sign it should have been named something than what it was. 'Ebony Wonder', 'Tar Baby', 'Back Silk", anything other than what it was called. But I digress. It is a rising star. Hope it gets a new name soon.




To call it a shade of green diminishes the impact it can have in the heated environment we call home. Chartreuse is one of those colors that lights up the landscape. Finding one that can stand up to the summer heat and thrive is difficult at best.  Colocasia 'Red Eyed Gecko' is a floral creature waiting to be discovered.. The violet eye is echoed in the stem. In my garden, the summer afternoon sun had no effect on the successful performance of this newly offered elephant ear.  There was no visible signs of burn around the edges. And while it did not dry out severely throughout the summer months, it certainly did not get catered to at any point after planting. I am looking forward to seeing it in a massed situation to truly get the full effect of this colorful introduction.


These elephants deserve a round of applause! (clapping feverishly......) An arms distance from the table she is dancing on, please..............


(Many thanks to Belinda and Mike Rink with AgriStarts 3 for sending me the plugs. You know I love evaluating new plants!!!)






Turning Up the Temperature

FOUND IN: Garden Design on August 10, 2012

Step outside to a world dusted with early morning showers. No complaints, as August is a relief from the previous month's dry spell. Life in this jungle is surging. The combination of heat and wet gives limited access as the flora responds. I need a machete, making my way with early morning coffee.  Even the puppies balk at pushing through the wet foliage.


Animal life continues to celebrate in the 3 day rain. Cicadas hum, tree frogs croon and hummingbirds flutter with the sound of thunder in the background. It is a noisy place.


A dark cloud approaches. Spanish moss takes root on my nose. There will be wet feet again.

Beauty in Numbers

FOUND IN: Garden Design on August 06, 2012

They curve like immature swans, revealing themselves in shades of green until one day, glowing in the morning light, re-emerge white. Formosa lily, Lilium formosanum commands attention in the summer landscape. To hot to think, to humid to move, we should allow ourselves to sit still and wait for a slight breeze to catch the multi-flowered heads.  They can only be appreciated in our summer predicament. And while we might curse another sunny day , the glow is pause for celebration.


Each year they will surprise by seeding in the most inopportune location. The walkway leading up to the house will become an archway for bluebirds and squirrels to royally enter. Yet, for those much taller, axillary paths will develop in hopes of not bothering the morphing giants.

In groups, they tower, a forest peering down on the sights below. I seldom see them used in larger numbers. It is a spectacular sight, something my weary eyes need right about now.


Check out this large planting at Cannon Park in downtown Charleston.  It is a part of the Charleston Parks Conservancy's renovation efforts started in this park in 2010.