Compost Blog

Seeing Them Again

FOUND IN: Garden Design on June 25, 2012

We've seen them all before. Nothing exciting. Sitting on the shelf, arranged in neat squares like fabric detergent and toilet paper. Sure they grow here, but do I really go there?

Opportunity awaits to imagine them in another life. Lovers falling for the least expected. Fresh parings give each the ability to be transformed into something worthy of second glances.

A  new fabric emerges leaving the threads of familiarity unrecognizable.


Coneflower Follows the Sun

FOUND IN: Garden Design, Nature on May 21, 2012

It grows beside the horse trough, planted in April of last year. Rudbeckia heliopsidis, Sunfacing Coneflower, wasn't a species I had seen before. Mepkin Abbey's horticulture department introduced it into the area through their plant sales.  It is a rare native to the southeast, one that needs to be grown in more gardens in the south.

It isn't flowering and probably won't until mid- July as it did last year. The flowers really do follow the sun. It seems to like a little more water than reported in the literature. Could be mine is a little princess, needing just a tad bit more attention. Either way, it is worth seeking out as it has a longer flowering period than the conventional Rudbeckias 'Goldstrum', flowering for at least a month.

The only place I've found where you can purchase it mail order is from Nearly Native Nursery in Fayettville, GA. Tell them Compostinmyshoe sent you.

Nothing to Sneeze At

FOUND IN: Garden Design on November 17, 2011

I planted five heleniums in the driest spot near the road. Commonly known as sneezeweed, their role would be limited to a pretty fall filler just in time for a garden tour coming through that weekend. I'd given them a few weeks to live. We've had a dry fall. Being out of town during the pampering period would surely lead to prolonged wilt and certain death.

To my surprise, they rooted without difficulty.

The catalog pictures always reminded me of something more apt to inhabit a Brit's backyard or maybe a Chicago public park. I wanted to be wrong. The developing flowers were a great texture against the season's grasses and salvias blooming alongside these new additions.

Two and a half months later, the color is just beginning to fade. I want it to be my new favorite perennial.

It certainly provided the insect populations with something delectable. Not a day went by that the consistent hum wasn't filling the air above the pincushion flower heads. The color is eye popping from near and far and pulled me back to them throughout the bloom time.

While it won't take long to see if they recover from those tricky dreary days ahead, I am contemplating a rot. Prove me wrong.

Dangerous Nuts

FOUND IN: Garden Design on November 09, 2011

New leaves emerged, followed by the flush that brings catkins whirling to the surface. The yellow covering below eluded to a heavy year, rightly so since the previous was of little consequence when considering the lack of home grown pecans going into the chocolate turtles made on site.

It wasn't long into the summer when the limbs began to weep with the developing crop.

Over the next few months the eerie sound of creaking branches followed by a pop became the norm. Man and dog cowered when approaching the tree line, uncertain when yet another would swiftly plunge downward, leaving flora bruised and decapitated.

A costly trim, while giving us courage to walk below the single specimen, did nothing to calm the drop that continued.

The harvest is bittersweet. While buckets are filled, it is minor in comparison to the crop drug undeveloped to the street. It was a constant reminder of our effect on the landscape. I have to take some credit for the slow summer destruction. Rich soil, generous water and sweet talk made it easy to be that vivacious.

I will never look at pecan pie the same way.

No, I Don't Feel Cool

FOUND IN: Garden Design on September 07, 2011

They were all gathered around talking about white. Should we wear it, shouldn't we wear it. "Well, I've heard it doesn't matter after Labor Day anymore. You can wear white anytime," commented one guest as though she had just arrived from Milan, fashion rules clutched to her chest. In the larger sense it was about fall's arrival. And even though it was hot and muggy, sweat pooling in little droplets as we sat overlooking the James Island marsh, there was some general belief that fall had arrived.

So we pretend. I walked through the King Street shopping district yesterday with temperatures hovering around 93 degrees only to find sweaters. What's good for a NYC boutique is good enough to wrap a Charleston mannequin, complete with a wool scarf in early September. I felt sorry for her. She looked so out of place considering most stared at her with light weight Lycra and open toed shoes.

Fall used to come with a redish tint to sugar maple leaves and the wide angled view of a pumpkin field, crinkled brown leaves exposing bright orange orbs. The mornings were cool. The evenings carried the heavy smells of herbal natives mixing, settling in translucent clouds at face level.

Today as I gazed out over the garden, I see American beautyberry attempting to fool the rest of my senses by filling my sight with deepening color. "Don't you even try," I say, as a stifling, hot breeze reminds me of my place on earth.

I want it just like the next person. But it isn't here, so stop asking me how my summer went, as though its over.

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