Garden of The White Dove

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)August 10, 2014

Dougald introduced me to the book about the art of a Chinese garden, and it gives me a new perspective for fine tuning my hosta garden. Somewhere around fall of 2011, I started converting a strip of land we purchased from the best neighbor ever who lives behind us. We called the strip "Back40" and I think in 2011, with the picture shown here, it began to flow inexorably toward the shape it is in today. Only, it became a walled garden recently, when we added the final "brick in the wall", the lattice shade screen, to complete the enclosing of my hosta garden.

We buy the Back40 and put up the fences, then begin clearing it in summer 2010.

Throw this one in, to demonstrate what a difference the privacy fence will make when it goes up. Totally different experience!

Finally cleared. View from the loft of the newly roofed Teahouse. Neighbors are fine, but I like a private garden.

My DH cleared this 25 foot wide x 100 foot long strip of old azaleas, seedling scrub trees, briars which shoot up 30 feet to reach the first tree limbs before clambering further to the tree tops. He dug out the bushel size briar corms too. Then you notice in the November 2011 photo, the ground is covered with pecan tree leaves. The chainlink fence is in place, but definitely raw looking with now jasmine covering it, the 40+ plants only being dug in earlier in 2011 if I recall.

Note the multi-trunked camellia sasanqua, evergreen and shaped like an African plains tree, rounded over umbrella like and it provided shade for the old potted fern baskets I dropped at its base. Over the winter they took root there, and that is where the ferns naturalized, with me tearing away the baskets as they deteriorated.

There is the beginning of the Moon Walk pathway visible, the red foot-square cement pavers, which I laid to accommodate my boy maltese Moon Pie who did not like to get his feet wet--but he followed me like a shadow all his life.
I'm studying the area at this period of time. How can I create "long views" and surprises hidden around the next bend, to layer features that will entice the full garden experience to linger, to make the small space a piece of fine wrought jewelry with great detail but not crowded. That is what I'm enjoying about the Chinese Garden Art book....they have been masters of this art for thousands of years. The artists who painted the Chinese scrolls turned out to be the master gardeners of their era. Garden design is an art form, and so is gardening an art form. No reason a garden should not be as lovely as a painting. Just think about Claude Monet and how he created his gardens at Giverny so he could paint them. I wonder sometimes if Monet knew about the Chinese concept of garden artistry.

I regret losing all my photos prior to 2013, except for those safely (for the time being) available on Flickr. Only a few are there, however. The raw parcel of land we began with was not much to brag about so I did not upload many photos.

In Sept 2012 I am laying mulch over most of the Back40. I made a BIG MISTAKE putting down the synthetic fabric beneath it. Who knew....I'm removing it as I get a chance these days. It is gruesome stuff.

Then in Nov 2012 a year later. This was a significant year hosta-wise, because I exceeded 200 hosta in this first year. Who knew it would grab me like that? So now I am creating a sanctuary (supposedly) for their dormancy. Plain DIRT in a pot is not too attractive, and if 200 don't look good, can you fast forward to 500? Well, plainly stated, I did not know beans about that being a problem. If I had, it would not have made a difference. I'd still have gone full speed ahead.

In 2013 spring I was happy to see the hosta return en masse, had some which developed a funny look early in spring, thought it was a virus, and promptly ditched them. Now I realize it could have been cold damage, you know. I tossed three of my gorgeous pots of Guacamole, Fried Bananas, and Fried Green Tomatos. Start over. Learn from it..
This is May 2013 with naturalized ferns beneath the sasanqua, hosta emerged and growing under the pre-summer kind sun

In August 2013 I'm using umbrellas and every bit of shade I can find to keep things happy. I'm too timid about exposing the fragrant ones to afternoon sun. Live and learn.

I begin an experimental raised bed along the driveway for some hosta which need to be in the ground to prosper.

We take down the rotten pine stump which was quite tall in spring 2014

I use the tree round sections as plant stands

In July 2014 we get Hagan Fence to build my lattice shade screen, effectively creating a completely walled garden

From inside a sense of enclosure but not confinement

...and that's the way my garden grows.

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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Mocc, that was a wonderful journey that you took us through! It's amazing where it ended up. The lattice walls look lovely and the scene within is serene. What a difference - have you taken a twilight shot of this location yet? Duplicate of last picture at different times of the day...

Truly a labour of love. It shows. This was such a treat. Thank you.
I see many happy hostas. :-)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:10AM
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Thanks, Jo. I'll have to take a series of photos of that area. I may have one other, but right now finding things is a bit difficult.

Basically, the infrastructure is in place. Now fine tuning, and preparing the dormancy materials. If they are in shade for the winter, I'll cover them in place. Only the ones in the sunny areas during wintertime will be moved. I have 90% shade cloth which may be easier to set up than moving so many pots. If necessary, I'll cover pots to keep rain out of them. That is the major reason to tip pots. With some thin pieces of plywood, I can also stack some pots, a neater solution than random tipping. Then weight the top pot to keep squirrels or raccoons or cats from messing with them. we'll see how it works out.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:47AM
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zkathy(7a NC)

It's amazing how much beauty passion and effort can create! Thanks for showing us the journey to your beautiful garden. You deserve all of the solace and joy it brings you.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:52AM
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moc ... marvellous progress toward your vision!

While I do appreciate a fine speciman hosta (as presented most often in this forum), I appreciate even more seeing the garden that contains the plant. You face considerable challenge in growing hostas so far south - but you have made the most of the opportunities in creating your garden.

Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 8:51AM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Moc, what a beautiful transformation...such a peaceful place to retreat after all your hard work past and present. I admire your tenacity and determination to grow beautful hostas despite the considerable odds against you. Bravo! I applaude you.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:19AM
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sherrygirl zone5

What a journey! Really enjoyed seeing your new garden develop. I know it will be even better the coming seasons. Please keep sharing pictures of it in the future!


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:59AM
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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

Mocc, absolutely wonderful! What a transformation and I can appreciate all the hard work and sore muscles that brought that to reality. It's a good feeling where you have all the major parts in place and there's just fine tuning to do. Although we know that with gardens, they're never finished.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:12AM
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Many thanks to all of you for understanding and appreciating the process of creating this garden. If I were younger and life stretched ahead an expected longer number of years, it would be less critical that I take action so quickly. My joy at discovering hosta, and the desire to give them a lovely setting, compels me to make haste while the sun shines. I wake up thinking, if I don't do it now, it might never get done. Yet, sitting in my garden, or walking on its paths, and like Jo says caressing the leaves and putting my nose in the flowers, the place becomes an infinity outside the reach of time itself. The world with its raucous sounds drops away, and I experience the entire universe here, with the wild birds passing across international borders free of any customs or restraints, citizens of the boundless sky.

One evening as I sat quietly and night fell, I observed the wooden fences at the far ends of the garden disappeared. They dropped away, and all that was left was the sky and a filigree of jet green-black silhouettes of trees. It was a long landing strip, the garden orbiting alone as a small planet of a solar system with ultimate stillness and solitude and perfection. I imagined to walk to the far end and gaze off into distant star clouds and nebula and other Milky Ways, the mundane activities of life on earth were that far away from this place of the heart. It was an experience I never felt before. In this moment, I understood religious rapture and communion with God..

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 10:13AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

....... As I neared the last two sentences, tears sprang into my eyes...I am furiously blinking them away lest someone come up to me and ask "what's wrong"? But then again...there is nothing wrong - my heart and soul is simply responding. :-)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:01PM
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Beautiful garden and beautiful words.You put into words what I have felt before when in my garden. I loved seeing the progress of your lovely garden. lesley

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 5:50PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

My neighbor passed several years ago. His daughter gave me one of her late mother's garden ornaments. It has part of a poem on it that I enjoy every time I read it.

It's from God's Garden by Dorothy Frances Gurney

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,--
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 7:03PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Mocc, what a wonderful time travel experience! I love love love your 'walled' garden in the last photo. Definitely worth all that work (easy for me to say, huh?)!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Oh, but it is all that, Cyn, worth every effort.

Remember another poem with a line which goes,
....the saddest words,
"It might have been"

BKAy, that is a familiar and lovely poem.
Straightforward, well rhymed, and the sentiment is spot on.

She wrote many it seems. One named "Kit's Room" has this:

"Here few might know the busy street,
Lies hidden below--it's noises come
Subdued to such a pleasant hum.

Ah! in how good an hour did I
Sit here alone, so close the sky,
That all my thoughts grew still and clear,
And all my dreams, drew Heaven near."

Poetry and gardens go very well together.
Thanks BK for the garden marker. :)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 11:47PM
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Don B.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:46AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

I love straightforward poetry. My mind tends to wander when it gets too esoteric.

Love the lattice. How tall is it? Does it have a structure on top? In the last photo, it looks like there might be a structure on top as well.

I have to do something about my west side. With the loss of my neighbor's huge elm tree, there's too much late afternoon sun for most of the hosta. Squash Casserole is the only one not griping.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:05AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

Thank yo u for the lovely garden poetry, Bkay and Mocc...this is such an inspirational thread....


    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:44AM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I see you have banana trees! It stil blows my mind to see Spanish moss,and hostas,growing in the same place. I once brought up some Spanish moss from my sisters place in Florida,and it only lived a few months,until it got too cold for it. Good design and gardens! Phil

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:51AM
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BKay, the screen is 10 feet tall. It is not along a property line, so there is no city code to say NO to it. It runs north and south. On top there is a simple structure which could carry the weight of annual vines. I'm not planning to cover it with star jasmine which is evergreen here and can become massive and dense. I want in winter to have vines die back or lose leaves, so I plan on some fragrant vines annuals like morning glories and moonflowers--which bloom at night too. Trying to kick things toward night bloomers to attract more night pollinators.

The posts are 4 feet apart. The panels are 8 feet tall x 4 feet wide, opening is 4 inches square. Willard, the great installer of the screen, placed those posts perfectly so that each panel sits on half of each post, and then the lath strips cover the seams between panels. I decided on the large squares because of hurricane winds, which could take down a tall structure with small holes, just rip it apart. In my design it is a straight line. It would look attractive I think in a zigzag shape (for added strength) if the space was open and standing alone. Then in the zigs and zags, tall columnar cypress or pencil holly or conifers would look nice. The zigs/zags could create a bit of shade too, if you did not have a north/south orientation precisely. Because my screen runs almost north and south, blocking western sun.

When I was talking with Bruce Banyai about creating shade, he said he taught a course at Hosta College on the subject. Of course there is always the instant solution of shade cloth where immediate results are required. He also recommended buying the large cheap trees from Lowes etc and keeping them in containers to provide shade. Quick growing trees that can take your climate, but can be removed before they get so big they are a problem. I lost my potted palms last winter, also the ficus benjamina that was 8 feet tall and had done shade duty so nicely. Now I think a couple of the cheap reduced-price trees are a good idea. I am watching Lowes for some good choices.

And, Phil, yes, bananas are a nice shade solution in my climate. They grow quickly, can be very dramatic, and they sometimes are dormant for the winter. There are varieties which survive in colder climates, but need the stems wrapped and roots kept insulated. I'm about to try one in a big pot on wheels so I can move it inside my Teahouse for colder weather. And Spanish moss, I know it is on the Georgia coast and in Savannah, but do not know how much further north it thrives. Perhaps not in the mountains where you are? It is a great insulating material on top of pots, and it provides nesting material for cardinals. I see them picking at it like a plate of gray spaghetti. The moss is a member of the tillandsia family of air plants, not attaching itself to the plant/tree nor taking nourishment from it. It even has blooms, which are sort of brownish lip colored the way native sweet shrubs look. It particularly likes live oaks which give it permanent shade and some moisture because those oaks have a way of "weeping" .

Thank you for complimenting the design. I love the way it comes together. Not being a formal person, I like to bring different elements together in unexpected ways that are personally satisfying.

And, BKay, I am very relieved, and pleased, to hear that Squash Casserole is doing a good job for you. I had hoped that would happen. After months of looking good, it is still pretty here too, and so is the NEW one I got this spring. AND, all of her sports are looking good too. I'll try to feature them in a new thread later on. Right now, I have potting to do. And splitting a green sport off of Stargate before that streaker turns all green on me. I sometimes think streakers are a big pain, so demanding of attention. Nothing like SCasserole, which only demands light and lots of WATER.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 1:55PM
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