Monday, February 16, 2015

Winter Handiwork

The planted troughs look like this these days.

The unplanted troughs look similar.

We made a couple gorgeous loaves of bread this weekend.  Not so dissimilar from hypertufa if you think about it...mix dry ingredients, add water, wait patiently for a simple slurry to take shape into something wonderful...enjoy with family.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Under a Down Comforter

The garden's all tucked in for the winter.

I'm happy that we got some lasting snow cover.  
More to come tonight.  

After last week's Chicken Little Forecast for the non-blizzard (20-30"!), I'm worried that we're going to get surprised one of these days.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I keep coming back to this photo on my phone from a sunny Saturday a couple weeks ago.  I took it while sitting on our hypertufa bench, under the rose trellis, with my back to the garage wall.  I've been sitting in this spot off and on for over 8 years now.  In the early days of the garden, I would sit and dream...imagining a slate patio in the foreground, an accent trough, middle ground interest, and a distant evergreen back border.  Slowly it all came together over the years.

The photo looks like the painting in my mind from years ago.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

The semps look cold, like they've retreated under the blankets.

The birds haven't bothered to eat the seed that I put out a day and half ago.

I wore 3 or 4 layers on my 20-mile bike ride.

And I need the flash at three in the afternoon?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Recipe for Trough Planting

This square trough lives on our deck, outside the sliding glass door of the dining room.  We have a group of troughs on the deck that are a kind of living painting that we enjoy all year round.  I'm always drawn to this trough...I think because of the mix of evergreen textures.  There's a dwarf golden chamaecyparis, purple rockcress aubrieta x cultorum 'Joy', woodruff asperula gussonei, an abused weigela 'Wine & Roses', a self-seeded sedum cauticola, a self-seeded pasqueflower, and a couple kinds of sempervivums.  There are also some species tulips that come up right behind the cress.  We've got a lot going on, maybe too much, in the couple square feet of the trough.

The chamaecyparis seems to like the living mulch of the semps.

The asperula (left) is quite delicate-looking, but don't be fooled.  Last winter was tough on it, but it came back strong this summer.

These plants are all tough customers.  They tolerate full sun, an exposed site, no protection from snow, and still they flower reliably.  What more could I ask from a living painting?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Final New Troughs of the Year

I've had the last three new hypertufa troughs that I cast on November 2nd sealed in plastic, curing in the basement for a month.  I took them into the basement to keep the temperature steady, but I usually cure them under the deck.  The two rectangular footed troughs are part of an order of four that I'll deliver in early December.  The troughs behind are the rotating display of troughs, my little still life, in front of the garage, where I can see them from the kitchen and the second floor.  

This last trough, a footed round one, I cast for myself.  I made a few of this style earlier this year, but have sold all of them.  I wanted one for myself, so I used up the last of the Portland cement (it goes bad if it sits) to make one.

(Yes, that's a plastic bucket covering a new dwarf conifer in the trough in the background.  It's the first winter that I've had this one and I'm worried about snow load on its upright branches.)

I picked up an ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite' at an end-of-the-season sale at Terrain last month.  It's destined for a life in a container, at least for a few years.  I already grow the female 'Spriber' and the male 'Jim Dandy' in large hypertufa troughs in the driveway.  'Red Sprite' is also pollinated by 'Jim Dandy', so I'll keep her nearby.  Even though this shrub is a dwarf, this trough is probably too small to last a year.  At the very least, the hypertufa will help protect it during the coming winter.

It's too cold now to cast any more troughs in the garage.  I'm taking a break for the winter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Out Front

Our front yard is a mix of small and medium-sized perennials. Since the erica got demolished last winter, not much is blooming in December.  Two things out front look great though.  The first is the tiny trough between the front door and the railing.  The mum's still in bloom, and the chamaecyparis obtusa 'Verdoni' always looks classy.  Blue spruce sedum spills at their feet.  If the squirrels didn't find the species tulip bulbs, the trough may have some spring interest too.

The second thing that looks great right now is miscanthus sinensis 'Gracimillus' going to seed.  I love how feathery and almost blurry it looks at this late stage.  It borders my neighbors' driveway and tends to drop over the driveway a bit.  I hope it's not driving them nuts.  I imagine them both going to work with grass seed stuck to their shoulders.