Thursday morning garden

The day started well enough... I won the poetry contest for Botanical Interest seeds at Garden Rant! That kind of thing doesn't happen to me every day. I was thrilled to make my picks and I can't wait to get those seeds sown.

The garden was sunny this morning, and freshly washed from recent rains. I took a few pictures, although I don't have anything new to say since the last time I had something to say about the garden.

My problems started today when I decided to leave the garden...

In a nutshell, because I'm not going to dwell on it: I locked myself out of my car while parked downtown at a hardware store that I went to to get a new handle for my refrigerator door which broke last night while pulling it open, and in so doing, nicked a bit o' flesh off my knuckle--ouch! It took an hour for assistance to arrive, and it was cold--but at least not raining. I could have tweeted about it if I'd read the part about text messaging, but I didn't. Then, I went to three hardware stores around town looking for a little piece of proprietary hardware that my contractor used to install the handles ("pulls") of my refrigerator door. Well, this little combination screw and threaded insert thingamabob does not exist in commerce, at least not in this country (it's apparently measured in metric, while American hardware is still on the English system). So now I have to chase down my contractor and get him to come over. Have you ever tried to do that before? Bleh! We've decided to entice him over with the promise of some electrical work.

The moral is, never leave your garden. Or maybe, don't open your refrigerator. I'm not sure which.

Anyway, back home...

In the cold light of day, the garden was stark and high constrast. But I don't mind.


I've been thinking about painting the garden fence. (The thought recurs frequently.) What color? Gray-green? I think that's the classic neutral color choice for a wall that you want to feel receding away from you. In a small garden, one does want the garden walls to recede, not "pop".


In the meantime, some lichen is already painting the fence.


Over at Gardening Gone Wild, Nan Ondra and Steve Silk recently wrote about using grayscale photography to assess your garden's design. The thought is, by removing the element of color, your garden's tonal range will reveal something about your garden's structure.

Even on an overcast day with better photography conditions, big chunks of my garden would fail this analysis as the tonal range is very narrow.


I get their points, but I'm going to hold off on using this analysis for a few years while young plants grow. The contribution from the gray manzanita will change dramatically when its shaggy red stems elongate vertically. It won't always be a low blob on the ground blurring without contrast into the gray Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens) growing nearby.

Sometimes I wonder if it even makes sense to apply the same design rules to very small gardens that you would use for more substantial spaces. It's hard to back up and take in the big picture in a small garden. Most of your time is spent focused up close on small views.


Should tonal range be a priority? I'm always confused and unsure about color theory.


Despite how green or lush the garden may look to visitors from snowy landscapes, the garden is relatively spare right now compared to what's just around the corner.



Ann Atkinson said...

Yay Chuck! Happy planting! Wonder what we'll see growing soon...?

nilla|utanpunkt said...

Looks great to me – particularily that fern, beautiful. On fridge handles, I think that's how it works, they make you believe there are easy-to-get spare parts, but the truth is, they just want you to buy a new fridge.

weeder1 said...

Maybe one shouldn't fret so much about what "they" say about garden design and just enjoy what you have done. I'm not saying that there aren't lots of really great ideas and improvements out there, but it really should just boil down to "what do I want to see?" and not "What would the experts say?"

Bonnie Story said...

Hello - Congrats on your poetry win, that's awesome. RE fence painting: I'd advise against it. It opens up a Pandora's box of maintenance chores!! I am besotted with the silvery-gray of patina'd cedar and redwood, and I adore the green lichens and moss that do their thing thereupon. So, I vote for not painting, just so you have that much more time to blog, hike and take pictures! Bonnie

Anonymous said...

Don't paint the fence! It's just got that wonderful patina. The paint will be flaking off in no time (I have one of those fences) and it'll look tacky. As it is, the fence recedes nicely.

Christopher C. NC said...

Your day sounds a bit like my frozen water exhaust line on the furnace when the hood of my coat caught the shelf in the basement, pulled the whole thing down and broke every single hook that held the shelf to the wall.

Or the, it only took a couple of hours for the mice to get back inside the house because I did not permanently close up the floor framing because the shower failed the leak test. A second round of caulking was done. Tomorrow the shower gets tested again. If it passes, the mice will be sealed inside the house.

Anonymous said...

You were a shoe in to win. Is that how it's spelled? Clever, funny and mentioning the ladies at GR, how could you not win? It does sound like a crappy day, but you had your three bad things, so you're good to go now. Not ever leaving the garden does sound like good advice. BTW, my cobaea is gigantic and the weather will still give us frosts. It is going to have to go into a big pot with some kind of trellis in it until it can climb the arbor. I love the wirey new growth. That leaf unfurling is awesome.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Congrats on winning.
Our fence looks just like yours. I kind of like the natural look, it just sort of blends into the background I think.

Anonymous said...

Are you and I somehow metaphysically linked in our misfortunes? Both laid off, and now both locked out of our cars within the past week? At least my refrigerator door handle seems okay for now.

Congratulations on the winning poem!

Jon said...

Chuck, I like the natural weathered look of your fence as it is. Why not paint it with buttermilk mixed or blended with moss or lichen to encourage even more to grow on the wood? You already have a nice look going and growing on it. More would be even better...call it a vertical moss and lichen garden.

Jon at Mississippi Garden

lisa said...

You know, I stroll around my garden once in awhile and try to envision real design...as opposed to the general willy-nilly placement technique I usually employ :) I guess it comes down to some layering, some themes, and just liking what you see. I think it's important to keep some re-arrangement options open at all times, especially in a smaller space. That way you can account for weather, temps, and personal decisions as they occur. That's my story, an' I'm stickin' to it.

lisa said...

BTW, Jon has a great idea for encouraging your own "vertical mini-garden" on the fence....very cool.