Sunday, June 16, 2013

Adjustments and Additions

Yesterday afternoon I took some time to make some adjustments to the garden and add some new plants I purchased earlier in the week. 

I started by moving one of the Rock Cress ('Snowfix') plants I had planted earlier in the spring - it just wasn't getting enough sunlight on the southern edge of the garden. 

I moved it to a small location on the northern side that receives substantially more sunlight in the afternoon. Hopefully it will do better there. 

Blue Mouse Ears Hosta

I placed this plant in the orriginal place of the Rock Cress. This miniature Hosta will only grow to about 6-7" tall x 12" wide. It will also do well in shade needing only about 3 hours of sunlight.

Lungwart (Pulmonaria 'High Contrast')

I added this plant to the area just next to the Buddha statue on the south side of the garden. It likes shade and should grow to about 9" x 18".

I also made some adjustments to the garden, specifically near the Buddha Statue. I removed the two Melting Fire Coral Bells (Heuchera 'Melting Fire') plants I placed on either side last year. They just haven't been growing back the way I hoped. They probably need more sunlight, so I placed each in a planter and will keep them in sunlight to see how they do. 

At some point I will find a permanent location for them elsewhere on the property.

I also took this opportunity to remove all the Mexican Black River Stones from around Buddha. Over time they were becoming mixed and buried with debris and dirt. I took each out, washed them off, cleaned up the area, and placed them back. 

It looks much cleaner and the rocks are once again a focal point. I don't know if I will plant anything here like I did the last couple of years, its just become too shady. It will take a while, but doing something with this corner will be a major focus this summer. I just want to do some research into what plants might work well before I experiment.

Finally, I placed some stones along the corner area near the back gate and the back garage door.

I had considered using some irregular bamboo edging, but instead opted for just using stones I already had. They will help to keep the pea stone on the pathway from sliding into the plant area which now needs to be re-mulched.

Soroptimist Garden Tour

I had a chance to participate in the 2013 Annual Soroptimist Garden Tour yesterday. The Soroptimist International of Schenectady (an organization focused on supporting women) holds this garden tour of Schenectady county annually. I wasn't able to visit all the gardens open to the public, but I was able to check out two local ones that were close by my home.

The first was the garden of Faith & John Weldon in Glenville.


They did a fantastic job of converting a soggy drainage area into a vast backyard garden area with different areas of plantings and a wonderful Koi pond.

I was very interested in visiting one garden in particular, that of Stan Hobbs in Glenville. I read about his garden in the local newspaper. Its a woodland stroll garden with many Japanese features. I was surprised to discover that someone else in my town shared an interest in Japanese gardens and had created one on his property.

"Flower, Mist Dwelling Place"

The garden turned out to be even better than the newspaper had described. Stan has put a lot of work into his garden and its Japanese esthetic is truly authentic. Walking through the garden I was inspired to consider some new types of plantings and incorporate some elements of what Stan has done into some of my future plans.

I'm hoping to have Stan over to my garden this summer so we can exchange ideas - perhaps Stan is a Bodhisattva who can help direct me to a more enlightened path of gardening.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ancient Guardians

"When one door closes, another one opens..."

I finished the doors for the main entrance to the garden, between the house and garage. 

It took some trial and error, but I eventually was able to hang them in a manner that allows them to close more evenly. To do so, I had to take them down and cut about 1/2  an inch of the width of each door, an easy task since I hadn't glued any of the parts. After hanging them I realized the gap was a bit wider than I had planned. I probably should have only removed 1/4 of an inch instead. Still, its not too bad and there is room for expansion and perhaps some sagging (I hope not too much).

I also finished the staining. I attempted to get the doors to match the Moon Window in the back. The end product looks nice. 

I also added a couple of Chinese Temple Lion Door Knockers to each door. 

I picked these up in Beijing, China in 2007 and had them in a box all this time, never sure what I was going to do with them. They are a bit big for these doors, but I still like them. 

These guardians are meant to protect one from being harmed by accidents, robbery and any other forms of bad luck. The lion head is also a powerful symbol that can provide protection against harmful people, nourishes chi that enters the garden, dissolves bad energy, and brings in happy blessings when fixed to the door of a gate. Lets hope they work.

On the inside, I added a simple latch, similar to an eye hook. I picked it up at Home Depot of all places. 

It looked nice because it has an old world rustic look to it. It doesn't keep the gate 100% stationary, but it looks much nicer than a contemporary, industrial looking latch. It was also relatively inexpensive compared to custom latches I could have special ordered online. Simple, utilitarian, and cheap.

I also attached very small brass eye hooks to the back of each door and the inner rails to help hold the doors in place when open. The view above also shows how I attached the dowels for the "critter catcher" at the bottom of each door.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. I only hope they don't sag too much over time.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Open Door

"The Buddha can bring you to the door,
but you have to walk through it"

I started building two doors for the gate between the house and the garage. I spent most of the winter thinking about the design and how I would build it. I wanted to keep it within a reasonable budget, but more importantly, I wanted to keep it light. Too much weight could be a problem for the posts which are bolted down to cement footings rather than planted deep into the cement. So, I decided to use 1 x 4 cedar boards for the frame work and then 1 x 6 boards for the front face. 

I considered using the same sort of bamboo as the fence, but I wanted it to be solid so people passing by could not look in. 


They are looking pretty good so far - I measured and constructed them correctly (perhaps an inch too wide). They sit fine on the posts, but the post on the garage side is not aligned properly with the opposite post, so there is a bit of a disconnect between the doors.

I started staining them with the first coat today. I should be done with the second coat in a day or two. 


The non-green sections will go up later and then eventually the smaller details added.