Ramblings of a "New American" Gardener

The Circle: Progress

January 21, 2015

One more day of work and it will be finished, just before a possible snow storm this weekend.

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Here are several views I took in a pouring rain with my iPhone. You can see the water glistening on the stone and puddled on the ground surface. Wet, a governing principle of my garden. Garden, you ask? Yes, the tail end of the garden; it’s ready to be cut and burned, but only after winter has thoroughly desiccated everything.

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This shows the part to be finished, about six feet still to be laid on the side up against the Japanese Fantail willows (Salix sachalinensis ‘Sekka’). I’m thinking of knocking a small part down after it’s built and planting over it to create an atmosphere of age–ferns, violets, other durable shade plants. That’s a thought, not a decision.

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This area, flattened by ice about two months back, is where I want to do some new planting. The space is by no means empty but I do want to have a screen of ornamental foliage softening the view from across the garden.

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This leaning Inula is one example of the kind of ornamental screening I’m considering. The open graveled area is where the much smaller entry circle will be built, probably at half the height of the larger circle, and with thinner walls. (Suggestions welcome.)

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Moving across the garden toward the house …

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… and onto the gravel terrace overlooking the garden. I took these images from inside the house using my DSLR, a neutral density filter, and a long exposure time–an experiment–trying to learn new camera techniques.

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The shrub is a Lindera glauca v. angustifolia, which keeps its foliage through winter (and a lot of color too).

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More golds and moody greys and browns.

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Shot through a doorway from inside the house, a foreshortened view of one of the three large Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) overhanging the edge of the garden … a bit of Japanese wabi sabi feeling.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt January 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I love your circular wall, and the use of the materials from site. It melds so well with the grey, wet landscape.
I have a very rocky garden also (although the rocks on my site are mostly smaller rubble), and I have found the very act of building dry-stone walls so relaxing. It forces you to slow right down, to contemplate each and every rock, every placement, every interaction…it certainly is a meditative process.

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Voyage around my Radish patch. January 21, 2015 at 7:14 pm

A splendid description of D-S.W. I concur!

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James Golden January 21, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Thanks, Matt. Dry stone walling is certainly a deliberative, and slow, process.

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Voyage around my Radish patch. January 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm

The snaps are great James. The circle from this tropical distance looks just right! Don’t mess with it! I rather like the scattering of unused rocks and at first thought they were an intentional design element…a thought! The Inula you show has just the right ‘cragginess’ to fit the scene.

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James Golden January 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Radish master, so good to hear from the tropical world. I’ll give consideration to your suggestion about the gravel area. I so happens that a bed of gravel is greatly appreciated by the plants. They can get their roots a little higher, and dryer. And I like ‘cragginess’ to describe the Inula. Great word.

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micha January 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm

James,

I love the wall. Beautifully made. It is a treat to see such good workmanship in a garden: man juxtaposed to nature. The sycamore is stunning. That scale is wonderful with all those abundant grasses. I need to come back for a return visit!

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James Golden January 21, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Thanks, Michael. I think you’ll find the garden greatly changed when you see it again.

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kjeld slot January 22, 2015 at 3:10 am

Hi James
Congratiulation with your new circle. marvelous…I´ve just seen a programe on Danish televison about the Danish selftaught landscapearchitect Jens Jensen who made clearings (large circles of stabled stones), in the American forests near Chicago. I think your stonecircle is just the right form for your spectacular plantings; it does not make that fuzz out of it, but is a clear and strong form, and I think it´s a form that symbolize you as a democratic person too. – maybe a form that make your gardenvisitors equal, entering it?

have a nice day
Kjeld

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James Golden January 25, 2015 at 10:59 pm

Kjeld,
So good to hear from you. It’s hard to see a stone circle in this country and not think of Jens Jensen. I hadn’t thought of the circle making garden visitors equal, but you are right. There is room for only one person to enter or leave at a time. I think in the height of the season, the circle, although large, may completely disappear behind the plants. We will see this summer.

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Nell January 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm

The photo with the blue pot is a knockout. I can’t stop looking at it.

I’m struck by the way the white intensifies as it moves forward: from the ghostly sycamores barely emerging from dark woods, to the slender distinct spears of grass stems, to the solid, almost snow-like mass of the ground-level grass

This vignette uses the simple power of primary colors, but softened and naturalized. That spicebush’s red is the most saturated color in the scene, and too much of it would shift the balance. But some more would be gorgeous and still delicate enough.

Wonderful, wonderful images. Thank you, James.

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James Golden January 25, 2015 at 11:02 pm

I’m happy you like the photo, Nell. I was experimenting with a neutral density filter and long exposures. The day was dark and it was raining, so the color of the spice bush was intensified, probably beyond its actual color. It’s exciting learning how the camera differs from the eye.

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