Download Oakmont CC Entry Detail 8.1212
Oakmont Entry Bed, Current (to be removed and replaced as per plan, this is left side of drive)
Download Oakmont CC Entry Detail 8.1212
Oakmont Entry Bed, Current (to be removed and replaced as per plan, this is left side of drive)
Catching up to this post, and haven't yet gotten the professional pics in, but here are a few from the 'Sparklephene' wedding last year. Keep in mind, the couple is beyond creative, into body art, sugar skulls, and cool stuff in general, and they wanted something DIFFERENT:
Fairy Tale Manor is a beautiful antique farmhouse venue and to fit the lovely fireplace entry, we created a one-of-a-kind floral skull. We started with old saloon doors and some scrap cedar for a frame, and enameled it gunmetal silver:
From there, we built a sturdy foam panel and worked the skull out of various colors of lichen and moss, with touches of paint for shading.
The eyes are rhinestone brooches, the teeth are rhinestones, dominoes, and faux ivory beads, and the floral highlights are with orchids. It's flanked with sanded natural grapevine, candles, calla lilies, and green hanging amaranth:
More (and better) photos to come when I get them!
Thankfully, today is supposed to be the last of the intensely hot days of summer. We ended up not planting a mid-summer crop of tomatoes, which I'm now thankful for not having to water, but we had a bumper crop in early summer. We grow all of our tomatoes from seed as part of the ClubCorp Charity Classic Plant Sale, and keep an informal trial approach to what performs best. These were the heroes this year:
1. 'Red Star' tomato, from Penny's Tomatoes
These were fantastic! The vines were loaded from early May through July. The fruits were very flavorful and seemingly impervious to the heat. Definitely one we'll have each year.
This is a fantastic, relatively hard-to-find old heirloom with outstanding rich flavor, strong growth, and consistent productivity. It produced large, gorgeous dark fruits that stood out from all of the others.
As indicated by the photo, these were a bit more prone to cracking, but that was due more to drenching spring rains followed by bone-dry baking--and my failure to mitigate the steep decline in time. Still, these are gorgeous, rich fruits of a nice medium size, excellent for slicing, and very productive. Very heat tolerant.
These unusual little beauties are gorgeous AND flavorful. The one negative comment I heard was how thick-skinned the fruit is--they can be a bit tough, especially the later fruit produced in higher heat. Still, they are out-of-this-world productive, and look beautiful in salad. Definitely a keeper.
5. 'Pineapple' tomato from Penny's Tomatoes:
Again, one that was more prone to cracking, but see above as to why--I take the blame. These were productive, but fruit size was negatively correlated to temperature. The earlier fruit was large and plentiful, dropping off as the time went by. Still, I can't say enough about how delicious these are--it's the sweetest tomato I've ever tried, and I eat while I pick, straight off the vines.
Of the 38 varieties we grew at the farm this year, these were easily the top five, and each was a new treat. Oldies-but-goodies remain 'Yellow Pear'--one that we can't live without for it's astounding abundance of delicious, pear-shaped tiny fruits produced in pendulous clusters. 'Principe Borghese' was another great new addition this year; it's an heirloom Italian sauce tomato that produced very heavily.
On the other hand, the worst performers were 'San Marzano', 'Roma', 'Pink Brandywine', and 'Mortgage Lifter'. They're all great varieties, but for whatever reason, they didn't work for us this year. Granted, this is our first year on this land, and caring for soil organically yields long-term benefits that multiply as the years go by--so I expect we'll have varying results with next year's trials.
While we're on the topic of trials, even though they're not tomatoes: the best peppers were 'Greek Pepperoncini'--an ASTOUNDING producer of crisp, flavorful little delicacies that lend themselves perfectly to pickling; 'Pasilla Bajillo'--a Mexican Mole pepper that took all season to reach size and color, but look beautiful; and by all accounts the best of them all:
NuMex Joe E. Parker Chile Pepper, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, again via North Haven Gardens seed selection in their store: I can't say enough about them. They're delicious with a nice kick fresh off the bush, but these lush, giant chiles were astronomically enhanced by the grill-roast-and bag-steam method. We will have these every year as long as we grow.
In closing, here's a photo from early July, of a single morning's pickings:
This weekend, we're seeding broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, carrots, spinach, and lettuce, and let's hope they all do as well!
So far, I've failed at my attempt to keep up with the post-per-week commitment I thought I'd made...with pictures, though, I've done a bit better. Here are several photos of blooming meadow plants over the past month and a half, and a few of the visitors they've attracted. This is important to me, as it's interesting to keep up with how our small piece of land changes through the seasons, and we're nearly at the year mark (July).
We had lots of Green Milkweed, Asclepias viridis, and it's one of my favorites. It's on to seed now, and making it's large, characteristic seed pods:
And attracting a crowd of little occupants, some of whom didn't appreciate having their picture taken:
I was really, really excited to find Baptisia alba blooming; I'd found loads of plants in seed before but hadn't seen it blooming in person. We have about four patches of this lovely legume coming up across the meadow:
Loads of Drummond's wild onion, Allium drummondii, all over, with scores of visitors every day. They've gone to seed now, but I'm already looking forward to them next year:
In our native seed mix, which only partially made an appearance due to the fact that we didn't till or prep in any way other than mowing, we had some interesting Phlox, most of all this one:
And scores upon scores of Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus, which really brought on the butterflies. Here it is with an Oak Hairstreak, Satyrium favonium, butterfly visiting:
And again with a Painted Lady butterfly, Vanessa cardui:
Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa, attracted tons of butterflies, especially large Swallowtails. It's a nuisance non-native plant introduced as a productive covercrop, but it's certainly beautiful when blooming in large masses:
This caterpillar caught my eye while I was croutching down to photograph a butterfly nearby--I'm a big fan of cool camouflage strategies, and this was a great one:
We had lots and lots of Variegated Fritillary butterflies, Euptoieta claudia:
And we're still seeing Eastern Commas, Polygonia comma:
I think this one is a Southern Dogface, Colias cesonia, but welcome corrections from those who know--I'm relatively new at Butterfly ID:
Now, we're enjoying masses of wild Rose Gentian, Sabatia campestris:
But MOST exciting of all was the discovery of Lady's Tresses Orchids, Spiranthes cernua, naturalized throughout the meadow, with new patches discovered in several places over the last two weeks:
Very, very nice! I've taken about 300 photographs, but all having been via the camera in my phone, they're a bit lacking--this is the best I have managed.
Well, at least I'm a bit caught up, but there's certainly more. We have several completed projects and weddings that I need to get up, too, so there's plenty more to come.
Now THESE are tulips! This is the second-blooming of the three tulip hybrids in 'Threedom'--a blend from Colorblends bulbs. They've been blooming for over three weeks, and there's still a third to come.
These are as large as my hand, and "peony style" --they have multiple petals. Gorgeous form, amazing color, and even a bright, fresh citrusy fragrance.
What more could you ask for?
Planting a vegetable garden this year? It's peak time for planting tomatoes, and in light of this, we're offering our organically-grown @ Brookhaven Tomato plants for pre-sale ahead of this year's ClubCorp Charity Classic Plant Sale, April 5th through 8th.
Check out this Excel Doc for a full list of the 33 varieties we've grown and have available for $2.50 each in quart sizes. All proceeds benefit MDA Augie's Quest, The Family Health Center, and the Employee Partner Care Foundation.
We have some fairly rare and hard-to-find varieties as well as some tried-and-true favorites. Check them out and contact me at email@example.com to purchase. Quantities are limited!
After a mild winter, spring is here and everything is beginning to burst forth in bloom! Here are a few quick pics from around the farm and club:
California Poppy (Escholtzia californica) preparing to dazzle with color. We seeded these last fall, and they're growing rampantly! They're annual, but vigorously re-seed themselves, which we'll welcome in our large areas.
My newest favorite daffodil:
This is a closeup of an heirloom daff, 'W.P. Milner' that dates back to 1869. He's a small plant, only up to about 6-7" in bloom, but so lovely and long-lasting. These are in a great naturalized grouping and we'll look forward to them carpeting the area as they continue to spread.
These 'Parrot Blend' Tulips from ColorBlends bulbs are among my favorites we used this year. Neatly fringed with Sweet Alyssum, they made these cast iron urns look like flaming torches from a distance.
Just catching up! More to come!
This is probably my favorite time of the year as a gardener...of course, spring and summer are fantastic, too, but late winter is hard to beat. By this time, plant geeks like me are salivating over plant and seed catalogs and rearing to get out in the garden and dig. During February, I need two things: a huge windfall of spending money and the ability to clone myself at least a dozen times. My head is full of plans, concepts, projects, to-do lists, and add-on ideas that flow ceaselessly forth throughout the day--and often, at night. One idea is rarely fully formed before five more have appeared. I can picture right now three of the five arbors I want to build (their designs evolve continually) at least six dozen different bird and mason bee houses I'm wanting to make, endless deck configurations, four hundred (at least) plants that jostle for first-place on my 'must get soon' list, several dozen fruit trees I already wish were added to our newly planted orchard, and on, and on, and on.
Oh, and the soil preparations--for those of us installing new planting spaces into native soil, winter is the *best* time to build, enrich, and cultivate the soil in a slow, healthy way. Sure, you can dump your amendments, till and plant all in a day...but when possible, it's best to start slowly, add a bit at a time, turn the soil gently, and allow the natural process to occur at a more natural rate. Let the organic matter and native soil get to know each other and blend, rest, turn, and allow weed seeds to germinate a few times before they're turned under again. I hate tilling mechanically--it's lovely in the short-term, but can actually damage soil structure--particularly when it's done too quickly or when the soil is wet--and should be done as little as possible. So, at this time of year, you'll find me nearly every afternoon turning over spadeful after spadeful of soil out in the veggie plots. Planting time is just around the corner, and it's coming along steadily.
A few discoveries recently in the meadow:
A nice patch of native Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, at the edge of the woods where it's enjoying a bright patch of sun. We'll transplant some of this into perennial spaces and leave a good bit behind to grow naturally.
A lovely Goldenrod, possibly either Solidago canadensis or S. altissima, but it's in plentiful supply along the edges where meadow meets woods.
Two roses I propagated for addition to various locations at the farm: I haven't been able to positively identify either, but they've been part of the plantings at Brookhaven for decades, and I've been meaning to get cuttings for years. Finally, late last summer, I got some and they've done very well--I'll transplant them this weekend:
This is my favorite rose on our grounds here--it matures to a creamy, honey-yellow color, but looks like a lantern lit from within when it's buds are young. The scent is actually slightly lemony, too--it's a tough rose, growing and blooming reliably in a fairly unhospitable and rarely tended location. Irma, my grounds forewoman, was instructed to cut it out by the roots years ago by the Horticulturist at that time--thankfully, she disobeyed those directions, and hid the cut back canes with a thick layer of mulch--and saved this rose's life. Good ol' Irma.
Looks like a fairly simple pink rose, right? While the color might be fairly common, it's vigor is special--this rose forms a shrub up to 8' in height with a slight fountain-like habit. It's not a climber--I feel sure--but the trunks can be 4" in diameter or more and it forms a dense thicket. It's smothered with blossoms from March through November, and produces loads and loads of sweet hips each year. I can't wait for my yearlings to mature. Again, not positively identified, so input is welcome!
Last week, we completed the landscape renovations for the front porte cochere planter and adjacent areas for Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas. While the original plan was ideally suited for the space and their wishes, it just wasn't ideal for the budget. Keeping with the goals of opening up the space and creating a low-maintenance, more water-wise landscape, we made significant adjustments that will grow in beautifully. Before, this large space was a bit of a jumble, and the large planting mound blocked both the view and the light from entering the porte cochere:
With the expert installation job by Ralph Edge and Bob Behling from CGreen Landscape however, the space is greatly improved, and while far less involved and much less of a financial investment from my original design, achieves the main goals:
The folks from CGreen were able to remove over 12 cubic yards of soil in keeping with our budget, and we preserved the mature live oak, which was initially slated for removal. I added one deciduous Magnolia, and highlighted the transplanted existing variegated Yucca with soft-leaf Yucca, dwarf Texas Sage, and Drift Roses. Instead of the originally designed flag walkway bisecting the space, we created a dry creekbed feature in keeping with the stone used elsewhere throughout the grounds.
A huge thanks is due to Ralph, Bob, and the guys from CGreen Landscape. I couldn't more highly recommend these two professionals and the company, too. They delivered above and beyond our expectations and did so ahead of schedule and while keeping their workspace neat and presentable for our members. It was a great opportunity for me to bring in a contractor that I know and trust, and they made me proud. If you're considering a residential or commercial landscape and/or irrigation project in the DFW metroplex, I suggest calling them first.
As the front entry planter was drawing to a close, I got underway with some container plantings, the highlight of which was the installation of two CavidaTM wall planters from Southwest Wholesale Nursery, which I posted about last week. These highlight a stone wall in the porte cochere adjacent to the club's front entry doors, where they will benefit from the light provided by a large sklight. Here they are, freshly mounted and still empty:
I chose two of the smaller boxes, pre-framed and stained, and we mounted them together so that they will grow in to look like one. I started with some bold, structural plants, including Echeveria 'Afterglow', variegated Acorus gramineus, and Kalanchoe to begin building a basic design structure:
I worked in a variety of odds and ends, from variegated Vinca minor to Dusty Miller Senecio, and spider Tradescantia. The basic inverted 'V' pattern came together nicely:
This was my first experience using these planters, and I have to say I love their ease of use, clean lines, and stain/finish options. The drip irrigation lines are pre-installed and make a simple, sustainable product for DIY vertical gardening. We're looking forward to seeing how these grow in, and experimenting with different seasonal combinations.
Lastly, as of this morning in the greenhouse, I have a few goodies to share. First of all, Verbascum thapsus x 'Southern Charm' is starting to bloom, and how lovely it is:
This is a nice Verbascum hybrid I got seed for from Swallowtail Garden Seeds and started last August. Verbascum in its native form is a tough, hardy perennial, and this hybrid boasts the same qualities. The plants grow to 3' in height with taller bloom stalks. The seedlings are thriving and will be perfect for our spring Charity Classic Plant Sale.
Also from Swallowtail Seeds comes Nicotiana x 'Tinkerbell' --a lovely Nicotiana that produces little spikes of tubular, green bell-like flowers with red throats:
Lastly, and perhaps most exciting, is this purely experimental seed I got from Swallowtail Garden Seeds, as well. It's Rhodochiton atrosanguineum, or 'Purple Bell Vine'--a perennial vine in frost-free climates but likely an annual here:
It forms an incredibly free-flowering vine to 10' producing a pinkish-purple bell-like pendulous calyx surrounding a black-purple tubular flower.
More to come--the first crops are moving out to protected shade holding space to harden off in the current mild temps while the next rounds of seed go in and start their journey.
First, a very Happy New Year to all--Robbie and I hope everyone had a warm and wonderful holiday season. We certainly did, but we're enjoying the settling-down period now and the feeling of clean simplicity as the decorations are packed away once again. We went with a living "tree" this year, as it was a good "green" way to add to our permanent landscape shrubs on the farm, too. Our Southern Cedar from Southwest performed beautifully for the two weeks it was decorated in the house, and now planted out, appears to be thriving.
It's a less-than-great quality photo, but it was a 30g tree about 8' tall and we lifted it on risers draped with white tablecloths. The thin, diffuse stems and branches made it so that only the lightest weight ornaments would stay, but fireplace garland and a composition hanging in a ceiling cluster provided a place for all those too heavy to work.
It was nice to eschew that clingy guilt I always get from trashing a cut tree--even when they're properly disposed of and used for compost, mulch or erosion control--I think we'll stick to the living guest each year.
We've got a busy calendar for 2012 lined up! We're currently booked into June for weddings, have a residential garden design project in the early stages, and several container/gift pieces in the works. I will be speaking so far this year for the YC Nursery Grower's Symposium on February 12th at Brookhaven Country Club (vertical plantings and succulents), May 12th for the City of Allen Water Department as part of their Sustainable Series (Hardscape Inspiration and Sustainable Design) and in August for the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association 2012 Landscape Expo Education Conference (vertical gardens and green roof inspiration). On top of the many developments Robbie and I hope to acheive at the farm this spring and summer, we'll be very busy, indeed.
My succulent wall pieces are in the greenhouse for the winter and are packed with growth and thriving--I just worked through a cut-back and refresh on some of them; we simply chop off anything longer than we wish it to be and re-insert it back amid the other plants.
The large, bluish rosette in the foreground (in the largest of the panels) is Echeveria x 'Afterglow'--a true favorite. It's a large, tough Echeveria that displays an impressive ray of color, from gray-green to rosy-purple and metallic blue. They thrive in these planters and create fantastic focal points in the composition.
In addition to the wall panels, I've also converted the old custom steel pyramids we used to use for annual flowers into succulent planters. Before:
And now, newly planted, in the growing-in phase overwintering in the greenhouse:
They're taken out of their tall pots, and currently free-standing, but will go back into these when they're grown in enough to bring out for display. They may not look like much yet, but I'm very excited for the end result.
I purchased my first CavidaTM vertical garden panel from Southwest Wholesale Nursery on Tuesday, and I'm excited to play with various compositions in it, too:
I'll be installing these down a long breezeway wall formerly decked out with tiered wall baskets here at Brookhaven, and I have another smaller installation of them coming at one of our clubs in McKinney, at which we're also doing several specimen containers and a signficant landscape renovation.
Southwest Wholesale Nursery is a local business in Carollton founded in 1940. In addition to a vast, impressive stock of plant material they have year-round, they are always on the lookout for choice ceramics and interesting garden must-haves. They created the CavidaTM vertical garden system in-house and have developed the line to include a variety of styles, sizes, and configurations. They have some impressive installations in and around their offices, and they're drawing significant attention from those who wish to have an effective vertical garden system with the convenience of purchasing a ready-t0-go panel. Note, however, that they don't sell directly to the public--you'll need to go through a reputable landscape professional who purchases with them.
In addition to this and our simpler approach, I plan to try some of the Woolly Pocket planters that have been around for several years, but not extensively used (yet) in our area. I know that North Haven Gardens now carries some of these, and I'm looking forward to getting some trial pockets there, as well. Woolly Pockets are made from a special felt-like material and allow for great flexibility in creating compositions. Here's a link to their 'Best of Woolly' Gallery, highlighting some fabulous creations.
Seedling annuals and perennials for the 4th annual ClubCorp Charity Classic Plant Sale at Brookhaven Country Club--scheduled this year for April 6th through 8th, are doing wonderfully in the greenhouse:
I've tried to select some old-time garden favorites (a wide array of Hollyhocks!) as well as a selection of hard-to-find goodies that the plant collectors will appreciate. More on this later--but mark your calendars to be here for the event, benefitting three local charities.
That's all for now--I'm back to the greenhouse to feed our seedlings, seed some new goodies (tomatoes on the way!) and plan some specimen plantings. Updates on the vertical projects to come, and hope to see you at the club on February 12th for YC's annual symposium!