I have been trying to resurrect the long abandoned garden spaces of our land that were last tended well over a decade ago. Everything grows fast and mostly, things are overrun. In the woods, we’re swamped with undergrowth including lots of poison ivy, vines, and saplings. In the open meadow, there are prickly weeds and wild wisteria and giant moon flowers with alien pokey pods.

We also have to acclimate ourselves to bugs, spiders and snakes as there are many. Snakes are not a problem as I’ve always been fond of snakes.(Oh! Go see Pure Florida’s beautiful snake!) Walking through spider webs throughout the yard still makes me jump and squeal. By far the worst problem has been the ground hornets who have taken up residence. I figured we had one or two nests because I had seen a couple one inch holes with a fair number of hornets entering and leaving.

One morning last week we looked out the window and in the distance saw a menacing moving cloud of something and closer inspection revealed hundreds, possibly thousands of angry hornets hovering over a spot in the “lawn” (read “weeds”). We were reluctant to investigate but when dusk came we found this.

And this (answering the age old question, “…in the woods?” No, on our lawn.)

Over the next three nights the hole got larger and more empty of life and now it is just a crater the size of a bushel basket. I’m in Florida for a couple of days right now and Rich sent me a note yesterday letting me know that a second excavation site has been started, accompanied by more scat. We remembered this abandoned and hollowed out old woodpile adjacent to our land and we’ve been connecting the dots. I guess she’s earning her keep. We’ll have to consider further the implications of having a bear hunker down for the winter so near to the house. Any thoughts?

It’s been a major effort just to begin clearing little patches of our land for gardening and, of course, landscaping was never in the budget as that is a DIY project that I now realize may take years.I did get in a very productive veggie garden within the picket fenced area but beyond that, not a lot. We have a lot of great stones and boulders and as I move them all around outlining little places where I might garden I’ve been wondering what to plant and how to budget for that. One morning I got a call from a neighbor I’d never met and she said she had caught a glimpse of me working down by what I refer to as the boulder garden and she wondered if I would like a few lilies for that area. Of course! She said to give her a couple days to dig some up and then to come by on Sunday and pick them up. When I arrived at her house she and her husband chatted with me for about 20 minutes, mostly about how wonderful it was to live in our little neck of the woods, and then her husband loaded up my trunk. Everything was bagged and each bag had a name written on it. When he was done I could barely get the trunk closed.

Once I got home and pulled them out, here is what I had. All of these have now been planted and trimmed and are showing signs of autumn growth and by next Spring I expect a wonderful display of this gift of day lilies.

Since then, neighbors have come around several times a week with pots and boxes and bags of plants, especially now as they do their fall gardening. There are many very very nice gardens hidden away up here on the mountain and you never really see them until you head up long drives off the main road and stop for a visit and a chat. I’ve gotten all manner of perennials: daisies, mums, asters, butterfly bush, Joe Pye weed and more for the sunny beds and lots of wonderful woodland flowers for my shade gardens. This has also been a wonderful introduction into the neighborhood and many new friends.

Old friends (well, they’re not that old. Younger than we are.) came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. Cathy and Glenn drove their truck up from Florida with the bike in the back and divided their vacation between our place and a ride along the magnificent Blue Ridge.

They are wonderful house guests, fun and easy and flexible, but it wasn’t 3 hours, let alone 3 days before they got fishy.

Cathy brought me this fantastic glass piece that she made. I can’t walk in the room without seeing the light and sparkle on this beautiful guy and he’s found a perfect home on the sideboard, next to a prized piece of early glass by Dale Chihuly. I have to say, I’m much more enamored of our fish at the moment.

This house is quickly becoming our best home ever, warmed by friendship.


11 responses to “Nice

  1. I’m going to start off any comments but thanking you all again for your thoughtful responses to my last post. FC, one of my favorite bloggers of all time, posted one this morning that I think is spot on and I encourage you to drop down and read it. I couldn’t agree more that our society’s current level of spewing without editor goes hand in hand with the sense of spoiled entitlement that is so prevalent in young folks. I read that comment and contrast it with the comment left first up by my second cousin, Beth. Historically, we were a more generous and compassionate society, made of sturdier stuff- more hard work and shared responsibility and far far less whining. The trick is in finding our way back. Anyway, I promised something nice and I couldn’t think of anything FC would like more than a big pile of scat. So, here it is.

  2. If it’s any consolation, we had a bear dig up a nest last year. The bear came back nightly for three nights and then we saw no further sign. It did not hibernate near us and we never actually saw the bear. But the claw marks and scat left no doubt about the visitor’s identity.

  3. That glass piece is so beautiful as well as all the lilies. I am amazed at all the energy you have. We are the same age and I do not seem to do nearly as much as you do. Our yard and property change every year and a lot of it is not our doing. The power company has to trim some trees near the power lines, arggg, makes me so sad to see them remove some small hardwood trees too then our hard winter last year altered the lilac and forsythia bushes. I hope they come back in a couple years. Always something going on and now the leaves have started to fall and that is a huge chore to keep the lawn and drive clear.
    I have been stung twice by ground hornets….man does that hurt.

    All the very best to you; one of my favorite blog and real life friends, I love reading your blog and seeing your photos. I am only doing FB these days.
    Maybe start up something else soon. You are an inspiration….

  4. It seems you are as fortunate in your neighbors in NC as you were in FL. How much better to receive plants and perennials than cakes and cookies as “welcome to the neighborhood” gifts! And such lovely flowers to boot.

    Bear scat and lovely glass. One never knows what one will find on your blog. 🙂

  5. Thanks!!

    I love a good poop.

  6. We have a great neighborhood, but none of the people ever gave me plants! How terrific that is – and as the other commenter said, better than cakes and cookies.

    I think I might have a “live and let live” approach to the bear, as long as she doesn’t try to invade your home or trash cans (again). The hornets are another story, however. I’d be calling the exterminator.

    Love the lilies, the fish and the sunset!!

  7. I have seeds to share. Have you ever heard of a “candy lily”. I bought a small, tiny thing last year on an outlet from one of the mail order nurseries and it said it had almost iris like foliage and flowers of unique color… some purple, red, yellow.. even speckled. They grew and grew and from late may until mid july (do not feel like capitalizing) we had these cute flowers that the hummingbirds and butterflies absolutely loved. Then they made these pods and I harvested a bunch of little black seeds. I have more than I need… and if you email your address will send. I also have seed from my milkweed (for monarchs). It can be planted now as it needs the cold over the winter.

    I would love to put in a tulip poplar (for the eastern tiger swallowtail) and a paw-paw (for the zebra swallowtail) and am already planning for more fennel and parsley for the black swallowtails. I am also looking for joe-pye weed as it is a butterfly magnet in August. One recommendation… a blue-mist plant (caryopteris). It is a late bloomer with gorgeous blue flowers.. blooms the beginning of September here and the bees and butterflies are in heaven. The hummers also loved it before they all left around the 15th!

    Here, even in the city we have raccoon, deer and fox just beyond the fence. I would be very wary of a bear…. now that IS a big pile of poop!

  8. Bears? Who eat hornets? Who would have thunk it? I am so glad you like the fish. I look forward to seeing you again SOON!

  9. Oh how I love to look in on your blog/life/homes. And you DO have the energy. Tons more than me. I’m always worn out when I finish reading! No advice about the bear but WOW, look at that pile. Gorgeous gifts from friends and neighbors, what a lovely and fortunate life you lead. Hello to Rich and hugs to you.

  10. I wish I were the lily’s leaf
    To fade upon that bosom warm,
    Content to wither, pale and brief,
    The trophy of thy paler form.
    ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning (from Sonnets from the Portuguese)

    Not to be maudlin
    (Scat can be vile)
    But I think of dear Gene
    When I gaze at that pile.
    Once he made his,
    He’d be reincarnated.
    But the loss of Ol’ Hoss
    Was not anticipated.
    Perhaps it was your writing
    Or that sunset big as years,
    Or the friends you’ve been inviting,
    But I find myself In tears.
    Lilies are the best
    ‘Cause they make me worry less.

    And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    ~Matthew 7:28-29


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