Spring 2018: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Moody Morning Sky on the Summer Solstice
Acorn Hill, June 21

It was quite a busy spring for Ms. Muddy Boots with lots of great garden design work, Muddy Boots Plant Tags (we’re about to announce a fun new feature), garden hosting and touring, and of course getting my hands dirty in my own garden, Acorn Hill.  Most news this spring has been good.  We’ve had copious amounts of rain in Western North Carolina which has made our gardens wildly lush.  So lush, in fact, that pruning done by a walk in March, had to be re-done by late May to allow passage.

Florally speaking, I had two standout peony blooms.  My tree peony, Paeonia suffuticosa ‘Feng Dan Bai’, had three flowers this April; last year only one.  My hope is that flowering will increase exponentially from here on out.  The bloom is as delicate as tissue paper, so intricate, so complex, so lovely.  The other noteworthy peony (they are actually all worth noting) was my big splurge last year, Paeonia Bartzella.  That is one expensive plant.  Only one flower this year but it was a stunner.

Itoh Peony Bartzella


Muddy Boots Plant Tags were installed at Crowfields Condominiums in Asheville, which has beautifully landscaped grounds with many lovely specimen trees for residents to enjoy.  Scan this tag with your QR Code reader or click to see the Ginkgo at Crowfields.

Over the last few years I have encouraged all my clients and gardening friends to plant Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, to support our Eastern Monarch population and I have several good stands growing at Acorn Hill.  In mid-May, I was delighted to count more that a dozen caterpillars munching down on one of my plants and by early June the butterflies had emerged.  I looked for the chrysalis, but could not find them.

Monarch Caterpillars and Butterfly







We hosted a really nice group of gals who were from all over the country.  My good friend, Mignon Durham, helped organize their Asheville visit which featured art and food and gardens.  We were flattered to be included in their itinerary and we had a perfect weather day for their garden walk.  Never had so many people climbing around on our pond and luckily no one fell in!

One bit of slightly bad news … we had to take down a really tall oak tree at the head of the pond.  It was the healthy half of a double-trunk red oak; the dead half we took down last year when it developed a split in the trunk revealing a hollow core.  Without the weight of the left trunk, the still-healthy right trunk began pulling away and became a risk.  Had it gone down it would have smashed a long swath of garden and could even have hit the house.  The silver lining was that we got to watch the amazingly meticulous work of our favorite arborists:  Tarzan the Treeman (for real that’s their name).  Not one single plant or the surrounding carpet of moss was damaged in the take down.

Double Red Oak strapped and guyed before removal
(the left half is carved with acorns)

Patrick Purdy, Tarzan the Treeman, at the top of the oak

After the take down.  I will have the right half carved with oak leaves by chainsaw artist Eddy Hoots.

Miss Margo likes the view from the big stump.

And now for the ugly news.  Into each life some rain must fall, but too much fell in Western North Carolina this May.  There were many mudslides in our mountains this spring, at least one fatal.  One in particular touched me and several of my clients.  The only road up in a lovely mountain community failed and a completely wooded mountain side slid over a mile away (per engineers).  Thankfully, no one was injured.  Standing at the edge of this slide was terrifyingly awesome.  I was on this road only hours before it gave way as were many other folks.

I’ll end on a more pleasant note with a summer shot of a happy accident.  This part of my garden has been planted over many years and I never intended to have a red, white and blue garden.  This is what is looked like just in time for the Fourth of July.

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