A Stuck Foot in November



A garden is not a picture confined to a frame left hanging on a wall; it is something that changes with the movement of light and the passing of time.  ~Beth Chatto



Autumn has been good to me.  Our weather had been a bit cool, but we did not have a hard frost or freeze (or what we call a killing frost) until mid November thereby giving me a few flowers here and there to admire and cut for a vase for many more weeks than I would normally expect.  And so I thought with the better weather, this November would be a great time to look about my garden and take a closer look.

I have long ignored parts of my garden due to a variety of reasons, but this coming year I want to know them from soil to plant, from an DSCN6998up close view and from far away.  It is intriguing to take this complete look around a garden, especially my garden as it extends all around the house and property.  My garden is divided into many smaller gardens usually named for the location, the surrounds or type of plants in the garden.  And I will be taking a closer look at all these gardens in the coming year, probably years, as many need work from maintenance to redesigning.

But I thought I would venture into the most neglected area of my garden, the Center or Tree Garden which is located in the middle of my backyard.  For this post I will not talk about the changes I want to do here.  That is for another post.  But I will look at what is in this garden now after so many years of neglect.  Fall is not a great time to see what is growing, but it is a great time to see the bones.  I will note plants, locations and other important aspects of the garden throughout next year.

And a wonderful method for delving into this garden is by doing a Stuck Foot post.  What is a Stuck Foot post?  I read a post from Lucy@Loose and Leafy a while back about what she called a Stuck Foot post.  As Lucy says:

A stuck foot post is where you plant your foot firmly in a roughly random place and see what you can see without moving. Best is when you plant both feet but sometimes, as in this post, where you are on a slope or some other kind of difficult ground you may need to move the other around for the sake of balance. But you mustn’t move the ‘stuck’ foot. You can bend your body this way and that. You can lean forward and twist at the waist – but you mustn’t swivel that stuck-foot.


This type of observation intrigued me, and I wrote a Stuck Foot post back in August.  So I am doing a second post, and linking in with Lucy on the 21st.  Lucy’s Stuck Foot posts will happen every other month on the 21st.  I hope to join in regularly as I find the method of observation most satisfying.

I am also linking in with Christina@Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for her Garden Bloggers Foliage Day on the 22nd as this post is chock full of foliage.


So let’s get started……..



The trees, at the top of the collage, are our destination.  These trees are the major focus for the back garden as they were left when the land was developed for building houses.  These trees were the reason we bought this land.  And here is how we can get to this garden on this early morning, just as the sun is rising above the neighbor’s trees to penetrate my garden.  

Of course I can also enter the back garden from either side of the house through a gate.  But for this post we will enter the back garden from the back of the house; out through the kitchen’s French doors….down the steps, across the patio and down the path that runs between the pond and large rock.  I can also get to the Center Garden from either side of the patio, but this is a favorite shortcut.

The Center/Tree Garden, or as I like to call it Between-The-Trees, is pictured at the top of the post.  That is the view I see as I approach.  And I hear lots of woodpeckers in the garden today,  not happy that I am invading their favorite spot.




DSCN7000When I enter the center of this not-so-circular garden, I find lots of leaves that cover the ground every year providing a great base and cover for the plants.  It is a mix of white ash and silver maple leaves.  There is one silver maple, the tree I am following as part of  Lucy’s Tree Following meme.  And 3 white ash trees; one we cut down, one that we had to cut 20 ft off of the unstable top, and one that is still fully in tact.  You can also see vinca growing throughout this garden as well as weeds and grass.



What else do I see growing here….


plants ctr garden

The top left shows one of the honeysuckle bushes that has invaded my garden.  These are the invasive Japanese honeysuckle that grow behind my meadow in the wild area.  When we weeded this area in fall we found almost 50 seedlings, and missed many more.  The rest of the gardens are also sporting these honeysuckle seedlings brought here by berry-eating birds.  

Next is the skeleton of hosta leaves.  Many grow here, but not very well due to the grass and weeds impeding them now.  The hellebores are doing well, and beginning to grow into nice clumps here and there.  There are a few sedum and the tell-tale berries of my beloved lily of the valley that dot the front of the bed in May.  And hardy cyclamen all around (as pictured at the end of the post).




between trees

As I stood in the middle of this bed behind the ash and maple tree, I looked through the two trees and saw this…the yellowing leaves of the lily of the valley and the green leaves of the Golden Alexanders.  The Golden Alexanders create a great drift of wonderful yellow blooms in spring.  

And as this is the north-side of the trees you can see the moss growing there at the base of the trees.





Here’s a close-up of the moss in the early morning light.





 Now if I look up a bit more I see one of a few ornamental grasses growing in the garden.  





And just to the right of that grass, in the picture above, is my wonderful, native bayberry bush.  I am still trying to grow more bayberry so I can finally have some berries on one of them.  I love the leaves of this bush, and how they stay green and remain on the bush for so long in winter.  And it provides great protection for the birds especially the wrens.





Just above the bayberry, on the 80 foot white ash, is the coveted wren house, all cleaned out and waiting for next year’s guests.





If I turn to the right a bit more there is the stump of the white sash we cut down as the emerald ash borers were in the area, and we were advised to cut some or all of our ash trees before they became infected.  I put the remnants of the big sunflower’s seedheads on the stump for the squirrels and birds.  You can see the stump in the first picture at the top of the post.





This clump of mint is growing controlled around the stump.  It has to compete with tree roots and drier conditions here which impedes its invasion thankfully.




360 view

Now let’s take a 360 degree view of the surrounding gardens from my center spot.  Looking up from between the trees you can see the French doors and patio where we started our trip.  You can just make out the baptisia, viburnum and some grasses that grow in the garden surrounding the patio.

Looking beyond the trees, we see the arch garden and left fence garden.  The arch is blocked by the trees as is the shade garden next to the house.  

Turning again, we can see the back fence and gate where the meadow lies beyond.  To the left, in the picture, is the edge of the back corner garden and to the right is the edge of the white garden.  Trees block the rest of the back corner garden.

If we turn a bit more we see the stump, and our new linden tree which is covered by netting as the deer were attacking it.  Then there is the gazebo and white garden.  I did not get a picture of the garden in this corner of the fence where there is a rain garden and lots of Obedient plant swallowing everything.  

But you can see as I turn again, behind me is the veg garden or some of it.  And then turning a bit more we see the pond nestled in the garden and just below the corner of the patio.  Way in the distance is the side gate, pergola, composter and more gardens on the other side of the pond.





And finally I thought with the leaves gone, it would be fun to look up as I am surrounded by trees.  The top two views are what I see when I look up and then over my head.  Great shots of the silver maple I am following.

Then I stepped out to capture this view of the two front trees so you could get a better picture of our newest resident.  Or I should say one of his homes…the new squirrel’s nest in the white ash that we decapitated.  By the way, this tree has been stabilized now and continues to grow.  Although technically, it is dying slowly due to an invasion of carpenter ants.  We just can’t cut it down as the critters love this tree, and it provides great food for the woodpeckers, like the female downy woodpecker at the top of the post who is visiting one of our suet feeders.





So as I walk away from the bed and face the bed again, I feel like I really got to know my forgotten Center Garden.    Maybe now you can see this garden’s details too.  It has so much potential doesn’t it?  I will have lot’s of food for thought this winter as I think about how to better maintain and redo a bit of this garden.  I hope you enjoyed this Stuck Foot garden visit. 



Have you ever stuck your foot in your garden and looked closely to see what is there?  Give it a try.   





By letting yourself get in contact with the earth, by dealing with plants instead of people, you will feel refreshed, calmed–and gratified because you’re accomplishing something.  ~Thomas Hobbs






Next up on the blog:  

Monday I will have another Garden Book review.  And Wednesday, it will be time to profile another favorite native plant for Wildflower Wednesday. 

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.