A New Teaching Garden Comes Together

I love it when lots of different ideas come together unexpectedly because I always want to try out everything all at once right away.

Today, when my husband started moving the garden tools into a wooden shed so he could take apart the heavy plastic one, I joined him in the yard and moved some landscape rocks into circles around three new fruit trees.  I will plant flowers under the fruit trees for the bees.

That left room to move 4 x 4’s into place to support two new beehives.  I allowed room to build a pond so the bees have access to a more attractive watering site.  I also arranged 4 x 4’s to support 2 x 4’s under the four hoops I had set up for a hoop house/greenhouse.  The 2 x 4’s will hold “grow buckets”.

Since I am converting my kitchen scraps composting to a bio-digester, I asked my husband to take the pallet composting bins apart.  I will plant elderberry bushes where the compost bins were.  There will be very (very) rich soil there since I have been composting for nine years.  I will use the pallets for raised beds and plant in-between the slats.

I will continue to fill a properly recycled refrigerator, (which had the door removed and is now on its back), with a layer of rocks, gravel, landscape cloth, compost and soil and see if it is really true that I can grow weed-free that way.  I have a nicely decorated garden fence in front of it.

I outlined a raised bed underneath the dining room window after (hopefully) containing two areas of lemon balm with more landscape rocks.

These new features join the three raised beds along the Western fence where one bed has cinder blocks for an herb wall and where I could grow espaliered fruit trees or grapevine should I so desire in the future.

The centerpiece of the yard is still the Herb Spiral my Permaculture Design Class built.

Even though it has taken a long time for everything to come together, I think with the variety of things going on, this will make a wonderful teaching garden.

Farm Arts Nature Camp

I am setting up sessions and schedules for summer camp.

It’s called Farm Arts Nature Camp, F.A.N.Camp.

It will be at Windwalker Camp in Southwest Missouri, in the foothills of the Ozarks, near Neosho, MO, south of Joplin.  Our land is almost 45 acres which is very forested with a two-acre area which has been cleared for tent camping, private composting toilets, and a covered deck, cooking on a propane grill, starry nights, hiking in the woods, keeping a Naturalist Journal, and many more activities.  Take a look at the list of possibilities at http://www.KackyMuse.com.   You can also check out the session dates.
I am combining all my favorite things to do, learning about animals, gardening, drawing and painting, and learning about Nature, into weekly activities while I am here in town.

I am starting to write the activity booklets for a weekly Farm Arts Nature Club.

This will help me, and you, too, if you participate, to get ready for summer camp.

You can find out about it at http://www.KackyMuse.com.  Click on FAN Camp.

Neighborhood Botanical Garden

I am replacing my lawn with a Neighborhood Botanical Garden.

Up until now, I have just been saying that I am planting Native Plants.

However, during our trip aross the Southwest US, I visited the Las Angeles Botanical Garden, the Flagstaff Botanical Garden, and the Lubbock Botanical Garden.  All those climates feature Native Plants.  (The LA Garden has Australian and Madagascaren plants because their climate supports those plants as well.)

Those gardens have more natural settings for their plant collections.

As I am educating myself about what will grow in North Texas, I now consider that I am involved in a research project.  Therefore, I have some repetition in my plantings, I keep adding variety, and I accept and welcome what Nature, herself, is planting.

I have been advised to keep the natural trees that keep showing up as “canopy”, and to encourage their height.  Then, I will have room to add fruit trees as the next layer of “understory”.  Shrubs are the next layer, then legumenous plants, green manure, i.e. plants which are nitrogen rich and which will die to become compost.

I also have many flowering plants for color and variety, perennials.

© 2011 Kathryn Hardage

Blossoms and Bees

This morning, when I went outside, there were wonderful pink blossoms on my Texas Sage attended by many bees.  It is still unbearably hot, but here are systems in Nature that support one another.  It made me feel that all is in order, that the presence of bees and blossoms, complimenting one another in Nature, symbolizes our ability to return to community.  I love the concept of Transition Towns, where all have a voice.  My personal feeling is that we all are precious.  Our culture does not celebrate that fact, but when we search for it, we can find all kinds of ways to celebrate one another.  As I change and expand my direction, I am finding that the Universe is sending out blossoms and bees to encourage me.  I, too, am connecting with the people who can most benefit from my services.  I, too, am receiving in proportion as I give.

Traveling Across the Southwest

Back and forth to Los Angeles, California for a week of training for my husband.  It was so interesting seeing the landscape change in big ways as we drove.  On the way back, I took photographs every thirty minutes or so.  Visiting the Los Angeles Botanical Garden (Australia and Madagascar areas), Flagstaff Arboretum, and Lubbock Arboretum has given me a new perspective on drought tolerant plants and more celebration of natural settings.  The Dallas Arboretum is a show garden year round.  I feel I can accomplish a different kind of setting in my own yard as I fill it with native and drought tolerant plants.  I purchased seed packets for flowering plants that are typical of the Southwest.  I will see if they will grow in my Texas Neighborhood Botanical Garden.

Dirty Hands

Some of us like to get our hands dirty.  A couple of days ago, I dug the holes in our black clay gumbo for some new plants.  Today, I brought compost to help fill the holes and I planted my “gift” Jewel of Opir.  We will see if it lives up to its reputation and spreads all over in my Texas Wildscape.  Then I planted two Nandina’s to frame a couple of purple sage plants and to cut down on the mowing.  While I was there, I added compost to an ailing Barberry.  I will prune it back this Fall.  I added compost to a reviving yellow Knock Out rose and a few more roses and grasses in the same area.  Hopefully they will come back, too.  I planted a Texas Umbrella plant in the same bed as a rugged Canna and another Texas Umbrella plant on the other side of the yard.  Then I began planting more of my wavy front line of lariope.  I was in shade up until the lariope and I ran out of compost.  I have loaded up some more.  I put some more rocks in the bottom of my refrigerator raised bed and laid out some more cardboard for new beds.

World of Gardening

It is fun to see the different shapes in nature.   Different leaf shapes take care of plants in different ways.   The same is true of what is growing under the ground.  Roots have different shapes and help plants in different ways.   After School Gardening will look at leaf shapes and draw them.  We will collect leaves and compare them to our drawings.