Goodbye to Lawns
Some time in the summer of 2015, I reassessed my front garden and decided to remove the lawns with the goal to reduce water use, reduce deer forage, and increase visual appeal by simplifying the design with texture and a more unifying pattern.
The two so-called lawns (north and east of the house) were not doing the job. For lawns to look good they need lots of water and fertilizer. I was unwilling to use more water. The local granitic soil acts like a sieve, and most of the water, along with nutrients, drain right into the water table. I refuse to add excess fertilizer to the Bear Creek. So replacing the lawns was the first and easiest decision. However, the lawn sections provide negative space in the overall landscape design. Solution was flag stone and step-able ground cover. After a few astronomical quotes from ‘professional’ landscapers, I opted for the do-it-yourself method. Also replace the expensive flag stone with much cheaper cement pavers. In hindsight, after tallying up the costs, these were very smart decisions indeed!
Deer Resistant — My foot!
Later that same year, I started to think about the front yard planting beds. I say ‘planting beds’ because they were no longer flower beds. For many years, I have tried to achieve color during the summer/fall months with different flowering plants. With reassurances from the nurseries: “This plant is deer resistant, you’ll have color throughout the summer.” Well, after trying salvia, mint, rudibeckia, yarrow, verbena, coreopsis, mums, marigolds, succulents (the list goes on); it turns out they were partially correct. Deer might not eat the plant, but they love all those flower buds. Shasta daisies are the only flowering plant that currently is impervious to deer browsing (regardless of the name, it is a non-native). Thus I’ve given up on flower color during the summer in the front yard. There are too many deer; and they sample every available bud.
Instead of color, I am going with pattern and texture. So for the three planting beds, I mostly chose sedges, fescues, and grasses along with euphorbia. These are the only plants that the deer really won’t eat — yet.
Removing the So-called Lawns
We used two methods to remove the lawns: 1. smother the grass over the winter with cardboard and wood chips; and 2. manually scrap away the grass. Both techniques work well, the former requires patience, and the latter requires more brawn.
When Jim and I were prepping the planting beds, Ashland arborists chose that time to trim my trees from the electrical wires. “Perfect!”, I thought as I sauntered over to greet the workmen. After some pleasantries, I asked for the wood chips (figuring the wood chips are mine, after all). The workmen were happy to comply; and delivered enough chips to cover and smother the largest lawn section. In return, one guy asked for the Shasta daisies. Gotta love it when everyone is happy with a trade.
While the front East lawn was covered in wood chips over the winter of 2015/2016, I thought about paver pattern and design for the lawn sections. Jim campaigned hard for a rooster design in stonework for the north lawn – that was not going to happen! One afternoon (did I say one afternoon?) I laid out the pavers in the smaller north section by myself (about 325 square feet). That established the overall curvy geometric pattern, which was then repeated in the larger section. Thankfully, Jim helped me with the bigger section, and did the lion’s share of lifting! By the end of Spring 2016, pavers were all laid and creeping thyme planted, along with some additional accent plants. By late summer the thyme filled out so nicely in the north section, I had to trim it back.
Unforeseen Consequences: Connecting with Others
I was quite surprised by how many neighbors and Ashland tourists I met while working on this garden project. Some knew I was the owner, and some actually thought I was the hired help — the gardening overalls and straw hat can be misleading. Each and all were very supportive and approving of the project, however funnily enough none offered to help! Almost to the person, they would say “I can barely wait to see it finished.”, to which I would reply with a smile, “Me too!”
I am very fond of poetry, especially those poems about nature. Pepper Trail is a bit of a local legend. He is a research biologist specializing in ornithology. He is about to retire from being the senior forensic scientist and ornithologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland Oregon. He and his team fight wildlife trafficking.
A poem by Pepper Trail
“Not water alone does flow, but land
All its coverings and its inhabitants
The deer walking from valley to ridge
The birds and the every living thing
Find here, in a world of change, their place.”
My Garden, a Poem by Ellen
Last October 2016, Gini Grossenbacher conducted a writing workshop at the Chanticleer Inn B&B. I was kindly invited to join the other ladies in the morning writing exercises.
In one of those exercises, Gini asked us to choose a place; and then given 15 minutes to write about it. It will come to no surprise to some, I chose my garden at the B&B. Here is the poem:
I garden alone, but it’s not a solitary task.
Plants talk in long sentences that stretch over seasons and years. Gardeners must adjust their attention span.
Scrub Jays repeatedly dart in and out of the hedge. Note to self, prune carefully near that spot.
Pine cone cobs scattered and tossed about, squirrels make more work.
Invasive carpeting of weeds. I can never remember its Latin name, but appropriately it rhythms with ‘damn it’.
by Ellen Campbell, October 2016
Gini Grossenbacher is a wonderful teacher, published writer, historical novelist in 19th century San Francisco and WWII spies. For more information on Gini go to www.ginigrossenbacher.com
As soon as the OSF’s 2016 season closed, the city blocked off Pioneer St and started to rip out the plaza area between the Bowmer Theater and the city street — the area fondly referred to as The Bricks. A much needed and long-time in coming redo as the slope of the surface was difficult to navigate even for the completely able-bodied.
Here are pictures taken in November 2016 at the start of the reconstruction:
Many have received letters, and even calls, asking for donations to help in the project to redo the bricked plaza area where OSF conducts the Green Show. This capital project is important to both OSF and the City of Ashland.
Prose-Poetry Creative Writing
Workshop by Gini Grossenbacher
In October 2016, Gini Grossenbacher conducted a Prose-Poetry Creative Writing Workshop at the inn. She is a very encouraging teacher.
Gini would assign several short writing exercises each day. When Gini asked us to find an object and write about it, one of the attendees, Judy, was inspired by a vase in the Jardin room. She wrote a cute short called “Antique TV”, for your reading pleasure here it is:
by Judy Vaughan
I knew I would take it to the Country Roads Antique Show audition if I ever got the chance. The day the wildly popular TV show came to Stockton, I packed it up in bubble wrap and a recycled Amazon box. What was it? A vase, I guess. Some sort of pottery piece glazed and fired in greens and browns.
The line stretched around the gym at UOP. I shamelessly gawked at a woman pushing a merchandise cart with a Homeboy Depot label peeling off the handle. A hideous — oh—I mean abstract sculpture of black wrought iron poked through the sides like the limbs of a spider monkey bent on escape.
Was that a hat or a lampshade held high by the man who wore Tommy Hilfiger with pink socks?
The volunteer at the registration desk directed me to the China/Pottery table. I added my treasure, stripped of its wrapping, to the Havilland demitasse set I’d seen last week on E-Bay, several fruit bowls and a collection of plump black animals. Native American or netsuke?
The curator’s eyes widened as she fingered the ridges of the tulip-shaped opening of my piece. She touched the frog on the base. A suppressed giggle escaped her as she traced its tiny hands.
“I need to show this to a colleague,” she said. “Put on your make up, honey.” She sent me to a curtained off area of the gym labeled Green Room. “Wait there until the director calls you.” A frisson of cool tingle swept over me. I was going to be on the TV show.
The furry microphone brushed my forehead. Would the lights make me sweat? The curator preened as the director counted down the scene to Action. “This wonderful pot glazed in earth tones has a funnel-shaped opening that gives us a clue to its use. The palm leaf frieze around the bottom hints at a Greek origin. What’s amazing are the figures on the base, the cunning frogs and these grey and tan figures. Do you know what they are?” She thrust the microphone into my face.
I stammered. “Flower buds?”
“No … my colleague and I think they are copied from fourteenth century motifs from the Wee Wee province of China. Can I ask how much you paid for it?
I pictured the pot on the shelf of the nightstand in the B and B in Ashland, Oregon. “Uh.” I tried to think of a polite way to describe concealing it in the underwear section of my suitcase the day I checked out.
The curator didn’t wait for my answer. She upended the vase, “It’s signed,” she said and that’s really unusual in a piece like this.”
A dramatic pause ensued before the reveal.
“Do you know how much it’s worth?”
“A few hundred dollars, I guess. It’s been on the shelf over our Steinway for several years.”
“Well. I’ve shown this to my colleague from Kristi’s….See this oval sticker above the maker’s mark?”
“The one that says Made in China,” I asked?
“Yes, you can see it’s gold leaf, one of the first occasions for such a adhesive appendage. The piece itself is most likely a chamber pot, possibly a cuspidor. Auction value now is astronomical. You should have it insured for as much as your Steinway.”
“Wow … That’s amazing…I had no idea!
Snowy Morning at the Chanticleer
Snowy morning at the Chanticleer, today. Not the usual sight for most of my B&B guests who visit during the summer months, so I thought I’d share what the garden looked like this morning.
Luckily the streets are clear and safe to drive later in the morning — no need to shovel, just enjoy a snowy morning at the Chanticleer while sipping piping hot coffee.
The dusting of snow stayed on the ground, but the sidewalks cleared up soon. The mountains however are a different story, they are covered with lots of snow. Skiers are definitely doing the happy dance. We all hope the snow pack builds up over winter, so we can recover from last year’s drought conditions.
For now we all can enjoy a quiet snow morning in Ashland
“Head Over Heels”
A Review by Desiree Remick
“Head Over Heels”, true to its name, throws you head over heels into a world of enchanting musical madness, where entire kingdoms can pack up and hit the road on vacation, where a man disguised as an Amazon can be mistaken for a dainty lady in the dark, where the ability to dance is mandatory, and where everyone embraces her (or his) inner goddess. The play is three hours (with intermission), which in my opinion is a little excessive for a musical – but entertaining the whole way through. It blends old-fashioned themes and archaic language with modern speech and politics for a unique timeless flavor. Someone who struggles to understand Shakespeare and another who abhors twenty-first century lingo could find equal enjoyment in this theatre piece.
The play opens in the small kingdom of Arcadia, whose inhabitants are lifted from the 16th century Sir Philip Sidney classic of the same name. Duke Basilius tries his luck with an oracle and receives an unwelcome prophesy in four parts: first, that his eldest daughter will find love, but not with a man; second, that his younger daughter will take a liar to bed; third, that he and his wife will both commit adultery – with the same person, no less; and finally that before the year is out he will have given away his own crown. The good duke, who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, announces his intent to take an extended ‘road trip’ to neighboring Bohemia, in an attempt to thwart his destiny. But of course, you can’t run away from fate.
There is drama. There is romance. There is comedy (much of it genuinely funny, which is not something that should be taken for granted). There is a lot of innuendo, breaking of the fourth wall, clever jokes and asides tailored to a knowledgeable audience – plenty of references that will slip past the kids – and don’t forget the music! There’s even a sword fight, which ends in the most unexpected way.
I did have some issues with the play as well. It takes an onerously long time to get going (long enough that the actors themselves start joking about it), and the ending also drags a bit. While the message of acceptance is a solid one, there are a few times where the writers allowed their enthusiasm to overflow, which resulted in a few unnecessary scenes and a soliloquy that does not fit with the rest of the script’s tone. Oh, and if your hearing is sensitive or you are prone to getting headaches from too much noise, I advise that you bring a pair of earplugs. The music is quite loud, and I was especially unfortunate in my seating arrangement, which placed me in front of some people who laughed and whistled directly into my ear at every chance.
In conclusion, however, I found “Head Over Heels” to be a lot of fun. If you love musicals or wild tales in the vein of Shakespeare, if you are a supporter of gay rights and the LGBT community, or if you just like to have a good time, this play is an evening well spent.
Chanticleer Inn Garden in Spring
Over the years, more than 1,500 bulbs have been planted throughout the gardens. Some are early spring bloomers, such as those in these pictures, others are mid- and late-spring blooming.
Ever a challenge in the Chanticleer Inn garden, thankfully, the deer don’t like daffodils and hyacinths (yet).