WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Jun 19th, 2009

Rippled Stone

Jun 19

I wouldn’t call rippled stone rare but you won’t find it easily. Every now and then a small amount gets pulled out of a sandstone quarry and I try to claim it before someone else does. It’s hard to imagine these ripples first formed millions of years ago by wave action on some shoreline and since that time have been set in stone.

The least I can do is return it to its natural habitat.

This is basically phase one of the Morley Library Raffle winner’s prize. I’ve removed the plastic ‘waterfalls’, the broken cinder block ‘rocks’ and leveled out the area. Now it’s time to play.

Garden Project

A good play day later.

Garden Water Feature

The rippled stone is in place and once again has the company of water.

Posted by WiseAcre on Jan 9th, 2009

Garden Raffle – Morley Library Association

Jan 9

Morley Library Association – Garden Raffle
Day 2 – Time to let the potential winner know what to expect.

This post will be stuck on the main page until further notice 🙂
I have a cause and you’ll just have to suffer through it. Please scroll down for anything new.

Simple enough – Once the winner is picked I’ll make arrangements to meet. We’ll walk through their yard and discuss the possibilities the current landscape presents. I’ll want to know what you like, how dedicated a gardener you are, where you spend time in the yard, what windows you look out of, if you’d rather impress the neighbors than have a hidden backyard garden and countless other little details that will help me design a garden that you’ll appreciate.

$1000 worth of materials and labor:
The possibilities are endless but limited by the budget. A $1000 sounds like a lot but it really isn’t these days. Between plants, stone, other materials and labor a 1000 bucks really doesn’t ad up to very much in my opinion.

Potted perennials can now cost between 8 and 14 dollars each. As few as 50 can eat through a budget fast. One thing I try to do is ‘steal’ plants from my and other gardens I’ve established. Gardeners can be very generous. Try visiting an avid gardener and see if you can get away without having something ‘shoved’ on you.

To buy wholesale I go to the far end of Long Island. I go so far because the PLANTAGE has some of the best stock I’ve seen. Besides the plants being vigorous, the varieties number in the hundreds. Prices are good but unfortunately travel expenses level the prices back to what I find locally. No bargain there but I do get some very nice plants that you can’t find here.

For the library garden I will rely on heavily on some of my favorite perennials that I can ‘borrow’ from others in order to get as many plants that don’t add to the budget. I’m also going to hit up a couple local nurseries and see if they’ll donate some plant materials. Anything I can get for free is passed along at no charge – always.

Purple Coneflower
Loading a boulder STONE:

For me a garden is lacking without stone in it. And I look at stone like a kid looks at ice cream cones – bigger is better. If I can pick it up – it’s too small to use. If it’s too big for my truck it’s just about right.

The good news – field stone and boulders are free. The bad news is moving them is labor intensive. It usually takes me 4 to 5 hours to load a boulder on my truck, transport it to the site and then set it in place. At $45/hour you can see a ‘handful’ of boulders adds up the expense quickly.

Chapel Street Garden

Loading a stone slab I love to work with large sandstone slabs. Natural stone walks, patios and small low retaining walls beat manufactured block and pavers any day in my book. So much so I refuse to use artificial materials unless I can’t help it. The problem – I have to buy sandstone and it’s not cheap at $200 per ton. Going to Redwood to get it means an average 5 hours to load, transport and unload. Even ‘forgetting’ drive time the cost adds up quickly. I hate to admit it but I usually don’t make much when I do a sandstone project. I love working and creating with it and forget a lot of the labor since I have a hard time charging people for my ‘play time’.

Sandstone Planter

Again for me a garden isn’t complete without some type of water feature. But even a simple disappearing fountain can get expensive. Stone, water pump, electrical hookup, liners and labor all add up. Expect even a modest water feature to eat up half the budget.

Small Garden Pond

Now here’s the brightest spot of all and that spot is the St. Lawrence University horse bedding/manure pile. Free for the taking anyone can go and get as much of the semi-composted wood chip/shavings as they can carry. It’s the complete weed and feed solution. It makes a great soil additive to work into the ground or the perfect mulch. Anyone can be a winner by going to get some for themselves. You can be sure I’ll be using it. In fact without that source I’d seriously consider quitting gardening.

I did mention my hourly rate is $45/hour. It’s going to go up to $50 this year as I attempt to keep the demand for my time down. But that seems to be a counter productive approach. The more I raise my fees the more I seem to be in demand. Go figure.

Now that I probably have everyone completely discouraged I should say that $1000 will go a long way. It won’t completely landscape a yard but it is enough to make a distinctive mark somewhere. We’ll just have to see how to make the most of it. I promise the end results will look like you spent twice as much.

I want to have the winners garden completed by Memorial Day. But unexpected delays and holdups are always part of working outdoors. Spring is also my crazy time, I usually need to be at least 10 places at once. This year is even worst – two big projects are 400 miles apart and both are going to require more time than I have available. But I always seem to make time for something small and I’ll have your garden finished no later than the end of June.

I’ve had to limit how far I will go. St. Lawrence County is big enough and the winner has to be within the county. It does no one any good if the budget is busted by travel expenses.

I suppose the last thing to mention is that the $1000 prize can be used as the foundation for a larger project. The only problem there is that a larger project will have to wait to be completed. I have other commitments and you’ll have to go on the waiting list. More than likely I wouldn’t be able to start another big job until after June.

I’ve posted this on my blog so anyone who has questions can easily ask by making a comment that I’ll get right back to.

Bottom line:for 5 bucks you can’t go wrong. The best part is knowing you’re helping our little library that really needs the support.

Posted by WiseAcre on Jan 8th, 2009

Morley Library Association – Garden Raffle

Jan 8
Morley Library The Morley Library was on the verge of being closed this winter. High heating costs threatened the shut down of the library. A temporary closing was cause enough for concern. The possibility of it becoming permanent was a panic. The Morley Library Association called out for help and the immediate threat was resolved thanks to a group of concerned people.

I think the biggest problem was that no one in the community really knew how much help the library needed. We took it for granted or at least I did.

I’ve never used the library. I doubt I ever will. Our family ‘needs’ to own every book we read and I’d bet we own more than the little library. But I do want the library to thrive. It’s one of the few community pillars left in our tiny hamlet. It’s a resource that I consider a part of any community’s foundation . That’s a good enough reason to offer what little help I can.

Let’s say ‘Enlightened Self-Interest’ is my motive. 🙂 Keeping the kids off my lawn by giving them a place to go.

Morley Library

The emergency has been dealt with but now the library faces a number of long standing problems. The building needs all sorts of work done. Just to start there’s a roof in need of repair with a tree in the way that needs to be removed and foundation work needed. Handicap access is a must. Weatherization is begging to be done, new windows, door and insulation would help. We’ll forget the wish list for now.

So what’s the real problem. We all know the answer. It’s funding. While a group of people have taken up the call for help not much can really be done without some financial support. There have already been some generous offers and donations made by others. Unfortunately it’s not enough to do everything needed.

Morley Library

So I’m donating a custom designed perennial flower garden to be raffled off on Mother’s day by the Morley Library Association. $1000. of materials and labor is included. After a walk through the winner’s yard / landscape and a long ‘garden chat’ I’ll get to play.

I promise to have the garden finished by the end of June, 2009 – if not  by Memorial Day. (I’m a busy man in the spring. I usually need to be in 10 places all at once and who knows if I’ll be facing a late start, mud season beyond belief or any other delays)

It’s necessary to limit the range I have to travel. Sorry but it’s – ‘St. Lawrence County Only’. …and that’s pushing my limit. I’d be more than happy to drive farther but travel expenses would devour the garden’s budget.

Tickets will be sold for $5. each. While I’d like to see countless tickets sold even a handful will help the library. Any support is welcome and I promise to make the winner happy no matter what. I know I’ll be happy, getting to create a garden is always fun.

This is the first announcement. I only found out last night that this is a go. So this post is actually the start of my thinking this whole thing through. I’ll post again and I promise not to ramble on so much. But it will happen – someone is going to get a flower garden from a Blooming Looneytic.

Are you felling lucky? Go ahead make my day. Tell me you want a ticket.