There is no other word for it-my world is drenched. We have had steady rain 4 days out of every seven the last few weeks. We may have as much as 2 inches of rain before this day is over. No doubt this is wreaking havoc with the fall landscaping season. Too wet to plough describes the situation perfectly. Soil that is sopping wet is too wet to work-unless your idea is to make clay pots. Clay mixed with water, and wedged until there is not one molecule of air left inside-perfect for making pots, but terrible for planting. The property has been driven over by all manner of trucks and equipment necessary to the building phase.
The compaction of soil by machines makes for a most inhospitable home for plants. The roots of plants need oxygen. Just walking on drenched soil is enough to squeeze all of the air out of it. In the spring, I am really careful not to walk the garden until the winter snow and ice has drained out of the soil. Any plant placed in heavy wet soil that has been compacted by footsteps or machinery will have a tougher time getting established.
That said, I have a project that needs a lot from me before the season closes for the winter. As with many projects in a garden, the waiting can take just as much time as the work. This project may be on hold for 3 or 4 days. Judging from the look of the rain soaked land, friable soil is a good many days away.
I need to finish grade this property before I can even think about planting. Sculpting soil, whether with a bulldozer or a grading rake is the foundation upon which the landscape will be built. It is very tough to sculpt soup. Our first move with this new landscape-planting 12 six inch caliper Bowhall maples. We bulldozed 2o yards of mud out of the area, to get down to dryer and more stable soil. Setting big trees at the proper grade is critical to their survival.
It does not matter if it is a big or a small landscape project, any installation needs to be staged. This comes first, this comes next, this comes in the middle-and that comes last. These giant trees needed lots of working space, and a big machine to get them planted. There is one more tree to go in the ground. Once it is planted, we will be able to work our way out from this end of the yard to the street.
I need for Scott from Albaugh Masonry to cover all of the porches and terraces with bluestone-he will need to move stone via loader to wherever he needs it. He did get a large planter box blocked up; we have already planted it with five katsura espaliers. The box will be finished in the same stone as the exterior of the house. He has also blocked in some short walls with pillars that will be capped in limestone. This will give the drivecourt a sense of enclosure. I am used to this-a new house landscape means that my work comes last-in whatever days are leftover. The finishing touches on this part of the landscape I do not expect to accomplish until spring.
I do hope for a much drier and companionable November. I may get that-I may not. We have had years when the ground froze solid in mid November-this makes me wince, just to write about it. So many things in the landscape revolve around a situation over which I have no control.
Evergreens photosynthesize all winter long, on what energy they have on reserve from the fall. Before the ground freezes, any evergreen greatly benefits from regular rain-even if that rain comes from the end of your hose. Rain-whether there is lots, or a little, or enough, or none-the garden revolves around it. I am happy to report that all of my tulips are in the ground, and getting a thorough soaking. Were I to step on this gound now, I am sure I would be over my ankles in mud. I am hoping for drier weather, soon.