Maple Viewing Hillside, Step One – Dirt

This is the beginning of the Japanese Maple viewing hillside I wrote about last June.It all starts with dirt – in this case, anything I can get my hands on from other places in the yard to fill in the steep, concave hillside. Dirt from dug out pathways, small rises, and a hastily conceived excavated carnivorous plant garden, has all been heaved down the  hill. I even bought a few bags of organic topsoil, but it was a laughable drop in the bucket. It is always a cause for celebration when something else produces excess dirt for the collection.  In taking what I can get, some of this soil is clay subsoil, which Japanese Maples absolutely hate. (I’ve seen this soil kill them in pots.) This will be the acid test for the microbes in the compost tea I make with supplies from In my phone conversations with the owner last year, he regaled me with microbe tales of converting humusless (and humorless) soils to thriving cities of soil biota ready to support life in the upper atmosphere.  I’ll put it to the test if  I can survive climbing our small mountain elixir in hand.

Part two of the recipe is adding a few nuts and bolts to the soil such as fine expanded shale (sometimes called Haydite) and sphagnum peat. I would have added some compost save reading the cautionary cultural information on the very imformative website  Instead, a bark based soil is recommended. Never having been able to find this, I will be pressing my luck by mulching with fine pine bark instead.

2 thoughts on “Maple Viewing Hillside, Step One – Dirt

  1. Hi Mom!

    I think you’ve mentioned your blog a few times, and I both embarrassed to admit not having perused it at length until now and also incredibly impressed by your writing that is poetic, entertaining, witty, and informative all at once.

    Keep doing this. You should have many thousands of visitors, once they realize the depth and breadth of knowledge being dispensed here… I will send your blog to some folks, and link to it on our gro-POD website. I wish I could garden, i’ve invented a plastic tank instead. It seems a bit clunky and lo-fidelity compared to what you do. As if one could put this kind of heart and soul into a square plastic box. Who knows… maybe they can…

    Love, Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      Many thanks for the rousing vote of confidence and the links! I need to do more with links, including a link here to your cool gro-POD site. But don’t underestimate what you do. Architecture, design and engineering are incredibly challenging and such a brilliant synthesis of art and science. People who can do this well are rare and you are one of them!

      I don’t talk about writing too much because it has such an elusive quality. But even if writing is hard to see sometimes, photography is a perfect gateway, providing an entrance to something that sometimes practices the art of concealment. “Someone” always has to be in the room – as in the movie The King’s Speech, (highly recommended if you haven’t seen it yet).

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