I managed to take a long weekend the first four consecutive summery days of greater than 90°F. Despite sweltering, much progress was made on the orchard. Christine got down several more trees including some larger sweet gum. There remain only three trees left to take down: a 50' tall sweetgum near to the house, and two 75'ish sweetgums. We'll let the pros handle those. I keep looking at a pair of red maples i'm leaving in the "south east" corner -- more east south east? Wikipedia says they'll max out at 50' so maybe they just need to fill out. If they don't get much taller, they won't cause any more shade than the 90' pines farther back to the south from the area i want the apples to go. We're also leaving a triple trunked tulip poplar that must be 80' tall. I think it will shade the chestnut tree area in the morning and the apples in the afternoon. Then there's a copse of dogwoods and a young white oak that are at the base of a 70' tall tulip poplar. Those will just shade the deck and house in the morning and midday.
Fortunately, the tulip poplars aren't particularly shady trees. These trees all grew height before canopy as they were originally in the pine woods. The massive triple trunked tree - formed when the original trunk fell over quite far and sprouts formed at the base of the fallen trunk -- won't be too terrible in shading where the chestnuts should go.
Nonetheless, the whole area is not particularly suitable for an orchard -- but it's what i've got.
I had hoped the new chipper would arrive, but the heavy part apparently sat around in Raleigh all yesterday. Fie. Snarls of honeysuckle and grape vine -- that i can't imagine chipping or shredding successfully -- were burned in small pyres of long-dead wood. Another pyre is ready to be set off for the last snarls pulled from the downed treetops yesterday evening.
I rescued some sensitive ferns (two by the drive and the rest at the north west corner of the glade near rescued southern lady ferns) and partridge berry (now in a pot), and then collected a number of Christmas ferns for annie_r's shady lot. I also found a clump of blue eyed grass (a tiny iris) that i moved to the meadow-to-be. I moved moss and small ferns to the bottom of the copse i hope will shade the deck. The rest of the rescue work will be digging up some very nice fescue i started a few autumns ago -- and something that looks like false Solomon's seal.
I look around at every plant i can't quite identify and suspect it of being something that i would pay $10 or $20 for. I'm trying to tell myself that when we clear the thicket between the glade and the orchard of autumn olive, stilt grass, and honeysuckle, all the sedges and ferns and other plants in the seed bank will respond to the light. I don't need to rescue EVERYTHING.
I've spent much time pondering plantings. At this rate, i don't think the grading guys will be here until June, which would be late for warn season grass seeding. Plus, this orchard is going to be more shady than not, so warm season grasses might not do well anyhow. Finally, the warm-season grass i had in mind has to be special ordered. Given the shade, i think i'd be OK with a fescue mix with clover. Which goes in August 15 to Sept 15th. I'm going to seed with buckwheat immediately after the grading.
When i plant the grass seed will be the "best" time to add wildflowers (towards the end of the window, i think). I reviewed three different lawn or low growing "wildflower" mixes, evaluated around thirty different species, threw out the ones that can't take heat or clay or drought, and then cut out the ones that give me a nagging feeling that i will regret planting them when they escape the orchard. I've still more to analyze - mainly from Prairie Moon's search result - and then move on to calculating a mix. Or mixes. I'm excited about this!
One of the grading tasks is making a berm - or berms - that block the flow of water from the orchard flowing down the slope to the house. I'm going to ask for the berms run east to west - more precisely than the fence lines and house lines -- and they'll bury the rotting trunk of a two foot diameter tree that was cut down before we moved here. Maybe also some of the sweetgum, too. I've grown smitten with "Pow Wow" Echinacea. There's an dramatic magenta to orange thing going on, and that's inspired my selection of colorful berm planting seeds. In general, my plant choices are driven by practical and ecological calculations, less dramatic coloration. The nine packets of seeds i've ordered are a dramatic combination to hopefully start a very showy planting.
There was more than orchard work -- family and elephants and peppers in the garden and peanuts and beans and hibiscus coming up -- but i really ought to move all my focus to work.