September at the Abbey, after preparation for the Dedication of the Retreat House in August, was “maintain, maintain, maintain”. Several ongoing projects progressed or are completed. We are in the process of renewing pots, or adding ones from the Greenhouse that will be in view during the upcoming Creche Festival in November.
The Store and Arbor:
The Store palate has changed… from green to white now again, but with variegated hydrangeas and impatients taking the spotlight. In addition, the hanging basket of begonias has grown to be the focal point of the circle.
At the Arbor. and also around the Porch in the back of the Store, the beds now are graced with the transplanted Pittosporum from the Entry to the Church. Green Carolina “tamed” the Wisteria off the Store and over the Magnolias, and this area will be much easier to maintain with the present landscaping. Roy continues to be faithful keeping not only this area, but all areas in the front and back of the Gallery in pristine order. We plan to “paint out” the concrete block supports the same color as the Porch and Gallery before the Festival for a better appearance. We have been faithful keeping the weeds at bay and it is really paying off now.
St. Clare Walk has bloomed beautifully, and cutting down spent plants to prepare the beds for winter is keeping us busy. There are new pots at the main bench.
The Cloister and Entry to the Church:
When we moved the Pittosporum, we replaced the six pots at the Entry with Holly. We had over 100 members of The Charleston Historical Society visiting the day this was done, and they were very complimentary about this project and also about all our gardens.
This is the first of the new uniform signage being installed replacing the green wooden signs. Hopefully the installation will be completed within the next month.
The Purple Sage is back and is replacing the daylilies at the Cloister. The 10 man bed continues to bloom white, green and purple as you saw last month. The raised beds have vegetables except one devoted to these lovely flowers below:
The Retreat Center:
Here is the most recent photo I have of the new Retreat Center. All the comments from the Retreatants who are now staying there have been positive. They say how much the new facilities mean to them and how much the facility (as well as the gardens) add to their experience at Mepkin.
The Park (the area between the Visitor’s Parking Lot and the Walk to the Church):
Our hats are off to Bob, Tom, Roy, Richard B and Norm for all the work they have put into this area. It, too, is beginning to live up to its name—The Park. The group have gotten almost all the way over to the end of the Luce Library with clearing, pruning, de-vining and mulching. There is such an improvement! The really impressive thing to me is how they all work in other areas, but, are so willing to help each other out. Our Volunteers are very special people.
Luce Garden has become one of the most beautiful of all our gardens. It is a park, and it is rare that there is not a family or visitor strolling through, either having a picnic or sitting on a bench meditating. What a blessing for them, and for us to have Craig, Nelson and Russ, who keep it in such perfect shape. Last month, they completed the erosion project, re-graveled the walk they had renovated above the Lower Pond, and kept up with the constant debris-cleanup, mulching, spraying, weeding, etc.
The Vegetable Garden Report from Howard :
The vegetable gardeners took a sabbatical of sorts this month and I missed two weeks thanks to an Adirondack canoe trip. George and have I worked with a new herbicide around the first lake with generally poor results on our target weed wisteria. I attended an invasive plant seminar in Fort Mill and learned of a more effective and selective product we will try.
We thank Carl for keeping the water going to our new citrus and to our transplanted blackberries. We had potted up some of the blackberries and put them in the shade near the greenhouse to acclimate until the weather cools off. This has been a hard time for garden transplants with the current dry environment.
George and I are going to visit a gentleman in North Charleston who has some fruit trees he wants to donate to The Abbey. We will check the plants for suitability and if they pass we will prepare them for moving when the weather cools.It sounds like a great opportunity with several citrus and raspberries in the mix. We plan to plant the raspberries in place of the muscadine grapes which didn’t make a hit with the brothers.
We have now assumed the role of overseeing the professional lawn/landscape services at the Columbarium. We have also returned pots to the area, and they give a sense of welcoming to those who come to visit. We have implemented a maintenance schedule there also as we have in the other gardens of pruning, feeding, watching for insects and pests, etc.
Odds and Ends:
After the leaf removal job last year, I was concerned that we find a smarter way to gather leaves. Bob and Tom were nice enough to investigate this and came up with a machine as shown below, as well as a kit we bought, that fits one of our blowers. Bob mentioned it to Howard and Howard remembered that one of these big babies had been given to us several years ago. Bob talked with Brother Joseph, who remarked it had been fixed but no one used it! They found this in one of the odd sheds on the property and Joseph and Ted did their magic and it works! Hopefully this will cut hours out of the labor we expended last year.
Mystery Photo of the Month:
Yes, there is cotton growing in the field across the road from the Breakroom. As a city girl, I had no idea what it was when it bloomed and then—presto!—here were these cotton balls! Volunteers at Mepkin get an education!
At long last, the promised report on what the Brothers have decided to do with the old guest cottages. St. Bernard will have a Sewing Room, a room for Counseling, and the back Livingroom will be for the Brothers to meet people. St.Benedict will become the Columbarium Office. St. Anthony will be for guests of the Monastery. St. John will be removed and no longer used.
My thanks to Howard for the Vegetable Garden Report and to Langhorne and Craig for sharing their photographs. My thanks also to Langhorne for editing. Thanks to each for you for your interest in the gardens. Ursula and I continue to be astounded by what is accomplished each week at the gardens. We should not be surprised, because the gardens give back to each of us who work there such a sense of peace and satisfaction. Truly, it is a holy place. dottie