Gallery and blog for the art of Kara Hammond

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Outside the Glass, Part 2, T.S.I.


young timber

I spent a couple of days out in the woods with my brother, learning the meaning of a new acronym – TSI. Timber Stand Improvement. Using a pair of loppers and a gas powered weed-eater with a rotary saw attachment, we were cutting a path through a thick underbrush of privet, wild grapevine, honeysuckle, blackberry briars, wild rose bush, and trifoliate orange to make our way to a stand of recently planted long-leaf pine, which were being overgrown by several species of native and invasive saplings. It’s hot, dirty work, but gives you a real sense of accomplishment to carve your way through thick underbrush.

FlyingDragon2Flying Dragon1

Of the prickly plants, Trifoliate Orange, (poncirus trifoliate) is the nastiest looking, with its large, spear-like thorns, but in this instance is fairly localized and easy to avoid. Also called Flying Dragon, it was brought to the West from Asia in the 1700’s and was used in the South as an impenetrable hedgerow. I can see why. I’m beginning to wonder if it might make an effective garden deterrent to suburban deer herds, though I’d be a bit suspicious of it’s invasive tendencies.



wild on the vinewild berries

The most prolific briars in these fields are the blackberry bushes, (rubus fruticosus?). We’ve been collecting and eating these by the bucketful for several days now, looking for the biggest, fattest ones.  It has been interesting to note that the domestic blackberries growing in the garden are much larger than the wild ones, with larger seeds, but not nearly as sweet. Our preference has been definitely for the wild. Time for a cobbler.

Garden:Wild  Garden berries on left, wild on right.


The blackberry’s sharp, leggy brambles are quite springy, notorious for their tenacity in sticking to clothing and stabbing through thick gloves if not handled gingerly. While cutting through a mass of the stuff with heavy, leather work gloves, I often found myself grabbed from behind by a branch, or have my hat taken from my head by a long stalk of the stuff. I began to think I was dealing with a consciousness more animal than plant-life.



We made good progress over the course of a couple of days, but it was slow going. Among the invasives, we found a fast-growing tree from China, the Paulownia tomentosa, crowding out the little pines. A chainsaw is in order to eradicate this one, but that’s above my present capabilities.

 Paulownia Crowding  Paulownia is on the right, long-leaf pine on left.

Later, found that Scourge of the South – kudzu – taking over some larger white pines further in. Best dealt with in winter, I’m told. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.




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Outside the Glass – Thorns and Bug Bites, Part 1



I’ve been taking some time away from behind the wheel to breathe some fresh air and collect mosquito bites. Drove seven hours or so south, to rural N.C., to the farm.

Predating the Civil war by two decades, the farmhouse has some charming, if somewhat challenging idiosyncrasies. It was originally built as a log cabin, added to in sections over the years into a rambling, two-story clapboard home with an impressive stone chimney. The interior is mostly natural wood paneling, knotty pine, and floorboards made of broad old wood. No wall or door jam is completely square and no floor is level, much to the delight of children with marbles and race cars. The focus of the living room is a large, open, stone fireplace which was once used for cooking and has now been converted to nearly convincing gas logs. The second story floorboards are the ceiling of the rooms below, so sound travels a bit too efficiently. The walls and windows are rather porous to humidity and temperature compared to contemporary standards, and the air conditioning works well enough for the modern sections of the house, though definitely not for the second floor. One feels the elements more intensely living here. 

The place is rich in sounds, all times of night and day. One can hear a myriad of birdsongs in the early morning, insects buzzing all day and a chorus of frogs and crickets by the pond at night. I always liked falling asleep to the pond sounds.

Green pollinator

A small green pollinator.