Blue Sky Lane and Apple Way

Bright Zinnias on Apple Way

Blue Sky Lane and Apple Way

A “hidden” path with a surprise.

Blue Sky Lane off Tolman Creek Road.

Apple Way off Greenmeadows Way.

I walked and took photos on Blue Sky Lane and Apple Way on a cool, sunny morning in September 2022. 

Starting at Blue Sky Lane

On the map, Blue Sky Lane looks like a one-block long, dead-end street. I figured it would be a quick, get-in get-out walk, then on to other things. I should have known better. I rarely have a quick get-in get-out walk, and this day was no exception.

I began at the intersection with Tolman Creek Road.

street signs: Blue Sky Lane and Tolman Creek Rd
Street signs at the corner of Blue Sky Lane and Tolman Creek Road. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
looking west on Blue Sky Lane from Tolman Creek Rd
Looking west on Blue Sky Lane from Tolman Creek Road. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

Houses along Blue Sky Lane were built primarily between 2012 and 2015. Because of its location and short length, this is a very quiet street.

As I walked along the sidewalk, I noticed several Pollinator Garden signs. 

Pollinator garden on Blue Sky Lane
This is one of several Pollinator gardens on Blue Sky Lane. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Echinacea blooms and seed heads, Blue Sky Lane
Echinacea blooms and seed heads, great for pollinators and probably birds too. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
flowers and gate on Blue Sky Lane
I stopped to enjoy this view, then decided to share it with you. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

You will find bioswales here

Not many streets are designed with bioswales, but this one is. A bioswale is a landscaped area next to pavement where rainwater is collected and naturally filtered by the plants and soil organisms. Note the curb cutouts that allow rainwater to flow into the park row bioswale.

Blue Sky Lane bio-swale
Blue Sky Lane bio-swale. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
description of a bioswale.
This sign on the SOU campus gives a good description of the benefits of bioswales. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The end of Blue Sky Lane? Yes and No

Note how well this large tree has been protected. Both the road and the sidewalk take a “detour” to give the tree and its roots more room to spread. I think this is a Silver maple, like the 2007 Tree of the Year on Helman Street. It adds a lot to the streetscape.

A maple tree, I think.
I think this lush tree is a maple tree, perhaps a Silver maple.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Blue Sky Lane tree
This young, thriving tree is also toward the end of Blue Sky Lane.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
2344 Blue Sky Lane.
2344 Blue Sky Lane looks like a cozy mountain chalet — only a lot larger!
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

Blue Sky Lane ends at these houses off a branching driveway. The “Private Property, No Trespassing” sign kept me from exploring any further in this direction. 

end of Blue Sky Lane
Here is the end of Blue Sky Lane. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

However, I was surprised to see a concrete sidewalk path making its crooked way to the north from near the end of the street. This path is what turned my “Blue Sky Lane” article into a “Blue Sky Lane and Apple Way” article. I located an Ashland city document that described a “permanent pedestrian and bicycle easement” that was created here in May of 2012.

path from Blue Sky Way to Apple Way
The city put in this path to connect Blue Sky Lane with Apple Way.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Milkweed on path
There is a long stretch of lush milkweed (which attracts Monarch butterflies) planted along the path.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

Following the path joining these two short streets took me to Apple Way. Most of the homes along Apple Way were built between 1976 and the early 1980s. However, a few have been added during the past twenty years. 

A micro-farm?

“My dream is to make this a thriving neighborhood micro-farm.”

Jim
Jim's By Gully Farm, butternut squash
Vertically grown butternut squash at Jim’s By Gully Farm.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Jim's By Gully Farm entrance
Here is the entrance to Jim’s By Gully Farm, off of Apple Way.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

I found a surprise as I walked the path and arrived at a driveway leading to Apple Way. I saw a sign for “Jim’s By Gully Farm.” What does that mean, I wondered. I found out the next day, when I had an opportunity to talk with Jim at his farm. Jim Stephens has a vision of what he calls “micro-farms” located around Ashland, as well as in towns and cities around the world. These micro-farms would provide some of our food right at the neighborhood level, just as we hope solar power will bring our electricity supply back to the neighborhood level. Jim is not just a dreamer with a vision, however. He is actively putting lots of hard work into creating the vision. He began with his own one acre of property by enriching the soil over the past couple of years. 

Autumn harvest lettuce
This baby lettuce is planned for autumn harvest. It was planted August 9, 2022. Photo taken September 23, 2022.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

Jim is new to being a farmer, but he has a lifetime of experience collaborating with the plant world. Since 1986, he has owned and managed Natureworks Landscape Design here in Ashland, with a special interest in permaculture design. Jim is currently winding down the old business and working toward his new vision. Last year, he took an Oregon State University Extension class in Beginning Farming. This year he began growing and selling lettuce, greens, tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash and more. If you would like to learn how to become a customer of his “veggies grown in Ashland,” you can text him at 541-292-9478. His farm Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/ByGullyFarm.

Jim’s core principles include simplicity and cooperation with nature. His simplicity ethic is embodied in the “Katrina cottage” architectural style house Jim build on his property.

What is a “Katrina cottage?”

The original 308 square foot “Katrina cottage” was designed by Marianne Cusato in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and surrounding areas. Cusato attempted to provide an alternative to the uninspiring FEMA trailers that were brought in for temporary housing. Her design won the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s 2006 “People’s Design Award.” 

Marianne Cusato's original 2005 "Katrina cottage"
This is a photo of Marianne Cusato’s original 2005 “Katrina cottage” design.
(photo from her website)

The design of Jim’s 350 square foot home is a variation on the “Katrina cottage” concept. It is small, simple and practical.

Porch view of Jim's 350 square foot "Katrina cottage"
Porch view of Jim’s 350 square foot “Katrina cottage.”
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

Funny farm name (yes, there is a gully)

And the name…Jim’s By Gully Farm? Well, the gully adjoining the vegetable patch is part of Jim’s property. Apparently, this gully is a small and nameless tributary of Hamilton Creek. With Jim’s background in permaculture, I am curious whether he will find something edible to grow under the oak trees in the “Gully” part of the farm.

Jim's By Gully Farm - here's the gully
Here is the gully in Jim’s By Gully Farm! (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

On to Apple Way

As mentioned, the path from Blue Sky Lane first joins a long driveway lined with several houses. The driveway then emerges into a cul de sac at the end of Apple Way. 

Though it has a 90 degree bend, Apple Way is also one block long. People who live here head out to Tolman Creek Road and the rest of Ashland through Greenmeadows Way. 

street signs: Apple Way and Greenmeadows Way
Street signs where Apple Way begins at the intersection with Greenmeadows Way.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
"Mountain Ranch POA" path off Apple Way
One of the many “Mountain Ranch POA” paths connects to Apple Way.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

I wrote a photo essay about Greenmeadows Way in April 2020. Please CLICK HERE to read it

As you will see, I found photogenic sights on Apple Way: from flowers to trees, from rock walls to paths to interesting architecture. Here are some highlights.

Ponderosa pine and Norway maple on Apple Way.
Ponderosa pine and Norway maple, side by side. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Norway maple leaves
Interesting leaves on the Norway maple tree. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
I think this is a Cedar tree.
I think this big, beautiful tree is a Cedar tree. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
rock wall on Apple Way
I am always impressed when roundish rocks are used to make a rock wall. This one is a beauty. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)
Bright Zinnias on Apple Way
I will leave you with this burst of Zinnia color, now blooming along Apple Way.
(photo by Peter Finkle, 2022)

References

Cusato, Marianne. Website: https://www.mariannecusato.com [accessed September 2022]

Stephens, Jim. Interview and personal communication, September 2022.

6 Comments
  • Wendy Eppinger
    Posted at 07:09h, 23 October Reply

    Lovely…can’t wait to explore,

  • Sharon laskos
    Posted at 16:05h, 19 October Reply

    Thank youPeter for another delightful look at our town

  • Jackie Bachman
    Posted at 08:51h, 18 October Reply

    Loved this article , Peter! Especially Jim’s by Gully Way Farm. So much fun to walk along with you as I read your stories! Thank you!

  • Laura Lawrence
    Posted at 21:53h, 17 October Reply

    You always manage to both instruct and inspire me with your posts. Thank you so much, Peter, for sharing new views of our beautiful Ashland!
    Laura (of Laura’s Bield)

  • Andrea Good
    Posted at 21:07h, 17 October Reply

    Wow, I loved the micro-farm! Thanks for sharing!

  • Eddie Wallace
    Posted at 16:14h, 17 October Reply

    Wonderful job as always, Peter! Big hello to you and Kathy! Sincerely, Eddie

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