Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE IN MAY


"A delicate fabric of bird song 
Floats in the air, 
The smell of wet wild earth 
Is everywhere. 
Oh I must pass nothing by 
Without loving it much, 
The raindrop try with my lips, 
The grass with my touch; 
For how can I be sure 
I shall see again 
The world on the first of May 
Shining after the rain?"  
-  Sara Teasdale, May Day  

                                         'Whirling Butterflies ' Gaura


April and May were reversed this year - April was dry and May brought an over abundance of rain.

I've spend most of this month learning how to be the grandmother of my granddaughter's newly acquired chickens that are kept at my house . She named them Henrietta,( a Golden Buff -Red Sex Link ) Cleopatra, ( Cream Legbar ) Moon  ( Ameraucana ) and Hey Hey ( a Buff Orpington ) .  I let the chicks out of the coop every morning and provide fresh water and food.  I also clean up their poop on a daily basis. The rest of the day they are free to roam the chicken enclosure .  I used sand for their litter so they are quite happy taking sand baths.  Since there's a lot of chicken-loving critters in this area I lock them up in their coop at night.  

The roadside garden is very lush due to the excessive rain we've had. I have added more wildflower seeds that attract bees and butterflies.


I added more perennials to my boulder garden -coreopsis, poker plant, verbena, fern-leaf lavender, violets, butterfly weed, spurge, woodland phlox and spider daylilies to name a few.  I also found the hardy banana palm tree that I wanted to plant near my container pond.  

I added two more dogwoods -a  'cherokee brave ' and 'appalachian mist '.  

May is a very busy month both in the garden and at home - two of my children are born in May and then there's my May birthday and Mother's day so a lot of presents change hands.






Sunday, April 30, 2017

APRIL MARKS THE BEGINNING OF THE PLANTING SEASON

Here in the Piedmont April 15 is usually considered the day when it is safe to plant as the danger of a heavy freeze is passed.  This April we had a late freeze and I had to cover some tender budding fruit trees.

An April addition to the Sweet Garden - " Freckles " , a woodland violet.


It was very dry in early to mid-April and I had to frequently water the newly planted flowers and shrubs during some summer-like hot weather.  But, true to its rainy reputation, April didn't fail to produce an abundance of rain that fell so hard and fast it flooded many areas , causing extensive damage and loss of life.

               Edgeworthia, aka paper bush, is another April addition.

My experiment with the Fall/Winter vegetable garden was successful and I harvested kale, spinach and green leaf lettuce. I've added cantoloupe, okra, green and red sweet bell peppers and cucumbers .




The time finally arrived to fulfill my promise to Lea to get some chickens.  She was so excited to be able to select two choices of her own - a Golden Buff and a Cream legbar.  We picked two more-an Ameraucan and Buff Orpington.  I chose a coarse sand for the floor of the coop and run as I read it was cleaner and easier to maintain.  We shall see.  The larger chicken -the Golden Buff, is dominant and the smaller chicks act as if she's their mother.  

Farewell April and welcome May.  April was certainly full of surprises from very cold to very warm and very dry to very wet.  I have come to expect no less from this unpredictable month.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

SPRING MARCHes IN


March was another great month with more mild than cold days.  Thus I planted some more veggies that are usually done in mid-to-late April.  Below you will see some of them - my sweet onions, leaf lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbages, kale, cucumbers and spinach.  I've only had to cover them 4 times this winter.  I also planted the seeds of okra, chives and cantaloupe.  






I was reminded by my eight year old granddaughter Lea that I promised to get chickens.  Below is the coop that will house two chickens to start with.  She is excited to go shopping and pick them out.  I'm adding a six-foot exercise pen and run and poultry wire to the picket fence so the chicks can free range in the garden as well. This area is completely closed off from the resident dog.






My 3-in-3 apple tree arrived from California and I got that planted.  It's already sprouted new leaves.  

Purchased and planted glory lily, purple meadow sage, red fox veronica, 3 kinds of  woodland phlox, purple verbena,yellow blooming edgeworthia, and virginia bluebells, to name a few.  A neighbor gave me some seedlings of her Cushion Spurge and Oxe Eye daisies.

I'm delighted to see that the passalong  variegated Solomon's seals I planted last year are emerging, as are the Hellebores.  My Hellebores were outstanding this season and bloomed for a very long time.  

I want to add more sages to the garden as they are not only long blooming and deer resistant , they don't die back in the winter.

The queens of the shrub garden -the viburnums-have begun their blooming - the very fragrant 'mohawk',  'nantucket' and 'mariesii ' . I want to add some more evergreen varieties as well.  

Life is emerging in the roadside garden -the cobalt blue ajuga, powder blue catsmint, yellow daffodils, and false lupine.  I will add more wildflower seeds this Spring to attract more bees and butterflies.

Farewell to March and Hello to April.




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

FABULOUS FEBRUARY

"Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter's woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air."
-  William Morris



February was a very warm and pleasant month albiet a bit short of necessary rainfall for all the emerging plants.  In the orchard my white-fleshed peach , nectarine and asian pears are blooming.

I added a pollinator blueberry and a dwarf fig to the vegetable garden.  Also planted a tomato, green pepper and green leaf lettuce.    I sowed okra and cantaloupe seeds as well.  Sowed the Hibiscus and Hyacinth Bean seeds I purchased at Monticello.  A freeze is predicted for this week so I have the row covers standing by.


                       'Little Miss Figgy ' dwarf fig.

 The weather has been so delightful I was able to create my second rockery, a chore indeed.  Planting was the easy part but hauling in all the topsoil to create it was not.


Planted primulas, phlox, bergenia, pinks and sandwort in my newly formed berm of topsoil mixed with compost and manure.  This berm's main function was to stop the overflow of rainwater from my uphill neighbor.

I had my heart set on a Fuji apple tree which needs a pollinator so I had to find room for two trees.  I couldn't find one so I ordered a special grafted apple tree that has 3 different apples -Fuji, golden delicious and early summer red so it pollinates itself .  It will arrive in mid-March.  


I love the many daffodils that are showing their cheery heads around town and plan to plant a lot more this Fall.  I see many are naturalizing in the woodlands as well.  

February was a very busy and productive month in the garden.  I re-seeded my lawn and it emerged in 5 days ! Grass takes consistently warm temperatures to sprout and my timing was perfect.  An accident I'm sure but glad it worked out.  

Farewell February, hope March will try to best you.
 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WELCOME JANUARY AND A NEW YEAR




"The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a 

twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour."
-  Vita Sackville-West



A surprisingly warm January with just a few days of below freezing temperatures.  Much to my delight my two Prunus mume ' peggy clarke ' bloomed and the bees were busy buzzing in and out of their fragrant flowers.   


Pleasant days in the high 60's and 70's inspired me to do some weeding and transplanting.   My vegetable garden has done quite well and I have harvested parsley, kale, chard and spinach.  The cabbages are forming heads.




My Mahonia, aka Oregon Grape, is a welcome spot of color in January, as are the Hellebores in purple and chartruese.


I know that there's always the danger of more ice and snow so I will take each warm day as a gift and use it wisely.  I am eager for Spring to come but I know that I need to be patient for another month or so.  


Meanwhile I am spending time in my art studio and making plans for more garden projects in the Spring.  My 8 year old granddaughter is super excited because I promised her I would get some chickens this year.  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

DECEMBER AND A CLOSE TO THE OLD YEAR










"I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.


'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December."
-   Oliver Herford


I'm always cheered when I hear and see my favorite bluebird in December, eating the suet of berries and nuts I put out for them.  Soon they will be filling the many nesting boxes I have put up  in my little forest.  Of course there are many other visitors to the feeder -a rather large woodpecker, mourning doves, cardinals , chickadees and wrens.

We have been lucky this December -no extreme cold , snow or ice storms.  Some days were pleasant and mild -often in the 60's and low '70's.   I am experimenting with a Fall/Winter veggie garden and have covered it several times when it got down below freezing.



Cabbages, kale, broccoli flowers, spinach, and parsley growing nicely in raised beds, well mulched and with a layer of peat moss to keep the soil warm.  I have harvested some rainbow chard and broccoli flowers.

When I'm not able to garden on cold days I use the time to paint.


This one is called " Dogwood. "  I am going to create as many paintings as I can this winter for an exhibition I will have in May or June next year.

December is always a time of reflection as the days fade out and a new year arrives.  This year has brought both good and bad news but I am ever hopeful that next year will be better.

Happy New Year to everyone and wishes for a prosperous and healthy one.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER



November

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.
We had a most unusually warm November which made me very happy and allowed me to escape the malaise of the presidential election that has gripped our country.  Now that the election is over I look to the supreme leader of us all - our Lord and Savior who will rule over not only our nation but the world.
Another thing to be grateful and happy for was the first visit of my son Jason .  I'm not bragging but I think he's about the youngest 44 year old you'll ever see !  He loved our home and garden.  
          Jason and Cecile enjoying Momma's special Southern Fried Chicken and all the trimmings.
Meanwhile I turned my attention to the Fall/winter garden that I planted last month.  The cabbage, broccoli-kale , parsley, and strawberries are doing well.  We have had 3 hard freezes that they've survived but I'm preparing for really cold snaps.  I've added a layer of shredded leaves topped with compost and will install a hoop greenhouse later on.

The roadside garden looked really good this season and I've added more bee and butterfly friendly plants.
        Late blooming 'radon's favorite ' blue asters, mums, goldenrod and ornamental grasses.
This last day of November saw temperatures in the mid-70's !  Although we've had a little sprinkling of rain the last few days we need a good steady overnight downpour and we may get it !  


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