Monday, July 31, 2017

JULY AND A SAD FAREWELL


This prunus mume ' peggy clarke ' , one of two I have in my garden, will always remind me of my gardening buddy who sold it to me.  " What other tree will bring you cheer in the midst of winter, " she asked.   She was the most cheerful, loving and charitable person I know.  One sad  day this month she decided to end it all, leaving behind a multitude of friends and family.  Our grief was overwhelming.
As expected July brought many extremely hot and humid days with no rain in sight.  Temperatures over 100 degrees for a week at a time.


Despite the heat some flowers, such as this 'Little Gem ' magnolia actually bloomed.  The most drought-tolerant flowers in the roadside garden are the goldenrods, asters and ornamental grasses.

Harvested some tasty tomatoes, okra and zuchinni from the veggie garden.  Strawberries are still putting out fruit.  I harvested 20 white peaches from my semi-dwarf tree and they were very sweet.

We added an outdoor enclosure to the chicken pen so the girls could have room to roam .




Today, the oldest girl, Henrietta started clucking like a mad hen and when I went to see what the matter was I found the first egg !  It was small and brown.  This is early as she is only 5 months old.  Then a few hours later I found a second egg.  I had to hurry and assemble her nesting box since there are 3 other girls who might want to peck or even eat the eggs.  The nesting box allows the eggs to roll down to a collection box to avoid this.

Farewell, July.  Looking forward to lower humidity and temperatures and hoping we get them !


Sunday, July 2, 2017

JUNE WAS A WASH

Normal rainfall for June is 3.6 " but actual accumulation this year was 6.36 ".  It rained almost non-stop for days.  Since my property is on a downhill slope I have lots of run-off that I've been dealing with.   I dug a deep trench around the veggie garden and along the fence that runs down the slope and added a corrugated drain pipe with a mesh sock to direct the rainfall to the woodlands in front.  It worked !  No more standing puddles .


                                                      
 View from the Boulder garden

Peeping through the arbor with the Lady Banks rose on it.   This unique rose is thornless and evergreen.  It has tiny yellow flowers that smothers the vines in early Summer.

We finally finished the chicken coop that is attached to our shed.  It's a good size - 8 x 12 ' and our four chickens are quite happy in their new home.  It's so much easier to clean as I have plenty of headroom.


Took some time off and drove to the Outer Banks to vacation with family.  The sound of the ocean waves are  so tranquil.

                                                 
                                                            Nags Head, N.C.



Visited the beautiful garden of  Gail Norwood and picked up some of her passalong plant -pestacides, aka, butterbur, a very impressive, large-leaved specimen that loves a moist woodland garden.  It has already adapted to its new enviornment

I am waging a battle with Japanese beetles.  First they appeared on my crape myrtles and now they are on my apple, nectarine and marigolds.  I may have to start a regimen of Milky Spore to get rid of them entirely.

I have been enjoying both red and green tomatoes from the veggie garden, along with strawberries, basil and onions.

With the coming of July summer will be in full force and gardening will have to be limited to the early morning or late afternoon .


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.  
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