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December 2008

November 2008

Guess who's coming to dinner?

High 49 F
Low  40 F
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The rye grass in the corn patch must look like quite a delicacy to the white tailed deer.  For now, they are content to munch on the grass but as soon as the snow flies and then covers the ground, the deer will start on the rhododendrons and needle leaf evergreens and anything else that they can find.  I have friends who are hunters and one has told me that there is very little in the woods for them to eat this year.   It wasn't a very big acorn year and acorns are a deer staple.DSC_0018 I let Tucker out to chase these deerDSC_0002 off to the woods and he sniffed the air while they looked his way.  He then rolled over in the grass and took a lawn bath.  The deer went back to grazing until I opened the door to let Tucker back inside. Dsc_0003 (2) They are bold, beautiful and quite destructive.  It is time to spray the trees once again and this time I will be adding some very hot, Bhut jolokia peppers! DSC_0088 I expect to hear some snorting in protest.  What do you use in defense of deer?


Flora and fauna

High 31 F
Low  17 F
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Before the onslaught of the seriously cold weather I harvested some of the water hyacinths, Eichhornia crassipes,  from the fish pond.  I have a clear glass apothecary jar, of sorts, and thought it would be interesting to try to overwinter a couple plants in the jar on the plant shelf.  The jar looked a bit lonesome sitting on the shelf although the roots of the hyacinth are eerily beautiful floating in the water.  I decided that it might be interesting to add a fish to the water. DSC_0023 The Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), is also known as the "betta fish" or just "beta".  The males are the most colorful and since they are territorial just one to a container is the rule.  They have flair, color and pizzazz.  Betas can live in water with low oxygen levels and these factors seem like the perfect combination for this self-contained water world.   Meet Merlin.  He is a beautiful fish isn't he? DSC_0031 His 'tank' holds about a gallon and a half of water and I have just read that it should be changed weekly.  I didn't know this!  Now, feeling like a neglectful parent, I will add some fresh water and use the removed water to water some houseplants.  This being said, Merlin seems perfectly happy and has been in his new home for about a month now. DSC_0030 I think it must be much more preferable than the one cup container he lived in at the store.  Do any of you have any Beta fish and if so, what special treatment do you give them?


Winter has arrived!

High 33 F
Low  17 F
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There was no prelude to winter this year.   The last post of the 17th of November shows the emerging hydrangea leaves.  They are now frozen solid along with the fish pond above and this little cast iron bird bath.DSC_0017   I am not sure that winter is here to stay but it could be and at least the leaves are raked.  The hoses still need to be put away and there are several stray pots waiting the move indoors.  This past weekend DSC_0011 I put the cold frame up over the swiss chard and arugula and a small row tunnel went over the parsley but that hardly helps when temperatures dip into the teens.  This morning the parsley had ice crystals covering the leaves. DSC_0013 I hope to have some on the table for next week's Thanksgiving dinner.  There is something cozy about a row tunnel and a cold frame but the reality is that it is a very thin blanket which keeps out the snow and rain.  It does generate a bit of warmth inside on sunny days and I need to put a thermometer inside to see just how warm it will get.  DSC_0015 I will have to water the plants inside if it gets a bit warmer.  Parsley is pretty durable and we shall see just how long it will last given the frigid temperatures and the lack of hardening off due to the sudden drop of the thermometer.  I love the green freshness of parsley even when it is frozen.  Tucked under the row tunnel, it is  a reminder of the past gardening season and a sign of hope for the future one.  What tidbits are left in your garden? 


November Blooms!

High  45F
Low   31F
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I am late for Bloom Day hosted by Carol over at May Dreams.  Life intrudes on blogging but I am finally here with 'Sheffield Pink' blooming in spite of the deer having eaten most of the blooms and the wet  weather.  I am enjoying blooms from other parts of the world as they are waning here but this weekend's lawn leaf removalDSC_0019 revealed not just the lawn DSC_0010 but  a few stray blooms, some emerging buds on the hydrangeasDSC_0008 and some flower buds on this Helleborus foetidus. DSC_0003 It was unseasonably warm on Thursday and Friday with temperatures up in the sixties.  That is not too unusual for this time of year but combined with moisture, these budsDSC_0009 are now doomed as cool air and temperatures arrive.  The New Dawn roses have few remaining leaves and a couple of struggling buds DSC_0012 and ragged blooms and the Rosa glauca is sporting red DSC_0021 for the upcoming season.  Even the Lillum plasticus DSC_0023 are looking  a bit dreary in the garden at this time of year.  I have to say that my favorite bloom is not really a bloom at all but a treasure received from a fellow gardener, Gail of Clay and Limestone.  This fiddlehead DSC_0028 is now glowing in the indoor garden which will have to be featured in next month's Bloom Day post.   Aren't the best things in your garden those which bring to mind the memory of an experience? 


Happy birthday to me!

DSC_0031I celebrated a day early by joining Kris from Blithewold, along with Gail, Lois and many others at their annual fundraiser which featured Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden blog.  Margaret gave an excellent and entertaining presentation on the life of her garden.   I am going to break tradition and print a couple of pictures.  Here is the Blithewold crew working hard at the registration table.  Gail and Kris are smiling and probably happy that they are inside on a cool, rainy day rather than in mud boots.  Img_4253-1 (3) Next is a picture of Kris and Margaret after lunch.Img_4275 (2)   And here is the final of myself and Lois Img_4273 (2) who is a fabulous gardener and a great friend.  We had a wonderful time sitting with like minded gardeners. 


Not so wordless Wednesday


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The walk around the garden reveals this little chick-a-dee sitting behind thisDSC_0016 bamboo.  He looked as if he were wired to the branch he was so still but his little eye Dsc_0018 (2) is checking out the camera.  It was a cool afternoon and is currently only 36F.  The weather station needs a new battery so temperature ranges are interrupted.  I have a macro lens but no telephoto lens so I did get pretty close to this little creature.  The last picture is adjusted  but the other  was taken from about two feet away.  I think he was too chilled to move.   On another note, the pulmonaria is very green under the foliage of this ParrotiaDSC_0007 which has turned bright yellow.  I  actually have two Parrotia persica trees but this one DSC_0004 is Parrotia persica 'Pendula'.  The common name is Persian Parrotia...that is descriptive isn't it?   One would think that the name comes from exotic birds nesting in its' branches.  Not so, it was named after F. W. Parrot a German  plant expert.  It is native to Iran. This is, perhaps, a better view of this small tree.DSC_0002     It is hardy from Zones 4 through 8 and is one of Michael Dirr's favorites according to his information in The Manual of Woody Plants.   Both forms are quite pleasing although the straight species is planted in too much shade at the end of the long border.  It is growing slowly and is quite an elegant tree.  Since I fear the big oak is in decline, it may not have to wait too much longer for more sun.  Do any of you have any experience with this tree?


Wry tales of rye


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Just last week I shot the above picture of the newly born ledge with the field and winter garden in the background.  The rye grass was planted in the open area which is the corn patch.  It will add organic matter to the soil when it is tilled in in the spring.   The rye grass has emerged. DSC_0003 At a time of year when all the lushness of the garden is coming to an end it is a bit contrary to find seed germinating.  This is especially the case when that germination results in such a wide sward of green which is so synonymous with spring.  In the space of a week this landscape is transformed.  Everywhere else in the garden the grass is covered with a coating of oak leaves leaving a burnished, brown scene. DSC_0019 There are still a few spots of color here and there but darkness is fast approaching.  DSC_0008 The fish pond is reflecting that darkness while the grasses illuminate the area with their final fading light.  The Rhododendron mucronulatum is one of the last of the shrubs to show color but it does so with bright beauty. DSC_0012   It is pretty from a distance and is shown at the left of this photo but, up close,DSC_0010 it is a treat which might go unnoticed if not for the attention of the lens and the gardener's eye.  The lawn, such as it is, needs a good raking or blowing.  The leaves will be added to the compost piles of horse manure to decompose. The next 'Bloom Day' is moving indoors up here in New England.   


More ledge revealed!

High 59 F
Low  34 F
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For the past couple weekends, in addition to planting bulbs and other necessary chores, there has been an uncovering of another piece of ledge which sits at the back, northwest corner of the vegetable garden.  Covered ledge is hard to mow and as a result, unsightly and weedy.  The EM and his Dad are taking a look at the situation before the pressure washing commences.  The large rock is sitting on the bony bit of ledge. DSC_0037 We don't own a pressure washer but the EM said he would fix his co-worker's as it was not working properly.  The EM can do anything.  DSC_0036 Tucker is sitting next to the chainsaw created bench which has rotted to the point of collapse.  Tucker is crazy around anything water related but the pressure washer did not interest him.  I think he knew that it could be painful if he wasn't careful.DSC_0040   Pressure washing is dirty work.DSC_0052   Some ledge is nice and hard but this ledge is quite brittle in many areas although the front edge is nicely grooved and at a good angle to the ground.  There is still a bit of fine tuning to do in this area but I like the finished look of the ledge and find it an improvement over the previous ridge. DSC_0015 I could put some fine pea gravel on the top of this to level it and provide a bit of media for assorted alpines. There will be grass planted at the bottom in the dark compost area for ease of maintenance. DSC_0016 What would you do with this area?  Would you plant this or leave it as is?