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December 2010

November 2010

Not just frost

DSC_0089 The temperatures have dipped well below freezing in the past week as evidenced by the skim coating of ice on the fish pond.  I just missed Woodstock's skating episode but his blade marks are still visible.  The morning walk is now over decidedly hard ground although it does still soften up during the day.  Is that something you think of when you are walking?  How hard or soft the ground is beneath your feet? It is something that I have to deliberately think about along with those other subtle but significant physical changes in the natural world.  DSC_0096
The angle and duration of light, the activity of the birds and their specific calls, the color and dryness of the foliage are all seasonal signals. These signals are processed but not perceived until one sits and thinks about them, at least for me.  I think we are all more or less attuned to the changes around us but fine tuning the senses does take practice and purpose as with any worthwhile endeavor.   I notice that the dog's noses are closer to the ground on these cold mornings.  DSC_0095Perhaps to them, the scents are a bit more subtle.  This time of year affords us all the opportunity to refine our senses and pay attention to that which is just as real as the fragrance and color of a rose but which takes a bit more scrutiny and deliberation to discern.  What subtle seasonal change have you noticed in your garden on your daily walk?


The Ledge Garden - Past and Present

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Just one month ago, the ledge garden, which surrounds the ridge of ledge running right down the middle of the garden, looked burnished and bronzed.  A month makes a huge difference.  As temperatures drop and snow falls all the plants in the garden enter dormancy. All that is left are the shapes of things past and future.  I have been thinking that I need to widen this bed just a bit.  The ledge down the middle does create a very shallow planting area against the rock. Room must be left at the back of the bed since the soil is so shallow.  The plants fill in but the narrowness of the bed leaves little room for that layered look which is so desirable.   The first year I planted this garden, I put in lots of annuals.  There was quite a bit of color but not much in the way of texture or dimension.  I think it has come a long way since then but it still has miles to go. A garden is never really finished is it?  Here it is just one month later.  DSC_0022 The leaves need to be raked out, chopped and put back in the bed.  The pot on the stump needs a new stump as this one is leaning precariously although it doesn't really show in this picture.  Stumps, actually this is a log, make good pedestals because they are organic but they need replacing for the same reason.  Decay waits for no one.  I probably should have cleaned this bed up for the last picture but that hasn't happened yet.  The Alberta spruce toward the back of the border is waiting for some lights for the holiday season.  It is getting large enough to require a ladder to reach the top.  This tree is growing into the ledge now and I would love to be able to see its roots twisting and fighting the rock for a stronghold.  At some point, the rock will probably win but, for now, the garden is the better for the spruce's evergreen presence.  


Garden abuse - The winter garden

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The winter garden or GFSD* lies along the north wall of the property. It is home to the boulders which were pulled from the corn patch where they had been growing for centuries.  DSC_0010 It is also home to the 'river of bulbs' and an assortment of shrubs which have been whittled down by the deer and the vagaries of Mother Nature.  During the summer, it is hidden behind the corn patch.  DSC_0011Although hidden, there were some interesting combinations flowering within this border and the 'bench' was a happy, hidden place to sit now and then.  DSC_0002
Any garden which is at a distance and which is not a destination gets little attention from this gardener.  The corn has been harvested and the stalks removed and now, a good patch of winter rye is glowing green in front of the dismal looking winter garden where the annual weeds, now twisted and dry, need removal.  DSC_0010 I did not spread a layer of mulch on this garden in the spring and it certainly shows.  So much of gardening is reflecting on what should have been done and learning not to repeat that mistake.  Honey, I need some mulch.  DSC_0001
The goal for next year is to have this garden neatly edged and mulched and the goal for the future is to have enough plants in this garden that mulch will not be necessary.  Layered plantings equal low maintenance landscapes and that is all important when dealing with a shrub border or a garden which is viewed from afar.

* GFSD - The Garden of Five Sisters and One Daughter was planted in 2007

 


Bloom Day - November 15, 2010

November is a gray month in New England.  Days are often overcast with gloomy clouds and drizzle.  We have had our first heavy frost and our first snowfall within a week of each other.  November is the beginning of the third act.  When the sun does shine, it is very, very bright in the sunlight and the shadows are dark.  Warm and cold. Light and dark. Short and long.  Short days and long nights. There is little left flowering as winter intermission arrives.  The show is over...well almost as here and there are a few bright spots of color.  The pink sheffield is the very last perennial to bloom profusely.  The flowers on this clump are looking quite bedraggled after snow last week.The bees are dragging their wings.  There is little danger of getting stung so getting close poses no threat.  This one is just interested in getting his last sip of nectar.  Bee on pink sheffield
The roses are almost bare but the last buds have struggled open on the warm days 'May Dreams'of Indian Summer which visited this past weekend.  DSC_0080
The foliage of Euphorbia 'Ascot' is pretty enough to be considered a bloom.  It seems to be thriving in this cool weather.   
Next to the front walkway, the entrance garden is hiding under a layer of leaves but there, amidst the debris, is this little bird's foot violet with its very small, white bloom.  DSC_0098-1
It really is the moss on the rocks in this garden  which first catches one's eye as it glows brightly with the low rays of sun shining through the trees highlighting the velvety softness of its surface.   DSC_0006-1 There is one other bloom in my life for which I am eternally grateful.  This November Bloom Day coincides with Mom's birthday.  I have often said that 'No one loves you like your Mom'.  There are few that measure up to the high standards my Mom has set in this world. She has six grown children, eleven grandchildren, three great grandchildren (oops, four) and arms long enough and wide enough to hold us all.  DSC_0081
Happy Birthday Mom.


Snow and puppies

DSC_0034 The last post was titled 'Frost' and it was not a week ago.  This morning's light came a bit earlier due to the time change and the early light was even brighter than normal as there was a coating of snow everywhere.  Not a light coating either.  DSC_0035 A heavy inch plus is right now dragging down the trees and shrubs with leaves still clinging to their unlucky stems.  The grasses around the fish pond have fallen from their majestic six foot height to about a foot of bedraggled, sodden, messy mounds.  DSC_0042 The wind is whipping around as though it were January and the thermometer is hovering around 35F.  Last week the weather professionals guessed that we would be getting warm temperatures mid-week this week.  I was thankful as the rest of the bulbs were supposed to go into the ground, the patio furniture still needs to go into storage and the leaves are thick on the lawn.  DSC_0047
Now they tell me that it will rain right through Thursday and we might have mid-fifties by the weekend.  I should not be surprised that I didn't know it was going to snow or that it was even a possibility.  Mother Nature sometimes gives us the illusion of control but just when she lulls you into a pattern of false hope and confidence, she gets her panties in a knot over one thing or another and asserts herself.   I  planted this Yucca on Saturday inspired by Pam over at 'Digging'.  She gardens in Texas and I enjoy planting something that grows so well in a different region of the country and which reminds me of far away friends.  When I spied this specimen it was sitting at the garden center busting right out of its pot.  DSC_0032-1
The scree/gravel garden has been sitting empty all season and this plant seemed to fit right in.  Until the snow, that is. There is one of us here celebrating the snow.  DSC_0036-1 This is Cooper, now five and a half months old, enjoying his first snow session.  He is smiling as you can see.


Frost

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Is anyone else having problems taking pictures in the morning on the early walk?  The light levels are so low that it is difficult to get a good, frosty shot and by the time the sun is bright, the frost is gone.  DSC_0193
I am breathing a sigh of relief that the annuals can be pulled up and dragged out to the compost heap.  They were looking ragged but who likes to pull out anything with a flower?  It is not easy.  This is not to say that the gardening chores have ended.  DSC_0202
All beds need to be cut back and compost added.  It may happen but more than likely there will be a few that will have to wait until spring.  There are still bulbs waiting to be planted and the lawn is attracting leaves like a nose to a rose.  DSC_0200
I plan to mow and mulch and then add the chopped, mowed leaves to some beds.  That is the plan, now to implement it.  I have not planted the garlic mainly because the peppers were not frosted yet.  I know, I should have just pulled them and planted but there is so much to be done this time of year and the gardening clock is a running a few minutes slow.  I really don't stress over the incomplete jobs, at least not at this time of year.  Spring is a different story don't you think?