Monday, June 12, 2017

What kind of gardener are you?

 

Recently in an attempt to find some other gardeners to chat with, I joined several gardening groups on facebook.  It all seemed so normal at first, plant identification request, questions on mulch, pictures of people’s gardens and flowers. It was all very nice.  Then gradually I started to see a common thread running rampant in these groups, there were so called gardeners who believed the answer to any question was to kill it!  It didn’t matter if it was a native plant, a harmless garter snake or what. Kill, kill, kill was promoted over and over.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, then came the poison it group and the number one promoted item for everything…moth balls. 

What kind of gardeners are these people?

I started gardening, as in I had my own flowers when I was little. Marigolds were (and still are!) my favorite annual. I gradually moved on from annuals to perennials and began carving out my own space in my mom’s yard.  What I learned at her side very early on was that chemicals and death were not the answer to the problems we faced.  If there were certain bugs eating plants, you companion planted to attract the things that would eat those bugs or repel them.  Moles tearing up the yard, my mom planted castor beans and used nematodes for grub control.  Aphids eating roses, bring on the lady bugs!   Poisoning the plant or the soil that was growing our flowers and food wasn’t an option. There was always a better way.

Today I garden the way my mom taught me, I respect the balance that nature has and I do my part to encourage that balance to work. I don’t use pesticides or herbicides in my gardening.  My property is certified by the National Wildlife Federation and by my state as protected habitat. I remove invasive species of plants by hand, I plant native species in an effort to out compete the non native ones and to provide food and shelter for the animals and insects that call my property home.  I nurture any seedling of most native plants (sans poison ivy, oak and sumac because they can grow wild in the untamed woods just on the other side of our fence!) and encourage their growth and spreading.  I also am constantly educating myself on how to garden with nature.  I recently learned that pokeweed berries are a preferred food of eastern blue birds. So now, pokeweed has a place in my garden.

A garden, be it many acres, a few feet or a deck full of planters is a living thing. It provides food and shelter to so many creatures in so many ways.  I can’t look out into my yard and not see nature at work.  I see birds eating seeds, berries and insects, I see all kinds of bees pollinating flowers, I see butterflies, hummingbirds and things I don’t even know the names of yet, flying around and doing whatever it is they do.  They have a purpose, a reason and they fit into this big chain of life.  I see that so clearly.

So me, I guess I’m a humane gardener.

What kind of gardener are you???

Saturday, June 3, 2017

22 days of rain, 2 days of sunshine…

This ‘spring’ has been a roller coaster ride of weather.  We’ve had everything from mid 90’s right to frost warnings.  In addition we were in a moderate drought but after 22 days of rain, that has lifted.

The last 2 days have been beautiful I’m talking crazy beautiful, blue sky, breeze, mid 70’s perfect for getting work done.

Day one found me planting my plethora of plants that I had purchased at the plant sale and nursery trips.  I had already spent a lot of time placing them and deciding where I wanted to plant them.  I actually made note of how large things got and didn’t just plunk stuff down.

Day two I spent mulching and pulling that blasted stilt grass!

IMG_20170602_115121

This is the ‘new’ portion of the woodland bed.  I’ve made it all the way down to the pond path. 

IMG_20170602_115244

This is section behind the pond that is newly planted in, I can hardly believe I had enough plants to get all the way down here!

IMG_20170602_155758

This is the side behind the gazebo, it was mulched and planted in as well.  It looks so nice like this, weeded and mulched. I can’t wait to finish the mulching and start spreading all those woodchips on the paths! 

Then I can move on to the next project, the bird feeder area and my new garden bed.  Of course there is still weeding to do in the back corner, they say damp and rainy again next week, so weed when wet, dig when dry…ish…

Friday, June 2, 2017

Changes…

I know that things have to change, that however doesn’t mean that I have to love it does it?

Given my choice in the matter I would live smack dab in the middle of say 30 acres with nothing but nature around.  I would not see my neighbors house or any other houses for that matter.  This I will say is just in my dna, I was born on a farm, I grew up living in the woods and it’s just in my makeup to want land all around me.

A few years ago our very nice neighbor cut down all her old pines which left her house very much visible.  We opted to plant some evergreens and hollies to try and compensate for that.

Tree Screen 2015

The problem we encountered was one of more mud less grass and my dear husband reached his breaking point and we had the tree company come out.  Me, I only wanted dead branches, or as I call them ‘widow makers’ taken out.  What I got…

DSC_0535

The loss of two large beech trees, a lot of lower limbs and a clear view of the neighbors house.  Sigh…

I can’t really plant anything in this area as this is Cooper’s Corner.  He and Tucker love to play tag around the trees and watch the comings and goings on.  So what is a girl to do? 

On the bright side, all the stick piles are gone and we were left with this..

DSC_0536

Two truck loads of woodchips!  These will be used to mulch Cooper’s Corner all the way to the shed.  Spread all along the deer fence on the inside, to cover all my paths in my woodland gardens and the rest will be spread out in front of and behind the woodland bed to rid us of all the weeds.  The best part, Antonio, the tree guy said he would keep me supplied with woodchips.  Yes I’m a simple girl…

Now I must research what I can plant that will grow outside the fence that the deer won’t eat so that we can mute the view of my very nice neighbors house. 

All I know is that grass better grow!!!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Weather, minis, testing and wishes…

I’m sure that somewhere along the way this weather happened before.  I’m sure that we’ve have a wild spring that saw soaring heat and hard frost in the same month.  I’m sure that this cool wet spring isn’t a first.  I’m also sure that while I’m very grateful for the rain, I’d rather not get all we need in less than a month.

Today it’s waffling between sun and ominous clouds so I didn’t want to commit to do anything that might leave me in a lurch if it started pouring down rain.  I decided to plant up the mini hosta that I bought at the plant sale.  I’m making one planter my mouse collection I think I’ll even get a little mouse to decorate it with.  I had no idea that there were so many mini hosta varieties and it would be easy to become a collector of them.  I told my mom I think I’m now inflicted with hostaitis.

DSC_0014 (8)

Blue Mouse Ears

DSC_0016 (8)

Lemon Frost

I went through a time when I didn’t label my plants, then I went through a time when I did.  I liked having the names there, not sure why but I did.  My markers were metal and two things happened to them, they either rusted or got crushed by feet.  Now I can’t do anything about the crushing part but I want to label my plants, especially my natives.  I have a lot of markers left so I wasn’t going to buy new ones that wouldn’t rust, so I decided to test a theory.  I got some rustoleum spray paint and I’m painting the part that goes in the ground with it.  If it doesn’t rust I’ve solved my problem, if it still rusts, maybe I’ll get that incredible dip stuff to try Smile with tongue out 

While I was doing all of this I was thinking that if I had a garden shed with my very own workbench and a potting area outside of that I’d be so happy.  I could have easily spent the entire day in there puttering around.  Painting garden markers, painting and decorating planters, maybe even making a faerie garden.  Alas, at this time, it’s only a dream…

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Compost is going to happen!

I have had bins, I have had big round compost heaps and they have all had the same frustrating outcome…no compost.  I admit it, I want to dump it and forget about it.  My worms make awesome compost and compost tea, but it’s not very much even with all I feed them.  So I decided to get myself a new compost bin.
DSC_0364
Every gardner needs a compost bin right and this one it’s a spinning style with two chambers.  I can’t wait to start filling it up with kitchen scraps and some leaf matter and maybe some grass clippings!  I am hoping that with the ability to turn it and the fact that I can sit it somewhere that it will actually get some sun that I’ll actually get compost.  I want compost for my garden not just my house plants and containers.
Wish me luck!

Woodland weeding…

 

I don’t have normal weeds, then again, I don’t have your typical garden either.  Remember I’m carving my garden out of a section of weeds, I mean woods.

When I think of the woods I think of several inches of rich moist leaf matter scattered below a lovely canopy of trees.  I think of understory trees and native flowers scattered through out and sun light being gently filtered onto the forest floor.  That however is not my reality.

DSC_0482

This is my reality.  A mess of weeds that I don’t know what they are, plus the ones that I do know and hate with a passion!  Japanese honeysuckle and oriental bittersweet mat the ground, climb and choke the trees and are growing like mad up the deer fence. Dog rose is easy enough to get up when the ground is wet and I’m double gloved. More shrubs to pull out are Japanese barberry and Euonymus alatus, a.k.a. burning bush. There are also these stinking trees and by stinking I mean they smell bad.  They are sprouting all over the place and they are as hard as heck to pull up. Oh and the poison ivy there is so much of it, I’ve never seen so much in my garden or the woods in all the time we’ve lived here! The worst is the Japanese stilt grass and now some sort of other grass that is similar but bigger and wavy. 

Complicating this issue is the fact that there are indeed native plants fighting to survive in all this mess, American Holly saplings, Mayapples, Jack in the Pulpit, Solomons seal and Virginia creeper.  Further around in here are ferns and birds foot violets and some other delicate wildflowers that bloom in the early spring. 

Ideally, I’d love to just take a brush mower through here and be done with it.  My conscience won’t let me though because I think about the critters that live in the leaves and well, by hand it is.

DSC_0484

I pulled, tugged, ripped and yanked my way through and if I left it, it’s because it’s a native plant, (or possibly I missed it). Most of what I left is Maple leafed viburnums, they are everywhere and I’m okay with that.  It’s a native, it makes berries for the birds and flowers for the pollinators and is very pretty.

The next overcast day I’ll be back at it!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How a garden grows..

I’ve been going through and labeling my gardening pictures.  I always planned to make a scrapbook that showed how the garden changed over the years.  Looking at the pictures has made me very aware of how much has changed, how the trees have grown and even the loss of some plants. 

Vegetable Garden 2002 (2)

Look at all that sun this was 2002!  There was so much sun that I had a vegetable garden.  That’s pretty amazing.  Things change though, the maple trees grew and grew.

Section 1 2009

No garden but there are those maple trees.  Just a mess of leaves and weedy brambles and vines in 2009.

2010-7-6 (8)

In 2010 we built the new pond right were the vegetable garden had been, between those maple trees.

DSC_0006 (8)

The maple trees are still there in 2011, but we’ve got a gazebo base, over looking the pond.

IMG_5203

2012 the gazebo is up and it’s when we added the stream, the fieldstone walls and the bog.

DSC_0038 (4)

Big changes in 2014 when we cleared the weeds and installed the deer fence, so much was about to change in a way I never dreamed of.  All those years of dreaming of plants not being eaten by the deer.  Of having quiet paths that meandered through a woodland garden rich with natives and shade lovers.  A place that was quiet and peaceful, with niches to sit in and just relax.

DSC_0490

2017 finds me still working but well on my way to achieving the dream I have.  Some day I’ll be able to walk all through my gardens with less weeds and less work.  Until then I’m going to keep relishing all the changes and enjoying every moment of striving towards my dream.

DSC_0492

What kind of gardener are you?

  Recently in an attempt to find some other gardeners to chat with, I joined several gardening groups on facebook.  It all seemed so normal...