Friday, August 31, 2018

The Lost Season

The weather this gardening season has not been conducive to gardening.  We had cold weather up through May.  Then the rains came and continued to come for weeks on end.  I watched helplessly as the weeds took over everything.  After the rain, the staggering, breath-stealing heat and humidity hit and it has been like that for a very long time.  The bugs are bad, the weeds out of control and the garden is a mess.  I can only think that fall may finally offer some relief and allow me to spend some time outside.  The weather is changing and not for the better.

On the bright side of things, I've had a bumper crop of monarchs this year.  The milkweed bloomed during the constant rains and I feared that there was no nectar to be had.  I guess the plants provided them with places to lay eggs because my front porch is decorated with the lovely little jade green jewels.

So far there have been 6 of them and one caterpillar that didn't make it, the spiders got him (which I also have a bumper crop of this year!)  However I did spy this guy last night and have been watching him to see the amazing process.
He's hanging off our handrail, a much safer place than the logs of the porch as the spiders love all the corners a bit too much.  

So far 4 of my wards have taken flight, one I rescued yesterday morning as it was sitting incredible close to a very large orb weavers web and since I could not find the spider I didn't want it getting any ideas.  This morning I was fortunate enough to spy another hatchling and nab a picture of it.
To me this is such a special gift, to know that my little patch of milkweed is providing what these beauties need to continue their life cycle.  So many humans do so much damage to this amazing world of ours, not realizing that each insect, animal, and plant has a part to play in the web of life.  All I can do is tread as lightly as I can and cause as little harm as possible.

While I was snapping the picture of the monarch, movement caught my eye and lo and behold the orb weaver appeared.  I suspect slightly chafed with me for stealing the meal yesterday!
I was very surprised to see how small this one was in comparison to the web it has.  The web (which I have no idea how to get a photo of) is about three foot by three foot around.  It's massive and is connected to the porch swing, the top of the porch and the birdhouse hanging from a hook as well as the lower rail!  This spider was not messing around when it made its home on my porch.  

For now, I sit inside and watch the weeds grow and flourish.  My mother laments on the critters that come to her yard and eat her plants.  I would love to have something that would eat the stiltgrass and whatever this noxious weed is that is taking over everything, however, Randy continues to say no to goats.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weather woes and spring cleaning

Greetings!  It is that time again when I begin to regale you with my tales of gardening, nature and outside happenings!

Alas, we once again had no true winter to speak of.  Sadly the best snow we got was actually just a few weeks ago.  It was a beautiful snow, the wet heavy kind that sticks to the trees and makes everything seem so ethereal, if only for a short while.  The snow was gone within twenty-four hours, all seven inches of it.

The weather has been all over the place.  I have heard Mother Nature being referred to as 'bi-polar', 'off her meds' and even 'hormonal'.  The irony to me about all of this is that historically, the weather is doing what it always does, whatever the heck it wants to!

Friday and Saturday found us basking in sunshine and almost ninety degrees.  Too hot, too fast for every living being.  It also meant it was time to get the pond circulating again and find out were there any fish left!

Tucker was quick to answer the fish question!  They are not only in there but they are huge and beautiful.  I still would like to get a couple of Koi since the current residents are so shy and hardly want to eat in front of you.

We had a great net up over the pond this past winter, huge and with a tight enough weave that it keep the blasted poplar seeds out.  It was glorious until the freak wind storm came and ripped it out of the ground and uncovered the pond!  So it will take a few days of circulating to get a good visual on the bottom and find out just how much muck is down there.  Thankfully, the rocks are gone so getting the leaves out should be fairly easy and not require much more than the pond rake!

We invested a little bit of extra energy to clear the leaves away from the flower beds that I worked so hard on last year.  While doing what we gardeners do in the spring I was delighted to find something lovely blooming among the leaves.

A beautiful bloodroot!  There were lots of flowers blooming, lungworts, Lenten roses and even a blue Anemone has made it's way to that side of my garden!  Of course, the false marsh marigold is everywhere but I saw pollinators all over them, so I can't complain too much.  Even some of the woodland poppies have burst open with their happy yellow flowers. 

So while it felt like summer yesterday, today the temperature will be forty-four degrees.  Which in all honesty would be more pleasant to work in!  I told Randy that next year, I'm going out in my parka and layers to clear the leaves from the flower beds because now they are up and mulching is going to be a challenge!

Happy Spring-Winter-Summer Weekend!

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!


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


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!


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


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…


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..


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

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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.
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!

The Lost Season

The weather this gardening season has not been conducive to gardening.  We had cold weather up through May.  Then the rains came and contin...