Saturday, May 29, 2010

letting go..

I don't know about other gardeners, but me I get attached to plants and trees.  The become such a part of life in my garden that imaging the garden without them is almost painful.  Recently I’ve had to let go of a pair of hollies that were growing in front of my porch.  
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Now for me these were more than just shrubs, unruly as they were they provided berries that brought a host of birds including cedar waxwings and great cover for my feathered friends as well.  When I asked my husband to prune them it didn’t occur to me that his method would leave me with little more than a stump.  The  kicker was he only took out one of them, leaving behind a very oddly misshapen clump.  Really it was heart wrenching for me to see those hollies in that state.
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Each time I walked past this area, (which is a million times a day) I would just cringe.  It looked awful with half a holly there.  I started filling the area left open by the other holly with various annuals, that the butterflies would find appealing.  This bed stays pretty wet so it’s a great place for various milkweeds and it’s one of the sunnier spots in my yard.  The cringing continued until I could stand it no more and I removed the rest of the hollies myself. 
I realized that sometimes I just have to let go and start over.  The ‘stumps” left behind already have new growth coming out and the removal even though drastic opened up this bed for plating of other flowers that need more sun than I get in other places in the yard.
I guess learning this lesson was timely, because next week, my tree guy is coming to take down 130’ poplar that is heaving out of the ground.  Talk about changing the landscape!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leaves of three…

I grew up with that threaded into my subconscious, those three leaves were to be the way to tell if a plant was poison ivy or oak.  Well, as a kid that’s great you just go about your business and avoid anything with three leaves, no problem.  What happens though when you become a gardener and lo and behold, some of the things you grow look remarkably similar!  If you are a gardener like me chances are you might have possibly, by mistake, pulled up a plant that looked a lot like that leaves of three culprit only to find out later, that it wasn’t (in which case if you are like me you may actually shed a tear when you realize it was something you really, really wanted to have growing!!!)
So today I’m going to share some pictures with you of some plants that could be mistaken for poison ivy, but that aren’t. 
DSC_0049 These are trillium a lovely flower that blooms in the spring, these are young trillium that have spread on their own.  They are also why I’m posting this today..because alas, I mistakenly pulled up several smaller ones before I realized the error.  I’m not sure if there is anything as painful as realizing you’ve just ripped out baby plants of something you’ve been trying to get established in your garden!
DSC_0050   This looks deceptively like poison oak/ivy but it’s not, it’s called Honewort.  It gets tall and blooms with delicate white flowers.  The size and thickness of the stem as an adult plant was the dead giveaway that it wasn’t the dreaded ivy.  
 DSC_0052 This is a Virginia Creeper vine climbing up a tree.  Not really the three leaf threat, but many people think it’s poison ivy.  I guess because it climbs and because it also turns a beautiful red in the fall.  It’s a native vine and I’m happy to have it all over my property!
DSC_0053  This looks like it but look closer and you’ll see it’s just a standard bramble.  Poison ivy doesn’t have thorns, so while care needs to be used when pulling this up, it isn’t because it’s going to make you break out with little red bumps!
Now in case you run across something in your yard that you think might be poison ivy but you aren’t sure here is a great site to help you out. It’s called Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Information Center.  I don’t know if they still do it or not, but for a while they’ve been identifying pictures and telling people if it’s one of the itchy three.  Just going through that gallery will help you see what is and isn’t one of the little stinkers.
Oh and I would have happily posted a picture of the stuff growing in my gardens somewhere, if I could have found any!  The two places that it was recently, I pulled it out using a plastic shopping bag over my gloved hand and arm.  That’s my preferred method of removal, because it’s usually only a piece or two, thankfully!

Friday, May 14, 2010

It’s a start…

I know what I want the pond to look like when it’s all finished.  I know what I the whole yard to look like, but getting there is slow when I’m the primary landscaper!  So I do a little at a time, moving along at what feels like a snails pace, but loving what happens when the pieces start to come together. 
waterfall  I started last week on building the wall around the waterfall box.  I had to level the dirt a little and I still need to order the ‘faux’ rock cover for the canister itself, but today I finally finished it up! 
front planting area I also started on some landscaping at the edges.  I want to cut back on some of the rock and liner that is showing.  I don’t know that I’ll leave the rocks there as edging, but for now they are making a break between mulch and grass.  I planted some Carex and ferns in this bed, along with some annual salvia and miniature zinnias.
back planting area I did something similar on the other side scale wise.  That bed has a butterfly weed, a miniature goldenrod and the annual salvias.  Now where my vision is really grand is on this side.  I either want to level this area out and put down small stones, a few stepping stones to set the chairs and a small table on, or I want to build a very low deck.  I want a pergola over this sitting area and I want to plant my native wisteria and native clematis to climb either side.  Where that dirt pile is I want to clear out and plant that area full of ferns so it looks lush and cool!  Yeah, the vision is there, the implementation just takes time!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I've always loved taking pictures, I've never mastered the art of getting what I see with my eyes to match the image that comes out of the camera though. I got a new camera for my birthday and it makes taking really nice pictures pretty easy. I still haven't mastered the what I see is what I get, but I'm working on it!

So today I'm sharing some of my recent pictures!
Up first the bandit of my feeders! I bought hot pepper bird seed to stop the squirrels from eating it. Guess my squirrels didn't get the memo that they aren't supposed to like their food spicy!

These are my yellow Louisiana Iris blooming in the pond. In the background, my well trained fish that believe if I'm near it means food!

Here we have Ms. Zoe she looks like she's thinking about something really complicated to me.

Then there's Dakota who debates where to lay in the sun and when he gets to eat next...

Finally, one of my favorite birds a Cardinal. They are beautiful year round!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A visitor...

I live in the woods and I have lots of animals around the house all the time. I'm not talking about my pets, I'm talking about the wild ones. Now our property is densely forested and so even in the middle of the day with the sun blazing, places in my yard can look dusky. That of course means that those furry friends that you don't normally see out during the day will occasionally show up in the yard. It isn't uncommon for me to see deer, fox and yes even raccoons mingling with the squirrels and birds.

So when I opened the door to let the dogs out and saw there was company in the yard I wasn't overly surprised. Though I suspect my asking of my visitor to please cease in eating my birdseed was a bit of a surprise to them. I didn't let the dogs out, but came back inside and grabbed some of the hot dog rolls that were destined to be critter cuisine anyway and took them out to my company. Below the inspection process is taking place, the weary eyes watched me as I tossed the bread into the vicinity, but quickly came to investigate as I stepped back to the porch.

My visitor didn't take long in deciding that the Martin's Potato roll was good enough to eat and wasted no time in taking their snack to a near by tree to eat, while of course keeping an eye on the strange lady that tossed something so delectable out!

I sat for a long time on the porch watching my furry company enjoying the snack. I'm so incredibly blessed to be able to live so close to nature and even more blessed I think, that I have the sense to appreciate what it is that I do have. I truly believe that all animals can sense when they are safe and I really like to believe that all of my visitors, furred, feathered and even scaled know that here, they are indeed welcome, safe and appreciated!

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 agai...