Thursday, April 26, 2007

Let's take a walk on the wild side!

This morning I was sure to take the camera with me when I took my walk to the bottom of the hill. Going down there is always an adventure, with so very many things to check out. As I have said, it is a completely different world there. Here is a partial view of my Virginia Blue Bell field at the bottom of the old, old Walnut tree.

Here are a few Mandrakes. These are a really neat tropical rain forest looking type of plant. Each stem only holds one or two hand sized leaves. One flower will appear underneath the leaves and then a small fruit called a May Apple) will appear after the flower. The plants will go dormant until next spring shortly after bearing the fruit.

This picture of Norris Run creek is looking east. There are two trees right there that have fallen across. Chris and I have straddled them and worked our way across when it was too deep to wade (it was also winter and too cold to get wet). Our 12 and 13 year old boys hop up and run across like a gymnast on a balance beam.

Here is the creek looking north-west into the state park. It is always shallower that way farther away from the river.

Here is another view looking east. The beach on the left is getting bigger and bigger.

Across from the ever enlarging beach is our bank that is getting smaller and smaller. This recent erosion took at least 6 foot away.

Here is a picture of the old spillway. There used to be a large pond on this side that when it was too full, would overflow back into the creek. One of the previous owners partially filled the pond and reconfigured the creek. When there is a lot of rain, water still flows over the spillway.

Here is where the water ends after flowing over the spillway. We frequently see frogs and tadpoles and fish in there, Chris has even seen a turtle. The creek is just beyond the brush pile at the top of the photo.

Here is a picture of the house and barn from the spillway. They are quite a ways apart. Like I said, a completely different world.

Here is the old Walnut tree where the field of Virginia Blue Bells lay at the base. It is a magnificent tree.

This picture was taken topside, from the south side of the property looking north. That mess in the middle is the partially filled pond. The creek is just beyond it and you can see the spillway off in the upper right corner. The old Walnut tree is out of the picture on the right.

I hope you enjoyed the walk with me this morning!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fade to Purple...

I transplanted 8 Virginia Blue Bells from the base of the hill below the giant Walnut tree to my Maple bed top side. Top side refers to the top side of the hill, which is where the house and barn are. The bottom of the hill is a completely different world from top side. It is much more secluded, has awesome plants running wild (including the Virginia Blue Bells field), Norris Run creek, an old partially filled in pond, a spillway, and lots of wildlife.
Anyway, I transplanted the Virginia Blue Bells when they were around 8 inches tall. They are just starting to bloom-so beautiful! Next year I will be transplanting many many more top side.

This Blue Creeping Phlox is also starting to bloom. It looks quite snazzy by the rock wall with the Grape Muscari blooming up against it.
Here is a partial look at the Maple bed, named for the 4 Maple trees that the bed surrounds. In this section I have the Virginia Blue Bells, Grape Muscari, Hostas, various tulips and daffodils, Lily of the Valley, and maybe some weeds too. I have started planting my newly painted wheel barrel with saved from last year Geraniums, Bachelor Buttons that I winter sowed this year and Spider Plants from in the house. I still have an entire section empty and ready for me to plant.

I moved one of my newly made 'garden balls' outside to the brick path. Too bad the internet satellite dish is part of the flower bed. On the right is a Purple Leaf Sandcherry getting ready to bloom.

I started dragging house plants outdoors. These are all under the eaves close to the front door where it will be quick and easy to toss them back inside if needed. Hopefully they can stay out and in a couple more weeks I can plant them all into the ground and use those plant stands for something else during the summer.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The winds...

For 2 solid weeks we have been battling high winds from the west and north and east. Winds high enough to bring down branches, bend flowers over, blow leaves from flower beds, and keep me from getting out and doing any gardening. Even getting on the internet has been thwarted by the wind; we have satellite internet due to our rural location and wind or clouds or rain keeps up from getting a signal.
Things have survived the cold temperatures, the snow, the sleet, the frost. Tulips are still budded, Grape Hyacinth's still blooming, creeping Phlox ready to burst open.
Some things may not have, we will see: Lilacs buds seemingly freezer burnt, Buckeye tree leaves wilted and drooping.

I have been busy with indoor gardening projects instead. We went to a neighbor's auction last week and I picked up 2 old wheel barrels full of bags of mulch, dirt, sand and flower pots for a whole dollar. It was pouring down rain and neither would fit into the trunk or back seat of the car, so Chris and Taylor wheeled them home in the rain.
The little wheel barrel is going to make a perfect portable planter. I cleaned it up, drilled holes in the bottom (it is already cracked in a couple spots anyway) and gave it a few coats of paint. It's now sitting and curing, while I wait for the weather to ease.
I have also been making some new gazing balls. I really love making these. I lay out different colors in different patterns until I find "the one" and then transfer it to the bowling ball. My supply of balls is running low though, so I may be taking a break from this until I can get stocked up again.

Spring weather predicted are here this week, so I will finally be able to get back out into the yard. I am in a plant swap over at Plant Trader's, so I have to dig some stuff up to send to New York. This is always a fun time, as I will get a box full of plants in the mail in the next week or so in trade.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Frosting anyone?

Adding insult to injury, Old Man Winter sure is doing his best to push Mother Nature around. With the cold snap, so many injured trees and plants really didn't need the frost on top of it all.
Hopefully last night was the last freeze warning, but I am sure he isn't done yet. Luckily the sedum above is quite tough.
Hmmmm......frosted Pansy's. Luckily they will rebound, pretending to dislike the cold.
These Delft Blue Hyacinth's are planted in a less sunny location than others that I have, or they would have already bloomed by now. With our second Spring on its way, it will be nice to have these to smell.
I have very few Quince flowers this year. A year ago this shrub was a riot of red blooms, but an early freezing rain killed off most of the buds, except for these few at the base. There's always next year.
This Japanese Maple is a tough one. Although these new leaves may end up falling off, this tree can withstand a lot. It has been moved at least 4 times, endured leaf burn from too much sun and now this. It will still be beautiful.
It still looks like the dead of winter here. How is it that the cold, freezing, frosty temperatures never seem to affect the dandelions, the poison ivy, the thistles, the mint, the blasted garlic mustard, and all of those other annoying weeds? The underbelly of the yard seems to thrive on adverse conditions and come out stronger and tougher each time.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The stuff that Spring is made of

Ahh, the wonderful smells and sights of Hyacinth blooming. When the wind dies down this entire area is intoxicating with the fragrance of Hyacinthus Orientalis 'Splendid Cornelia'. This little rock wall is a nice place to sit take in the scenery. These Hyacinth are right at their peak.

Chris and I spent a few hours getting this bed cleared out of overgrown Yellow Loosestrife and Garden Phlox. The Loosestrife was so rampant that it was growing underneath the siding of the house. Luckily it is very easy to remove after a good rain. The purple Garden Phlox, which was beautiful last year, was just too thick and (gasp!) there was too much of it in one spot.
If the wind would die down for one day, I am going to get it all covered in newspaper and leaf mulch to hopefully suppress any strays from coming up. The great thing about digging in this soil was the large quantities of worms that we found. Every handful held two or three wigglers, it was great!!

I was able to finally start dragging out some of my warm weather garden goodies, such as these hypertufa leaves made last year. They are perfect additions to my new drainage area, covering up the spout perfectly.

I don't normally buy any annual flowers, but couldn't pass up these pretty pansy's. I love this color! To me, this color epitomizes Spring.

I pulled out a couple of geraniums that I overwintered in a paper bag in the garage this winter. This is the first time that I have tried this, so I am not only excited that it is time to get them going, I am also very skeptical that this really works. We will see.

Of course, I am not done seed starting. This is Lavendula angustifolia 'Lavender, Lady'. I am not skeptical about this growing at all. Having grown many Lavender plants from seed over the years, I am excited to have some planted here. What beautiful blooms and wonderful fragrance they produce. I have even been able to make sachet bundles from them.

Virginia Blue Bells are popping up at the bottom of the hill like crazy, so I remembered that I wanted to move some of them topside this year. A delicate plant that will go dormant after blooming, it is critical to move them as young as possible. So far I have dug up a dozen of them and put most of them around the edge of this front flower bed. These will be beautiful to see out the front window.

This is how they looked last year. Imagine my surprise to find this wonderful mass of them, this picture only showing a quarter of them.