Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Sunny Saturday

Well, I am beginning to sound a bit like a broken record but I have to say it...It was another, lovely, sunny day. Ever since last Saturday we have been blessed with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Thursday we even saw a high of 62 degrees. Today wasn't quite as warm, but it was still incredibly pleasant to be outside. I have a long "to-do" list of outside chores and it was just the day to try and tackle one.

But before I got too industrious, I felt that a nice walk around the property was in order. On January 2nd,  I posted that the "Early Sensation " daffodils were coming up. Well, with all of this unseasonably warm weather, they are really growing. Most of them are now showing some yellow color in the tips, and a few, as pictured below, are awfully close to blooming. Will we have a blooming daffodil in January ? They have two more days to make it!

Down in the lower meadow by the road, we planted two groups of "February Gold" Narcissus. Over the ensuing years, the rodents have moved the bulbs and they are now a bit scattered and unorderly. At this point, they haven't naturalized as promised or multiplied. But they also haven't completely disappeared either. We seem to always get 7-8 brave little plants poking through the oak leaf layer. Quite often we can't even find them until they fully open and we have the yellow trumpets to guide our eye. However, today I was able to locate many of them. They are about 3-4 inches tall and you can just make out the bud as it pushes up between the leaves. The one pictured below has managed not to get moved from its original planting site next to the marker.

After my walk it was time to get down to business! The flowerbed next to the mudroom had sprouted quite a bit of grass and other assorted weeds over the last 5 months. It was looking pretty sad and the spring bulbs planted in it are just starting to come on. I certainly want the bed to look nice when the bulbs are blooming. We also have quite a few choice perennials in this bed, many purchased just last year. With all of the grass it was quite difficult to gauge whether they had survived December's cold temperatures or if we had lost a few of them. Below, the "Before" picture! Can you find the clump of Narcissus?

After 2+ hours, I had about 2/3 of the flowerbed weeded. My back and my stamina were both giving out, so I called it a day. It was so nice though, to have the chance - in January no less - to be digging in the dirt with the sun on my face. I even got warm enough that I had to take off my fleece jacket. Now the Narcissus and the grape hyacinth to the right have some elbow room. Within the next month I should be posting pictures of both of them in full bloom - weed free!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January Sunshine

Today was a glorious January day. The sky was a clear, bright blue, and the temperature hit somewhere in the mid-fifties. It was very hard to imagine all of the cold & sub-zero temperatures that the rest of the country is battling right now. In fact, it was very hard to imagine that Spring is still 2 months away! Of course, I had to get out of the house and go for a walk. The wild Filberts on the property are just now beginning to "bloom".  The male flowers are represented by catkins. In Winter the catkins are short, sausage shaped tubes in a dull brown tone. As the weeks progress they lengthen to up to two inches and turn a pale green/yellow color as the pollen is released.

Above is a shot of some branches and the male catkins. Below, the young catkins and their bract-like scales.

I also found some interesting moss on my walk. The intricate patterns really popped in the bright sunshine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A rainy weekend and beginning to plan

It has been one rainy weekend around here! It alternately rained and then poured most all of yesterday and on through the night. This morning our 2" rain gauge was completely full. The rain has continued today with flood warnings now being issued for certain areas of the valley. During one downpour this morning our gutters were overwhelmed and I caught the below picture.

It was definitely not a day for outdoor activities.With this in mind I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about the 2011 garden. More specifically the 2011 dahlia patch.  I know there are many, many gardeners who have already planned this year's garden and have ordered all the seeds and supplies that they will need. But to be honest, I am still in full "hibernation" mode. While I am excited for the upcoming gardening year, I am really not mentally or physically ready to start up again. But I am also very aware that the calender says we are half way though January, so I had better at least begin to do a bit of planning. Before I got out my catalogs and started ordering up a storm, I thought it would be wise to pull out my stored dahlia tubers and check on their condition.

I have 2 full boxes of tubers in the garden storage room. Each variety is wrapped in saran wrap and labeled on the outside with masking tape. The saran wrap allows me to view the condition of the tubers without opening up the wrapping which is really nice. I went through both boxes and was pleased that I found no more than 3 or 4 tubers with rot. That means I can spend my money on new varieties that I hope to try instead of replacing old varieties that were lost in storage. I should also have plenty of tubers to donate to my local Dahlia Society for fundraising. Alright catalogs, here I come.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Already promises of things to come

This morning was another cold one. The world was covered in a heavy white frost and the temperature was somewhere in the mid-twenties. By late morning the frost had burned off, but I don't think we ever hit 40 degrees. The weather made for another invigorating, nice afternoon walk. Even though we are only officially 12 days into Winter, it is amazing all of the signs of Spring that I saw. I always forget, year to year, just how early our "Early Sensation" daffodils begin to pop up out of the ground. Last year they were blooming by February 7th, so it shouldn't be surprising to see them up and growing already. Even though this gardener is still enjoying her Winter time of rest and recovery, Mother Nature has already started the new growing year. I better open up all of those seed catalogs that have been arriving and start making some plans!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! Today dawned bright, with blue skies and cold temperatures. At around 3:00 PM I decided I needed a break from cleaning up the Christmas mess and went for a walk around the property. It was only 37 degrees and I was glad to be wearing my down-filled jacket. I went down to the big garden and filled up the bird feeder. Lots of bird action in the brush between the chick-a-dees and the jays. Everywhere I hiked, that was North facing or heavily shaded, still had remnants of the snow 2 nights ago. Although cold, I really love this weather. It is such a nice break from our normal grey Winter skies and endless drizzle.