Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weeding and Emerging Spring Bulbs

Finally, on this last day of the year, the fog disappeared and the sun came out. It felt so nice to be working outside in the warm 52 degree weather. I took advantage of the sunshine and spent an hour cleaning up the west end flowerbed. I worked quite a bit on the front of the bed where the narcissus and other small bulbs are planted. Many of the "Kokopelli" jonquil are up a good 2" now. I counted 37 stems with blooms on this clump last year so I am curious how it will perform this, its third year.

I am guessing - and hoping - that this little emerging group is either my "Snipe" or my "Sabrosa" daffodils. Both of my small little clumps have lost their tags and I can't remember exactly where they are each planted. I am sure however, that the emerging green tips pictured below belong to my clump of "Topolino" narcissus. They are just starting to appear, so I was glad to get the ground around them weeded and level today.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cleaning up the Mudroom Bed

This afternoon, with the assistance of Mom, I was able to finish cleaning up the mudroom bed for the winter. We cut off all of the dead stalks and trimmed back the perennials. Certain plants, like our many salvia varieties, I will give another further haircut in the Spring. 

It was great to see how many plants have already started to form next year's new growth. We were all a little concerned that some of the plants would have suffered some damage during our extreme cold weather in early December. As you can see, poking out from their base, most of the perennials have new green leaves and shoots. The one great mystery is our "Black & Blue" salvia. It has managed to overwinter for the last two years. Will we get lucky again this year or did our -10 degree night finish it off? We will get our answer in March when it should begin sending up new growth.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Winter Solstice

By Tommy Makem

Winter, a sharp bitter day
the robin turns plump against the cold
the sun is weak
silver faded from gold
he is late in his coming and short in his stay
Man, beast, bird and air all purging, all cleansing,
earth already purified awaits the rite of spring
Her bridal gown a virgin snow and frosts in her hair
A snowdrop by the road today bowed gracefully
and high upon the wind up in the sparkling nothingness,
a lone bird began to sing
can gentle spring be far away?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nine Days Later

It has been nine days since our big December 6th snowfall. But it has only been three days since the temperature finally got above the freezing mark. While the snow is now mostly gone in town, we still have quite a bit left on our property. While it has completely disappeared from the trees and shrubs, the shaded areas on the ground are still covered with a few inches of snow.

I walked down to my big garden to fill up the bird feeder. As you can see, the garden is still mostly covered in white. I am reminded of yet another reason that this is perhaps not such an ideal place to garden! I am sure the Native Americans has some saying about not planting in the last place the snow resides!

I found a nice set of these tracks. I am pretty sure that they belong to a raccoon.

During this incredible cold spell, I have been very concerned about my garlic. I planted it late and it was only in the ground maybe ten days before the temperatures dropped. The last time that I checked on it, I had 10 "Chenook Red" bulbs up and none of the "Russian Red"  bulbs up. I know that some varieties of garlic are originally from the Ukraine and garlic as a whole is very, very cold hardy. But my garlic wasn't planted very deep and it didn't have a protective cover of mulch. 

So I was very please today when I pulled back the remay tunnel and saw a bunch of healthy green shoots! I counted 15 "Chesnook Red", so all of those bulbs are now up and growing. I also counted 4 "Russian Red" garlic shoots. So, even during this bitterly cold weather, the garlic has continued to grow. I still have 8 more "Russian Red" that have yet to come up but I am not longer worried. I bet when I check again around New Year's Day, I will have 100% of the crop accounted for. Garlic is tough stuff!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Cold Beautiful Sunrise

Another cold morning; the low hit 9 degrees. But as this arctic cold front lingers over our region, it is also keeping the storms away. With such clear skies, each morning and evening we have been treated to beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Somehow the pink is even prettier set against all of the white snow still on the ground and in the trees.And speaking of snow....our poor little conifer down by the main gate, that we decorated with lights, is completely covered in a dome of powder! It actually looks pretty cool at night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Record Cold

Wow is it cold outside. This morning at 7:00 AM the temperature recorded at the airport was -10 degrees. It turned cold quickly last night. By 11:07 PM it was already -7 degrees, which beat Saturday's all time record low.

At 10:30 this morning I bundled up and went for a walk. After filling all of the bird feeders, I decided to walk down the secret path. It looks like a deer crossed the bridge during the last day.

As I crossed the bridge I discovered the creek was half frozen.

The ice was covered with such pretty patterns.

Then I hiked further down the path. Again, I wasn't the first creature to have walked this was since the snow fell.

Rose hips glowing in the hedgerow.

I pushed my was back through the thicket to a different view of the creek.

It is so pretty, rimmed in snow and ice.

You could still see and hear it running in a few places.

While I was admiring the creek, I heard the familiar call of a pileated woodpecker. He finally flew overhead and landed on a dead tree between the creek and the main road.

He was to far out of range for me to get a good, clear picture. But I was still able to get a few snaps. Pileated woodpeckers are beautiful birds, but especially so against a snowy white background.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Walk in the Snow

It was so nice, after yesterday's 8" snowfall, to have the whole weekend off to enjoy it! With the temperature not expected to climb above freezing all weekend, I will have two days off to play in the snow.

I got up early and took some pictures before the sun had risen over the hill.

With no wind, everything stayed caked and covered in snow.

I started my hike down the driveway. I think this must be deer tracks coming out of the woods.

The tree branches looked so pretty outlined in white.

The only marks in the snow where tire trails and animal prints.

We decorated our front gate last weekend. It certainly looks festive covered in a blanket of powdery snow.

Looking down the road toward town.

And looking the opposite way. Not a car in sight!

I walked in the peaceful silence down to my big garden. 

The blue gate glows in the fresh snow.

A perfect blanket over my garden. Once again, I am so glad I have all of my dahlias dug and safely stored away. I know that I would have now lost any that were still left in the frozen ground. Once in a while hard work does pay off!

We had a great year for wild rose hips. The hedgerow between the garden and the road was full of them this Fall. They look beautiful in the snow.

These tracks came out of the forest, went across the garden, an disappeared into the hedgerow. I am pretty sure it was a brush bunny.

Climbing back up the driveway. The sky was a perfect, clear cobalt blue.

I spent a good deal of the day filling all of the bird feeders. With the combination of a heavy snowfall, and the long cold spell which we are experiencing, it is so important for the birds to have plenty of food available. This little male downy woodpecker was at the peanut feeder off and on all day. After my long hike a took a cue from Parvati and went inside to get warm myself.