More Flowers

The crescendo is beginning to build.  The peonies are loaded with buds, the camassia just started to unfurl yesterday, many of the clematis are already 3-4′ tall…in another couple of weeks, the June flowering will begin.  It’s my favorite time in the garden.

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Lots of work to get done between now and then, if we can catch a break between rain showers.  I’ve done very little direct seeding in the vegetable garden and I’ve only managed to edge, weed and plant some seedlings into a couple of the borders with another 12+ borders remaining.  I still have salvia and dianthus seedlings, dahlia plants and 4 crates of dahlia tubers to get into the ground.

 

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Crab apple blossoms

 

Memorial weekend is usually my first big gardening weekend, but as of now, we’re looking at a dry Saturday, but rain on Friday, Sunday and Monday.

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But the rain has spurred quick growth in the garden.  Some photos of blooms above and below.

 

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Ok, not a bloom, this is Oreo

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Weekend Wildlife

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As spring continues to warm, breathing life into the foliage and blossoms, the birds and other wildlife are becoming more active around the house.

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We spotted two types of birds that we’ve never before seen on the property, the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Phoebe, and even saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road early yesterday morning before it ducked into the trees surrounding our “logging” road.

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The Eastern Phoebe has taken up residence in the sheep barn, building her nest atop one of the lights in the rafters.  When she first moved in, she would fly out of the barn every morning and evening when I would approach to take care of the sheep.

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Now she just sits in her nest, like a little queen on her throne, and glares down at me as I move about mucking out the barn and cleaning water troughs.

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Nora also spotted the first hummingbird on Saturday (above), flitting between the partially opened alliums.  She also spent a half hour stalking our pair of tree swallows and captured some good shots (see below).

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2017

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Quite a few changes in the garden between the time I left on vacation the 3rd week in April and yesterday.  We had torrential rains while I was away, leaving many of the borders and much of the lawn under inches of water.  We had a fairly rainy weekend as well, but softer showers which were able to seep into the ground as quickly as it arrived leaving everything green and sparkling with rain drops.

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Despite the rather wet weekend, I was able to get a little planting done in the vegetable garden.  Another 50 or so walla walla sets went in, as did the first planting of carrots and beets, into the raised beds.  The regular beds are still too soaked to plant.  The week is looking dry and warm however, so hope to get the lettuces, kale, chard and a few other types of seeds planted.  I’m feeling a couple of weeks behind due to the trip.

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I was able to get a little spot weeding done in some of the flower borders.  I also bought and planted 3 Japanese Willows (Salix integra ‘Hakaro Nishiki’), two in the front yard and one in the back next to the gazebo, and a Gold Thread Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’) in the rock garden.  Picked the first rhubarb of the season on Saturday, and we’ve been cutting asparagus since we returned; looks like a banner crop this year.

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The majority of yesterday, however, was spent planting out 20+ containers.  I still have another 7 to fill, but ran out of annuals.  I feel another trip to the nursery coming on!  Sadly it will have to wait until after work today.  Alas, Monday has arrived…

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Here are a few other photos, taken yesterday, of what’s blooming in the garden.

 

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One of the late blooming varieties of daffs in the borders
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One of the pear trees now loaded with blossoms
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Okay, this isn’t blooming yet, but the black currants are loaded with buds
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Pear blossoms
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There are few things as delicious as freshly cut asparagus

 

Spring blooms

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Spring is definitely here.  The days are warming, as are the overnights (a little too quickly for my taste).  I wake up to the chorus of song birds, and fall asleep to the lovely sound of the spring peepers.  The bunnies, chipmunks and squirrels are frolicking around the yard, and we had our first siting of Mr. Woodchuck yesterday afternoon as he ambled over to the apple trees from his winter burrow.

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All of this is wonderful and magical to witness; every year feels like my first experience of spring.

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As magical, is the awakening of the garden.  Green is evident everywhere now – in the grass and all of the flower borders.

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I finished cutting back all of the dead perennials yesterday and was astounded at the amount of basal growth I was uncovering.  Even the roses, which are usually very slow to awaken up here, have little, pink buds.

Daffodils, Hellebores and Scilla are blooming, and the tulips, camassia lilies and alliums show a fair amount of growth (although none should bloom until I return from Ireland, I hope).

 

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I was delighted to see this pansy growing in the peony border, although also somewhat disturbed as it’s evidence of our increasingly mild winters (i.e., climate change).  Pansies are generally annuals up here and do not over-winter. 

 

Signs of Spring

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We put two nesting boxes in our orchard a couple of years ago.  They sit on opposite sides of the space, probably 200′ or so apart.  Last year, a tree sparrow couple took up residence in the one closest to the house and graced us with a family of 5 that spent the summer pirouetting over the orchard.

A bluebird couple moved in to the 2nd home shortly after the tree sparrows arrived.  The bluebirds are not that common around here – at least not in backyards — so we were delighted to have them move in.

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About a week ago, we noticed 3 tree swallow males vying for one of the houses (tree swallow in photo above).  Within a couple of days, the bluebird couple returned (I like to think it’s the same couple, but honestly, how would I know?) and claimed the very house the tree swallows had been sparring over.  The female has been bringing nesting materials into the house for the past couple of days, as the male sits watch (see below).

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The tree sparrows have stopped fighting among themselves and now have taken to sitting on the fence or the power line overhead, watching in disbelief that they have been supplanted.  No more sparring.  I’m hoping one of them will eventually realize that there is another empty house in the area.

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Not bird related, but Tilly, our corgi, was enjoying the beautiful spring day yesterday as well.  It’s wonderful to see new life all around us.  And did I mention the peepers returned on April 10th!  Always a delightful sign of spring.

See additional photos below from yesterday morning.  It’s so wonderful to finally see the plants breaking through the ground and sending up new shoots. From upper left to right: peonies breaking ground; basal growth on sedum and alchemilla mollis; and on the bottom, rhubarb.

If you can’t garden outside…

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Clearly I’m not able to get outside and do any cleanup with the snow and water on the ground, and likely won’t be able to do so for awhile yet.  But the indoor “nursery” has been hopping for a few weeks now.

I have roughly 200 plants in seed trays and pots right now, and I will sow another 50 or so in 3 weeks.  That’s a couple of hundred less than last year, but N and I will be in Ireland for 10 days at the end of April/first week of May (yeah! our first time there).  My brother will move into the house to tend to our various animal babies, and well as the green babies.  I didn’t want to overwhelm the poor guy!

So, here’s what’s cooking inside at the moment:

Flowers

Several salvia varieties, Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’, Salvia farinacea ‘Fairy Queen’, Salvia splendens ‘Flare’ — salvia is a perennial in zones 8 and up, but treated as an annual in our neck of the woods since it won’t overwinter; will tolerate poor soils and some drought; ‘Victoria Blue’ has a deep blue flower (and it’s a true blue, which is rare) and blooms from June through the 1st frost.  I use it as a filler in the mixed borders, as a butterly attractor, and simply because I love the color.  This is my first year planting the other 2 varieties.  ‘Flare’ is a flaming red, so they will end up in the hot border.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Strawberry Fayre’ (common name: Foxglove) — biennial and prolific self-seeder; quintessential cottage garden flower; comes in shades of pink, purples and white; I have many purple varieties already in the garden; this one happens to be the Strawberry Foxglove variety; they are attractive to bees, butterflies and certain birds.

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Dianthus (also known as Cottage Pinks) — in shades of pink, red and white; these work wonderfully in front of the border, and I plant them everywhere.

Echinacea purpurea (common name: coneflower) — a perennial that blooms from mid-summer into the late fall; a favorite of the bees and butterflies; and not just another pretty face, Echinacea is an excellent immune-booster.  This plant makes an appearance in many of my borders as well.  I’m a sucker for anything daisy-like.

Dahlia – varieties: ‘David Howard’ (orange with deep burgundy foliage; I love the look of this plant (see below)); ‘Thomas Edison’ (deep purple flower); ‘Worton Blue Streak’ (actually lavender  in color, rather than the blue that the name suggests); ‘Kelvin Floodlight’ (a huge pale yellow flower — seriously, each flower is 8-10″ wide).

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I also have dozens of an unnamed red variety that were given to me by a local gardener that are quite spectacular.  Dahlias will not overwinter here, but I dig up the tubers after the first hard freeze kills off the foliage and store them in the basement.  I replant them in pots in March and by the time we’ve had (hopefully) our last freeze in mid to late May, they’re ready to go back into the ground outside.

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Hollyhock — it is, of course, impossible to have a cottage garden without hollyhocks (the old-fashioned, single bloom variety); I adore them and have them in a variety of colors — pinks, burgundy, white and yellows; they are biennial, self-seeders and you’ll have volunteers popping up all over the garden if you leave them to their own devices; they look marvelous planted at the back of the border, and against walls and fences.  I have a dickens of a time getting them to germinate inside, and usually only end up with a handful of seedlings.  They do so much better when allowed to freely self-seed outside (and I do allow them to do so), and yet, I keep trying each season to start them indoors.

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Cleome (also knows as spider plant) — annual — predominantly in shades of pink or white, in a good year, the plants can tower up to 6′ tall.  Another plant that doesn’t like to germinate inside for me, but a hearty “volunteer” outside.

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Lathyrus odoratus (commonly known as Sweet Peas) — an annual; a 6-8′ vine with wonderfully fragrant flowers.  I’m planting several varieties this year and although I generally direct seed in early spring, I decided I would try starting some inside this year.  Even with pinching off, they’re already 5-6″ tall!  I’m growing the following varieties: ‘Chocolate Flake’, ‘Spring Sunshine Champagne’, and ‘North Shore’.  I also have a pastel mix from John Scheepers.

Vegetables

Cauliflower (‘Purple of Siciliy’) — an heirloom variety, beautiful, and quite tasty

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Eggplant (‘Casper’) — a white eggplant (probably evident from the name) that originated in France.

Peppers (‘Autumn Bell’) – red bell pepper

Tomato (‘Thessaloniki’ and ‘Nepal’), medium sized slicing tomatoes; Tomato (‘Koralik’), cherry tomatoes for the hens and ducks (and occasionally, I even get a few).

Walla Walla (sweet yellow onion) — absolutely delicious cooked on the grill!

Herbs

Agastache foeniculum (common name: Anise Hyssop) — perennial and member of the mint family.  This blooms in the summer and attracts a diverse variety of bees and butterflies.

Matricaria recutita (commonly known as German Chamomile) — a medicinal herb known for its calming properties; great in teas, but also a delightful, little daisy-like bloom.

End of Month View: March 2017

Still frozen in time…

I discovered this “monthly meme” through another blog I follow, Carolee’s herbalblessingblog, and thought it looked like fun.  It’s also a wonderful way to track the growth and bloom throughout the garden – in photos and narrative – on a monthly basis.

Thanks to Helen, The Patient Gardener, for dreaming up and hosting this monthly sharing.   Visit her blog to find links to other marvelous, garden creations.

While many of the garden bloggers in England already had a fair amount of green and even some color in their gardens at the end of February, I thought there was absolutely no point in photographing the frozen ground under tufts of lingering snow, the untrimmed and messy remains of last year’s blooms, and burlap wrapped evergreens — the extent of what you would have seen in my garden at the end of February.  Granted, we could at least see ground, which for those of us living in northern NY was quite a gift in February, but it was most decidedly not spring-looking.

But much to my dismay, March looks the same!!  No, correction, worse.  We have more snow on the ground.

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Patio and herb bed under snow and water
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Small border on side of back porch – still no clean-up as you can see from the caged roses, dead growth from last season’s perennials, and pine boughs over the peonies 
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One of the borders in front – still a mess
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But wait…there may be some hope yet.  A few brave shoots challenging the lingering winter
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Backyard looking over the circle garden, which you can’t see, and into the coop areas
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Looking into the rose garden and beyond into the orchard and sheep pasture.  Will this snow ever leave us?  More due in this morning, but then turning to rain.  Ugh.