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.
All of this is wonderful and magical to witness; every year feels like my first experience of spring.
As magical, is the awakening of the garden. Green is evident everywhere now – in the grass and all of the flower borders.
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).
I still consider myself a fledgling gardener and as such, I’m open to ideas and inspiration from other, more experienced gardeners. I admit I have an aesthetic preference for gardens on the wilder end of the spectrum — country and cottage gardens, woodland walks, open meadows. I’m not a fan of the contemporary or modern look with its straight edges, manicured shrubs and often minimalist plantings. Instead, I love mixes of color and texture and lots of it. I love the tried-and-true cottage plants: shrub roses, climbers, hollyhock, foxglove, sweet rocket, daisies of all types, pinks, and peonies, all interspersed with herbs and other edibles.
My goal is to create a garden that melds into its natural surroundings, not one that is in a constant battle with them.
To that end, I have a couple of go-to favorite gardeners. I’ve written about both earlier in this blog. The first, Tasha Tudor, an eccentric, American illustrator who spent 20+ years creating a wondrously wild garden on a mountain top in Vermont. The second is a more recent discovery – a fortuitous one – that added the concept of permaculture to my vocabulary and introduced me to a new way of gardening for nature, not against it. Colette O’Neil, owner and creator of Bealtaine Cottage, in Ireland, has also created her own little slice of heaven from 3 acres of once barren, over-worked land. Follow the links to learn more about both.
I took Friday afternoon off from work to spend some time catching up in the garden. I was able to get some mums potted and placed on the front steps; always makes me feel as though autumn is on the way. Then I spent some time weeding and re-locating a couple of young crab apple trees to a new garden area.
I did a little walking around in the early evening to take some photos of the fall garden. The bees and dragonflies are still very busy.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
Nora and I took an hour long walk in the woods early this morning The air still held a chill and the dew glistened on all surfaces.
I was focused on the ground, taking photos of the wildflowers, when Nora noticed a pileated woodpecker high up in a dead tree. Unfortunately he or she was playing hide-an-seek, but you can see the body on one side of the tree and the tip of the beak on the other, just to give you an idea of size.
In a June 25th post, I introduced you to two wee little mice that I rescued from one of our chicken coops. They were no more than a week old judging from the closed eyes and tiny size. For a week or more, until they opened their eyes, Nora and I fed them kitten formula (using a qtip) every couple of hours.
Once their eyes opened and they became more active, I switched them to gerbil food and water. We bought them a gerbil cage with a wheel, which they loved, and ramps to run around on. We tried not to become too attached knowing that we intended to release them back into the “wild” once they reached 6 weeks old.
Today we decided it was time… we brought the mice, still in their cage, out to the barn and placed it on some hay bales. We tied open the door and waited for them to discover they were free to come and go as they pleased. It didn’t take long.
Soon after the first ventured outside the cage, the other was not far behind. We watched for 15 minutes or so as they ran in and out of the cage, ran on their wheel in their excitement, and finally settled back into their nest for a much needed nap.
We’ll continue to provide food and water for the next couple of weeks while they acclimate, unless they wander off before then. If they follow the lead of the chipmunks who inhabit the barn, they will quickly learn the ropes — where to find food, water and a warm spot to curl up in. We wish them well and we’ll miss them.