Rhododendron

Greetings from the farm! There is a lot going on right now as this is the start of the growing season-probably my favorite time of year. Our rhododendron is in full bloom and the bees are just having a party on it.

Here is a closer look on video:

 

The pollinators are hard at work.  Very important work.  What’s blooming in your garden?

Wendy

 

 

 

Garden in Spring

Hello friends!  Welcome to Springtime!  I don’t miss the snow very much.  It snowed through this month.  I HOPE it is finished.  I’m ready to garden!  I’ve already begun pruning, and we put some Northern Pecan trees, as well as a couple of more Carpathian Walnut trees in the ground.  We also added Blueberries, Black raspberries, Nanking cherries, a Butterfly bush, and some various plants to attract pollinators.  These include Comfrey, Bergamot, Yarrow, Hyssop, Russian sage, and Baptisia.

Here is a short video of an early Garden “Tour.”

I hope you are enjoying this time of year wherever you are!  Wishing you all a beautiful day.

Wendy

Wisteria

The pruning has begun!  Yes, it is winter, but according to my sources, it is the best time to begin pruning…..at least SOME plants.

If you will recall the unruly wisteria:

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I trimmed it back to a point, so it will hopefully shape up this spring.

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Soon, I will have to focus on the crazy crabapple:

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Another rear-view of the house:

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Someone was watching me…..

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Don’t worry, I took him out, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!  Start thinking about pruning if you haven’t already!

Wendy

 

Wenz Day

Finally the snow begins to melt at Country Mouse House!

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We have had one heck of a winter.  And I don’t believe it is quite finished yet.  Today, however, the sun shines.  See the rose garden in the foreground, below, and the vegetable garden in the background:

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This past weekend, Farmer Joel and I took the first module of a class in Permaculture Design.  It was offered by the Hancock Permaculture Center.   This has been a dream of mine for a few years now.  Permaculture is a Design Science, and is based on 3 Ethics:  1- Care for the Earth, 2- Care for People, and 3- Sharing the Surplus.  How wonderful!

Here is my herb garden, which will be changing as I learn more in my class:

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Do you see how it is a straight, old feeding trough?  As you know, we are renovating the house, so this herb garden will not be configured into the new design.  I will be looking to build, as per Permaculture, an Herb Spiral.  I recommend Googling the term “Herb Spiral, Image,” and take a look at the numerous ways to design and build them.  This straight 15 feet of trough can be curled, enabling not only a more efficient use of space, but a very lovely-looking garden as well.  Spiral shapes occur in nature, and nature is what Permaculture strives to mimic.

My little bed of rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish, primroses, columbines, lambs’ ears, and hosta looks about ready to awaken as well(all beside and beneath my hemlock tree):

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Upon closer inspection, I see the rhubarb just beginning to peek through:

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See the little red nubs?  Notice, also, the natural mulch created by the nearby tree.  Unbeknownst to me, I had already begun what Permaculture calls a “Guild,” by planting certain plants harmoniously which will benefit each other, as well as benefit the soil.

If you’d like to see a short (less than one minute) video of the property from a different perspective, I invite you to this link:

In our class, we met so many interesting, knowledgeable people.  One person keeps bees, and is very involved in helping others learn about them.  I have a strong interest in learning about bees.  We need to help the bees- now more than ever.  See my previous post, Yellow Flowers and Bees.

What are your plans for this Spring?  Have things begun to awaken in your natural surroundings?

Wendy

 

Happy Monday

Happy Monday!  If you are in my part of the world, I hope you are warm and cozy.

I thought I would share a bit of closet organization.  When it is this cold, inspiration strikes and I like to work on putting things in order.  I have a bit of costume jewelry and some scarves.  My new closet at our new Town Mouse residence is not nearly as big as my old one, so I have to be clever.

Farmer Joel attached some window screen to the back of an old window frame we found in the barn.  It makes a perfect earring-hanger!  I borrowed this idea from a friend, Pauline, who hand-crafts and sells her very own line of jewelry.  Her company is the “Pearls of Pauline.”  Isn’t that cute?

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See the necklaces to the left and the top of the hanger below?  Here they are a little closer:

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You can find the scarf hanger here.

Just for fun, I thought I’d include a view from my Country Mouse House kitchen window:

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When the sun shines, the chickadees come around chirping and singing.  This is a lilac bush, which a favorite nest-building spot!

Wendy

 

Finally

Well, yesterday felt a little bit like Spring, anyway.  Today, not so much.  Windy, chilly, rainy, blah blah, wah wah……

It could always be worse.

Here are some pictures of my Spring blossoms at Town Mouse House:

 RED TULIP

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 FORSYTHIA

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EASTER LILY

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PERIWINKLE(Vinca)

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I’ve decided not to grow much in the way of edibles at Town Mouse House anymore.  The houses in this suburb are stacked so closely that one person’s pesticide run-off could invade my otherwise organic efforts.  I still have a few herbs, though, and my two potted dwarf fruit trees.  I just can’t help myself!

LAVENDER

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DWARF CHERRY TREE(North Star, the apple is not blooming yet)

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(I’m hoping to get enough of a yield this year for at least one pie.  Last year I only got a small bowlful of fruit.)

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(Has a tangy, lemony flavor that is lovely in salads.  I’ve cooked it, too, with garlic as a green vegetable.)

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LEMON BALM

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A fortunate characteristic of most herbs is that wildlife doesn’t usually prefer to dine on them.  Some herbs actually repel critters, as well.   The added bonus is the fragrance, especially if planted near windows and doors.

It’s good to be back in the Blogging Realm.  We have suffered much loss this year.  My Mom and Joel’s Dad passed on within a couple of months of one another.  We feel like we haven’t been able to come up for air.  Hopefully, things will become a little less stressful.  My best therapy happens in the garden.  There is nothing like the smell and feel of the Earth to bring me out of a “Blue Funk,” as my Mother would have called it!

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite plants and garden activities!  Don’t hesitate!

Get out there and pull some weeds, dig in the dirt, and do a little planting and pruning.  You will feel better, I promise!

Wendy

Spring????

Well, at still-freezing temperatures, it isn’t looking too good for this gardener to get started.  I brought my little greenhouse into Town Mouse House, only to discover that all my seeds are in the fridge up at Country Mouse House!  Grrrrr…….

So much for being organized.

At any rate, I wanted to post something since I have not in awhile.  Things are, as many of you know, still rather all-consuming in Wenz World at this time.  As with any stressful time in life, I know “this too shall pass,” but I still need to devote much time and energy to situations at hand.

Meanwhile, the Big Gig is tomorrow night!  Led Zeppelin tribute!  After that, I am going to put my energies back into plants…..I wonder if may passion for gardening was “planted” because of the man, Robert PLANT, himself?  I know, corny, right?  Sorry for the garden puns, I just can’t help myself sometimes……

There is much to be said, though, for working in and among the earth.  ‘Tis very therapeutic.

Sorry, no pics this time.  Hopefully next week.  The crocus’ came up, but it remains to be seen what will happen next.  I think I caught a glimpse of daffodil shoots…..:)

Have a lovely day!  Even though it is freezing and windy, the sun is shining!  That is good news!

Wendy

 

Garden Dreams

Happy New Year!  Even though I am a few days late….

Have seed catalogs been pouring into your mailboxes these days?  I have been receiving them and all I can say is that I can’t wait to get my garden underway again!

Here is one of my favorite catalogs:

http://www.rhshumway.com/

They offer both plants and flowers, which makes for convenient shopping.  This year, Joel said he wants to plant corn and cauliflower, two things absent in last year’s garden.  I have to figure out how to do this.  Corn will take up a fair amount of space – I will probably dedicate one whole 4′ x 8′ bed just to corn, but then, I read that the Native Americans used to plant pumpkins next to corn and/or sunflowers so the vines would have something on which to climb.  Hmmmm……..

Cauliflower used to be a big crop in the little pocket of Northeastern USA where we live at Country Mouse House.  In fact, every Fall, there is a local Cauliflower Festival!  That’s right!  There are rides and treats for little ones as well as flea market-type merchandise for sale.  It is an awesome celebration complete with a Cauliflower Cook-Off, where local chefs prepare and share their Cauliflower Culinary Competence.

I don’t know if our future cauliflower will meet any sort of Festival Qualifications.  I will first have to see if I can even grow it at all.  I tried it once before, with very poor results.  I am more hopeful this year, given our better fencing and critter prevention methods.

What helped me this past year was the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner.  I highly recommend it.  It has a very comprehensive list of plants, plus you can customize it if you don’t see your particular plant choices.  This is a big help because I often plant more than one variety of the same plant.  I planted 5 types of tomatoes and 3 of eggplant, for example.  The planner helped me keep track of what was where.  It works for any type of garden, and best of all, you can try it for 30 days for FREE!  After that I believe the cost was $25 for a whole year.  I think it is worth the $25, personally.   Here was my very imperfect plan for 2013:

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You can also print out a list which gives a key.  Here was my little back-door kitchen herb garden plan last year:

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If you don’t do your planning this way, then good ol’ fashioned paper and pencil works great.  I have used graph paper in the past because the squares are an especially stupendous tool for the Square Foot Gardening method.  I use a modified variation of this method.  (I don’t mark all the squares in all the beds, and I use 4′ x 8′ beds instead of 4′ x 4′ or smaller.)

Here is my sketch for the coming year:

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Looking closely, I have practiced crop rotation wherever possible, adding the cauliflower in the bed upper left, which is really lower left if you quarter-turn it once to the left.  I left it this direction because I wrote on it across this way.  Does that make any sense whatsoever?  Now, I placed corn and pumpkins upper middle, which is really middle left.  I can’t move the grapevine, hyssop, or mint.  They are all perennial.  But then, I might play with the mint a bit.  It is very hardy and will need to be thinned anyway.  Notice, also, that I have some daffodils and allium growing OUTside the fence, along with sunflowers.  We’ll see how that goes with my birdie friends!  I also plan to plant the castor plants again.  They are annual, so I have to start them anew every single year.  I think it’s worth it, though.

Again, I wish you all a very HAPPY HEALTHY 2014!  Stay warm!

Wendy

Autumn Part One

I realized I needed to update the status of the big old Castor Plant.  I’m about 5′ 1 1/2″ tall, and I am standing uphill of the plant in this picture(Finn doesn’t usually like being held, but he reluctantly obliged this time):

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Do you see the sunflowers on the left?  Ridiculous!

Here are some of the Autumn blossoms at Town Mouse House-

MUMS!

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And one of my favorite flowers of all time, the MONTAUK DAISY:

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And finally, I’m getting the tail-end of a THIRD bloom on this red rose bush, and I love the way the white “wildflower” in the background gives it contrast.  Joel asked me if I was going to pull out the “weed,” (ahem) and I told him I thought I would leave it a bit longer because it just looks so darn pretty:

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This time of year, things in the garden feel bitter-sweet.  I love it as the weather turns a little bit cooler(exception being this week, of course).  The plants have reached their most jungle-like gangly potential.  We are starting to trim back, clean up, and wipe the slate clean to plan for next year.  But not so fast!  I don’t want to wish this beautiful time away.  It passes much to quickly.  Soon I will post some more of Autumn’s splendor, but for now, have a beautiful weekend!

With gratitude and love,

Wendy

Visiting the folks!

A visit was long overdue – I hadn’t seen my side of the family for awhile, so I headed South.  It’s a lot hotter in the summer down there than in the Northeast.  I really appreciate the cool nights in my mountain home, as well as the AC in the homes of my extended family!

My mother lives in a very cute condo.  She has peppermint and hosta growing right outside her front door.

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She also has a flowerpot with a hot-pink geranium and some basil in it.

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For breakfast, she goes out to pick the basil and then whips it up into an omelette.  (She has more geraniums on a patio outside the back door.)

My Mom taught me to appreciate plants.  She had a huge table filled with houseplants when I was growing up, right in a large living room window.  She loved African Violets(I love them too, but so far have not managed to keep them alive).   She used to have me water them from the base of the flowerpot instead of the top.  I do the same thing with my houseplants now.

We had a simple flower garden in the back yard.  Along one side of the fence was a large, yellow “Peace Rose.”  It smelled so good!  Sometimes, my Mom would cut some of the flowers and bring them inside to enjoy in a vase of water.   The fragrance would travel throughout 2 or 3 rooms of the house.

We also had a Dogwood tree in the front yard.  That tree was so pretty!  Eventually, it got some sort of a blight and we replaced it with a Crepe Myrtle.  My mother loved that Crepe Myrtle.  She sometimes drives by the old house and said that, sadly, the new owners chopped it down.  Their loss, then.

If we were driving through a less-than-beautiful neighborhood, my mother would somehow zero in on the one little glorious flower amidst the rubble.  She wouldn’t say anything about the dismal-looking environment-at-large.  Instead, she would say, “Oh, Wendy!  Just look at that pretty flower!”

One of my brothers planted some new little boxwoods beside his house.   Here they are, complete with rocks for his desired “Zen”-like effect:

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The rock on the right almost looks like a turtle!  Here is a close-up:

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On a visit to one of my other brothers, I spied some herbs growing in the front of their house.  Among them were these two GIGANTIC ROSEMARY PLANTS, er, BUSHES!  My sister-in-law explained that a large rosemary plant symbolized a strong Matriarchal presence in the home, and that her own mother(in Ireland) had one the size of a tree!

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My own rosemary gets no taller than a couple of feet, and behaves more like an annual than a perennial.  I’ve tried bringing it in the house for the winter, covering it up outside, but it dies anyway.  I’ve seen it called a “tender” perennial, so it is probably no match for the winters of the Northeast.  What I finally decided to do was to cut it at the end of summer, dry it, and use the dried rosemary until the following year when I can plant some more.   So much for the Matriarch idea in my house!  Although, the saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, then ain’t nobody happy!”  I think there is some truth to that whether rosemary is involved or not!  😉

Enjoy the day – rain or shine!

Wendy