Thursday, May 31, 2018

may flowers

Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum

Geranium maculatum


Honeysuckle, Lonicera

Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum

Dame’s rocket, Hesperis matronalis

Kerria japonica"Pleniflora"


Take a moment to catch your breath...
here comes June.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

ready for the close-up

A tiny violet growing on the Upper West Side

Wild highbush blueberries by the workshop

Clintonia borealis - Bluebead lily or yellow clintonia -
along the path to the stiltbarn


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

first of the muggy days

Rain was predicted today and I wanted to do a little more in the perennial garden. So I got outside early while it was still overcast and muggy and buggy.

I was driven back indoors after a couple of hours, not by rain but by black flies and fatigue. Shortly after, the sun came out - and the rain came down. A sunshower!

Now the rain has stopped, the sun is out, the humidity is up even higher, and everything in the world is dripping. I am so glad I got a little work done when I did.

I'm hoping it clouds up again before I go out to do chores while keeping an eye on Moxie. She has discovered another way out of the perimeter fence - this will be the third! - and the only way I'll find it is to casually watch her out of the corner of my eye. She'll never do it if I'm looking right at her or following her around. Moxie is a pistol!

She has two "modes."


and Full Speed Ahead!


Sunday, May 13, 2018

gardening 2018

My plan for the 2018 gardens: start all the vegetables and flowers from seed. Choose with an eye to avoiding cross-pollination, so next year I can plant more saved seeds.

A week ago, I began to fill this bought-on-sale tinkertoy greenhouse with little peat pots and planters full of organic potting mix. And seeds.

Already, a few seeds have germinated!

The last of the vegetable seeds on my list - the pole beans - have finally been ordered. I had hoped to find them from a different source, but the type I want is apparently only available from one supplier, as they were nowhere (else) to be found. So let's hope the poor showing last year was due to the weather, and not the seed.

The only direct planting so far is flowers, from seed saved last year. In just the past few days, goutweed has sprung up and is already engulfing the violets that grow between established clumps of hyssop and other summer-booming perennials in the beds by the goat barns:

I've begun pulling out goutweed in patches - carefully, to protect the violets - and raking in bee balm seeds saved from plants that bloomed deep red last year:

Fingers crossed the bee balm seeds will sprout and the new plants will manage to grow above the next wave of goutweed.

It's still a little bit early to direct-seed vegetables, and the fence needs to be reinstalled on one side of the terrace garden. But my Occasional Helper and I have been working hard on something I've wanted for a long time: a permanent Very Raised Bed with straight sides. And while it is not finished yet, I am going to share a few WIP photographs because it's starting to look like what it's meant to be. And of course I already have plans for what I'll do differently if there's ever a chance to build another.

First day of building, May 3; Supervisor and assistant at hand.
Because of that fence situation mentioned above.

Toward the end of the first day of work: 

(At this point I said to the Occasional Helper, "You know, if I could ever plan a raised bed like a normal person, we'd be done now."
He said, "Yes, but where would be the fun in that?"
I like the way he thinks.)

Second day of work, May 10.
Just to be clear: we are not building stone walls. We are fencing in stone edges and filling the center before the stones can fall down.

End of second day.
Experimenting with mix of stones and poles along one side.
You know how I feel about experimenting.
Please note Moxie graciously providing scale:

Providing scale, plus...
There's Something In There Maybe!

I'm hoping we'll get Very Raised Bed III finished this week, but it may take two more sessions. The work is hard and only one person is doing about 90% of it.

Having the funny little greenhouse is a treat, because instead of fretting about not having the new bed or the terrace garden ready to plant, or when the black flies are too horrible to allow working in the perennial beds, I can just trot out to the greenhouse and plant up a few more peat pots. It's very satisfying.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


There isn't any season of a beech tree's life that isn't beautiful to me,
but leaf-out is always especially fine.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

sunday snaps

It looked like rain early this morning, so I went straight outside and got the chores done right away. Not one of the goats moved as I went to and fro with hay and buckets, although a couple sort of mumbled at me in their sleep.

Then I gathered the flowers Most Likely To Be Plastered To The Ground and brought them into the house to enjoy: 

There is more and more color appearing everywhere.
We've had a couple of really hot days this past week,
and lots of plants began flowering:

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

yellow bells (Forsythia)

Flowering and/or putting out leaves.

Red oak (Quercus rubra)

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)

Usually around this time of year, a single hummingbird will appear at my window, hovering at eye level, letting me know it's time to hang a feeder. Yesterday I decided to put the feeder out as a surprise to greet the first hummingbird. And in the evening, when it was nearly dark, look who appeared:

Piper and I had only one good long visit to the pond and woods this week. It's a good thing we lingered that day, because it turned out to be the last day before the black flies began to bite. Now they are unbearable.

Piper (Scottish Monkeyhound)

We actually could have gone out yesterday (covered in bug spray) but I blew it. I was in such a state from the dozens of black fly bites I've already accumulated from head to foot, I did some online research and took a "non-drowsy" antihistamine tablet to try to get a little relief from the itching. Well, I don't know what the "drowsy" formula could possibly feel like! I gradually became a stumbling zombie, struggling to focus on even the simple task of cooking a pot of farro. I don't recall falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon, but woke at 630 PM thinking it was Sunday morning. Thank goodness I had turned off the stove before sitting down!

 So, no walk in the woods yesterday, and none today because it is indeed raining. It will take quite a bribe to persuade Piper to leave her couch even long enough to walk down to the letterbox with me.

I understand your feelings on this, Piper. Listening to the rain on the roof, I am feeling a tiny bit smug about getting the chores done by 5:30 AM.

In fact, it's likely to be a quiet, cozy day of puttering in the house. The full extent of my productivity may be making a meatloaf.

Cheers, readers! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are.