Feeling Like Late Summer

We thought the cucumbers were slowing down. Wrong!

A female monarch on our blue foamflower. I wonder if we will finally see a monarch chrysalis this year. In the past, I’ve only seen males. Males have a black spot on their hindwings.

Cool Spring

It’s been a beautiful, long, cool spring. While so many others have been bored during this stay at home spring due to COVID-19, I found myself busier than ever. It’s been nice being outside tending my garden with temperature mostly in the 50’s and 60’s during the day. I have a lot of photos to share.

March 31
a lone tulip among the Virginia bluebells
pear tree blossoms
We have since had a couple of frosts so I’m not sure we will have any fruit this year.
April 1
I made elderberry syrup from some elderberries I dried a couple of years ago. Hoping to regulate my immune system.
April 5
I’ve been making face masks for family, friends and Damian’s coworkers at FedEx. It takes me about one hour and 15 minutes to make two masks and I try to make two every evening. I also made my sister a couple of scrub caps because she has been involved in COVID testing at her hospital.
April 7
I guess most of my posts include a photo of Darcy and or Frida. They play though not in the way Darcy wants to. Basically, Frida stares at Darcy and twitches her tail and Darcy goes wild in a ‘why won’t you play with me’ kind of way.
April 8
Violets and dandelions – pretty weeds.
I don’t mind them in the grass – I just don’t want them in my flower beds because they take over.
Our redbuds and dogwood trees bloomed for about a month because of the cool weather. Usually, they bloom for a week or two and then we get a few days in the 80’s and the blooms quickly fade.
A wicked thunderstorm blew through our part of town early this morning. It snapped some of our pine trees.
April 16
We are trying bee keeping again. Not sure I mentioned last year that our two colonies failed. We have high hopes with this one because it seems so robust. It was nice of our friend, Sue, to give us a swarm from one of her colonies.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my potting shed this spring potting up marigolds, tomatoes, peppers and dill. These are my marigolds. Now, a month later, they are twice as big and blooming! I hope to get them in the ground this weekend when it looks like the weather will be in the 70’s and remain that way.
A cleaned up potting shed
April 24
The ferns are so pretty when they first sprout.
As are these heucheras sprouting from a mossy stump.
I thought having grow lights would be a good idea. I had stopped growing peppers and tomatoes from seeds because of moving them inside and out. Having the grow lights only meant that we had bigger and stronger plants to move. I know now that I started them too early.
May 4
I don’t often include a photo of myself.
I’m making hermit cookies to send to my mom for Mother’s Day.
May 8
I think I’ve mentioned before that I love columbine because it looks good from Spring to Fall. It’s really spreading itself around the garden – and patio – so much so that I’ve dug some up from between the brick and transplanted it along with some heuchera and woodland stonecrop into the front yard flower beds.
May 10
Mother’s Day cookout
May 14
Smokey Roo wanted to be included, too!
This rocker is on the top floor of the mudroom. There are two rockers up there and no one sits on them other than the cats.
May 15
A little painting I did in my Perpetual Nature Journal. According to the Humane Society “opossums can be beneficial for your garden, eating snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents. They’ll even clean up spilled garbage and fruit that has fallen off trees.”

Perpetual Nature Journal

Here is a photo of my perpetual nature journal. The apple is there to hold the page down while I photographed it. In the journal, each double page spread covers a week of the year. You can make one entry a week a more or even skip a week. The idea is to record nature in a specific area and notice how things change from year to year. It’s also a way to learn about nature and to improve your drawing skills.

Found a land snail on my pot of marjoram yesterday.

We thought the pinxter azalea we planted last year was dead. It’s not!

This is green and gold – a native spring ephemeral. I probably incorrectly identified lesser celandine as green and gold in years past. What a mistake! The lesser celandine is an aggressive non native that we actually planted back into our native garden not realizing our incorrect id. I’ve been weeding it out all spring and I’m sure I’ll have to do the same for years to come. The photo above is the real thing. I planted two last year and only one survived. It is doing well and spreading so I’m happy about that.

A close up of the bullfrog entry in my nature journal.

Aromatic Aster

Our first aromatic aster bloom of the year. It will bloom from now until the first frost. A real winner for us and the butterflies. Late last winter/early spring we saw dark-eyed junco birds eating the seed and taking the stems off with them presumably for nesting material. A good excuse not to tidy up the garden.

Augusta Springs Wetlands Park

A couple of weeks ago we took a morning walk just a 20 minute drive from us in the George Washington National Forest. It was early enough on a hot day that we were comfortable even in the sun.

We started to go up this path which led into the woods. It soon got muddy so we turned back. We’ll do that loop another day.

Those are two red winged black birds on the cattails in the middle of the photo above.

Fun!

In the Garden

Iris blooming in front of the Soft Rush.

We’ve been harvesting strawberries for about 2 weeks now. They are big and beautiful and lacking in flavor. I’m guessing that is because we had so much rain while they were ripening. Our weather is perfect this week and the berries taste a little better.

Some of the rain came in the form of fierce storms. After once such storm we noticed that one of our big elms in the front yard is splitting in two! One estimate is $3400 to take it down. Ouch! We are now looking into the possibility of cabling it.

An opossum inside the tree crack.

June 1

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Peony leaves on the left foreground. Sweeping diagonally through the center of the photo are blooming wild hydrangea. Behind those are the leaves of bells of Ireland. And in the top right background are the purple berries of the spiky leaved Oregon grape.

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A clematis we transplanted from almost full shade where it hadn’t bloomed the three years we’ve been here to a spot in the kitchen garden with full morning sun. We shaded it’s feet, which we read they like, with wild geraniums.

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Two baby assassin bugs in the bloom. We have a lot of these bugs around the garden. In general, they are considered a gardener’s friend in that they pierce and suck dry a lot of pests. I’ve been cautioned that they can give said gardener a nasty bite. And my neighbor said they were over abundant in Texas when she lived there – even getting in the house. Well, I’ll not hope for that even if they are capable of killing stink bugs!

End of Year Wrap Up

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A Super Moon (whatever that is!) in November. Too bad the street light is there.

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Can you see the icicle on the elm tree? It is the sap from the tree.  We had a quick and steep drop in temperature the night before.

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Dave was bothered by the absence of globes on the dining room chandelier. Me, not so much. The weekend after Thanksgiving he said let’s go to The Antique Factory and see if we can find some. I was very doubtful we’d find what we needed. Couldn’t believe he found some right away and they were 50% off! It does look much better with the globes.

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Christmas cheer

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Many photos of our Christmas Day hike in nearby Montgomery Hall Park.

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The dogs had a great time being off leash. Not many people about.

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We had a new visitor over Christmas weekend. A black and white kitten. I’m surprised our 3 cats didn’t chase it away. Hope we can find a new home for it. We certainly don’t need another cat.

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More Christmas cheer.

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More time for quilting in the winter. I’m basting my ocean waves quilt.

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A couple days ago it was near 60 so Dave got out the chain saw and shredder and Damian and I helped him take down and shred some of the trees growing into the meadow…

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and around the spring house. It seems to be some sort of invasive that keeps spreading into our native meadow.

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Our daughters’ friend, Soupy, built these stairs for our tool shed. We are doing an hour exchange for her. Dave is doing computer work for her and I’m doing some mending.

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Another photo of kitty. Uh, oh! We are all getting too comfortable!

Catching Up In the Garden

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We opened up the barn garden to the chickens and ducks.

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We had a couple of people here from The Natural Garden in Harrisonburg. They were very impressed with our meadow.

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Marigolds next to the compost.

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The garden spider greeted us for several weeks as we opened and closed the gate to the barn garden.

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Dave walks by our volunteer cherry tomato plant growing on the compost fence.

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Freda inspects the boneset. I harvested it for my herbalist. She said it is good for fevers.

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Pretty, too.

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It was great to have some young people here helping us through the alternative economy – hOUR Economy. They worked and we fed them and they camped out on our property. We really enjoyed their company and I think they had a good time, too.

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Two of the guys helped Dave install gutters on the back of the barn for a water catchment system.

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Dan, Kurt, Meghan, Tim and Savhannah.

They helped out others over a four day period and biked form place to place. We’re talking 15-25 miles between work sites. To have that energy!

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Our bushel basket gourds didn’t get bushel size – more like quart size.

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As I was walking to the barn one afternoon about a half dozen bluebirds flew off the pasture fence into our big, old oak tree.

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I can see two bluebirds in each of the above photos.

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Just some of the butternut we harvested.

11-11 update – finally estimated how much butternut we harvested this year. I counted 85 at approximately 2 lbs. each. So that’s about 170 lbs.! I think butternut is about $2 a lb. in the store so about $340 worth!

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Just after we opened the kitchen garden to the ducks.

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And finally, here is the water catchment.

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We got a lot of rain late September to early October. We were amazed at how the water accumulated so quickly. Dave has already used it to water our brussel sprouts and an artimesia (wormwood) we transplanted to the barnyard. It helps prevent worms in chickens.