Native Garden

Here are some photos I took yesterday of our mostly native plant garden that was planted by The Natural Garden of Harrisonburg. Above is a little Fringe Tree. It’s showing a lot of flirty blooms and new growth.

The purple blooms in the left background are wild geraniums. The white blooms in the foreground are woodland stonecrop. The mass of green in the middle is bleeding heart. I read it doesn’t transplant well but this did. I think you can still see some of it’s white and pink blooms.

Most of the rhododendrons are doing well. There is one that was planted right next to a stump that is dying and TNG is going to replace it. Some of the rhododendrons are have a bloom or two and showing new growth.

Smokey takes a walk. I love this stone. I was really impressed with their stonework. That is a creeping thyme between the walkway and the stone. Most of that survived the winter. TNG replaced what didn’t when they were here on Wednesday. I wonder if it will ever cover the entire area between the walkway stones.

That is strawberry that covers the ground around the redbud tree. It has a lot of berries and blooms. We have to decide if we want to remove it. It is being a bit of a bully. Otherwise, we will have to keep cutting it back. We already transplanted some of it last fall. That, too, is doing well.

Spring ’18

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted because I broke my left wrist. I slipped on some ice in the driveway. It has slowed me down quite a bit. Good and frustrating at the same time.

Above is a spice bush we discovered back in March. I’d been keeping an eye out for one. This poor thing was engulfed by honeysuckle vine and bush. Dave came to it’s rescue.

You can see where the honeysuckle vine was wrapped around it’s trunk in the above photo.

It has a pretty little bloom.

A bloom on one of our Paw Paw trees.

The chokeberries we planted last fall finally bloomed a couple weeks ago. I was expecting more pollinators enjoying it. Instead, the ants seemed to love the blooms. Will have to investigate if that is normal.

They had a faint, sweet scent.

Samantha and her boyfriend, Luca, helped us unearth these willows back in February and March. I showed a photo and mentioned identifying them in my Feb 20 post. Fortunately, the honeysuckle that was on the tree hadn’t reached strangling proportions but they had to beat back a lot of it to reach the tree itself. Here, I caught a photo with it’s new leaves. A pretty yellow green that we can now identify in the distance when we look out the family room window.

On one of my walks around our property I found some blooms reaching out from a honeysuckle bush that I knew wasn’t honeysuckle. A couple days later Dave came to the rescue again and freed this Blackhaw Viburnum.

A beautiful white flower. I can’t wait to see this in bloom next year.

Another Blackhaw underneath honeysuckle. We’ll go after this another time.

Can you see the Blackhaw behind all this honeysuckle? Another that will have to wait.

These beautiful mushrooms arrive earlier last week.

Among the flowering Woodland Stonecrop

Len enjoys the cool grass on a pretty morning.

We’ve had a lot of rain this week. It started off with a bad storm Monday evening when we got over 2 inches of rain in an hour. The next day Dave noticed that our brick wall had finally tumbled. Fixing the driveway has just become a priority. It’s a good thing the plasterers finally came on Thursday and replastered the parlor ceiling and one wall in the front guestroom and patched up the walls in the dining room.

Three Layers of Wallpaper in the Dining Room

I just couldn’t take it any longer. Last week we started taking down wallpaper in our dining room. I knew there were at least two layers and we found that there were actually three layers.

Wallpaper doesn’t hide cracked plaster.

Seeing this 1920’s wallpaper for the first time.

We found a razor blade stuck to the wall beneath the chair rail. I’m confidant this chair rail isn’t original and it isn’t going back up.

I made the first rips and then Dave got out his tools and got to work.

We’ve filled many bags.

Isn’t this gorgeous. It is a block print. The ink runs as soon as we spray it with the warm water and vinegar solution.

Some evidence of plaster repair over this paper.

circa 1970?

There used to be a stove here and they did an awful job of patching. The area around it bows out noticeably. Fortunately, we have a plasterer coming out this Friday about some other work so we will show him this too.

doggie break

This is a good pic of all three wallpapers. I think the top layer was circa 1990.

Just as I suspected – the crown molding wasn’t original. We can tell because the first two layers of wallpaper go to the ceiling, but the last layer stops short. It seems to me it was around 1990 that chair rails and crown molding became popular again.

I thought the crown molding was overkill with these beautiful french doors.

This wall needs a lot of love.

Fashion might not be the only reason they put up the crown molding. Looks like they had to do some plumbing work here. This will have to be patched because the crown molding isn’t going back up.

Dave uncovered some patterned wallpaper on the ceiling. I think I’ve seen that patterned wallpaper is back in style.

I’m excited to get the walls repaired, primed and painted. I’m going to get a test pot of paint called Tomato Cream Sauce – a little bold for me but I’m going for a warm, cozy color as this is the room we gather most often with family and friends.

Photos of the Week

I’ll just lump these last several photos into one post. Good to get caught up!

Love the color of the leaves on our little chestnut oak planted a year ago in front of the barn.

Dave was away this week visiting his mom in South Carolina. Len missed him and would whine for him every so often. I’ve learned to ignore it.

Early morning frost on elderberry leaves.

A very old Norway Spruce.

It grows between the house and our two story shed.

Eggs and Chickens, Chickens and Eggs

Here is our eggs collection for today. Given that we have close to 20 chickens this isn’t very much. And it is actually a good count. For quite a while now I’ve only been collecting 1-3 eggs. That little brown egg is the first from this years pullets.

The chickens have presented a challenge for us this year and we’ve kind of just thrown up our hands. They were breeding like rabbits and we quickly found we had too many for our coop. They are free range so that is good but it was causing a problem at night. The young birds started roosting in the nesting boxes and then the hens didn’t want to lay in there because of the poop. I wasn’t good about cleaning them out and so the hens started laying elsewhere.

At one point we had more than 40 chickens. We sold some and gave some away and were down to about 35 chickens. Then last month I saw a fox after them. Did a count that night and found we were down to about 23 chickens. Boy, were we not paying attention. Then the following week Dave saw a hawk after them. Today I saw a hawk fly away as I took some melon rinds out to the compost. I saw something down in the pasture. Went to investigate and it was a dead hen. Why couldn’t he/she have gotten a rooster! We butchered 2 of the roosters last weekend so now we have 20 chickens or less.

Not sure my numbers are adding up right (or subtracting). The bottom line is we aren’t getting many eggs considering the number of chickens we have and we have a predator problem. Looking on the bright side – we no longer have a problem with too many chickens in the coop at night and I found the pullet egg in the coop – on the floor and not in a nesting box, but that’s okay!

A Little Harvesting

Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous. We did some much needed harvesting.

We grew purple pole beans thinking the purple beans would be easier to see. Not the case since the vine is also purple. Though aren’t they beautiful!

Our July felt more like August and now August is feeling more like September. The temperature was in the 50’s Saturday night. Lovely sleeping weather but the tomatoes don’t like it. We are seeing a lot of die back in one of our plants so we harvested the tomatoes to send up to my mom. Hopefully, they will finish ripening for her. So she doesn’t have to wait, we also bought some ripe tomatoes from the Farmers Market on Saturday. Dave took up quite the load of tomatoes for her this morning (on his way to work) which might last her the two weeks until next time.

We have a lot of bitter melon on our vines. It too has slowed down in ripening. I was hoping to let these get a little fatter but we are expecting cool weather this week – 70’s mostly – so I just went ahead and picked them.

Frieda came over to investigate

and pose.

Oregano, thyme and rosemary

I stuffed the bitter melon with ground lamb seasoned with the fresh herbs, sea salt and onion. I then baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. I thought it was very good. Damian thought it was too bitter and Dave wouldn’t try it.

We’ve had so little rain this summer that this was a very welcome sight this morning. We had at least 3 hours of steady rain. Hallelujah!

Letter to a Friend

Hi Lesa,

Receiving your note in the mail was such a sweet surprise!

Congratulations to Kira! Will you visit her often in Tokyo?  You and Paul have been traveling so much! Would you say you are away as much as you are home?

Is there a website you would recommend to someone (me) who loves birds but doesn’t want to travel? We hear more than see birds. Some spring days the noise from the trees is astonishing. I did see one bird that appeared to be protecting its nest – whistling and spinning wings like mad – maybe some sort of blackbird.

Our spring garden was not much – just some lettuce and kale. Tried sugar snap peas but only got enough for a serving here and there. Our onions did very well. We’ve been harvesting as needed and sharing for the past month or so. Soon they will all need to be harvested. Hope we can cure them well for storing.

Our summer garden includes butternut squash, sweet potatoes, okra, tomatoes, sweet peppers, green beans, bitter melon, blue corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and purple hull peas. Sounds like a lot but not doing a lot of any one thing. Everything seemed to really take off in the past week. We already got a cucumber and tomato. Would have gotten more tomatoes except a chicken got to a couple first. I think I’ve barricaded their way into the garden but will have to keep checking. Sometimes the chickens seem so stupid and other times rather crafty.

We were up to over 40 birds due to several hens going broody from March to June. We have traded, sold and killed and now I think we have between 30-35. As the roosters mature we will butcher them and then see how many hens we end up with. Hopefully, not much more than 20 as I think more than that is too many for us.

We also have the 2 cats and 2 dogs. Duke, our goldendoodle, will be 14 years old next month. He is quite a dog. Still going strong.

All this and I still haven’t told you about the landscaping we had done! Over the winter we hired a design firm (thenaturalgarden.net) to design a garden for the area between the house and garage (garage has an apartment above it – a cute building we call “the cottage”). It is our back entrance and the one we use most often. For 3 weeks (mid June to early July) they put in stone paths, a rain garden and native plants. We are very pleased with what they did and look forward to watching it mature. We worked very hard all spring in preparation for their arrival – transplanting and giving away a lot of what was there – also saving some things to transplant back into the same ares. A lot of work and I learned a lot too. Here is a list of what they planted – Columbine, Aromatic Aster, Lady Fern, Pennsylvania Sedge, Blue Mistflower, Pale Purple Coneflower, Strawberry, Coral Bells, Soft Rush, Provence Lavender, Blazing Star, Wild Quinine, Christmas Fern, Orange Coneflower, Meadow Petunia, Little Bluestem, Woodland Stonecrop, Creeping Thyme and Golden Alexander.

Funny you mentioned the good by quilts. I just pulled mine out. I thought it would be a good summer quilting project. It’s too hot in my sewing room right now. Plan to hand quilt it.  Not so big that it will be hot in my lap. I enjoy thinking of my QU friends when I hold it. Good of you and Lura to take over the job. It’s a very special gift.

How I’ve gone on!

Would love to meet up. Any ideas?

Love,

Maureen

PS Feel free to stop by any time you find yourself near. The place might be a mess but I’m learning to be OK with that. Paul too!

Landscaping Project Completion

Last Friday The Natural Garden completed the work on our back entry garden. This is the entry that we use most and is why we chose it to start with.

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In the foreground they planted Pennsylvania Sedge, fern and our Lenten Rose.

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Agustina wanted a specimen plant in the U so that is where she placed the Fringe Tree.

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In the center are the transplanted False Indigo.

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We got a new trash can (on wheels!) to celebrate. The old one was pretty shabby.

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Woodland Stonecrop, a fern and columbine among the stones.

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Columbine and Pennsylvania Sedge in the U with the Fringe Tree.

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The rain garden. They planted three Red Bud Trees. They will provide some much needed shade in this area. In the original plan, Agustina included an oak tree. We didn’t want something so large so close to the house. I’m glad we decided not to include a large shade tree. I recently red that Red buds bloom best in full sun.

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Some Coral Bells and ferns around the Red bud.

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In the center of the photo are Viburnum shrubs.

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Our youngest chickens.

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With momma hen, Emmylou. She still has all ten of her chicks.

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They like to hang out in the Pyracantha next to the tool shed.

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Why would I include this photo? At this time of year we have an abundance of fireflies. This is the view from our bed and on recent nights I look out and see their lights in the spruce tree. I often can’t help myself when I see this and get out of bed to see the light show they give in the pine forest across the creek. Better than any firework show.

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One of the Meadow Petunias is already blooming.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing photos of our new garden quite often.

Here is a list of what they planted-

Red bud

Fringe Tree

Rhododendron (they will plant these in the fall)

Columbine

White Wood Aster (also to be planted in the fall)

Aromatic Aster

Lady Fern

Pennsylvania Sedge

Blue Mistflower

Pale Purple Coneflower

Strawberry

Coral Bells

Soft Rush

Provence Lavender

Blazing Star

Wild Quinine

Christmas Fern

Orange Coneflower

Meadow Petunia

Little Bluestem

Woodland Stonecrop

Creeping Thyme

Golden Alexander

We transplanted from the original garden Lenten Rose, Bleeding Heart, Wild Ginger, Woodland Geraniums, Meadow Rue and False Indigo. Over the weekend we added some bulbs Daffodils, Snowdrops, Green and Gold, Virginia Bluebells (not sure these are bulbs, they looked more like roots) and a few Tulips and Hyacinths. There were a few bare spots so I went to nearby JMD Nursery and picked up some Meadow Sage and Lantana. The Lantana is the only annual included.

Weekend Update

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Friday afternoon these big chicks finally let me get close to them.

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They are so goofy looking!

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Emmylou had her little chicks in the barnyard.

Above she scratches and below…

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she pecks. Over and over again. She has her work cut out for her with 10 chicks.

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The pullets and cockerels.

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A candy onion from our barn garden.

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Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all had period of heavy rain. The landscapers were still here when it rained on Friday. They got soaked laying out these tarps. Above you can see the concrete from the old flag pole that they pulled out of the ground.

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The landscapers didn’t come today because they were forecasting more rain. Sure enough it started raining around noon and we had periods of heavy rain during the afternoon.

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Saturday Dave got out his new toy. See the water sitting in among the paw paw trees in the middle of the photo.

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He was hoping to make some progress on removing this willow stump but the ground was too wet. You can see the tracks he is leaving in the grass.

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Late Saturday afternoon we finished cleaning up the mess from the fallen ceiling.

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Now we are looking for a plasterer.

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Sam came over for Father’s day and helped us hang our local artists gallery. We wanted to hang the photos before finishing the paint job in case we wanted to change anything. I love how it turned out.

Landscaping Progress

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Marly of The Natural Garden cutting the asphalt.

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The path is really taking shape. I love the subtle curve.

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Regrading

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The seven chicks that hatched a couple/few weeks ago. I can’t remember – we’ve had too many hatches!

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It’s hard to get a good photo of them. They always run away from me.

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This is one of the cockerels (young rooster).

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And two of the pullets (young hens).

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I can’t get over Emmylou – supermom!