Cabbage!

Starting first with a foggy morning photo of the barn garden. The elderberries are blooming and the onions are ready for fresh picking. We’ll harvest all of them in about a month.
Making kraut from the two we harvested. Just cabbage, garlic scapes and salt.
This little Northern Red Oak was growing in an awkward spot so we moved it to the backyard. It doubled in size in about a month – a fast grower.

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.”

First Snow

We got a few inches of snow yesterday. It was a pretty snow fall, starting around 9:00 in the morning and tapering off mid afternoon. This is our hawthorn tree in the front yard.
the dogwood
Darcy enjoyed it. Instead of going to the park for a walk in the afternoon, we played with her in the field.
The rosemary loves this spot under the eaves.
It’s even blooming with the mild weather we’ve had the past couple of weeks.
I love how the snow sticks to the coneflower seed heads.
This is the first year one of our three redbud trees produced seed pods. A good sign.
I love how this snow stuck to some of the tree trunks.
Our little American Holly in the backyard has quite a weight to bare
Making nut rolls for my mom.
It was a pleasant snow day.

Black Kitty Day

It’s black kitty day and she posed so nicely for me.

A huge branch fell from one of the silver maples by the road.

I said I’d try to get the serviceberry tree in it’s fall glory and here it is. You might need to click on it to get a better view of it. I tried photographing it in at all times of day and in sun and clouds and it just wasn’t doing it justice. I think maybe it is because it is a delicate looking tree. The individual leaves are small and it is shaded by trees all around it.

Fall Color and Reflection

I hear it over and over again – women saying they love the fall because of the colors and the crisp, cool weather. I love the fall and spring for the mild weather and I also love them because they signal change. I love living where we have four seasons. Another reason I like the fall is because the days are getting shorter so my evenings are more relaxing. I’m not outside weeding or doing other garden chores to stay out of the hot sun of day, but still suffering through our heat and humidity that lingers into the night. I look forward to getting a shower and into my pajamas soon after dinner and spending the evening reading, sewing or sketching.

I noted the first fall we were here that we don’t have much fall color on our property. I have a cold and so was sitting quietly in my sunroom late yesterday afternoon and realized that while we don’t have a lot of bright color I was still enjoying the muted tones of early fall. So I grabbed my phone and went outside to photograph some color.

These aromatic asters bloom until first frost. This purplish blue color is a favorite of mine.

I’ve come to love columbine – it’s delicate spring flower and pretty foliage through summer and fall.

Tupelo tree – also known as black gum or sour gum

white oak

Dogwood tree

Redbud tree

Serviceberry tree – see the gold leaf in the upper left corner – this tree is just starting to turn. It’s kind of hidden behind other trees in our front yard so I keep missing it’s June blooms and golden fall leaves. Will try to remember to keep an eye on it.

This is one of our volunteer oaks in the front yard. I think it is a burr oak.

pear tree

Southern magnolia tree

Sassafras tree

Gooseberry bush

Rose hips

Sedum

Purple coneflower

barrenwort or bishop’s cap

Fall is Finally Here

I’m sitting at a table with an open window at my back and the breeze is glorious! The first three days of October were around 90 degrees which is crazy. Today is beautiful and we are even expecting some much needed rain on Monday so keeping my fingers crossed.

Dave usually walks Darcy in the morning and we both go in the evening. Dave’s requirement to report to work in northern Virgina two days every other week means it is hard to get his hours in so I’ve been walking Darcy in the morning when I can. She plops herself down when she looks back and sees people coming up behind us which is pretty much always since it is a well loved park we walk in. I literally have to drag her to get her going again. Then the people say “oh, she’s tired” and I let them know she just wants to see them. She runs around the dog park for an hour so I know walking with me isn’t causing her to be tired. I enjoy walking again and can feel it is good for my body.

Letting her have her little break.

The red chokeberry bush

 in my nature journal

The paw paw tree leaves start turning color quite early. I harvested quite a few this year. They are best when I just pick them off the ground before they start to rot too much. I gave some away this year. Some people had them before and were happy to have them again. One had never had a paw paw and was surprised she like it.

Our one little pepper plant has given us quite a few large peppers. I expect this is the last of it. I made some sweet red pepper relish with these. The guys ate it on their chicken salad sandwiches last night.

 

Native Garden

I took these photos of our native garden last week.

from the sun room window

from the kitchen window

The redbud trees have grown so much this year. I can really tell by how much they take up the view out the window.

meadow petunia

orange coneflower

Kitchen Garden

The kitchen garden is starting to  fill in nicely. In the center of the above photo is our onion patch. We’ve started harvesting them one at a time as needed. When the green part is mostly brown we’ll bring them in and store them on a rack in the basement. They should last us through the end of the year. Along the fence on the left are nasturtiums and two little cucumber plants. They are far from producing so we’ll see if we get anything. We were a little late getting the seeds planted. Behind the onions are zinnias, borage and weeds.

This photo shows the day lilies, calendula, borage, purple cone flowers, pie pumpkin, beans, sage, oregano, dill and the inevitable weeds along the fence. It’s always hard to keep that fence line neat.

The cardboard and brick is there to kill the grass. This was a difficult area to cut. I hope to get a path down and some additional planting area. We don’t have a firm plan of what material we will use for the path.

The weather has been hot and muggy. We are getting frequent thunderstorms. Thankfully, nothing too heavy. The wet area along the road has finally dried up. It was very unusual that it was wet for so long – about 10 months. While so much rain was concerning, the one good thing was that most of the trees we’ve planted loved it. We’ve also notice an abundance of black walnut seedlings sprouting here and there. We are leaving those that are not too close to the house. Lots of people consider this a weed tree. Not me. It’s a native and will provide shade on the property. If they become a problem, we can always take them down. Dave didn’t mow the areas in the field that were too wet and we’ve noticed little maple tree sprouts. They are from the mature trees along the road and we are pretty sure they are silver maples. Again, maybe not a prized tree but they are free so we are hoping they do well.

Beekeepers

I’ll get to the bees in a minute. First some photos from earlier in the month. Here, the fringe tree and columbine are blooming.

What do Frida and Smokey want?

A replacement rhododendron – the others are white. I’m okay with it.

Blooming woodland geraniums and stonecrop

I love green and gold as a ground cover in our native garden.

Lichen (blooming?) on the old fence behind the barn.

Peony time

Ready for the bees

Larry (we know him from hOUR Economy) had hives and not enough property. We had property and a desire to have bees with the help of someone with some experience. So we have partnered with him in beekeeping.  The bees arrived last Friday in this box. The queen bee come in a little separate box.  There is a piece of candy on one end and the bees are supposed to eat the candy over a period of a few days to release her. It gives the other bees the time to accept her as their queen. We opened the wrong side of the little box and released her too early. Either she was killed by our clumsy efforts of hive set up or the other bees killed her because we are pretty sure by the behavior of the bees that they are queenless. We even had someone with two decades of bee experience out here yesterday and that was her assessment. Sue wore only a veil and looked all around the hive, lifting the frames and lid to look at all the bees to catch sight of a queen. She couldn’t find one. She also thought they were without a queen by their high pitched buzzing. We are now waiting for another queen to come in the mail.

We have harvested nine quarts of strawberries. Most of which have been sugared and frozen for my mom ; c )

Poor Len took a turn for the worse recently and we had him euthanized a few days ago. He had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer 15 months ago. The doctor was impressed that he had lasted this long. We are now dogless and it feels strange though I was happy to get ride of the stinky dog beds.

I love my old oak.

Not really sure why we did it but we bought a second hive of bees. This one came all ready in a hive and was delivered to us by my friend Paul who keeps bees in downtown Staunton. One of his hives swarmed a month ago so he put them in this hive and they are busy doing their thing – making comb, the queen is laying eggs and maybe even making honey already. I forget what Paul and Larry said. There is so much to learn. This is a very small colony of bees but they seem to know what they are doing and are doing it. I guess because they have a queen. We won’t harvest honey this year because we want the bees to have it so they are strong and make it through the winter. We are of the mind that honey is better for them than sugar water. If both hives do well, we will harvest in he fall of 2020- some honey for us, some for Larry and we’ll leave honey in the hive for the bees. If they run out before spring we will supplement with sugar water. Paul says our garden will flourish with the help of the bees.

You know you are in the country when your neighbors want the beehive near their property ; c )

No Ducks

I went out with camera ready in hopes of sighting the ducks, but no luck there. Instead, I found spring flowers, leaves and leaf buds.

Blackhaw viburnum

We rescued this viburnum from honeysuckle last year.

Pin oaks we planted down by the creek last year.

Even the one Dave mowed over is leafing out.

One of the Black Gum trees we planted last year.

Another blackhaw viburnum being overtaken by the honeysuckle. I was hoping to clear this area out in late winter/early spring. Maybe next year.

I think these are leaf buds on a button bush we planted last year. I can’t find the other nine we planted. I don’t know if the deer got them, they just didn’t survive or I’m just not identifying them among the brush. I was happy to hear the city police did a deer cull back in March and one of the areas was Montgomery Hall Park which is behind us. The deer really chewed up a lot of the saplings we planted last year. We’ve put cages around a lot of things, but not everything. Everything else I want to protect I spray with Bobbex.

Golden alexander in our native garden.

A blurry closeup of the Golden Alexander.

Native columbine among the bluebells.