Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear Blog!

Welcome to Astolat Farm.
This week my blog turned three years old. I wrote the first post on Thursday, February 21, 2008. This is what I said,
"Like many of you, I long for springtime to arrive! As my garden is currently covered with snow and ice, I have a little more time on my hands, so I feel this is a good time to begin a blog that shares with others my passion for gardening. 
My garden began in my dreams long before I retired from a demanding and stressful job. Back then, most of my gardening efforts were confined to containers and hanging baskets that I placed liberally on a small patio and on three porches. Since I retired, some three years ago, I have landscaped the areas immediately around the house. I plan on venturing further once spring arrives. Here are some 'before' and 'after' pictures that show what I have done to date."
 It is such fun to look at 'before' and 'after' photographs, so I am showing the ones I posted in that first missive. I have updated some of the 'after' pictures ...


Under an old cedar tree, I marked out my first garden. I used the lasagna method to make the flower bed. I planted shade-loving plants.

(The picture of me on the swing in the shade garden was taken by Linda Koehler, reporter for the Times News.)


H.H. tills the soil for my first herbaceous border. My grandsons call this machine the 'tillerator.'

The 'after' photo is the exact area he is 'tillerating' in the previous picture. The picket fence was added much later. The fence is around the kitchen garden.


The same 'tillerated' area from a different angle.



The potting shed was installed first. 
The kitchen garden was planted around it.

Herbaceous border along the kitchen garden's picket fence.


H.H. used a machine to tamp down the base of the patio which consisted of crushed stone and sand.
I put the slabs of Pennsylvania blue stone in place ... H.H. helped by lifting the heavier ones. I built most of the dry stone wall. Making the patio and wall was like completing a giant jigsaw puzzle.

 There have been several other additions to our gardens since that first blog posting was written:


H.H. made the woodland walk by clearing invasive plants out of the old, disused orchard. He discouraged the return of the invasives by planting 50 to 100 white pine seedlings. The white pines are now fully grown, and while he still needs to do battle with the invasives every spring, the pines create a very pleasant ambiance with the old apple trees, pear trees, walnuts, white birches and sassafras.

Foxgloves are one of the few flowers the deer do not eat in the woodland garden.


The fishpond is our latest addition. You can read how it was installed here.
I do hope the fish survive the winter because the grandchildren chose them and named them. 

There are koi in the fishpond.

I concluded that first posting three years ago by saying,
"I hope to document the step-by-step progress I make toward realizing my dreams, but I find it a little scary putting myself, and what I hold dear, out there for all the world to see. I look forward to receiving your comments, and hopefully your support, as I begin this new venture."
After three years, it is not so scary any more, because of all the wonderful support I receive from my dear friends around the world. The community of garden bloggers is very special! Thank you everyone!

Bluebirds on the heated water dish this morning.

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


Carol said...

Happy Birthday to your blog. I love all the before and after pictures!

Jo said...

Congratulations on three years of blogging. What a long way you've come, both with your blog and with your garden. It's wonderful to see the before and after photos, how your garden has evolved over time with lots of hard work.

Christine said...

Happy Birthday to you and your blog!! Here's to the next three years ...

Hartwood Roses said...

Happy Birthday to your blog, and congratulations to you for putting such effort into this for three years! I found you recently, and I had no idea that you had done such extensive work to create your gardens ... I don't know why I'm surprised ... it seems perfectly within your character to shape the land to your imagination. What a wonderful world you have created!

Cyndy said...

Congrats on three years! Those before and afters are really nice - I especially love that patio - don't suppose you loan out H.H.?

Karen said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful retrospective on all the hard work you have done on your gardens. The before and after photos are amazing, too. What a paradise you have created.

Rosey said...

Hooray and Happy Birthday to your blog! You have done so many wonderful projects in your yard!
I really like the cottage garden. Well done, Pam!

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Pam, Happy anniversary to your blog. Three years makes you an old timer in the blogging world, but it's not that long in the garden! I can't believe how much you have accomplished in such a short amount of time. Your gardens are amazing. I hope you are feeling better. Further trips to the hospital are absolutely prohibited. Best wishes, Carolyn

Maureen said...

Dear Pam
Happy Birthday to your blog and what an amazing journey your garden has been. I love the before and after photo's what a great idea putting them side by side to compare the progress.

You and HH have done a wonderful job.

Have a lovely week-end.
M xxxxx

Carol said...

HAPPY BLOG ANNIVERSARY Pam! What a lovely post . . . I love seeing the before and after shots! Charming garden and I do hope he gardener will not be rush off to the hospital anymore! May these precious Bluebirds nurtured and strengthen your heart dear Pam. Many Happy Returns to the day!

Elephant's Eye said...

Happy blogaversary! I hope you are quite well now! Do try with Picasa for the collages, free and easy once you start. Like Nike - just do it ;~)

Vetsy said...

Happy Blogger Birthday!

Thank you for stopping by. Pam you should not be afraid of your new adventures to come, for you have done a fabulous job creating your gardens.

I love your before and after photos, of your lovely garden in 2008. You have a natural gift to make it really cute and cozy!

I look forward to visiting your lovely garden and ideas as you began anew.

Diane said...

Lovely to see how you started out, Pam. Congrats on three years of wonderful blogging!

PatioPatch said...

Dear Pam - judging by your first words, you were an accomplished blogger from the outset and I have enjoyed so many of your posts since I first found your blog. This retrospective is inspirational and loved sharing the garden as it grew and developed. Happy Birthday to your English Cottage Garden blog - long may you bloom and flourish
Laura x

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Happy Anniversary - like your blog, your garden has grown so much and it is very lovely!

Jan said...

Congratulations. It is nice to see the evolution of your garden.

Always Growing

HolleyGarden said...

Wow! Your before and after pictures are quite impressive! I keep looking at them over and over. It is truly amazing what you have accomplished. Happy Blog Birthday to you!

Edith Hope said...

Dear Pamela, Congratulations on reaching such an impressive milestone with your weblog! Three years of posting deserves a long service award and always you offer your readers things of interest and practical advice.

This is a milestone of a posting too with such wonderful before and after photographs. They really do show how your garden has developed over the years and is now packed with interest and delight for every season. Many Happy Returns!!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Dear Pam, Happy Blogiversary! I am glad you show us your garden! What you've done in several years is amazing!

Jayne said...

Happy blogiversary Pam! I loved your first post. The before and after photos are impressive and inspiring.

jsb said...

Congratulations! You've created a truly idyllic garden and an inspiring blog.

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

It's all wonderful, Pam. Happy Blogoversary! You have accomplished so much. All of your garden's have come so far! I'm so glad you put this all into a single post as I know I've missed some of these in the past. I am sorry to hear about your 3rd time in the hospital and my thoughts are with you! I hope things are ok now and you won't need to go back. It will be so good when we can get out and enjoy our gardens. Winter is so over-rated.

Ruth said...

Dear Pam, I hope you are feeling well. You have such a beautiful garden and I am so glad that you share it with us in your blog. I love your before and after pictures! All of your hard work sure had paid off! It is an inspiration to me. :)

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I missed your blog birthday, so I'm here to offer belated but heartfelt congratulations on three years of blogging. It takes commitment to keep going, which you demonstrate. Fand your garden before and after photos are fantastic!

Autumn Belle said...

Happy Blog Anniversary, Pam! May you have many many more. So nice to see your garden transform and so good to have you as a blogger friend.

Jess said...

I absolutely love the before and after shots, I wish all the garden bloggers would post more... it is so inspiring.