Wednesday, February 26, 2020

This Month in the Garden: February 2020

The Woodland Walk at Astolat Farm

As I stroll through our Woodland Walk this morning, I am reminded of the Mother Goose nursery rhyme:  

One misty, moisty morning when cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather.
He began to compliment, and I began to grin,
How do you do, and how do you do?
And how do you do again? 

I always loved this rhyme as a child and today it reminds me of England. While it is cloudy and damp here, this milder weather is more to my taste than the bitter cold of last month, and even of last fortnight when I was counting birds. If you compare this posting with January's view HERE you will see what I mean. The Great Backyard Bird Count ended with a resounding success as a pileated woodpecker made an appearance. Frequently, I hear this large bird tapping away at a tree, but usually he's not in view. He was in one of the ash trees searching for the grubs of the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has decimated our ash trees. In the picture at the top of this posting, it is the tree with the bark peeled off. We may have to remove it before it falls on the bridge.

Top picture, strips of bark fall to the base of the ash tree as, bottom left, a pileated woodpecker taps for grubs.

Although the count is over, I continue to enjoy the birds:

Top: Black-capped chickadee. Bottom: Tufted titmouse

With the milder weather Duane, Jonathan, and I made a small start on the winter garden cleanup. Grandson Jon picked up branches and twigs that covered the lawns, Duane helped me cut down some unruly grasses, and I tidied the rain garden to reveal water iris shoots.

I tidied the rain garden -- to the right of the kitchen garden fence.
Iris shoots in the rain garden.

There are daffodils pushing up all over the garden. I am so glad to see them in the daffodil walk that lines the path to our front door.

Daffodil shoots in the Abundance Garden
The Daffodil Walk at the front of the house
I still see clumps of snowdrops in the Serenity Garden
The hellebore buds are getting fatter

Now that we removed the tall grass next to the pond, we can see the weeping spruce again. It has lots of new growth. Of course, we barely started the cleanup; it's early days yet.

We removed messy Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' as the wind broke pieces off and sent them into the pond.

The weeping spruce has lots of new growth and looks rather scruffy, but I love this miniature tree and don't plan to prune much off.

I usually prune shrubs and trees in March while they are still dormant. I plan to begin that task next week. Duane has been busy with his personal project: He commissioned his brother-in-law to build an extra shelter for the animals in the big paddock. The miniature horse, Charm, and the goats, Doodles and Billy, really like it, spending a lot of time in the unfinished structure.

The new animal shelter is nearly finished; it just needs some trim on the front

Sadly, early February saw the passing of three friends. One of them, George, built the replica outhouse that Duane gifted me two years ago. I love that outhouse. George will not be forgotten.

I'm linking with Sarah's Through the Garden Gate in Dorset, England. She inspires me to get outside with the camera each month even in inclement weather. February is ending with rain, possibly turning to snow. I hope it isn't going to be bad for traveling as  I am preparing for our annual trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show -- thus this post is a few days early.  The theme of the show this year is a Mediterranean one; I can't wait to smell the lavender. I'll have much to tell you in my next posting.

I adore flower show season; a true harbinger of spring. Are you going to any shows this year?

Pamela x

Lichen on the redbud tree branches

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Great Backyard Bird Count, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and Blog's Birthday

This week marks my blog's 12th birthday. My first posting, February 21, 2008, was on the Apple Mac platform. I switched to Blogger two years later because the links were more reliable. I have written more than 300 postings -- not as prolific as some garden bloggers, but I produce at least one, and sometimes as many as three posts, each month.

Northern Mockingbird on the Heated Waterdish

The years pass quickly. I've seen many blogs fall by the wayside since I started mine. I really miss some of the garden bloggers who gave it up. Others I have remained friends with since the beginning, like Jo at Through the Keyhole in England, and Diana at Elephant's Eye on False Bay in South Africa. Jo no longer blogs about gardening, but we still follow each other's postings. So why do I continue with my blogging efforts? There follows six reasons why I created a blog and still enjoy this activity.

I blog in order to ...

1. Record my Gardens' Progress

I find blogging invaluable to mark the progress of my gardens. When you click on the birthday posting that I wrote in 2016, HERE, you can see my gardens' beginnings and how they developed in their first eight years.  In this respect my blog serves as a diary and the word 'blog' used to mean a personal online diary. As described in an article in the Atlantic (2018), it is 'a conflation of two words: Web and log. Blog contains in its four letters a concise and accurate self-description -- a log of thoughts and writing posted publicly on the World Wide Web. In the monosyllabic vernacular of the Internet, Web log soon became the word blog.' Over the years, however, my blog has moved beyond recording events in a diary.

Male Northern Cardinal

2. Reflect and Share My Learning

The aforementioned article makes the interesting observation  that when you read a blog you feel like you are moving backward in time as you move forward in pages -- unlike reading a book. In this way, my blog helps me to reflect deeper as I document the information I want to refer back to. I've made lots of gardening mistakes over the years: the wrong plant in the wrong place is a prime example. Likewise,  I know I've done some things right. In my annual 'Year in Review' postings I reflect upon what worked and what didn't, hoping to avoid repeating errors. I hope others learn from my good and bad experiences.  

Female Northern Cardinal

3. Help Other Gardeners

I qualified as a PennState master gardener at about the same time I created this blog. Since then I have conducted numerous workshops and given many garden talks to garden clubs and other home gardeners. In my blog I share some of those teachings. Some of my favorite postings in this regard is my series on creating miniature gardens. In one entry in the series I feature my grandson, Jonathan, who designed and created five miniature gardens when he was just eight years old. Jonathan continues to maintain them. You may read about it HERE. Read last year's update near the end of the posting HERE. Jon and I hope to inspire and help others to create something similar.

Blue Jay

4. Improve my Writing

As some of you know, for five years now I have written a monthly article for the Pocono Record newspaper. Click HERE for this month's article in which I answer questions about planning the vegetable garden. I love to write; my blog gives me practice that improves my garden writing. And it is great that my posts don't have to be perfect, because blogging (unlike writing newspaper articles) is a work in progress.

Amaryllis 'Yellow Star'

5. Battle Forgetfulness

As I age, I am becoming horrible at remembering things. Writing my blog helps me keep track of my gardening information.  Of course, it's not only the writings but also the photographs that jog my memory.

Amaryllis 'Ferrari'

6. Put a Little Fun in My Day

There are so many troublesome happenings in this world right now that we all need pleasurable diversions in our lives. Blogging, like gardening, is fun. Writing a post or reading someone else's blog makes my day every time.

The best reason to keep blogging, however, is the wonderful like-minded friends I have made all over the world. Because you keep reading and commenting, I keep blogging.

Thank you dear friends!

Pamela x

Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count so I illustrated this posting with some of the birds that visited my garden the last few days. Birds in winter are like flowers in summer to me, so I am linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day that occurs on the 15th of every month. Thank you, dear Carol. Not many flowers today, but snowdrops are blooming in my garden and colorful amaryllis in my dining room.  P.x

Red-bellied Woodpecker

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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.