Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mellow Yellow Part 2

The major source of mellow yellow this week is POLLEN.  Everything is covered with a fine dusting of tiny yellow grains. Sunday it was so thick you could see it wafting by like snow in the air, forming little drifts at the edges of things.  A light rain last night was only enough to make splattered patterns on surfaces.  Happily it doesn't seem to be blowing out of the trees quite as thickly as it was.  We can only hope that it will subside quickly and we can dust the house, rinse off the cars and carry on, pollen free into the spring.
This magnolia is more yellow in bud, creamier once it opens, but I think it's really fine.  
Corylopsis dangles its blossoms at the edge of the lawn
Native buckeye is verging  towards chartreuse but will yellow up as it opens
Creeping Jenny is truly on the chartreuse side of things 
but so lovely against the blue of the ajuga
Golden oregano in the background, yellow leaves of spider wort in the pot, 
electric next to the purple pansy

We sally forth into spring, each day brings new tasks, prepping the soil for planting the tomatoes, pruning the fig tree, pulling last falls greens from the garden before they go entirely to flower and cleaning, cooking, freezing or eating them.  This makes way for the spring planting of greens which are coming right along.  And the asparagus is starting, so having a break from other veggies is actually a good thing, it's all we can do to keep up with the asparagus harvest once it gets into full swing. 

This is an OK problem to have.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

After a mini heat wave of five days in the 80's and a decent rain last night, everything that was holding on during the cool has exploded.  We said this morning, "we can see the leaves growing, they've doubled in size over night".  In a few days you won't be able to see through the woods any longer for the green.

Some of the beeches still hold their pointy tight bud tips closed, shining like hammered copper, and reach up in a sort of flame like dancing way before they loosen and drop the thin skin to reveal these tender pale leaves.
I watched a ruby-crowned kinglet flit about, after twirling and chasing another male, he landed to sing and twitter, poking his brilliant crest up out of his tiny smooth green head.  The bright feathers are always surprising- more deep orange to me than ruby, he gave a spectacular show, jumping about eating tiny bugs off the leaves. 

The creek is way up and flowing really well, the first of the giant fish have been spotted, both dead and alive, we'll be watching for more, maybe I can catch a photo for the nonbelievers. The trout lilies are through, but the spring beauties, giant chickweed and windflowers are dotting the edges of the paths down at Morgan, the spots of white against deep green, make me want to walk down there all day. 

At the house, the entire yard is racing to bloom; dogwoods, azaleas, redbuds and apples all popped open in the past 2 days.  Its hard to know what to focus on, every view bears new growth, blooms and vistas.
One of the quinces, it is so floriferous and what a swell color too.  I don't know its name, came from my fathers I think.  The red one is still in bloom, been at it since January.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

La Golondrina/The Swallow

I discovered this coffee bag in one of the community garden sheds, saved by me ages ago because of the  image of the swallow.  I brought it home and tacked it up inside our home garden shed door, I figured there it would be protected from the weather but we could appreciate it when we were working outside.

Even the shed deserves a little dressing up at this time of year, don't you think?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mulch and Rhubarb

I finally got this flower bed finished, weeded, fertilized and mulched, it took a few sessions, there is something about the leaning, bending and twisting required for mulching that really sends my back into a tizzy lately.  I can only do it for an hour or so and then I have to stop.  Makes this spring garden cleaning a slow proposition, but so rewarding. I love the way the beds look with all the fresh new plants popping up, set off by the darkness of the leaf mulch, and I know this will at least slow down the weed growth and hold in some moisture between rains, add some nutrients and humus to the soil.  If you have read this blog you probably know my motto "there is never enough mulch".

Yesterday we got the boats out and headed to the lake for our first paddle in ages, way too many months have passed and we hadn't had the pleasure, like so many things, once you finally get around to doing them you think "that was easy, that was worth it, why don't we do this more often?" at least that's what I think, all the time really!  Why do we make taking pleasure in life so hard sometimes?  All I know is, there will never be an end to the chores and requirements, what my mother referred to as the "daily imperatives", but life is short and so is the spring time so I'm making a vow to enjoy life more and let the chores wait.

That said, we came home and did chores! David fixed broken tools and built a new trellis for one of the honeysuckle vines, we both pulled weeds and I planted rhubarb.

I ordered these rhubarb crowns from Johnny's in Maine, where I get most of my seeds.  They claim to be hardy to zone 8, we'll see about that.  Rhubarb is known to prefer cooler climates but I decided to give it a shot.  They looked pretty gnarly but you can see they started to sprout immediately.  I dug some nice holes, added lots of compost and some acid loving plant fertilizer and put them in, watered and mulched them and now we wait and see if they survive the summer.  It seems they are much like asparagus in that they are perennials that need a couple of years to establish their root base before you can really harvest.  Each year they should grow more and keep spreading.  Sure would be swell to have fresh rhubarb to make pies and jams with.

Speaking of asparagus, we are watching daily and expect with temps pushing 80 this week they may finally appear.  I'm ready.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mellow Yellow

Do you remember that song by Donovan, are you old enough? It came out in 1966. 
I was only 8 back then,  it was one of my favorites.
I've been singing this to myself lately as I tour the garden. "They call me mellow yellow, quite rightly"
Narcissus 'Hawera'
This is a dainty baby, only about 8 inches tall
Variegated iris
"Electrical banana, Is gonna be a sudden craze  
Electrical banana, Is bound to be the very next phase"
This one nods its head so its hard to appreciate, should be planted at the top of a wall where it can be admired from below.
Even these boogers fill the bill 
And there are more, forsythia, barberry with tiny yellow flowers, tinged with red that smell like honey and attract a ton of pollinators.  More daffodils, new growth on some of the evergreens, even the mustard greens going to seed in the veg patch have yellow flowers.  

My father had very strong opinions about yellows, he disliked bright yellow that leaned towards egg yolk, thought it too strong, too garish, but a pale yellow, that really turned him on.  Several of those above came from his garden as transplants.  I especially enjoy mellow yellow combined with blues and whites, and that will be coming up next, dogwoods, daisy's, columbines, it's going to be just swell.

They call me mellow yellow, quite rightly.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Today was nothing like the one when I took this photo.  Today was cold and rainy, maybe the last day like that for the season?  We did have a fire going and it was welcome.  The forecast has us in the upper 70's by next week, that will be a balm. 

We are mighty proud of this wood pile, been working on it all winter long and still have one more oak to cut up, complements of the windstorms last summer that brought a record number of big trees tumbling down. Together with my brother Chris and his father-in-law Ray, we cut, split and hauled at least three times as much as you see here.  I attribute the current backache to having evolved somewhere in the middle of the firewood procurement!  We now have three houses in the 'hood that will have enough firewood for two seasons down the line, that's a good feeling.

It's sad that it comes at the expense of all those fallen trees, but the interesting thing is that each and everyone of them as we were cutting them up, had some kind of problem, a split causing rot inside, or fungus or other issues that were causing the tree to be weak or to be dying, for some it may have been old age, they were very big and old.  So mother nature was doing her work when she brought that wind and blew those old boys down.  And we were doing our work to harvest them and will put the carbon to use one more time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


More Unfurling
Another gorgeous day, more weeding, more mulching, more woods walking.  
Tomorrow comes rain again.
 This turtle let me sneak up on him this afternoon
The roots of this tree really jumped today, reminded me of a big birds foot or a dinosaur claw.

Even though I've walked past a hundred times lately, something about the way the light was hitting the roots made me stop and take another look at this tree and snap a few photos.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

At the Pond

Feeling sluggish this morning, even after coffee and my morning write, I opted to go straight out the door for a walk to shake off the sleepies.  When I stepped outside I could feel it would be a warmer day, though it was still a crisp 38 degrees.  Somethings changed, shifted, its April! and I can feel the spring is really going to happen now.  I trucked along the trail, down to the creek, checking out a few birds here and there, listening to the morning chorus that is growing by the day.  The creek has really been flowing smartly thanks to so much rain and I'm watching now hoping to see the big carp swimming up from University Lake to spawn.
 The may apples started unfurling in the past few days

On the way back by the pond I spotted a pair of geese swimming and a great blue heron fishing down at the marsh end so I stopped to take it all in.  I sat on the bench and watched a pair of kingfishers working on breakfast.  They would dash into the water with a splash, fly back up to a branch, whack the little silver fish thwack, thwack a couple of times to stun it, then reposition it in their bill and choke it down with a couple of gulps and a shake.  They were busy and I watched as they each caught several.
Placid morning pond, reflecting the fabulous blue sky

The turtles started to crawl up onto their logs for the daily sunbath.  I've counted as many as 15 lately on warm afternoons, lined up on the downed trees, large and small, mostly yellow-bellied sliders with a couple of snappers making themselves obvious, their fat heads sticking out, the size of my fist.  I wonder if they have their spots like kids in a classroom, regulars at a bar.  They are jumpy and won't let me get very close before they plop back into the water as I approach.

Oh, I am looking forward to the great unfurling, it is beginning and no matter how many years I watch, it never gets old.  Today, more weeding, hoping to get one of the big flower beds finished and mulched.  Wish me luck!

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fool

I got David good this morning when I said "There's a fox in the yard!"  he ran to the window and looked out "Where?" , "By my car", "I don't see it", "April Fools!"  

I took off early to go back to Prairie Ridge and get further tutorial on bird banding.  Today was better, less nerve wracking and I got some good one-on-one time learning from an expert.  I got to remove the birds from the nets, tricky to get the fine netting away from their feet, wings and necks, but not impossible, I felt much calmer by the time I did the 8th bird than I had with the first. We had a blue jay, cardinals-which bite hard, mockingbirds who were scrappy, field sparrows-so tiny and calm, white-throated sparrows-also biters, eighteen birds in all this morning and just three of us working, two of us learning and Keith giving instruction.  It was great to have a chance to work that way, calmly and handle lots of birds.  I feel much more confident.
Back at home I roamed the yard taking it all in.  The warm temperature made a lot of things pop today, like the deciduous magnolia above, Susan.  I love its funny windswept look, its scent of cinnamon, its fat curving buds, like witch fingernails.     

   This white one has just started opening today too, it has no scent and is of unknown parents.   I've been watching its round buds, like bullets pushing out from their fuzzy cases.  I was patiently waiting for today, when the first flower emerged.  Something whacky is going on with the formatting for this post tonight and I'm too sleepy to sort it out, so, without further ado, I am going to close for tonight.  Sweet dreams!