Deep freeze for the garden

This is my first day back to work, and on my way out to the car this morning at 7:30 I took a few photos of the horses in the barnyard and the garden.

Casey and Fly eating breakfast

Casey and Fly eating breakfast

The temperatures are supposed to be very cold for the next five days, which is not great because there’s no protective snow cover for the garden plants, but I don’t think we’re supposed to get a lot of wind, which is the good news.

This is the little shade garden under the old apple tree, facing east. And a pile of rocks for next season's wall-building.

This is the little shade garden under the old apple tree, facing east. And a pile of rocks for next season’s wall-building.

In this next photo of the backyard, you see the remaining patch of lawn. That’s the grass that is slated for removal this coming season. I’m planning to plant narcissus by the hundreds and daylilies by the score here. For starters.

backyard remaining lawn, soon-to-be garden.

backyard remaining lawn, soon-to-be garden.

The photo below is the existing main garden in the backyard. This one I intend to shrink by pulling the far edge up by 5 or 6 feet. You can’t actually see the far edge in this picture–it disappears over a little hill. It’s just a tough edge to keep weeded, because it’s on a slope. I don’t want to build a stone wall there, so I’m going to let the lawn back in and re-group a little farther uphill. I plan to take photos of the whole backyard project as it develops next season.

backyard main garden.

backyard main garden.

I ordered three new peonies from Khlem’s Songsparrow nurseries. Elsa Sass, Mrs. Roosavelt, and Orchid Annie. Here are photos of them from the internet:

Peony Orchid Anne

Peony Orchid Anne

peony Mrs. Roosavelt

peony Mrs. Roosavelt

Elsa Sass peony

Elsa Sass peony

 

Photos of Damsel Fly and a soggy garden

Yes, Casey is blissful, and sort of besotted–he follows her around the pasture looking at her. She mostly ignores him! Her tail floats in the air but doesn’t flip it–she’s fairly low-key about things. Here are some not-so-great pictures. As you can see she is petite.

Fly eating hay

Fly eating hay

Fly and Casey in the pasture, Fly looking around

Fly and Casey in the pasture, Fly looking around

Fly, second day

Fly, second day

Sorry about the fuzzy pictures–I forgot to take the camera out this morning when I went to feed them. So these are taken from inside the house through the window! Fly is still checking everything out and is shy of me, but that’s to be expected.

We’re in soggyville over here. The gardens have that naked squashed flat look that they have when they’ve just had their blanket of snow melted off.

under the old apple tree

under the old apple tree

front yard

front yard

My dad bought a poinsetta plant for us for Christmas, and it’s glowing still. january thisnthat 026The vegetable garden survived the big snow. David went out and checked the greens and root veggies he has under various “greenhouses”. These include spinach, carrots, onions, beets, radishes.

The garden this morning

The garden this morning

Yesterday he went out and picked carrots and beets. Here they are!

January veggies

January veggies

It seems kind of weird to me to be picking vegetables in January. Creepy, even. (I have not said this to David!) But it’s certainly better than buying them at the store shipped from California or wherever.

The other day I saw a new stray cat in the yard. Black, with a white bib, and a tiny spot of white on his nose. He’s not friendly. Tater glared at him and stalked him fearsomely for awhile but since the big black cat just sat on the rock and didn’t even LOOK at Tater, Tater lost interest. I am resisting the urge to give this cat a name!

black cat, black cow

black cat, black cow

Back to writing syllabi and getting ready for next semester!

Welcome to Damsel Fly!

I don’t have any photos yet, but Casey finally has a new pasture companion, and he is very happy. Damsel Fly, known as “Fly”, is a small Arab pony mare around 15 years old, chocolate brown bay and sweet as can be. She is smart and sensible. Before she arrived I had taken some precautions: scattered piles of hay widely so they wouldn’t fight over it, knotted some strips of old white sheet on a tricky downhill section of the electric fence wire so she could see where it was and wouldn’t run into it. And I cordoned off a section of the pasture where an old shed is being torn down, to keep her away from the dangerous piles of old boards and rusty nails. She arrived today around 1:30 pm, and I put Casey in his stall out of the way so she could take a look at the barnyard and environs for a few minutes on her own. Then when I let him out he barreled out of the barn like a runaway train and startled her so much she took off to the far end of the pasture with him in literally high-tailed pursuit. But their meeting was very low-key, after that. They sniffed noses and then she pretty much ignored him to check out the grass, the (many) mud and water puddles in the pasture, the fence line, the neighbors. He didn’t bother her but didn’t let her out of his sight. I will get photos and post them soon!

January planning–a cutting garden

winter sunset

winter sunset

Not much gardening to be done–needless to say! But sitting by the woodstove with a cat and a flower catalog in my lap is my idea of winter gardening. I got the Jung’s catalog. I enjoy looking at the pictures but the only thing I ever order from them is gladiolas. They have a terrific collection of 60 for around 20 bucks. Every year I buy them, plant them and put in metal stakes, then forget to tie them up so they first flop and then bloom sideways. Even so, they are STILL beautiful in bouquets, but this year I decided I’m going to grow them in a row in the vegetable garden. I am also going to plant my dahlias in the vegetable garden, in a boring row, where I can water them and stake them easily. I order dahlias from Swan Island Dahlias in Oregon. I also have some from last year in winter storage.  Last year I had some very nice Bishop of Llandaff dahlias. Two of the three tubers I planted came up. I really hope they make it through the winter.

Bishop of Llandaff dahlias with heliotrope I grew from seed, on October 7th

Bishop of Llandaff dahlias with heliotrope I grew from seed, on October 7th

I have had rather sickly, unhappy-looking delphinium for the last two years, after five years or so of glorious plants, all of them grown from seed. So I’m going to try growing another batch from seed this spring, of a variety of types. When they are ready to plant outside I’m going to put them in the cutting garden also, so they can grow in that sunny, protected, fertile area.

June 2011 delphinium, rose, and lily

June 2011 delphinium, rose, and lily

This is a kind of sad photo for me–from June of 2011–the rose was a monster that we finally dug up–it just took over the entire back yard, and collected Japanese beetles from the entire western hemisphere. Of course there are still shoots of it coming up here and there. The lily in bud in this picture also had to go–because of the red lily bug scourge. And this delphinium–we will see. I hope it will come back next season.

Why a cutting garden? Well, I really like taking bouquets to the Blackbird Cafe in town. But taking care of fussy or floppy plants is not my favorite activity. And especially the dahlias may do better for me and bloom faster if I can convince my husband the vegetable gardener to let me have the prime location–right up against the rock wall, where he likes to plant the peppers. I like the larkspur for delphinium-like blooms in the actual flower garden. And other plants that don’t need staking or special treatment.

double pink larkspur, dark blue larkspur

double pink larkspur, dark blue larkspur

Dahlias, delphinium, and glads–making bouquets that last a long time and travel well is easy with plants like these.

mid-October dahlias

mid-October dahlias

mid June peony bouquet

mid June peony bouquet

lilies were great for bouquets--the asiatics, because the others are too perfumey

lilies were great for bouquets–the asiatics, because the others are too perfumey

echinacea, pink asiatic lilies, pink monarda

echinacea, pink asiatic lilies, pink monarda and red yarrow–the yellow flowers are outside–(false sunflowers)

 

 

 

 

New Year, plans for a blog upgrade!

I like blogging more than I expected to. I have lots of ideas for the next season. For example, I’m going to identify five top trouble spots in the garden and document how I deal with them over the season. And I thought I would start “plant of the week” one day a week where I write in more detail about my favorite plants–starting with daylilies, my absolute favorite. Another idea I have is to include the “wild garden” where I take the camera and a wildflower guide out onto our 115 acres to write about the plants growing there.

I am planning to upgrade to a fancier type of wordpress site that you have to pay a few dollars a year for. Partly I am motivated by discovering that wordpress, without telling me, put ads on my blog. Not cool. I’m hoping to get rid of those and also have a better site with more bells and whistles.

Meanwhile, here are the photos I took the other day, around dusk. All the flowers are up to their necks in snow–or, completely covered. That’s just fine with me! It’s great protection for them.

from the driveway, looking southwest

from the driveway, looking southwest

coneflowers and rudbeckia peeking out from a snowbank

coneflowers and rudbeckia peeking out from a snowbank

This is the Red Charm peony I photographed at intervals starting in March last year. Just to round out the year!

This is the Red Charm peony I photographed at intervals starting in March last year. Just to round out the year!

view westward from the front yard.

view westward from the front yard.