“Hello, good evening and welcome to another edition of ‘Blood, Devastation, Death, War and Horror’, and later on we’ll be talking to a man who does gardening.” [Monty Python’s Flying Circus, episode 30]
Sadly, there are very few gardening references in Monty Python episodes and movies, but I treasure each one. The bits about shrubbery and recognizing different types of trees from quite a long way away come to mind fairly frequently, but I don’t often have the opportunity to use this one – until this week.
See, I’d really been looking forward to joining in on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month, for the first time since November. In other winters, I could at least get some shots of grasses and perennial seedheads, but I cut everything down last fall. I did miss the winter interest; I didn’t miss having to do all my outdoor cleanup in March and April. (I was also delighted to have practically no vole damage, for a change.) No wonder I never really appreciated the fun of spring gardening: I was always too busy chopping and raking and hauling the debris away to enjoy the emerging blooms.
Now, I get it. This spring, I’ve had time to do fine cleanup, divide and move stuff around, and generally do detailed puttering instead of heavy cleanup. I’ve also been having a great time watching the early bulbs coming up. I planted over 3000 bulbs last fall – my main October project – so there’s a lot coming along to enjoy. It looks like the main show won’t start for another week or so, but a few of the earliest bulbs are out, the hellebores are in full bloom, a bunch of pansies that I overwintered in the greenhouse are in flower, and things were shaping up nicely for a moderately respectable Bloom Day showing.
Then came the “devastation, death, etc.” part. For a while now, Hayefield House has been in serious need of a makeover. With a log house, if the stain isn’t holding up right, you can’t just stain over it again; you have to remove all of the stain and start over. The process is like sandblasting, except that they use ground-up corncobs instead of sand. It involves lots of heavy tarps, and ladders, and hoses being dragged around, and lots of footsteps on soft soil.
If you’ve ever had work done on the outside of your house, you know what that means. The workmen, bless their hearts, made a tremendous effort to be careful, and the damage wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d feared. But well, stuff happens, and I’m trying to be brave about it.
The results will be worth the small losses, and now that the job will be done right, I’m hoping that the house (and the garden) may not ever need to go through this again. But for now, good photo opportunities are hard to find. From a distance, the garden still looks pretty much like a blank slate.
And it’s tough to get nice portrait shots, because pretty much everything around the house is covered with corncob dust.
So I have to get really close up, which would be fine except that the soil is still quite soggy, making ground-level shots kind of unpleasant. Oh well.
This drama should all be over soon, and I have a lot to look forward to this year. I’ve already tackled a few of the big jobs on my to-do list for this growing season, including thinning out some of the crowded Eastern red cedars in the meadow and using them to build a brush pile for wildlife habitat.
I also started cutting tunnels through some of the remaining cedar patches. They don’t look like much now, but I think they’ll be pretty cool in a few years.
And, I dug up a dozen baby cedars and transplanted them to create a new allee leading from the barn into the meadow.
I wish I’d been able to keep more of the existing cedars there, but they hadn’t had the sense to put themselves in straight lines, so I had to do some rearranging. Another 10 years or so, and it’ll look great.
In the process of traipsing around in the meadow, I found the dinosaur skull again.
No idea where it originally came from, but it amuses me, so I just mow over it and enjoying seeing where it turns up the each year.
Another spring project was dethatching the sand mound meadow. Six hours of hard raking. By hand. Setting it on fire would be so much easier, but that’s not an option.
And the project I’m most excited about: tackling the last unorganized area inside the fence, in the area I call The Orchard. Last fall, I got a new shed for the space. Mom and I have tried several different colors so far, and though this green isn’t quite what we had in mind, we’re sticking with it for now. (As much as she loves painting, I wouldn’t dare ask her to paint it a fourth time.)
In the remaining space, I needed to figure out what to plant around the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia chinensis), variegated Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas ‘Variegata’), Asian pear, and pawpaws (Asimina triloba). Inspired by Michael King’s blog and new e-books, I’m attempting to create a low perennial meadow. I made good progress this week in stripping off the sod and clearing the weeds before the rain started again.
For the theme plants, I’ve decided on aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm (Monarda), orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), all of which I’m sure I can gather a fair number of through division or digging up seedlings. Things are sprouting quickly here, so I’m planning to get this area all planted up next week, and I hope I have enough plants to fill it. It’d be terrible to have to go plant shopping again.
One more partly-done project:
The boys were so miserable in the heat earlier this week that I couldn’t resist starting to shear them; now, of course, it’s cool and rainy. Well, their necks may get a little chilly, but they still have plenty of fleece to keep the important parts warm enough, so I guess they’ll be all right for a bit longer. Shearing’s kind of like pruning, you know; once you take it off, you can’t very well put it back!