Archive for the ‘Garden Projects’ Category

Mid-December Miscellany

Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'; Nancy J. Ondra at Hayefield

Forget what the calendar says: Like many of you, I’m already thinking about spring. The fall spectacle is over, I have almost everything cut down, and there’s a whole box of seeds holding treasures for the upcoming growing season. In a “normal” year (whatever that is), we’d have likely been stuck inside for weeks by now, dealing with below-freezing temperatures and spells of snow and ice as well. This year, however, the seasons have been turned upside down: Our temperatures have been well above average for the last six weeks, feeling more like April and May than December. It was tempting to call this a Bloom Day post, but I don’t have any open blooms to share at the moment. There are still some nice-looking things, though. Continue reading

If I Knew Then…

Front Garden Spring 2003 at

Front Garden ~ Spring 2003

After The Winter That Wouldn’t Die, we’re finally starting to get a taste of spring here in southeastern PA. It’s going to be a bit longer before there’s anything green and growing to appreciate, though, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking instead. Mostly, my plans for the upcoming growing season have focused on how I can reduce some of the most resource-intensive areas so I can do a better job on the parts I really enjoy. A big part of that has been figuring out where those problem areas are, and how they got that way. Continue reading

Holding Patterns

Holding Beds at Summer 2003

The snow seems to be gone for good now, so I’m finally making progress on the garden cleanup I didn’t get to tackle last fall. The work is so routine now that it leaves plenty of time for contemplation. It’s easy to start dwelling on the various planting and design mistakes I’ve made over the years, but that’s a poor frame of mind to be in at such a promising time of year, so instead, I try to focus on what I’m happy with. I’ve come up with lots of things to be positive about, but overall, the best decisions I’ve made for the garden have been related to creating an abundance of holding beds.

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At the End of Ten Years

Perennial meadow in Cottage Garden at Hayefield Aug 13 11

Unless you’re lucky enough to garden in a place well sheltered from passersby, you’ve probably had to deal with your share of “clever” comments from non-gardeners. One I get quite often is “Hey, when you’re done there, you can come and fix up my yard.” My rote response to that is “Sure, when I’m finished here, I’ll be right over.” Which is to say, of course, “Don’t hold your breath,” because we gardeners know that a garden is never really finished, at least from a maintenance perspective.

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Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror

Blood Devastation Death War and Horror

“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.

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The Chipper/Shredder Experiment

Meadow at Hayefield Summer 2007

When I decided to let a few acres of my property go back to meadow nearly a decade ago, I expected the results to look like what I’d been used to seeing before I built my home there, when the land was a hayfield: lots of grasses, a few milkweeds and other summer wildflowers, and some goldenrods in fall. And for the first five years or so, that was pretty much the overall effect, as shown in the July 2006 photo above.

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It Started with a Cow

Happy the Cow

And it’s all Mom’s fault. She has a knack for finding quirky things that she knows I’ll like, and that’s how I ended up getting a cow for Christmas. Not just any cow: a 2-foot-tall recycled metal cow with kind of odd ears and a paint job guaranteed to catch the eye.

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