Archive for the ‘Ruminations’ Category

Shearing Madness

Duncan in November 06

With temperatures in the 70s and 80s in southeastern Pennsylvania this week, gardening has to take second place to a more critical spring ritual here at Hayefield: freeing “the boys” from their year’s worth of heavy fleece so they don’t pass out from the heat. It’s rather early this year: Last year, my notes say, I didn’t start until May 7. There’s always the worry that the weather might turn cold again, and once the fleece is off, you can’t very well stick it back on. It doesn’t look like cold, rainy weather is very likely any more, though, so we have to take our chances. Continue reading

Building the Perfect Hybrid Hellebore – Part 2

Helleborus x hybridus at Hayefield

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Continuing from Part 1

Helleborus x hybridus greenish white

Flower Colors

I think the only color in hybrid hellebores that’s rather boring is green. I can find charm in other sorts of green flowers, and a bright Granny-Smith-apple green isn’t bad, I guess. But propagating hybrid hellebores with green sepals (the parts that look like petals) mostly seems pointless to me, since you can already find splendid rich greens in straight H. odorus, H. dumetorum, H. foetidus, and other hellebore species. I particularly dislike many of the greens that are optimistically described as yellow in catalog copy. I’m sorry: They’re not yellow, they’re not even chartreuse – they’re green.

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Building the Perfect Hybrid Hellebore – Part 1

Helleborus x hybridus at Hayefield

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Back in my March Bloom Day post, I made a comment about loving all of my hybrid hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus). At the time, I meant it. But now that they’ve been in bloom for a few weeks, I find myself qualifying that statement frequently. Some clumps I visit daily or even more often, even if I have to go out of my way a bit. Others I walk past multiple times a day and seldom notice. And still others make me wish I had a shovel in hand so I could end their (and my) misery.

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Sunday Sunrise

Sunday Sunrise Feb 17 08


Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Not much of a show, is it? The sky was absolutely stunning about 40 minutes before actual sunrise, but by the time I got back from my walk with Mom, it was too late to salvage any color. Yesterday’s sunrise was pretty amazing, though, so I’m glad I caught that one.

Saturday Sunrise Feb 16 08

Saturday Sunrise closeup Feb 16 08

Just after three this morning, the motion sensor on my driveway started buzzing frantically, so I peeked outside and saw a group of shadowy figures making their way down the driveway toward my open front gate. I flicked on the porch light, threw open the front door, and stomped out on the porch. Eight deer froze, then scattered. I started with one about two months ago, then three a few weeks ago, and now eight. There’s currently a half-ton of hay sitting atop the actual gates right now, but I’m thinking I’d better shift it quick and re-hang them. I realize the deer could easily jump them if they chose to, however, and if they do, I’ll have to strategize further.

Daniel sunbathing Feb 14 08

After spending the rest of the night (such as it was) awake, I think I’m ready for a nap. I can only wish that we had some sunshine, because sleeping in the sun sounds pretty nice right now. At the moment, both boys are kushed by their hay piles, looking quite snug despite the cold, damp air. 

Wildflowers of Memory

Fieldbook of the American Wildflowers title spread

Text ©Nancy J. Ondra

Taking inspiration from Jodi’s post Garden Bloggers Muse Day meets Wildflowers in Winter at Bloomingwriter, I’ve dusted off some of my favorite wildflower guides.

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Are Alpacas the Answer?

Duncan and Daniel

Text and photo ©Nancy J. Ondra

“What made you decide to get alpacas?”, people ask me. Well, the fleece has some value, if you can find someone who wants it, and they’re fun to watch and hang around with. Plus, the endless supply of manure is invaluable for the garden. But apparently that’ not all they’re good for! Check out this link from The Onion: “Congress to Raise Alpacas to Aid Struggling Economy.” If only I’d gotten a boy and a girl, instead of two boys. (But no, I wouldn’t give up either Daniel or Duncan to get a girl instead.)