06 January 2020

a little “late autumn” planting

Allium bulbs planted on January 5, 2020.
That’s the truth, folks.

The weather in Washington County, New York, the United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, the Mind of God (that’s what it said on the envelope, but I digress), this early winter has been so unusual that it’s worth noting I was able to plant about 40 allium of different varieties that I bought on clearance in December as well as a quantity of daffodil bulbs that I dug in the spring with every good intention of dividing and replanting in a timely manner (insert wry chuckle).

I did this on Epiphany (anticipated), January 5, 2020. The ground is not even close to being frozen.

The scoop, as it played out:

In the front of the peony bed (the side closest to the road), I planted 15 Allium ‘Purple Sensation,’ 14 Allium ‘Christophii,’ and 10 Allium ‘Gladiator’ in a more-or-less random pattern. If any of them come up, I will be pleasantly pleased, of course. I think some might.

I also planted 22 clumps of about 5 or 6 bulbettes (or what would you call a small bulb) on what I will now call Spruce Hill behind the garage.

At some point, they will amount to something grand, but in the meantime, I’m just happy to have them in the ground and off of my to-do list. Happy finter or wall!

26 November 2019

saffron succotash

Well, no lima beans here, ma’am.

On a whim . . . at Lowe’s for a new bulb socket and came across these other bulbs: Saffron crocus on clearance (50% off), which were, inexplicably to me, mixed in with the spring-blooming crocus.

Bought them out, only a few bags left, but 48 for $10.

I just potted them all up—growing like crazy, poor little guys. If they green up and survive, I’ll wait for them to do their thing, let the foliage die back, and then plant the dormant bulbs outside next spring.

24 November 2019

spring bulbs planted

Just the facts, ma’am:

At Pleasant Hill:
  • 130 Scilla siberica planted in shovel indentations of 5 apiece in front of crabapple outside dining room window, down by bed at side of road, in front of newly planted dawn redwood, around old apple tree in orchard. Maybe someday this hill will be lousy with squill!
  • 50 Crocus tommasinianus planted hither and yon, lol, can’t quite remember where those fellows went!
  • 10 Ornithogalum nutans (or Silver Bells) planted in east side of perennial garden on south side of house.
  • 12 Narcissus ‘Sinopel’ planted down by Chris Michel’s mailbox.
 At Lower Hollow House:
  • 25 Tulipa sylvestris (or Florentine tulip) planted in five clumps near lavender off of south side of garden room patio.
  • 10 Tulipa acuminata (or Fire Flame) planted in same general area off of garden room patio.
  • 20 Crocus ‘Orange Monarch’ planted on east side of garden room patio.
  • 50 Tulip ‘Golden Artist,’ a viridiflora, not yet planted.

15 July 2019

burn, baby

Phase III of dealing with sticks, branches and logs has arrived. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be dragging limbs and branches into the woods to decompose and “create habitat,” even though the piles look messy once the leaves have gone away in the fall. And B and I did buy a chipper early on in our residency on the hill, and so I still have the ability to create mounds of chips for mulch and for pathways, so that’s good.

But up until this summer, I’d never considered burning! And that, my friends, is the answer for 2019. It’s fast, it gets rid of tremendous amounts of brush in an afternoon, and it’s fun to watch.

A little background: In the late fall of 2016, I had two trees cut down in the meadow, because they were shading things unreasonably, and I wanted to open the view up a bit more. The guy who came (recommended by my boss at Watkins Garden Center) was a short and scrappy young guy who took maybe three minutes to cut and limb the fallen trees. I figured I’d get around to dragging brush away “in a little while.”

Cut to a few weeks ago (yes, a few weeks ago in the spring of 2019). My friend D came over, and we spent the afternoon dragging some of the brush from that long-ago project into the woods, other logs to a wood stack behind the prayer shack, and still more into piles. Where I was certain it would sit for a very long while.

Last week enter I., friend of D’s and maker of fires. So one afternoon while I pretended to be otherwise occupied in the garden, D and I. took a match to the brush pile, and off it went. It is amazing how quickly three years’ worth of dried brush went away.

The fire burned for a few days, until D and I. returned to cut and drag more brush, which they laid on top of the ashes and watched as it caught and burned more.

Habitat pile? Nevermore, at least in the middle of the orchard. Chipping? Not on your tintype, buster. Burning? Burn, baby, burn!

The fire catches.
Fire master tends to the fire.


A well-earned break from dragging and burning.

The burning continued through the early evening and for two more days!

Stump for sitting on to watch the proceedings (and a little refreshment).

20 November 2018

fall into winter

Goodness. Weather. This has been a most unusual autumn, with dank, cold days and a lot of rain. Very little sunlight, such that the 3 sunny days we had (perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit; but only a little) felt like tremendous gifts from the heavens. I'm not a person who suffers from seasonal affective disorder, but I discovered this fall that sunlight makes me happy. 

And now we seem to be transitioning into a cold, snowy winter. Two snowfalls so far, and we're not even at Thanksgiving! 

Fall chores completed:
  • Dug dahlias at Pleasant Hill, at my sister's house in Schenectady, and at Lower Hollow House, my friend's house in Dorset
  • Cut back most of the old growth in the perennial garden
  • Cut back peony foliage (I neglected to do so last winter, and I think the plants suffered this year because of it)
  • Planted 3 blueberry bushes in close proximity to 3 other blueberry bushes I planted many years back; I seem to want a thicket of blueberries, and why not, when the fall foliage is so beautiful
  • Moved a bunch of unplanted perennials into the basement for the winter
  • Set up grow lights to overwinter geraniums and agapanthus in the aforementioned basement
  • Watered multiple pots of amaryllis I seem to have ignored all spring and summer; if I get growth from the bulbs, I'll be happily surprised
  • Repotted a peace lily given to me when B died
  • Dug and set new mailbox post in concrete; attached new mailbox to post
What I didn't complete:
  • Weed completely overgrown vegetable garden
  • Plant new hostas and other perennials
  • Refurbish shade garden under lilacs and maple trees on the south side of the house
There is always next spring, and even this winter—if the snow show goes away until a little later—to get more things done in the garden, but at this point I'm happy to settle in with a good book in front of the fire and dream of gardens to come.