01 November 2013

On Callaway Road

Callaway Road (about a mile north of Pleasant Hill) is beautiful all year round. It's a dirt road through farm fields bordered by sumac in the foreground with the Adirondacks to the west and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east. But it's especially lovely once the sumac has fruited and the leaves have turned.

The view from Callaway Road, October 2013.

Abutilon theophrasti or velvetweed

A few years ago, B and I paid good money for a load of compost delivered by a local farmer. He dumped it at the top of the driveway, and we spent the next few months spreading it over all the gardens. As the summer progressed I saw all sorts of plants I'd never seen before. The compost was full of uncooked seeds, and we ended up pulling luscious, gigantic weeds by the thousands over the next two summers.

One of the new weeds took a liking to the bed down by the road. I let it go to seed a few times, the first time out of laziness, the second because I thought the seedpods were beautiful. I called it witchweed until I did a little research and determined it's Abutilon theophrasti. Kind of a nondescript plant when it's green and flowering (although the leaves really do feel velvety), but once the flowers go and the seeds develop: Wow.

Dehiscent velvetweed.

30 October 2013

killing frost

Not having actually been at the house during the week, I'm going on what my neighbors tell me: We had a killing frost Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, October 16, 2013. Just for the record, and all that.

And, yes, it was a glorious bunch of dahlias.

11 May 2013

start me up

new labelmaker + new labels = happy gardener

23 March 2013

late winter odds and ends

Found a few ninebark labels in the garage
  • Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monio' or Diabolo Ninebark (planted closest to the house)
  • Physocarpus opulifolius 'Coppertina' (planted farthest from the house)
Map of Slate Hill Farm daylilies wintering in the vegetable garden:

Bit = 'Bitsy'; FH = 'Frans Hals'; GT = 'Gold Thimble'; KL = 'Kindly Light'; LN = 'Lady Neva'; PI = 'Princess Irene'

Happy to see our new Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' testing the bloomin' waters:

Dahlia tubers in basement:
  • 'Andries Orange'
  • 'Bloodstone'
  • 'Crazy Legs'
  • 'Duet'
  • 'Florinoor'
  • 'Golden Cloud'
  • 'Kelvin Floodlight'
  • 'Kogane Fubuki' 
  • 'Little Beeswings'
  • 'Lucky Number'
  • Sorensensii
  • 'Star Child'
  • 'Winsome'
Need to order 'Clair de Lune,' 'Giraffe,' 'Kaiser Wilhelm'

01 January 2013


The first real snow of the season fell Christmas day, two days after Christmas, and again two days after that. There isn't a ton of it (probably seven inches or so), but even a little makes every branch and stalk in the garden look like an old Japanese brush painting.

The pot-bound red osier dogwood Alan sent north with B and me a few years ago has settled into its new home in the garden that edges the patio. I cut it back hard every spring (to within about four inches of the ground; I said hard, didn't I?), and it sends up lots of new growth through the spring and summer. During the growing season, the branches are just as plain as can be, but come autumn, they begin to color up, and when the leaves drop, there they are in all their fine redness.

After reading about winterberries on Margaret Roach's A Way to Garden
for the past few years, B and I decided we needed to add a few to our yard. We're not following Margaret's lead— she sites them in the distance where they "'read' as brilliant landscape elements when [she] is tucked indoors" (although we may do that, too, eventually). Instead, the two shrubs we bought and planted this summer form part of an arc, along with three Physocarpus 'Coppertina,' at the top of the driveway, separating it from the garden. These two little shrubs have already set some berries, "as red as any blood." The birds will love them, when they eventually find them.

Finally, what's a catalog of winter red on our hill without a view of the barn dressed up in its star? Putting it up (B and I aim for the second Sunday of Advent) always is, shall we say, a little bit of a challenge (I keep vowing to make it easier on ourselves by mounting the two pieces on a frame and hoisting the assembly via a pulley system to the side of the barn; maybe this summer), but seeing it shine from the early-winter darkness inspires and anchors us through Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.

Happy new year!