Saturday, February 28, 2009

Progress on Gabe's Garden

Some gorgeous Spring weather made the ground soft enough for digging. Also today, our neighbor Shannon, who has just turned 13, helped me to stack rocks. And viola! This space is starting to look like a proper garden.

This is the view from our front door.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gabe's Garden

This past weekend, the weather obliged just enough to break ground on the circular native-plant bed and play-space that I am planning. Or "Gabe's Garden" for short.

This was as far as I was able to dig before running out of thawed earth. Oh well!

Out back, I found a treasure trove of rocks underneath the trimmed poison sumac. It looks like someone had foolishly tried to garden there, once. I dug up all the rocks that I could lift, and I recruited Chris to help me lift the larger ones. These rocks will line the inner edge of the circular bed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chives, Allium Schoenoprasum

We have been growing chives in the window, and today, they brought a touch of spring to the house.

Chives are well known for escaping cultivation, because they readily reseed themselves. Where I grew up in Virginia, the lawns were full of chives. This photo was taken in Virginia, along a path in a wooded area near my parents' home.

I had thought that chives weren't native, but according to the USDA database, there is a native variety.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sprouted Onions

We ruined our onion crop this winter by storing them improperly. They need to be kept in a cold, dark place. . . and our garage is neither dark, nor was it cold enough until real winter arrived.

But on the bright side, if we ever want a crop of fresh green onions to harvest over the winter, we now have a foolproof method.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Plans for Spring

I can't help myself. . . with all of this snow, I'm dreaming obsessively of the garden that I want to make for Gabe.

The winter-sown seeds have been tucked in beneath a fluffy layer of white:

Last month, I finally lopped off the near branches of the poison sumac. This may turn out to be all that I need to do to keep the leaves away from the rear lawn. If I plant creatively in front of it with low, dense bushes, then we may be able to have the best of both worlds back here.

I hope the dog hobble is a good hedge choice for this.

When some of the snow melted, I had a glimpse of what is under the poison sumac: more rocks! And big ones, at that. I'll be pilfering those for Gabe's garden for sure!

Something else I would like to try this spring: build a living structure. I don't think willow would be suitable. But our witchhazels have a number of whippy shoots I could harvest and play with. There would only be enough to make a tiny structure, but if it works, Gabe will have something quite unusual in his garden.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Deer Food

Last summer I cut down a small yew from the front bed which I had assumed was dying of a disease. But the evidence now points to deer. Tracks have now repeatedly lead to the yews flanking the front door, and it is clear to see that the fronts of the bushes have been chewed.

At the corner of the house and driveway, all of the yew has been eaten except for what's out of reach. This shrub may have a future as a small tree.

I wonder if the deer are eating this pine out of desperation.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


We had more snow this week. The great snowplow pile now stretches completerly along the front of our yard from the great pine trees to the mailbox.

Our friend Jen got a new tripod, and kindly gave us her old one. I took it out on the front step to take some night-time photos.

I took the first picture from indoors, and the second out in the snow, barefoot.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Winter Sowing

The seeds of plants native to this region typically need a winter's freeze and thaw cycle to germinate. The seeds can be planted in the ground in the autumn; but for better protection from animals and the elements, milk-jug greenhouses can be used. More seedlings survive with this method, potentially.

(It should be noted, however, that I only tried this once before, indoors.)

My complete list of winter-sewn seeds for Gabe's Garden will be:

Andropogon gerardi - Big Bluestem grass
Panicum virgatum - Switch Grass
Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass
Allium stellatum - Prairie Onion
Echinacea simulata - Glade Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea - Purple coneflower
Echinacea paradoxa - Yellow coneflower
Monarda citriodora - Lemon Mint
Monarda fistulosa - Wild Bergamot

. . .and also Dog Hobble, Leucothoe fontanesiana, for the back yard, which I plan to use as a barrier around the poison sumac.