Monday, March 25, 2013

Never mind a white Christmas...

It's a white Easter I'm more worried about!

The recent so-called winter season has been all topsy turvey. December through to February saw us receive very little snow. But March? OMG!

This morning I went outside with my camera around 8.00am. 
 It looks very picturesque doesn't it?
 Remember that "desirable residence" of a couple of posts back? There's even more snow on the roof this time. Fortunately there has not yet been a signed lease! But how long can it be before a potential tenant appreciates the glitz and glamor of this shot of orange in the snowy landscape?  Last week I was excited to see a bluebird flying around this nesting box - I'm guessing it was attracted by the blue paintwork but the hole is too small to allow entry for a blue bird. Further back in the yard is a house specifically intended for bluebirds but I have yet to have success and have a bluebird move in. Maybe I should apply some blue paint to that one!?
 Out in the woods the open air compost heap has already compressed a pleasing amount. And maybe after a lean few years it might be time to try filling this bird feeder again. It is a proven squirrel proof feeder but the chipmunks can empty it in about 24 hours so I have not filled it at all in several years.

The bird condominium was all cleaned out only a week ago ready for the spring season. In the background you can see evidence of how bored the squirrels have been this winter - they have stripped all the bark of that cedar tree and likely carried it on up the trunk to where they have a nest. Of course the squirrels might contend that they were cold rather than bored and the bark has helped stop the drafts in their high rise apartment. From an artistic point of view I like how that one medium brown tree trunk gives some color to the snowy scene.

 And that pretty daffodil photo of a few posts ago?

This feeder did get filled on Saturday for the first time in several years. This afternoon there was a steady stream of small birds flying in for "take-out". I hope it is a long time before the chipmunks find it again.

But yes, with Easter Day just six days away who would have thought we would be having snow?

In Anticipation of the Garden Season

Last week it was time for the early spring cleanup in my landscape. Weeds were pulled out and bushes and trees pruned as necessary. Or, in the case of some bushes along the front of the house, pulled out entirely.

The otto luyken laurel bushes were planted at the time the house was built in 2000. They were fine bushes but their mature size was too big for the location and they were planted too closely together. In the past several summers they have been repeatedly attacked with a fungus because there was not enough air movement (due to the close planting) and have had to be treated repeatedly. It was time for them to come out.

A nandina domestica had been planted in the corner to block the view of the white pipes that control the sprinkler system. Again, it was a lovely bush, with great color all year and the added benefit of berries but at maturity it was just too large for the corner it had been allocated. So out it came also.

 Now I have empty open space to be planted. I will be looking for smaller sized shrubs that can be planted a little further away from the house so it is easier for a painter to access the front bay window as well as allowing light and air movement for the window frame. But those white pipes are not a pretty feature and do need something planted in front to hide them from view.

 In the fall last year I decided to experiment and see if I could get the hydrangeas that had spent the summer on the front porch to overwinter. I cut them back by a good half and relocated them to a cool room on the ground floor.  They got through the exile in fine condition but are already covered with green leaves indicating they are ready to go outside. My goodness, I even found a flower bud ready to burst open.

But, it is too early in the season for them to go outside just yet. It is also too early in the season for the plant nurseries to have much new stock in to look at so I can decide what to fill that big empty space out front with.

Roll on springtime!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Looking for Spring in all the Wrong Places

As you may know I like to use this blog to record events as they happen in my garden. Then I can look back and check when spring arrived in years past.

Anticipating my absence from this past Friday to Sunday I realized I would not be able to photograph the first daffodil and plum tree blooms of this spring. On Thursday the blooms were almost out...

 But when I went outside this morning (Monday) this is what greeted me.
 Today my landscape guys were scheduled to come by and do the spring pruning including some trimming up of the holly trees here (below) to open things up a little. The laurel bushes in front of the house (above) are going to be taken out - although they are good bushes they are too constrained by the space they are in and require constant pruning as well as spraying for fungus problems caused by their tight quarters.

Will the cooler temperatures have frozen the balance of the daffodil buds I wonder?

 A "to do" list item for the boys on the weekend was to install and/or clean out the bird houses ready for the spring market. This newly erected desirable residence can boast snow on the roof - alas, I'm not sure that is going to come very high on the "must have" list of the birdies out shopping for a new home.
Pruning and early spring cleanup has been rescheduled for Wednesday. If I concentrate really hard maybe I can persuade the weather gods to relent and let us have good sunny days ahead to enjoy all the pleasures of seeing the garden awake for the season.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One last winter storm

The news media went into overdrive a few days ago predicting that we were finally to have a real snowstorm. An avalanche of forecasts for a heavy, wet snow with anywhere from 2" to 10" or maybe even more was what we were told to expect. Now since we have barely seen snow this winter people got all geared up for it and prepared for what to do on a snow day. Schools were declared closed, government offices closed, businesses urged people to work from home and local authorities asked you not to travel unless absolutely necessary so the snow plows could keep the roads clear.

This is the scene at the back door when I got downstairs for the morning on Wednesday. H'mm, not much snow there, maybe more is to come?
This is what we had at the heaviest - but since temperatures had been warm in the preceding days the snow never did stick on the road.
 Out back the daffodil leaves are poking above the snow by several inches.
And this maple tree in the foreground is covered in buds.
And by this morning, this is all that remained. The neighborhood children have waited all winter long to play in the snow and could not resist this chance to at least try to build a snowman.

This coming weekend we change over to daylight savings time so this was the last chance for old man winter.