Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Waning Days Of April …

I’ll have to admit to being a touch off my game this year as far as spring property cleaning goes. And why so is a question I have no answer. Was it the earliness of Easter, the fact that we are still hovering around the freezing point at night or is it combination of both reasons. Could it be the steadily increasing work load at the Microbial Mine? a little too much part-time work for the Ladies at the shop? All I know is that spring has just not “felt” like spring so far this year. I did do a little puttering about last evening with the camera after getting home for work. And found a few signs that spring is here, even if not in full bloom.

With only a few days of April left there are a number of cleanup projects I hope to have completed before May comes rolling in. So I guess I should get up from here and get to it. I have completed the mulch mowing of the south side woods and now it’s time to move onto the northern badlands, well maybe after another coffee and maybe one sausage gravy biscuit. Oh, and did I mention the lower back yard needs pre-mowing grooming, need to add that to the “To Do” list, now where did I put that list…

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Nasty Little Tool …

Looking more like a tool of the Inquisition, the item pictured below is an often used tool on swine farms. Commonly called a “Pig Ringer” it is the device used to place a staple looking ring in the nose of swine to prevent their rooting, I find the thoughts of its use for that purpose ghastly. But as tool it has “other”, less spine chilling, uses around the home and garden.

Today’s application was the joining of several inexpensive steel rod plant trellises too construct a decorative cage to protect the hostas in the head of the driveway landscaping from the deer. The arching of the trellis repeats that of a bakers rack already placed in the landscape as a potting/work bench.

I am pleased with this new cage because its decorative, the opening are big enough to get my hands through and work on the planter yet small enough to keep a deer’s head out, BOOYAH !!!

Sun Rise “Peek-A-Boo” …

Heading out to the shed yesterday morning I caught the sun playing “Peek-a-Boo” with me through the trees. Living in the woods, our first glimpse of the sun in the early morning hours is caught between tree trunks, flashing much like a beacon. During the oncoming summer months these will be the hour of much activity here at the homestead. While the air has yet to shake off the coolness of the night, laborious tasks are best preformed prior to the suns climb above the tree tops.

Much like a Bram Stoker character I will be racing the suns ascent to complete my tasks. Work will soon progress across the property with the shorting of the shadows. And like said character I will fear that my work fulfilment will be caught in full sunlight. Yesterday brought this awareness with a temperature of 91°F (33°C).

But before urgent need of daily chore completion becomes a gauntlet challenge I will enjoy morning strolls through the woods to see what manner of plants are sprouting forth for the season. Below I happened upon a forming cluster of Galax (Galax urceolata).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

End Of The Week, Start Of The Weekend …

Well here we are on Sunday morning and I have a full day planned out around the homestead, the mulch mowing continues. But as I go about my work I feel my thoughts will be elsewhere, from a design standpoint anyway.

As a creative outlet I work (play for pay) part-time for a local florist and this year we have been asked to create the florals for the big spring “DO” at a local liberal arts college the first weekend in June. So the other evening we tour the campus to view the various venues that we will be creating arrangements for. The three day event will require center pieces for breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, dances, and picnics. All staged at different locations and many taking place at the same time.

As a means of starting the design process I am posting a few pictures of some of the locations as a way of theme planning. Some of the more important events will require a bit more of a lavish production, while others a more natural and earthy look.

Graduating Classes celebrating their 50th or more reunion are in the upper and lower levels of the Conference Center. The Class celebrating its 25th reunion is down at the boathouse. All other Classes will be celebrating with a picnic on the Upper Quad. All this happens simultaneously Friday evening. Pictured below is the Upper Quad.

Saturday an early breakfast with the College President will be held in the school’s Library in the periodicals reading room, pictured below. Flooded with light I am thinking greenhouse/garden-ie theme.

Saturday night in the schools dining hall will be the all attendees dinner and dance. Which will use the atrium and 5 associate dining rooms.

Then there will be memorials held in the Chapel on campus...

Well I guess I had best post this and get busy if I am going to get anything done around the homestead today.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Closer Look, Please …

The ongoing task of cleaning and mulching the front woods has continued this weekend. While moving slower that I would like, it is moving along at a steady clip having been able to push the un-kept area back by some yards. Affectively increasing the amount of groomed forest floor considered the homesteads front “lawn”. Admittedly, I am beginning to tire of the browns and greys that are currently making up the early spring color palette. Unfortunately, spring blooming trees such as the red bud and dogwoods do not populate the area I am currently working in. But there is spring color, color that the 26°F (-3°C) nightly temperatures are not causing to remain concealed from view. But if you look close, down hidden amount the leaf litter there is riotous spring color. Moss is now in full bloom.

Down, tight to the ground moss is celebrating spring with a fireworks display of reds.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Weed Trimming, Mountain Style …

Today’s high only got up to 61°F, which was perfect weather for doing a little heavy property cleaning in the Front Woods. Spring cleaning had progressed to the fallen popular tree that I had been working around for a couple of weeks now. Actually having procrastinated pulling the chain saw I figured today would be the day to take care of this project. It’s not that I don’t like using a chain saw, on the contrary, I “love” using the chain saw, perhaps a bit too much. It’s the picking up, splitting and then stacking of the wood cut. Below I have gotten well into the task of cutting the tree up into manageable pieces.

Once cutting was completed and the wood stacked out of the way I jumped back into mulch mowing the area that I had been circling for the last little bit. Now the view out the front window is most pleasing. But there is still several standing dead that will need to be brought down in the next few weeks. Once the wood is split it will be destine for use in the fireplace in the clubroom of the homestead as and emergency heat source or in the fire-pit on summer nights on the deck, hmm, now I have the cravings for smore’s.

Finally a unique woodland happenstance, a ring of hollies around the base of a white oak, will have to research forest lore and see if there is any significant legend about such a growing combination. This could be one of those natural occurring plant groupings that will become a feature in the landscape.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It’s An Ill Wind That Blows No Good …

Evening last, we suffered through yet another high wind event that preceded the cold front that swept through this morning, bring a teeth chattering 34°F. Having plotted off to bed last evening leaving the bedroom window open meant a most brisk temperature met me this morning as I awoke from my slumbers. As I lay there in the still morning contemplating the best way to extract myself from under the warm layers of quilts and comforters, my thoughts drifted to what awaited me outside after the night’s high winds. I had been lulled to sleep by the peppering of branches on the roof.

After my morning cup (pot) of coffee and thus suitably steadied I ventured out into the day. Being this early in the season The Jim and I have yet pulled the summer furniture out of storage and erected the deck canopy so there had been no mad evening dash to secure flyable’ s. As expected there was the normal assortment of twigs and small branches scattered about the deck and roof. A quick brooming took care of the deck; the roof is on the schedule for tomorrow. Larger debris was picked up from the driveway and the emergency generator cover replaced. The cover for the fire pit was a different story, surveying the yard it was not to be seen. Taking a que from the direction the generator cover had been a skewed I began my trek into the woods. Several yards in I found the wondering cover and happily retrieved it. Other than a few pieces of trash blow in from who knows where the cleanup will be minimal, actually un-noticeable when mixed with other need seasonal clean up item, ahem.

Before heading off to the part-time job to help “My Ladies” at the flower shop (wedding flowers for a photo ops at a new wedding venue) I strolled the Up Front landscaping installation, which by the by has yet to see a gardeners hand this spring, ahem. I was surprised, pleasantly so, to see the hosta planter sprouting. Of course around here we have another name for hosta’s, “Deer Candy”. I need to devise an artfully pleasing fence for them and the sooner the better.

Also in the Up Front, and for which I cannot take credit, Her Ladyship has likewise sprouted. Her Ladyship is a wild and native “Lady Slipper”. I stumbled across her a couple of years ago and placed a rose cage around her for protection. Since a large portion of the Lady Slippers natural habit has disappeared I was most ecstatic to have one volunteer to grow on the property and have taken great care not to disturb her. My efforts have been rewarded by having her as a photographic subject.

And as always the little Red Bud behind the hydrangea berm is showing off in spectacular fashion. Once this little fellow goes into full flower spring is not too far behind in earnest. I have been watching the progression of the red buds blooming up the mountain sides. Starting at the base, as spring progresses so to the blooming trees up the mountain. Once the red buds start to fade, dogwoods will take their place and then the trees will begin leafing proper. The headiness of spring is truly upon us.