Sunday, May 15, 2016

Welcome To Fairy Terrace …

While finishing up with mulch mowing of the Northern Woods the other day I noticed this stump, resplendent with a crop of bracket fungus. My mind softly wondered to thoughts of fairies, elves and gnomes and how they might abide here in a fantastic and fanciful communal forest haven.

I am sure there could be a “Reality Television” show here, “Welcome To Fairy Terrace” …     

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Rainy Days and Fountains …

Today was overcast and rainy for the most part. Showers rolling the through and over the mountains are generally good for naps and very little else, but today much work needed to be done rain or not. Mulch mowing of the Northern Woods have finally been completed. Now attentions turn to the finer detailed task for the spring season.

One of those achieved today was the spring/summer setup of the Gravel Terrace water fountain. This year I wanted more of the ruin look. The following You Tube video was taken shortly after completion today, please enjoy. One thing I found out with this setup this year is I can tune the sound the fountain makes by adding or subtracting rocks from the broken urn catch basin, marvelous !!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

After 06:00 Gardening, Is Formal Attire Required …

A few days ago found Jim and me perusing the garden section of large hardware store. As often on such outings we tend to wander apart, each going in search of items of our own particular interest. I was there for potting soil, soil needed for the deck pots this year. Before going to the outside pen were the soils, mulches and plants are caged I first thought of inspecting the selection of small gardening hand tools. As I walked down the aisle contemplating each tool and its use I suddenly spied them. In the shadowy depths of the shelving, non-descript merchandizing, they hung, waiting. And as my gaze fell upon them, a memory, and old memory of decades past flooded on me. Why would a simple pair of leather gardening gloves sweep me away on a torrent of almost forgotten memories from my childhood.

It is said that anything can be a memory trigger and in this case it was a pair of gardening gloves, actually and more exactly, pruning gauntlets. But in those first seconds I saw a pair of white, elbow length, evening gloves. Evening gloves a now vividly recall my Grandmother dawning as her and my Grandfather departed for one of the famous “Events”. And the time I speak was when the grand style maven Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy ( long before the Onassis was added) was watched and emulated by perhaps every woman in America. And while perhaps best known for her little “pill box” hats you never saw the First Lady in a formal gown without properly accessorized by elbow length white gloves, after 06:00pm of course!

With perhaps a slightly audible squeal I snagged a pair in my size and headed through the store to find Jim, who, when found was much less taken with my find than I. But then again, it’s my memories and not his.
And as I hack, chop and cut my way through the brambles wearing these leather gloves of work, I will remember my Grandmother’s stately elegance and grace, and her own elbow length white gloves.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Woodland “Not So” Wild Flowers …

In roughly the same vain as the last posting, this one is a little less on the wild side, so speaking. Over the years many bought flowers and shrubberies have been planted here and some have forestalled the ravages of the herbivore grazing by means of being tender less, noxious, or simply not pleasing to grazing palate.

Iris seems to be one the plants given too toxic compounds in the roots, leaves, and stems in the forms of irisin, iridin, and irisine. And while considered mildly or potentially toxic it would seem the grazers sense such possibility and steer themselves clear of our iris plantings. More iris please.

I have known of Rhododendrons poisonous nature form my early childhood. As a young woodland explorer my Grandmothers warned of this plant which grew drifts that could cover miles and along with their toxicity getting lost in the tangle of branches was a real and present possibility. I recall on more than one occasion search and rescue being called upon to find hunters lost in the expanses. The toxins associated with rhododendron are andromedotoxin, acetylandromedol and rhodotoxin, all sounding like wonderful apocalyptic movie villains. Of note here, the pictured rhododendron was purchased shrubbery but there are many wild one growing in the woods here and when they come into flower will be appearing here in a post.

And finally we have the Peony on our list of plants the grazers shy away from. A garden staple, the peonies roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds contain the toxin paeonol. I had apparently been garden under a misconception when I first introduced these heirloom peonies into the garden some years ago. I thought they would soon become a favorite menu item on the deer and rabbit salad bar I had seemed to be planting thus far. And yet here today they are happily full of buds. But again these are from decades old heirloom stock which might account for their longevity in the our woodland home garden.

Woodland Wild Flowers …

And hearty greetings this fine, albeit overcast and rainy, day as the calendar on the corner of the desk mocks me, it is the first weekend in May. Spring seems to be a fleeting and uncaringly hard mistress this year. Like a temperamental lover, spring has teased and toyed with me most of the season. Tempting me out with moments of bright sunshine to only turn angry with a mixture of hot and dry earlier days that caused one to create little puffs of dust while striding about the landscape or as of late, turning a cold shoulder to me with days of cold and drizzly rain. And while the cold rain has for the most part kept me cloistered from woodland landscape work it has by no means slowed the plants needing tending to maintain a civilized and kept appearance.

The other afternoon, this fickle vixen lured me away from my desk by sending bright shafts of sunlight deep into darken recesses of the house and beckoning me out. With camera in hand, I tentatively stepped out. As a reward for my attention this hardened mistress kissed my cheek with a cool and moist breeze. A breeze so light it seemed like a downy feather brushing my face. My reward for attending too this demanding lover was a visual delight of some of the more delicate wild flowers the woodland has to offer.

Knowing the season was right, I hastily ventured to see if “Her Ladyship” had decided to bestow me with her grace, I was not disappointed. Three years on now, I first discovered this beauty after she had bloomed and all that remained to see that first year was the dried brown husk of the bloom. But I knew straight way I had stumbled on a rarity of the woodland floor. Lady Slipper’s will only germinate in the right conditions so it’s appearance on the property was viewed as a gift from nature. I most pleased also knew that transplanting this finicky orchid was not to be, so I found an unused rose cage and placed it around my discovered treasure, as a small amount of protection, mostly from the threat of my own treading. 

Soon though, with the caprice of a despot I felt the cold drops of rain on my shoulders. My mistress had tired of me and through her coldness I knew it was time to leave. I once again retreated to the warmth of the house as her encouragement that I do so began to fall in heavy, almost icy, drops of rain. Alas, I now wait, I wait once again for the call of this mistress of delight, this mistress of woe, this mistress we call Spring…

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day 2016 …

May Day as a festival tradition has pretty much fallen by the wayside as a spring tradition here in America. As some have written, perhaps it is the loss of innocence as a nation the time when the population celebrated a more gentle arrival of spring.

I am by no means an authority on the subject, but I do recall that May Day has its beginnings in ancient agrarian culture as the celebration of the start of the planting season, the warming of the northern hemisphere and lengthening of days.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it seems there were two key components, a basket and a pole. May Day sometimes called May Basket Day was celebrated by the anonymous hanging of handmade baskets filled with flowers (generally wild), candies and trinkets. The basket was hung on the recipient’s door in upmost secrecy lest the identity of the giver be given away.

The pole was the center of, and some cases greatly choreographed, dances or celebrations. Ribbons affixed to the top of the pole are wrapped around the pole by participants circling the pole. My Mother has told stories of when she was a young girl of participating in such. Dressed in heavily starched white dresses, young girls carrying white baskets filled with flower petals and holding on to the ribbon streamers coming from the top of the pole. Would promenade around the pole with half the participants going around in the opposite direction so that every other young lady was headed in the opposite direction, as each meet one another they dodge each other in and in and out fashion which served to braid the streamers and as the whole assemblage circled the pole the pole was incased by the fluffy braided ribbons. As each girl reached the base of the pole their ribbon was tied off and they scattered the flower petals. I am most sure that this was a grand spectacle too witness. Add to this a marching band play accompaniment and the whole community/town turned out to view I am sure it full of ceremony.

Well today you will find none of this pomp in my post but I have chosen to celebrate May Day in my own way. I am attaching a snippet of a video I shot this morning with a lone Whippoorwill heralding the day with a chorus of birds and frogs (in the distant background) and all held within the rhythm of an early morning shower.

So I wish one and all, “Happy May Day”…