A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons

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07 April 2017

A Split and a Stack, OH and Scotland

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When purchasing cheap perennials from big box stores, I tend to make a large split down the side of the rootball before planting.

'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
A reputable nursery will tend to sell plants before their roots become completely bound, but the less expensive your plant is, 
the more problems might be lurking in the rootball.  Case in point, this cheap (but beautiful!!) columbine plant.

'Winky Purple-White' Columbine
'Winky Purple-White' Columbine

I am adding columbine to the allium border to help cover up the naked legs and floppy leaves of said alliums. (Curious about the alliums? Read about the whole planting scheme HERE!) I also plan to add in the nicely foliaged nepeta and some sedum splits to help with the naked issue.  In later years, perhaps some David Austin roses and peonies will be added to this space.  One can dream, right?

 It is going to pretty....just give it time...this is the awkward teenager year of this little bed.

Back to the split though...

West County Gloves Columbine

When I get these root bound plants, I tend to split them straight down the sides.  I first cut gently into the root ball with a trowel or soil knife and then use my hands to gently pry the sections apart. This method breaks up the roots going in circles around the edges of the pot AND (bonus!) will sometimes result in two plants from one container, doubling your plant value.  Once planted, those roots can grow OUT into the soil instead of continuing in circles around the root ball.

If you are a gardener like me, this time of year is both exhilarating and slightly infuriating. Spring is basically here, and on some days it seems perhaps summer would like to make an appearance, while on others snow still seems to threaten.  This is NOT THE TIME FOR PLANTING TOMATOES.  ...and yet, I want to.

I should be moving more carts of chicken bedding to the compost pile, weeding while the weeds are young and starting to divide those clumps of daffodils that have gotten so dense they barely bloom anymore.  It seems those chores have become chores and ALL I WANT TO DO IS PLANT TOMATOES.  I resist however, and instead make plans and read books when I cannot stomach the thought of another load of manure.

Of course, when not IN the garden in spring, I am reading about it...

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine LagacheGood Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine LagacheGood Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache

Good Soil by Tina Raman, Ewa-Marie Rundquist and Justine Lagache is a BEAUTIFUL new book that is full of information. Charts galore and easy to find, detailed reference pages are scattered throughout the book. The author is Swedish, so it is interesting to read a slightly difference viewpoint on soil - the "nutrients that can be found in offal, the sea, fire, rocks, rubbish and of course, dung heaps." It sounds so much nicer in her words, doesn't it? I also appreciate the dives into chemistry, biology, history and even philosophy whist discussing the basic foundation of ANY garden - GOOD SOIL.  

Another plus? Matte finish pages -- it might seem like a small details, but they feel so good while flipping through and I bet my buy vs. browse percentage of matte vs. glossy books is probably 50% higher.

Another good reference for both experienced AND brand new gardeners is Fresh From the Garden by John Whitman. The book is organized by plant and can be read straight through, but also used as a reference when deciding WHAT to plant (once it is time of course....NO TOMATOES YET!) 

Fresh From the Garden by John  WhitmanFresh From the Garden by John  Whitman

Fresh From the Garden by John  WhitmanFresh From the Garden by John  Whitman

 This is actually the fourth book in a series by Whitman on cold climate gardening.  The others have focused on roses, perennials and small shrubs and trees.  THIS book is focused on vegetables, berries and herbs (you know the stuff I WANT TO PLANT RIGHT NOW but probably shouldn't quuuuiiiite yet.)

On the stack is also a sweet children's book called The Children's Garden by Carole Lexa Schaefer and illustrated by Pierr Morgan. Illustrated with colorful paintings, this charming picture book features a diverse group of children connecting to food through hands-on outdoor activity.  This is a fantastic book to read to school children before planting a school garden or just to get them excited about good food!

 Rounding out my current stack includes the novel sitting at my bedside: "Lady of the Glen" (which is not nearly so raunchy as it sounds) and a little book called Meditation for Daily Stress by Michel Pascal. The concept is to focus on (or meditate on) a specific item for specific stresses.

For example -- The Horizon to calm, straighten, clear a racing brain or A Wave to deal with difficult people and interactions. Yes, it sounds hokey at first, but I am enjoying reading a bit more deeply into the practice of meditation and considering how yoga and meditation can coexist with a Christian worldview.  I have been practicing yoga for several years now, but have recently experimented with "hot" yoga (vinyasa), Iyengar and power yoga.  I just bought a Groupon for Bikram Yoga (SCARY!) and am super curious about aerial yoga as well. I like the challenge of a mind/body exercise that is accessible from childhood through old age and find the calming (and sweaty!) pratice of vinyasa invigorating.

Back to Lady of the Glen though....THIS is where the story takes place -- Glencoe, Scotland.

Glencoe, Scotland

More to come on our trip last year to Scotland, but let me just say Glencoe is the sort
of place you think exists only in movies, but THEN THERE YOU ARE and it is breathtaking.

Glencoe Scotland

It has been 6 months since we went to Scotland, and I still haven't quite found the words to do it justice.

Let me just say that like Claire, WE ARE GOING BACK.

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11 March 2017

A Sick Rhododendron, Stolen Celosia and a Welcome Weed

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Seeding Celosia under Hanging Baskets at A Nest for All Seasons

When I start anything from seed, I try to mark the space with an upside down hanging basket (above). It reminds me NOT to weed there for a few weeks and gives the plants some protection when they do emerge. The basket is removed once the plants start to reach the wires. Inside this particular wire enclosure are some celosia seeds - stolen celosia. Last fall, our local nature center did a crafting with nature event (NOT related to my book...just a happy coincidence!) and we were able to make a variety of ornaments and such out of pinecones, seedheads and other plant bits. I made sure to make a little tussy mussy including some pretty celosia with seeds still attached.  Today, they found their home!

Sick Rhododendron with brown curling leaves at A Nest for All Seasons

In other garden news, I have a sad and maybe sick rhododendron (above). The leaves on several branches look like this:

Sick Rhododendron with brown curling leaves at A Nest for All Seasons

From what I have read, it might have just been a lack of water last year, as there were no obvious signs of pest or disease, but to be safe I trimmed off all branches with signs of these curling, brown leaves. This is a very mature rhododendron and there are several that line the creek, but this was the only one affected. While this is not the time of year to prune rhodies (you will take off the ready-to-bloom flower buds), I needed to get at this problem as soon as I saw it.

Fiskars Loppers Pruning Rhododendron

The impetus to action was a decent pair of loppers. For about 12 years I had been using a pair from Ollies and they were great for about 8 of those years until the metal handle cracked. They had served me very well (I daresay the most used tool in the shed?), but I had been using it with that metal handle broken for about 2 years now. Picture loppers on crutches and that is about the efficiency at which I was operating those old things. I can be incredibly cheap sometimes and really should have replaced it when it broke. When Fiskars asked if I would like to try their new line of pruning tools, well, the obvious answer was YES.

Fiskars Loppers

They REALLY are 3 times easier -- cuts like a hot knife through butter and I went up to trees the size of half dollars. I think it could have done more.

Link to Fiskars Loppers -- a ton of options for you!

Fiskars Loppers Pruning Rhododendron

 As we went back to the house, I was reminded of just how pretty a weed can be:
Bird’s Eye Speedwell (veronica persica)
Bird’s Eye Speedwell (veronica persica)
 Anywhere this "weed" wants to gallivant around the lawn, it is more than welcome.

In other news, I forgot to open the laying coop, and the hens had a little mini-battle to see who could lay their egg first today.

Buff Orpingtons Fighting to Lay an Egg

Reminds me of a girl's bathroom at a baseball game intermission. #henfight

Hope your spring is arriving in fits and starts like mine and you are getting OUT and enjoying it!

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