A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: March 2017

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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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09 March 2017

Year 3 ::: The Grasses Bed

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This post has been under construction for a good three years now...
Thanks to Fiskars for providing the pruning tools used in this job.

Starting in 2014:


Otherwise known as "chicken hunting land", this is the grasses bed.

Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
BEFORE

You might remember this particular bed from a post I did last fall -- READ IT HERE.
Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
BEFORE
These photos are from the spring after we moved in. Believe it or not, this bed was much much worse when we first bought the house. 
There are eight mature ornamental grass clumps that had grown wildly out of control along with a host of tough weeds, including weedy trees.

Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
BEFORE

2015-2016

We had the grasses trimmed (a yearly chore) and the entire bed sprayed to kill absolutely everything. Typically, I try to use organic methods and manual removal to control weeds, but this bed was simply too much to handle. Once sprayed, the bed was mulched and a few small plants went in.
Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
Fall 2016
Below is the bed from the other side where you can see the baby bits of green. In the corner are sedum cuttings that I rooted myself and then barely visible is some carex (a short, small grass) and soapwort (a native plant that will hang over the edge a bit). You might also see the bits of English Ivy along the edges and in between stones. I want to keep the ivy to soften the edges of the stone and as a treat for the sheep (they adore ivy). English ivy is used throughout the property and while it can be invasive, it really suits all the rock walls we have.

Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
Fall 2016, ivy, sedum starts and grasses visible
Below is the view coming up the driveway: 

My plan is to use deep reddish sedum, hydrangea blooms that fade to a dusky red
 and Russian sage or catmint to complement the mature red bushes to the right of the driveway.
Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
Colors in the grasses bed will complement reds on the right of the driveway.
Stonecrest Manor Grasses Bed Revival with Sedum Catmint Ornamental Grasses and Hydrangea
Stone wall to be softened with sedums and catmint.
Eventually, I would also like to focus on this bed in springtime. At the moment, it will be a bunch of greens and show off once fall comes. 
A host of daffodils might be in the works for next year all along the edges of the wall.


March 2017


HELLO SPRINGTIME!


The daffodils have arrived! 

I was able to split big clumps of daffodils to fill in all along between the rock wall and grasses right as the daffodils were getting ready to bud. A week later and they have all perked up and some have started blooming. Daffodils are one of those tough-as-nails plants that can be transplanted almost any time of year (save the dead of winter). Don't let people warn you that they can ONLY be moved in the fall (when you have forgotten where they ARE!). I move them in early spring because I can SEE all the clumps and many will go ahead and bloom for me.  Case in point:


The grasses got a haircut:


These pruners are also in the new Fiskars line of pruning tools. They squeeze in an almost twisting motion instead of straight, making them easier for long periods and for those with arthritis.  Eight giant clumps of grass though and I had a blister :/ I didn't want to wait for the chainsaw though, so hand pruning it was!


It isn't the prettiest with a few still saggy daffodil clumps and shaved grasses, BUT this bed is coming along. 

Here is my "final" plan:


The bushes on either side of the grasses are large Annabelle hydrangeas (you can see where they are below by the yellow flags
and the last addition planned for this summer is lavender and maybe catmint along the edges and little filler clumps of bunny tail grasses by seed.

It is coming along!


Moral of the story...gardening takes YEARS and there are still days (or seasons) when it is still ugly.

Worth it?  I say YES!

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03 March 2017

All lined up like soldiers...

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In the spirit of spring cleaning, this year's mantra seems to be "get it on the wall!"  
There have been more nail holes punched into walls this week then there have been since we first moved in
and everything is falling into a place like a line of soldiers queuing up for battle.


This is the back stairway from the kitchen to the upstairs and it had this nasty little closet in the wall.


I should have taken a 'before', but imagine walls with various colors and some green moldy carpeting on the bottom. Various animals might have lived here at some point? In any case, some paint, some nails and an afternoon later and everything was clean, organized and up on the wall!



While I was working on this hallway, I also redid a little collection of black and whites. (top left photo below on instagram)


My favorite part are a couple led candles that turn on and off automatically and light up this dark little corner of the house at night. Makes it cozy!

Next on the list? Garden tools!


Fiskars sent some of the new pruning tools they are bringing to the market for me to try out.
They are beautiful and of course useful, so they are added to the "orange" wall:

She is beautiful too and hanging out with me in the garage so she got her picture taken:
Buff Orpington Chickens at Stonecrest Manor at A Nest for All Seasons
Buff Orpington Chickens at Stonecrest Manor at A Nest for All Seasons


 The place where I normally store tools in the basement is out of the way and tools tend to start accumulating in the garage as the gardening season wears on. So it only makes sense that I make some room for them there...but on the wall so that we can still actually park a car in the garage. Our oldest came up with the layout and installed all the nails (for some $$$ of course) and did a superb job, don't you think?

This is the "green" wall on the other side of the garage are all of the digging/raking tools (mostly all Ames tools). 

In the kitchen, hooks went up in the rafters for botanicals I scavenged for in the Scottish countryside while we were there
 (the BEST kind of souvenir in my opinion!) and more hooks went in to prepare for flower drying in the coming season.

Amy Renea at A Nest for All Seasons Stonecrest Kitchen with SCottish Botanicals

A few pictures that I have been meaning to hang went UP...

...and I breathe a sigh of calm until the next spring wave of organizing and cleaning fever sets in!


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