“The rest of the world may unknowingly slip into winter, but gardeners cannot. We have questions to ask, tasks to do. As the weather cools we simultaneously close down one growing season and prepare for another.” ~Judith Couchman
We are headed into our second month of winter, and I still have so much planned to accomplish before spring. We are trying to clear out lots of “stuff” we have accumulated over the last 10 years. And I have been reading and writing…lots of writing for 2 blogs. Getting ready for the gardening season too, as I start some flower seeds this month, mostly pansies and violas.
As January began, we had crazy weather with 11 inches of snow in 5 hours. Then it melted, followed by sleet, freezing rain and another melt. You can see the grassy paths as the ice under the snow is melting and flooding the garden in early January. And the picture above, is of the dwarf willow tree in the front garden with melting snow dripping off and sparkling in the sun.
I think we had as much rain as snow at the beginning of the month. But that quickly changed, and we remained covered in almost a foot of snow for the rest of January and into February.
Most of January found us in frigid temps many days not reaching freezing, and mostly in the 20s for daytime highs. When we have cold air blow in over the lake, we get lake effect snow. I think we had about 3 feet of snow which is unusually low for January. We usually have a foot a week. And we are about 3 feet behind in our snowfall total so far.
One nice perk, besides the gorgeous snowy scenes, has been the increased daylight and some pretty spectacular sunsets. This is the northern sky that is a beautiful pink most nights as the setting sun lights it up too.
For this garden review, I thought I would review the other corner of the back garden, the Right Corner Garden or Gazebo Garden.
The gazebo is the main feature here. The bush next to the gazebo is the coralberry that I just profiled in December.
This area also floods a bit in spring (not as bad on the other side) with the snow melt and spring rains. So we dug a rain garden here too.
As spring starts in late March, this area melts quickly as it gets morning and afternoon sun since the trees are without their leaves. You can see the rain garden as the snow melts. The veg gardens border this corner garden.
The corner is planted with native coral honeysuckle or Lonicera sempervirens that grows up a trellis and blooms beautifully is this mostly shaded spot come summer. Hummingbirds flock to this plant as they adore the nectar of the honeysuckle.
In the bottom photo you can just make out a tree stump in the corner. This is one of the white ash trees we took out a couple of years ago as we prepped for the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. There is a silver maple and white ash growing behind the fence and gazebo that provides just enough shade still.
The snow melt also causes flooding in front of the gazebo even though we made sure the area is on a slight incline so the water flows into the rain garden. A bit of gravel instead of grass, in front of the gazebo, may help with drainage.
We actually did not amend the soil much here so it is mostly clay with some compost on top, but no sand added like we did on the other side of the garden.
You can see how quickly the area dries especially in front of the gazebo providing we don’t get lots of rain in April. But regardless, by May the area becomes mostly dry.
In early spring there are no bulbs here. I could add some Iris reticulata here, although I have to be careful of where the flooding is in early spring or they won’t like it. Tulips are out because of the deer who obliterate any and all in the garden. And crocus are a favorite of the voles so I stopped planting them here.
When spring fully arrives we have mostly daffodils in this corner garden as the critters do not like them. I could add more daffs back here for spring as I look at the first picture. Most of the daffs are only along the fence.
The green clumps growing along the rain garden are the Obedient plant or Physostegia virginiana which takes over this entire area and swallows all in its path. There are a few native Ilex verticillata or winterberry bushes, an Amsonia hubrichtii and a hydrangea that are lost to me as the Obedient plant grows taller. The only other plant that grows in the rain garden, in spring, are the irises. I took a few native northern blue flag iris or Iris versicolor from the pond and planted them here.
As summer moves along there is some Phlox paniculata that might grow along the fence with Joe Pye (Eutrochium purpureum), Solidago and all the Obedient plant you can see here.
This area is where the baby bunnies were born. It has great cover for critters, and even the deer will slip over the fence and hide here to watch when it is safe to go into the veg garden for a snack.
The Obedient is pretty though in bloom, and it is a bee and hummingbird magnet which is why I like to grow it. When I sit in the gazebo, I can watch the hummingbirds go crazy in this corner garden.
I do need to find a way to control the Obedient plant where the bushes grow along the fence. I am thinking of some landscaping fabric around the bushes, on both side of the rain garden, to keep the Obedient just in the rain garden. I know…good luck with that!
With fall, the Obedient plant starts to shift in color, and nothing is in bloom in this area. Once we cut it all back (bottom right), you can see the bones of the garden that has been hidden. I am wondering if I can get any Asters to bloom here. I think they may succumb to the Obedient plant too.
Here is the area, in fall, as we look bottom left to right following the rain garden. A few grasses and iris remains along with the Amsonia bush. I really need a better inventory of what grows here and when it blooms.
The top 2 pictures show the secret garden behind the gazebo. Along the fence you find one rudbeckia and some hostas. But closer to the gazebo there are hostas, Carex grasses, ferns and Epimediums of all kinds. And a Filipendula purpurea the deer sometimes eat. I need to do a careful inventory of all that grows back here too because there is so much…lots of surprise blooms await me when I slip back here in spring. Quite a change from the side of the gazebo and rain garden overwhelmed by purple Obedient.
So there are some changes needed in this corner garden. A bit of moving of plants, some control of the Obedient plant, some additional plants perhaps and maintenance of the rain garden.
This rain garden would benefit from being dug out again, having it lined with stone, and stone replacing the grass in front of the gazebo. I have some design ideas brewing already. And I will have a post about my Gazebo next week. I plan to start a new series called, Views From The Gazebo, in spring.
I have a few herbs growing in my basement under grow lights. This is perennial sage I brought in from outside. I have several clumps in the garden, and I love to bring in a volunteer to use in several dishes we love to cook. Love the grow light shining on the leaves. I still have some mint, lemon balm, oregano and Italian parsley growing under the lights too.
And, at the end of January, I started my seeds downstairs in the growing station for this years garden. The first seeds started are violas and pansies which I will be profiling in March. They take 10-12 weeks to grow large enough to plant out in containers in later April.
In January, our silver maple has been covered in snow more so than not because it has been so cold. This is a view from a different window upstairs when we had a momentary warm up in early January.
This is the bottom 6 feet of the tree seen from above. You can see the bark painted with green lichen. I love the roughness offset by the smooth lichen. The base looks like a hoof from a large mythical creature to me.
I am linking in with Lucy@Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme that happens around the 7th of every month.
The downy woodpeckers have been frequent visitors to the suet feeders no matter the weather. This little girl was very nervous, constantly looking over her shoulder. And the reason was clear, when I looked in the neighbor’s big maple tree. Snuggled into the branches was this little hawk that loves to eat birds. Not sure if it is a Sharpie or a Cooper’s hawk.
And our young fox, Hunter, has been out hunting this winter. He caught 3 voles or mice while we watched him. You can see the snow on his face from hunting. I was hoping he would hop the fence for some voles we have in the garden, but he did quite a bit of hunting in our meadow. Isn’t his thick coat gorgeous.
We also think he dug up the moss phlox (Phlox subulata) in the front garden where the voles have been hanging out. If someone was eating the plant, it wouldn’t have been strewn all over. But it looks like someone ripped it apart to get to something hiding beneath. It hopefully will grow back.
Recipe of the Month
I absolutely love to make vegetable soup. Besides being easy and delicious, the combinations are endless depending on the veggies you like to eat and/or grow. So I am giving you my Best of the Harvest Vegetable Soup recipe to try any season.
- 4-6 cups of vegetable broth
- Olive Oil
- 2-3 carrots sliced
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 ribs of celery chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 summer squash sliced
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper chopped
- Half a bunch of asparagus cut into small 1-2 inch pieces
- 10 grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 1/2 lb of green beans cut in half
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add other herbs you like such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc.
- You can also add mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, okra, etc.
- Saute garlic, onion, pepper and carrots in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
- When they begin to soften add the broth and other veggies except for the tomatoes.
- Add spices and cook for about 45 minutes covered on low heat.
- Once the veggies are soft to your particular liking, add the tomatoes for about 10 minutes.
- This soup just gets better each day it is in the refrigerator. And it keeps for a long time. You can freeze this soup as well.
In A Vase On Monday
With more paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus ‘Ziva’) blooming and another bud of Hippeastrum ‘Sweet Star’ it was time to create another vase.
I chose my large Belleek vase that was a special production for 2000. I love this vase, and again had never used it. I decided it was large enough to accommodate these large flowers. The paperwhites were a perfect accompaniment, and I added some Chinese Evergreen or Aglaonema ‘Emerald Beauty’ as a filler. It is a large house plant I have that needed a bit of trimming. This view is the vase on our antique living room table.
Then I moved the vase next to the living room window, and up on the antique roll-top desk where we keep many family pictures. You can see our wedding picture in some of the shots. Also the flowers opened up more the next day. This bud will have 5 flowers. I am quite pleased with Hippeastrum ‘Sweet Star’, and will try to get it to grow again next year.
I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase: Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday; and Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles.
Next up on the blog:
Next Monday, I have a special post about my garden gazebo as I profile the Right Corner Garden this month.
I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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