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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Clean-up

When do you know it's time to begin your spring clean-up? Andy saved me an article that had a different garden chore for each day. Articles like that are written well in advance and in actuality are only worthwhile as a list of garden chores. In real life mother nature (aka the weather) has everything to do with deciding on which garden chore can or should be done. 

Early this week our garden was covered in snow and ice and I had no plan to begin clean-up. Temperatures in the upper 50's and the amazing sight of this Hellebore that began to bloom with a vengeance changed my mind. It's instinct, I suddenly knew it was time to begin removing all the winter leaves from the beds.

I spent much of the day filling bag after bag with leaves and I was in all my glory.

This morning we made our first trip of the season to Home Depot to get some tools and potting soil. Their pansies were ok but not what I really wanted so we stopped at Fort Hill Nursery on the way home where I got a juicy flat filled with pansies and a few pots of Johnny Jump-ups.

Unlike yesterday though today was raw and cold with occasional periods of drizzling rain. Ugh... but I was determined to do more clean-up.

On the side of our cottage (as you look at it here) there's a little spot on the right of the porch. It's sheltered on three sides by the porch the house and a picket fence. In the fall we placed all  my succulent pots in this area and left the fallen leaves where they fell.

It's not the most attractive sight but it's the perfect holding area to overwinter potted plants.

As I started to remove the leaves I was thrilled to see how well everything wintered over. The Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks) and various varieties of Sedum looked great.

Calie spent the day supervising from her new favorite spot.

Look how beautiful these pots are! They are chock full of succulents and with a bit of sun and warmth they are just going to explode.

Sempervivum come in different colors, sizes and shapes. During the summer heat they lose their colors but this time of year the colors are super vibrant. I can't wait to start to repot these babies, it's one of my favorite garden pastimes. 

So what are you doing in the garden right now?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Front Porch

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Much as I want to be in the garden right now it's just not possible. Last week's storm left us with several inches of frozen ice and snow and today is the first day that's warm enough for it to begin to melt. So I'm doing the next best thing, I'm sitting here on my front porch, in the chair you see in this photo. The cushions are still in the shed but the heat of the sun is warming this sheltered spot. While the air temperature is 45 degrees, it's in the high 50's at least here.

When I first moved here there was a solid 6' tall stockade fence where you see the picket fence now. A grouchy old couple lived in the cottage next door. With all their complaints about where to park and where to place our garbage cans we had no desire to have them watching us. As soon as they put the house on the market I asked Andy if we could remove the fence and replace it with picket fencing  to match the front and he immediately hired somebody to do so. 

Our new neighbor Helen has done some amazing things to the inside of her cottage, but the yard is a bit daunting. While planted with many sturdy perennials years and years ago the weeds were allowed to take over. Still, when the Iris, Peonies and Daylilies start to bloom I love to sit here and look at her garden. This year we'll divide some perennials together.

Our porch isn't large, comfortable for four, just perfect for two (and a doodle dog too). The white vinyl wicker furniture I've been moving around with me for 5 years seems to be made for this space.

There's a small wind chime hanging over my head and it makes the softest chimes. Our neighborhood is so far from any major roads that we don't have any traffic noises nor plane or train noise. 

The garden centers are starting to stock pansies, I just adore them. I'm sure before this week is over I'll have bought a flat of them. It's so hard to choose which colors I want. Last year I bought white, blue and yellow ones. This year I want to add pink and purple. Our cottage is a pale yellow with blue and white trim so I want to stick with those colors. Maybe I'll add a flat of Johnny jump-ups in hopes they reseed in the garden. 

One of the advantages of gardening in a small space is being able to make a big splash with just a few plants. Coming home from work to this sight is the most wonderful feeling.

Hurry up spring, I'm ready for you!!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Armchair gardening

Hi there! It must be time for my annual post again. Gee, I'd like to apologize and say I'm going to better at the blogging but I know better than to make promises I might not keep.

So much has changed in my life that I hardly know where to begin. The biggest change came a few weeks ago on Valentines day when I married the man of my dreams, Andy.

While Andy isn't a big gardening fan he is a huge fan of anything outdoors so we spend lots and lots of time hiking trails and visiting various garden. One of our new places we visited last year was Sweet Briar Park in Smithtown. I can't wait to go back when it's in bloom later this year.

As you can see it was late Autumn so we had to make our own excitement in the garden.

Luckily there are many wonderful gardens right here in our community. I have a number of favorites and walk almost daily to see what people have going on in their gardens.

SUNY Farmingdale was one location I visited, I have to get back there more often.

The Peconic River Herb farm is another favorite place for us to go. I made sure I brought home a pot of that fabulous Hakone grass.

We are only a few blocks from the north shore of Long Island. It's almost impossible to go for a walk without a water view.

Planting Fields Arboretum in Upper Brookville is the place I visited the most this past year. It's close enough to my work that I can visit it on my lunch break. My daughters Lauren and Emily both visited with me at different times.

Andy and I spent a weekend in eastern Pennsylvania and I took photos of rocks. I had visions of rock gardens and borders for our cottage garden and needed inspiration. I'll go in to more detail on another post.

Our neighbor Helen moved in just a year ago and she and I have been having such fun watching the amazing plants bloom in her garden. The Siberian Iris are amazing. I can't wait to help her divide them and add some to my garden too.

This week is the Hicks flower show, I haven't attended it yet. This photo is from last year. A blizzard was forecasted for today and I didn't want to buy plants and have to keep them indoors. We dodged the bullet and it's mostly rain and sleet out there. I'll be sure to stop at Hicks later this week to pick up some bulbs and pansies.

Here's another peek at Planting Fields, probably what it looks like right at this moment.

This is our little cottage, taken just a year ago. So much has changed in one year. The front garden is really shaping up, this year I am going to attack the back yard.

Wish I could do more than just armchair gardening today...