Saturday, February 19, 2011

Two Bluebirds and a Butterfly

After the one-two (3,4,5,6,?) punch winter has given our country this year, all of us are longing for warmer, milder weather. We got a taste of that here this week when the sun came out and temperatures rose into the 60's here at Pittsgrove finally melting away most of the several inches of snow that had accumulated for weeks.
I spent a good part of the day collecting and breaking up the branches that have fallen from some of the extremely windy days that we have been experiencing. I wandered the property to get a guesstimate on how well our beds held up over the winter. Snow cover is actually quite beneficial for most plants in providing insulation from harsh temperatures, but it also means that deer, so prevalent in much of our area, are deprived of primary food sources in fields and woods. This year they ate a good portion of our Manhattan Euonymous that they have never touched in the 20 or so years of its existence next to our well. The rest of the gardens seem to have held up pretty well so far, but the truth will come out when spring finally arrives and we see what survived.
During the next spate of mild weather, get out and examine your gardens. Push back any plants that may have heaved, clean up any debris that you didn't get to in the fall, and you'll be a step ahead of the game.
The other day I saw two bluebirds and a butterfly. Can Spring be far behind?

Think Spring!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

John and I were recently interviewed about what we do during the winter and although he would much rather be lolling on a beach in Kauai since he's developed an extreme distaste for winter, I rather look forward to each season with winter being no exception. I may have to amend that at the end of this winter if we continue to be walloped with one storm after another.

In winters past, John and I have been able to get out on milder days to putter around in the garden beds, cutting back perennials that we didn't get to in the fall. This year, however, the beds have remained under a blanket of snow. Instead of working in the hoop house cleaning up plants and checking inventory, we have had to remove layers of snow to keep the plastic from collapsing.Weathermen often seem dumbfounded as to what the weather is going to bring next until the event actually occurs. A "light dusting" has translated into 5 inches, leaving them to scratch their heads wondering why that happened. Now that we have just entered into what is normally our snowiest month, there is no telling what is in store for us next. As I write this, branches are crackling as the wind blows against their ice laden branches and plenty of fresh kindling for our wood stove has fallen to the ground. We lost well-established trees, shrubs and perennials over the hot dry summer and know there will be many more we have lost that will have to be removed come spring.
Deer have eaten the Manhattan Euonymus next to our well for the first time since we planted it decades ago (on the bright side, it needed a good pruning anyway). Mice have feasted on a number of plants in our hoop house and we have had to wage a war against them.
Please don't view these as complaints, merely observations. Others are far worse off and we have contended with Mother Nature numerous times over the years. The one thing I am sure of, we will plant anew to replace beloved plants that we lost and even though she is showing her wrath now, Mother Nature will bless us with her beauty once again in the spring.

Think Spring!