Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Woodland Walk Wednesdays - Early Spring Hepaticas

There is nothing more wonderful than taking a walk in the woods and discovering a beautiful wildflower blooming along the path! These gorgeous blue Hepaticas (hepatica americana) with their dainty creamy white stamens are such a treat to see blooming just as the snowdrops are beginning to fade.

There are two common species of hepaticas that are distinguished by the shape of their three-lobed leaves. On my woodland path, I have both the sharp-lobed hepaticas and the round-lobed hepaticas. They bloom in a range of whites, pinks, purples and blues. The pictures show the round lobed hepaticas, which in my garden, bloom a little earlier than the sharp lobed hepaticas.

When we moved into our home many years ago, it was a far cry from the house we dreamed of, but, it was our little slice of heaven on a pretty wooded 3/4 acre lot.  Being avid hikers, we decided to carve out several paths through our woods so we could enjoy hiking through our property everyday if we wanted!  With a little thought as to where we wanted to enter into the woods and exit, we began clearing a path with a machete. We let several interesting areas like the large rock we could sit on, the two mature black walnut trees that grow within a few feet of each other, and the wild raspberry patch guide the direction of where the path would go.

We had one of our local tree services come and deliver wood chips for the path. Many times they are happy to deliver it for free if they are working in the area. It isn't aged mulch or finely shredded, it's the chipped trees that they just cut down. Not great for garden beds near the house or foundation, but perfect for a woodland path or beds where you don't mind looking at it until it ages to a nice grey or brown.

It was a lot of work moving 16 cubic yds. of woodchips from the driveway, up a steep hill, across the lawn, and into the woods, one wheel barrel at a time! But it was so worth it!  We enjoy our woodland path almost every day and all our dogs have loved it too! 

My goal was to keep the beautiful natural woods we had, but enhance them with more of our native wildflowers, trees and shrubs.  I had been collecting wildflowers for several years in a little garden I had at the cottage we rented. When we moved, I dug them up and brought them all with me!
This is when my adventure began!

I really learned a tremendous amount about wildflower gardening and would love to share some of this with you. If you're interested, join me each wednesday to learn more about how I developed our woodland path, tips on how to garden with native wildflowers, and see what's blooming along our path! 

 I would love to hear from you! Feel free to jump in and share any tips, ideas or questions you may have!

Happy Gardening!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Wonderful Signs of Spring!!

  I spotted my first butterfly of the season!

This weekend was filled with the wonders of spring! As I worked in the yard enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sound of the birds, a fluttering of orange caught my eye! When I took a closer look, there was my first butterfly of the season happily flittering  from snowdrop to snowdrop!

'Peek-a-Boo' is a red earred slider.

I brought our little turtle outside to soak up some sun too! This upside down cheese cake container works perfect for his outdoor spa! His poor shell needs some sunshine after hiding under a stone all winter. It will look good after a few good days
 in the sun.:-)

When I finished raking some of our plant beds, I decided to clean out the filters in our backyard pond. With all the rain we had, quite a bit of debris had fallen into the pond that needed to be fished out. As I reached for a stick, I was startled by a little frog!
I guess our hibernating pond frogs were coming out to enjoy the sun too, because I spotted another one sitting between the stones underneath the waterfall! It was a long cold winter and I was so happy to see them again!

We have a family of gray squirrels that have made a home in the large tulip tree outside our kitchen window. Each spring they chase each other all over our yard, and before we know it, we have alot of little squirrels to watch! Finished with cleaning the pond, I turned around to see a tail sticking out of our birdfeeder! Hmmm, he almost got away with filling up on my gourmet birdseed! He was too cute! I almost felt bad chasing him out of there!

After a long weekend of working in the yard and driving my son back and forth to hockey practice I was ready to relax and wait for my husband and daughter to arrive home from their weekend in Maryland at a soccer tournament! Just as they arrived I saw my second butterfly of the season!

I'm so happy spring has arrived!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time To Start Planning Your Vegetable Garden!

Spring is finally here, and it's that time to start planning your vegetable garden! Each year I like to start some of my vegetables by seed. It's so satisfying to see that first little sprout come up!
 Most of my vegetables and herbs have been incorporated into my plant beds. I like to do this because it doesn't scream vegetable garden! However, the downfall of this strategy for me, has been forgetting about them!! I may try a raised bed veggie garden this year if I can find a spot in the sun.

While browsing around the web for this years plants, I found that the Garden Supply Company has a new Kitchen Garden Planning Tool that helps you design your own vegetable and herb garden. It's easy and fun to use!

For those of you who don't want to custom design your garden, they
 also provide eight pre-planned gardens. They are all designed for a 3ft. x 6ft. raised bed  like the above picture of the All American Garden or the Fun Children's Garden below.

Gardener's Supply Company

It's great to get the kids involved in growing their own vegetables. This garden looks perfect for children. I've always liked to get my children involved in helping me plant our vegetables.   They loved being able to go out and munch on the lettuce or whatever was ready to be harvested.  They even began to like spinach!

So, if you are thinking about starting a garden, take a peek at this site and see if you can find a garden that fits your taste. I thought the Salad bar Garden  and the Salsa and Tomato Sauce Garden, sounds like fun too!
All you have to do is print out the plan that's right for you, the planting guide, and you're ready to go!

If you have a favorite site for purchasing your seeds or vegetables, share it with us!
White Flower Farm is also another favorite of mine!

Happy Planning!:-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lucky Finds For the Irish!! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

 I have always loved being part Irish! And it's fun to shout it out once a year on St. Patrick's Day! 
Here are a few cute items that have St. Patricks Day written all over them!!

They say Acorns don't fall far from the tree!! These are adorable!
They must have fallen from an Irish Family Tree!

I love Shamrocks! This picture looks so lush and refreshing. It makes me want to lie down in them and dream of finding that pot of Gold!!

During my College years I worked during the summers at an Irish Pub on Cape Cod, Mass. They always had live Irish Bands and we would dance all night while we waitressed. Its amazing I never dropped my tray full of drinks! Its also where I learned to love Guiness Stout and all the other great beers!  When I saw this art print, it brought back all those wonderful summertime memories!!

Cheers Everyone!!

 Have a wonderful St. Patricks Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snowdrops! First Signs of Spring!

After a long snowy winter, I am so happy to see my lovely snowdrops beginning to bloom! The past five days of rain, washed away the piles of snow that covered our yard, and exposed these beautiful little plants. They are always the first flowers to bloom in my yard and are always a welcomed site! When I see them blooming, I know that spring is just around the corner!

The botanical name for these beautiful spring flowers is Galanthus nivalis, the common name is Snowdrops. I received a handfull of these little 4" flowers from a friend many years ago. When we bought our current house I dug my little patch of bulbs up and brought them with me.  Through the years, they have spread everywhere in my yard! I love them! When big groups of them are in bloom, they look like drifts of snow!

One of my favorite things to do each year is share a small pot of them with family, special friends, and neighbors! I have introduced many gardens across the east coast with these friendly little flowers!

This gorgeous photo was taken by André Karwath aka Aka.

 Hopefully the rain will stop soon so I can get a few photos of my own!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Lucky Win!

Bird watching has always been a passion of mine! While browsing around the internet, I happened to stumble upon Dave Ingram's wonderful blog that had a contest to win this newest edition of NWF Field Guide to Birds of North America. I am quite excited because my current field guide, looks like its been well loved (and it has!!). It's been time to get a new one for some time, but with all my sitings written near its pictures, it was hard to think of replacing it.
So thank you Dave for helping me get over this hurdle!! I'm excited to get a fresh start, I just needed a little push!

Dave's Natural History Blog is a must to visit if you love nature photography. He captures the nature of British Columbia and beyond with his beautiful photographs and well written articles. Both are interesting and informative. It has quickly become one of my favorite blogs to visit!