Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chop Chop And Snowdrops

Another group of small dead hemlocks were cut down in the direction of my garden expansion. I have already planted a Dawn Redwood tree and a few rhododendrons down here. I found a native azalea and Goat's Beard. The area is full of Buffalo Nut, Pyrularia pubera. The cleaner it gets, the more wild flowers show up.

My tidying this morning is just a continuation on the slope behind the cozy cabin to bring that part of the forest into the garden. There are no big planting plans. The main goal is tidy. I will make a path, edit and let nature do the planting. It will be a nature walk.

The main planned chore for the day was next door in the ridge top garden where hundreds of snowdrops are in full bloom.

I saw lots of snowdrops. They multiply and set seed readily.

Dividing and spreading the bulbs around speeds their dispersal. It only takes three to four years for a new planting to turn into fat clumps.

The ridge top garden melts before anything else. That makes any kind of work a whole lot more pleasant. I headed over there to continue on with the chop and drop of all the dead sticks from last years wild flowers. I like a clean slate for the Bulbapaloozathon.

My endurance seems to fade a bit after sitting around so much. A couple of hours of chopping wore me out. No problem. This section of the wild cultivated gardens is almost done. There is less than a quarter to go. I'm still not seeing much daffodil activity, so there is time.

It's looking tidy. I like that.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Some Tidy

A tidy forest is a happy forest. I have been looking at dead hemlocks on the east side of my driveway for far too long. In the winter it isn't noticeable to anyone but me. Come the time of vegetation, all that dead hemlock feels like getting poked in the eye with a stick.

It was past time to start cutting it all down. The sooner it hits the ground, the sooner it will decompose and disappear.

Two of my baby Witch Hazels are along the drive. I also planted what I hope is a Sourwood tree. They could use the extra sun and elbow room as they grow.

I cut down quite a few of the smaller dead hemlocks and cleaned the dead out of the half live ones. It's a start. There are still quite a few large ones and one monster that need to come down. I'll need the chainsaw for that.

The plague of woolly adelgid that killed the hemlocks has abated with the release of predator beetles. In the last two years the hemlocks have started to grow again. The few living ones that remain could also use some air, light and elbow room.

Hemlocks are one of the few conifers with enough latent adventitious buds that allows them to tolerate regular hard pruning. It is quite possible for the half dead ones to reassert their true nature as a dense conical evergreen tree. I'd much prefer living hemlocks along my drive than a forest full of dead ones.

It's a big chunk of forest with a lot of mess. It could take me a while to reach optimum tidy.

A sunny sixty degree day did enough melt for me to get down the driveway. I'll need another one tomorrow before I can get back up. I'd rather walk for as long as it takes than shovel.

I also planted some seed today of Goldenseal and Asclepias incarnata. They both need some cold stratification to germinate. I should get enough of that before spring. I covered the pots with another tray because there are all kinds of varmints that just love to dig in fluffy potting soil and newly planted plants. Damn varmints! I hope it works.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Slow Melt

It has not snowed in a week. Cool days and frozen nights make melting a drawn out process. Last night a strong north wind carrying colder cold blew in. My plans for the day were cancelled in the face of a strong wind chilly.

If I had this much snow left after many days of sun, I couldn't be sure the roads at the Posh Estate which sits in a great deal more shade would even be fully melted. Private roads quite often have plowing issues.

So I wait for more melt. The next two days may get close to sixty. That may clear the snow before the next storm arrives. That should clear the rest of the circle of snowdrops planted around the heiau.

'Jelena' is about done blooming for the year. 'Diane' won't be putting on much of a show with so few flower buds. 'Arnold' will do just fine when it decides to bloom.

At this point, next week's storm is looking more like rain than snow. That seems odd. It can change of course.

There wasn't much melt at all today. It took forever to get above freezing. Snowless clouds whizzed by all morning. The wind didn't die down until mid afternoon. I waited.

What will the groundhog say? I'm hoping for snowless and cool, forty five degree days and freezing nights for February. I need to get some work done, but I sure don't want a second false spring in one winter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I should be doing taxes while I am incapacitated. The books are done. The forms are printed. The receipts are organized. I can start ciphering anytime. I don't have the money to pay though. There is no need to hurry. There are bound to be more winter days available for taxes.

I went for a walk in the melt instead. I saw snowdrops.

I pick up sticks as I wander and look for tracks in the snow to see who has been trespassing in the wild cultivated gardens. There are wild things out there. There are deer of course and I'm not sure if it is a fox, coyote or Button pretending he has snow shoes with extended claws. I fear it is the coyote and do my best to pretend otherwise. The good news is we have an ample supply of first choice varmints for coyotes to dine on.

I saw a lot of snowdrops poking up through the snow and leaf litter. I saw some frozen daffodil foliage, but that is par for the course. The vast majority of the daffodils are still safely below ground.

It's not time for spring. I have a good bit of chop and drop left to go before I am ready for spring.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Is the hardest part of winter.

It may be sunny and warm enough, but you can't work in the garden when it is covered in wet slop. All you can do is wait.

So I wait. Seeds of some native perennials I ordered are on the way. That will give me something to do. They will be sowed in flats and left out in the cold just as in nature. By mid summer I hope to have some nice sized seedling plants to add to the garden.

Rain is melting snow while I wait.

Monday, January 25, 2016


The Witch Hazels have been through a lot since they decided to bloom a month early while winter was AWOL. If I had left my parts hanging out like that they would have fallen off weeks ago. Their ability to endure the cold is pretty remarkable.

This bout of winter is more snow than cold. It got to fifty degrees the last two days. The snow has shrunk considerably already.

Both 'Jelena' keep on blooming. Soon they will be done. Even with weather dependent on and off opening, a month long bloom period is impressive.

Shrunk, but far from gone. There is a whole lot of melting yet to happen. There could be a rain assisted melt followed by another pile on of snow over the next few days.

The winter that almost wasn't is not over.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Then It Was Over

I knew it was over when my bedroom lit up last night with some high powered beams from above. The full moon was shining on fresh snow. It was bright.

Pure sunlight on fresh snow is pretty intense too.

I shoveled my way up to the byway and around the truck, preparing for tomorrow's escape.

I have an excellent snow plow driver. It's 10:30 am, the morning after the blizzard at 4000 foot elevation.

The roadside vegetable garden is a smooth blanket of white.

Amber waves stand tall after a mighty wind and ten inches of half wet snow.

I shoveled the escape route. That was enough. The snow was too wet and thick for trudging any further.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Real Snow

This is the big one. After months with nothing more than thin layers of white dust, the first real snow of the winter is here.

There was a little prelude last week with two half inch snows. Half an inch barely registers as a real snow up here on the mountain top.

Yesterday a howling wind delivered about four inches, while forty five minutes east, Asheville got a foot or more. I was a bit disappointed. Is that all I get?

The north west flow started that night. It has delivered my missing snow all day long.

I may have a foot of snow by the time it is over.

Miss Collar is the only one willing to do her business outside. There are even a few flying leap and slides involved. Quickly. Then it is over.

Tomorrow I will shovel real snow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Rip Roaring Morning

I went to bed with rain and woke up to snow.

I also woke up to a mighty fierce wind. I'm guessing I got about four inches of snow on the front side of the storm. It is hard to tell cause some places were wind scraped smooth and there are big piles of snow a few feet away.

The wind was fierce.

Things calmed down by late afternoon. The wind changed direction. Now I wait for the NW flow snow to begin. That's when I get more snow than everyone else. Asheville and parts south and east of me got a foot or more of snow this morning. I got a fierce wind.

One more day of snow is coming.

This is winter.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Sunny Interlude

It was a most lovely sunny snow melting day ahead of the big storm. It almost melted to a clean slate.

'Jelena' blooms on when the conditions are right.

The diagnosis has been getting more ominous. The inches of predicted snow keeps going up. Mid range at this point is a foot of snow. I'll believe it when I measure it myself.

It was nice to have a pleasant interlude before being confined for two days.

An afternoon stroll felt like a warm spring day.

But out there over the mountains, steel grey clouds were already approaching. This could be a big one, so they are saying.