Weekend chores

Weeding was on the menu. I managed to get these two beds done over the course of two days. I pulled 7 and half buckets of weeds and debris out of there.


Mr. Bugsy is having big adventures outside now.



Do you sometimes get excited?

You know… spring is bursting forth, plans are coming together, efforts are bearing fruit.  It really is something to be excited about.  Here’s what I am excited about right now:

First, SPRING IS HERE!!!!!!

Sure, tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox, so technically, it is still winter.  Would you please tell that to the hummingbird that buzzed me while I was working in the garden yesterday?

Would you tell it to the Ribes, both red and white, that are blooming on the driveway and in the courtyard?

Tell it to the Pacific Tree Frogs heartily setting up a chorus in the ditches and puddles.  They may yet be few in number, but they’re singing their hearts out!  My evening walks down to the water are now accompanied by a lovely serenade.

The Bald Eagle Lady is doing a lot of screaming and singing over the house.  Nearly time to go a-courtin’. She’ll be waltzing in the sky with her mate soon.

The apple trees in the courtyard are budded out, and the cherry trees in downtown Olympia are putting out blossom.

The ravens are talking about spring.  They’re doing a lot of soft calling during the day, and its a bunch of different calls from what they were doing a couple of weeks ago.  Their calls for all the world remind me of soft tender things you’d say to a lover – lots of soft low volume quorks and quonks.

The woodpecker and flickers are going to town drumming and drilling and laughing and singing and flying all about.

My rhubarb is up, and it’s tender crinkly light green leaves are practically doubling in size each day.

The irises are waking up, and many of them are putting on really good spring growth.  The purple-based foliage of the Gerald Darby irises planted near the canoe is looking especially attractive just now.  There also promises to be quite the floral show around Old Mother Stumpard’s skirts.

Junebug has learned that a cat can go THRU the door to the great, mysterious and somewhat scary outdoors.  He has also learned that after about 30 seconds, a cat can turn around and paw frantically at the door to be let back in.  It’s quite the thing to do.  Is there anything more fun than racing at full speed across an open yard?

Yes indeed, Spring is here!

I’m also getting excited about the veggie garden.  I’ve been working out in it all week, and things are really looking good!  One bed is full of soil now, and awaits settling and planting, while another bed awaits soil.  I’ll use up the remnants of what’s sitting in a pile down on the driveway.

I built a temporary bed for the strawberries.  It’ll last a couple of years, until it’s time to pull the strawberries next time, I’m sure.  Not only is it behind my deer fencing, but it is also netted against birds.  I moved the pots of strawberries into the bed – they’ll warm faster, facing the sun.  Behind the strawberry bed I built a unit to hold all the winebottles I’ve collected.  No more unsightly piles.

I’m also able to see more of the future layout of the garden.  The three beds I’ve now laid out, along with the wine bottles, are all aligned to the new layout.  The asparagus bed is very much in the way, of course, but I can see the new layout, and that’s exciting.  The pathways are taking on their permanent routes, and I am ready to begin preparing the soil behind the stump, between the Rosa rugosa and Golden Raspberries.  I’m thinking squash patch.  I also can begin preparing the new site for the Fred’s Red Raspberries.  They’re going on the terrace below this area, where there will be lots of room for them.

One last thing to be excited about today: sun.  It looks like it will be a gorgeous day, with maybe only a shower or two passing quickly over.  The temps might even reach 50 degrees!


Website chores done for the day.

And now it is time for some household chores.  Dishes, to be precise.

I’ve spent the day going thru all 171 posts here on this blog and assigning categories and tags.  You can see the fruits of my very important labors on the sidebar.

Now what do I do to avoid the dishes?

A Winter Project – the Rockery

I love rocks.

Really, I LOVE rocks.

I’m rather un-abashed about it.  I can’t seem to take a walk without coming home with a rock in my pocket.  I’ve been known to give rocks as holiday gifts.  I bring souvenir stones home from various trips, and they decorate my home.

Anybody who has visited our garden over the years can’t help but notice a propensity for rocks to be a major landscape feature.  From the very special river rock I laboriously hauled from Packwood to Olympia to line the many flower beds of our urban lot to the huge pile of shingles I brought from the Pacific coast, it is obvious that we like to landscape with rock.  We’ve had a lot of fun using rock over the years.

StarrHill Farm offers us a new opportunity, however – BOULDERS.  A boulder is a rock that is too big for me to move with my bare hands.  Maybe I can move it with a sturdy lever, or maybe I can tip it or roll it a little bit if I put my shoulder to it, but without the assistance of an engine, I’m probably not going to do much to move a boulder.  A boulder offers a very definite anchor in the landscape – one that add drama, emphasis, gravity or simply a backdrop.  Given time, a boulder can become a garden unto itself – a miniature landscape of mosses and lichens, perhaps even a sempervivum or sedum tucked in a crevice.

Many consider rocks in the landscape to be a curse, or maybe just a burden at best.  Indeed, digging a bed around here is a labor of back-breaking love.  Digging is difficult in many areas due to compaction from the building phase.  Once you get the soil up, it has to be screened – each wheelbarrow full of good soil (mostly sand, remember) producing one or two large rocks, dozens of ‘spuds’, and a couple gallon bucket-fulls of pea-gravel.  Sometimes, good plans go awry when one encounters a submerged boulder that is too large to dig up.  In that case, one gives up or goes around.

I find the curse of the rocks – combined with the blessing of my wonderful neighbors Mike & Shannon & their tractor – provides me with an excellent opportunity.  You see, when the house was installed, it was done on a building site that had been graded into a gentle hillside.  There is a bank, rising as much as 4′-5′ high, that runs along the driveway from the ditch clear around to the back side of the garage.  Neighbor Mike has been helping me place boulders he’s pulled out of a pasture he’s clearing into position along this bank.


Beginnings of the Rockery

This is a view of the first set of boulders Neighbor Mike has placed.  The six boulders on the right are in their positions, while those on the left have yet to be situated.  Mike has many more boulders available for me, but I am waiting for better weather –  and for my back to feel a bit better.   This area is located on the SE side of our driveway circle.  Alongside it runs the ditch I keep clear for water draining off the garage and house to flow thru.  (that ditch joins another ditch that drains the neighbor’s property, to flow across the driveway at an ‘engineered’ low spot, a location to which I refer to as The Ditch – This will be the south-western terminus of The Rockery)

Altho you may not be able to see it, there is a stairway I built, going up the center, that leads from the driveway up toward the property line.  On either side of this stair, I intend to plant a few little conifers.  The stairs and path will lead to a garden room based on the large tree that grows near the property line.  Beside the big tree (THE 1bigtree) there is also a lovely silvered snag, a gorgeous hemlock, a colony of madrono, rampant honeysuckle, salal, huckleberries, as well as a Kerria japonica and a dark rose-pink rhododendron, both of which we planted in the last year or two.

The rockery itself will be planted up in a variety of ground-covers, alpine specimens, and rock-garden standards.  It will extend as far down the driveway as the garage.  I’m sure it will take years to put together.  I hope I get it all done before I get hold and can’t play with rocks anymore!

Works in progress

As you can see from Daniel’s post we’ve got alot of different things going here. I’m really pleased to nearly have the ponds finished. I’ve finally gotten the black liner dug in and the rain is filling it. There’s irises planted in three spots around it: a bed of mixed louisianas, species cross” Gerald Darby”, and an lovely i. versicolor. Alongside is a ribes ‘White Icicle” to add height and early spring color. also to give the local tree frogs somewhere to hang out during mating season. We had quite the crop of tadpoles last year.
All that’s left is to finish laying the blue beach shingles, get the fountains going and set a few potted plants in the water. I can’t wait to see it in June.