Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Plant Labels (again)

 What does this gardener do when stuck inside during Winter Months? Make cookies?
 No, I make something for my GEORGIA GARDEN!
 Tina talked about making these Plant Labels a while back. CLICK HERE to see the process. I gave it a go some time ago and was not too happy with my results. I was not so great at rolling out the clay to make a nice shape. I found a cookie cutter and decided to give it a second try.
 It was not so practical to stain the labels in the sunroom of my house. But with lots of rain and cold temps, it worked for me with plastic below for drips.
A crafter must do what a crafter must do right? 
I can hardly wait to get these PLANT LABELS, in the Garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, February 20, 2015

Animal Tracks in the Snow and Winter Walk Off

It's cold outside! Brrrrr! While the south and most of the country is in a deep freeze I thought this would be the perfect time to share some snow track pictures. 

Ever wonder what animals roam around your house? It's hard to find out unless you see or hear them. With the recent snow I went for a nice snow walk along our property trails and wow, what fun! The animals have been busy roaming around. Just look at all the deer tracks along our trail in the woods. The funny thing is while I know the deer are here I never see them.
I find rabbit scat quite often so I definitely know they are here. Their paw prints are rather cute. The wider footprints would be their hind legs with their front paws the smaller prints. In the above picture this rabbit would be coming toward the camera.
More rabbit prints.
I am not sure what made these prints but I surmise it was a squirrel. I see squirrels all the time. Sometimes there will be five running all around a tree in the forest.
Deer prints along the trail.
This trail travels down a long and fairly steep hill. It is apparently a favorite haunt of the deer as we can tell from all these prints. I don't blame them because hey, it's cleared! I was surprised I did not find some turkey prints here. We like our trails so we can get around the property but there is also another reason for trails--they are good for wildlife and can be a part of a conservation plan. 

When walking in our woods for the first time we (Mr. Fix-it and I) followed deer trails. At the time we were not familiar with the all the man made trails and they were mostly overgrown anyhow. Any trail where you don't have to walk into greenbriar is great and the deer and other wildlife think so too. Following deer trails help prevent snags in briar of all sorts as we found out. At some point we'll be able to clear most of our trails where we can have access to all of the property. 

Note the skid mark on the right side of the picture? Even deer can lose their footing on slippery hills.
This is an up close picture of the deer prints. The size of the deer was quite variable. I could tell there were little ones and big ones.
I have no idea what made these prints and if any of you all know please chime in. Maybe a bird of some kind? We have hawks, vultures, crows, and all sorts of birds. If a bird made these tracks it was possibly a big bird.
These are cat prints. I have three cats and from time to time they venture out into the snow-tho they don't stay long! When I walked out to the mailbox one of the cats followed me for a bit. His tracks were quite different from this as he was jumping along behind me instead of walking. I followed some of the cat tracks and they went straight to a wood pile where a rabbit and voles live. No surprise there.
It is said when you visit a place like the forest you should "Take nothing but pictures (or memories),  leave nothing but your footprints, kill nothing but time." I don't know who came up with this but it very fitting for nature walks. I take this very seriously. If you do this then in return you will be rewarded tenfold by the beauty and special moments found....

in the garden....

I am going to enter this post in Les's Winter Walk Off post as this one works and is timely. It has been awhile since I participated in his walk offs but this will be the year now that we are finally getting settled. Les has beautiful photographs of the Tidewater area of Virginia. Visit his Winter Walk Off post here

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Couple's Bird Lovers Country Paradise Part II

So we continue with the bird lovers paradise in the country. My last picture on my Part I post showed the house from the pond area. Now we are standing right by the house looking down at the pond. The view is lovely. The zoysia grass is gorgeous! While I like a green lawn in the winter, this tan is really a beautiful winter color.
When we turn around we are looking at the beautiful house. Here is one of many seating areas around the home. This one has a great view down to the pond and when we look through to the zoysia grass in the background we are looking toward the front of the home and the berry patch.
Around the home there are many water features to attract the birds. This one is only a few inches deep and serves as a fresh water station for the birds as well as a bathing station. The water recirculates.
Remember I told you I was visiting for a dinner party? I have never been invited to a dinner party like this that was private. I enjoyed myself tremendously. Here is the table we all dined at. The hostess decorated it with candles and roses and we used antique silver to eat. What a memorable evening for me.
Coming around to the Florida room we have yet again another lovely view outside. I love windows and this house has a lot of them with super views. This room had a few gardens as well as the Aero garden you see in the corner. Kimi grows fresh herbs in this Aero garden. There was also a lemon tree and other small gardens in the room. Kimi loves to garden.
Out back in the courtyard there is a formal parterre garden area. The gardens contain herbs in raised beds. In the center of the parterre is this water feature where koi live. This is part of the view from the immense kitchen window. The house was really laid out nicely in order to maximize views of the surroundings. Every single window has a view.
Directly across from the front stoop is the berry patch. This is a great spot for me as a gardener because everything is laid out nicely and conveniently in this garden area. All fruits and vegetables are consolidated in one simple to reach garden area. In my new home my orchard as well as my vegetable garden are both right in the frontyard and are easily reached by walking thirty feet across the lawn area to the gardens. Convenience is a major consideration when growing edibles or you will not want to keep up with the chores involved with growing edibles. Each of the rows contain various fruits such as: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and grapes. There is also a row or two that can be used for tomatoes or other vegetables. Under the row cover in the rear Kimi grows fresh vegetables that can take the cold. Brussels sprouts were growing here when I visited.
Last but not least I show a picture of the wonderful host and hostess of my evening out. Tom and Kimi here in their butler's pantry. Thanks so much for a great evening....

in the garden....

Happy Presidents Day to you all! 

For those of you who are affected by the snow and sleet (first major snow event for our area in over 10 years!) and who must travel, please be safe, drive carefully and slowly and be aware of others. Don't overestimate your driving abilities and realize icy roads can quickly change your driving ability. Be careful!
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Couple's Bird Lovers Country Paradise Pond Part I

You all are in for a special treat today and Monday. A special garden/house tour that most would not normally see. In my role as a garden coach I meet super folks and Tom and Kimi are just those kinds of folks. Today and Monday we will tour their newly built country pond and a bit of the home and garden. First, let me say this property was purchased by Tom and Kimi a few years ago and prior to that it was owned by another client of mine. I have had the pleasure of helping with the berry patch and orchard for several years now and wow! Tom and Kimi have really developed the place beautifully. The orchard on this property will not be featured because it is dormant, but I used it as a model to develop my own orchard and am ever so grateful for the experience I gain in helping others in their gardens. So this property is extra special to me and Tom and Kimi are really nice folks.

Tom gave a wonderful garden program to my garden club this past October. He is a published photographer and avid bird watcher. His program was on the birds of Iraq. Birds of Iraq? Yes indeed, beautiful birds and gorgeous pictures. Everyone in the club loved his talk and they want him to come back! Kimi is also a bird watcher and they have developed their 20 acres to be a wildlife friendly paradise that is especially designed to attract all sorts of birds-including water birds. Today we'll look at the pond area and Monday we'll explore up by the house with a few pictures of inside the house.

We'll start with the gorgeous waterfall. Both this pond and the waterfall, as well as the other various features on the property were built by Robert and Beth of Teacup Gardener. Robert and Beth were at the recent dinner party I attended at Tom and Kimi's home. The party was in fact in their honor now that the beautiful pond is finished.
The waterfall lit up after dark. A beautiful sight! The picture does not do it justice.
The large pond looking down from the orchard area. This pond was built by the previous owners but the area did not hold water. Tom and Kimi hired Teacup Gardener (Robert and Beth) to line the pond so that it would indeed become a pond instead of a big basin for drainage. The pond holds 575,000 gallons of water. How would you like to have a koi pond that big??
Looking up toward the orchard area from below the house near the pond.
Another view up to the orchard.
A perfect seating area near the pond is wrapped around a pine tree.
The waterfall again. This waterfall makes beautiful music to all who visit the property because you can hear it from all over the property. The sound of water is also a very big attractant for birds of all types-a good thing for bird lovers!
One last picture looking up to the house. This is a very special house and the way it was built; as well as the layout; is quite unique and hard to find in this area. I'll showcase a bit of it on Monday....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, February 9, 2015

The New Property Two Years Later

It has been nearly two years since we bought our property in the country. We had a two year plan. The first year was to bring the property up to standard by clearing the land where it should be cleared, by cleaning up the trash dumped on the property (eight dump trucks worth!), and by landscaping and getting ready to build the new house. The second year entailed improvements and building the house. That process is pretty much all done. Landscaping is still ongoing but the bones are in place and now all we need is to let Mother Nature do her work. I thought I'd take the opportunity to show some before and after pictures to help you through the process. It is a very long and arduous process taking an unimproved/vacant/overgrown/fallow piece of property and 'improving' it for Mr. Fix-it and I. I say improving it for humans because perhaps the wildlife and some humans liked it the way it was but we did not. 

Our field is in the woods off from a gravel road. The field (I use the term lightly since it was so overgrown) was a mess. Just look at the first picture. It took us buying a tractor and working many long hours in all sorts of weather and conditions to clear the land. Even after the land was cleared I spent many an hour spraying trees that kept growing back in the field, mowing the grass and those same trees (mainly sassafras, elms, locust, and hickories), as well as liming the grass areas and seeding about 300 pounds of fescue as well as millions of wildflower seeds. The lawn areas are still not finished because the building process destroyed all grass that was located around the house and the weather has not been conducive to getting a good stand of grass growing. That should be remedied with the onset of warmer weather.
This stand of cedars is a key part of our design. We wanted a little cedar grove for privacy and for the wildlife. While there are lots of deciduous trees behind the cedars we simply love this little grove. The house is quite close to it as you can see from the below picture. What a difference!
You can also see what I mean about no grass. We simply have mud. It is a problem. While we (the humans) can and do take off our shoes prior to entering the house, the dogs do not. They bring in a lot of mud with them. What a mess.
This is the northern side of the field looking west. We cleared the area, mowed, and thinned out some of the trees leading down to our pond.
The same area now. The lawn is leveled, trees and gardens are planted, the start of the large vegetable garden is in place, and someday a small patio and other improvements will join the area.
This was the view from the front of the house to be looking west down the field.
This is the same view today. It will change once the grass finally grows in. Not having grass has been quite the bane. Mud, and erosion is a problem when we have rain; which we often do in the winter. Just past the vegetable garden in the distance is the orchard with its chicken coop. This area does have grass because it was not disturbed during the build process.
This part of the 700 foot long driveway looking from the road toward the field. While there was a semblance of a road there, it was mainly a dirt path.
Now it is improved. We excavated several inches and removed the topsoil, laid a geotextile fabric down, then trucked in ten trucks of varying sized gravel ranging from large, medium, and crush and run. The driveway is as solid as an asphalt road and very easy to drive and walk on. We do have to occasionally grade it but eventually it will settle out nicely. The great news is we can easily get to the house without getting stuck or dragging mud.
The driveway again looking west from the field. The rusty bucket is a memento leftover from the dumping. To the left was an old couch someone was too lazy to dispose of properly, or perhaps people used to come up here and hang out on it. Judging by the thousands of beer bottles we picked up that is most likely too.
Here is it mostly cleaned up. The teeter totter thing on the left needs to be disposed of and was left over from all the trash.
Speaking of trash, in addition to dumping inside of the property gate (which my neighbor installed after the owner of the property realized other locals were dumping on his land) dumping took place across from the gate once the gate was installed. This is a public road not well traveled but traveled enough that three full dump trucks of trash including household trash as well as some mattresses, toliets, and other unmentionables accumulated here--even after we purchased the property. I have proof of that. The berms were all trash the county graded up into the area. Fortunately, the county did help with some of the clean up and took out one dump truck full. I think the workers were quite stunned at the amount of trash here but some locals seem to think it is normal. Really?
The area now fairly cleaned. There still remains a lot of handpicking of trash because the backhoe simply could not get it all. But wow, what a difference and my o my how our view has changed when we exit our driveway. So far as we can tell the dumping has stopped. Littering continues but we try to deal with that and are hopeful that neighbors will take note and try to help with policing the area because after all, we all live or drive here and have to look at it and isn't it nice to look at the native flora and fauna and not someone's trash? I think so anyhow....

in the garden....still working.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Garden

It has been almost a year since we had a horrible Ice Storm here in my GEORGIA GARDENS. With such events comes destruction such as this fallen tree.
 And a very large tree indeed! Look at the root ball of that Willow Oak tree. 
In this area, we lost several large trees. With an open area for sunlight, came weeds that we did not like to see this past year.
 What does one do to get rid of weeds? Well, create a new Garden of course! In the Garden's, Master Gardener, Tina visited me during the McCorkles Giant Plant Sale last fall. I had her help me collect plants to start this new garden. How fun to have Tina's eye in my garden. 
 Next came the clean up of this area by the Saint and I. Piles of debris lay in the area from that Feb day until late Sept. Tina set the plants in place before she left us.
 Due to underground roots, the holes were not dug exactly where Tina had placed the plants. But we got them into the ground before winter which was our goal. We also spread many bales of pine straw as mulch. I was hoping that in time, it would become natural looking.
 The leaves begin to fall in time slowly blending the mulch.
 I was happy with the transformation taking place.
 We now jump to the present time and the area is really looking natural. We have yet to decide what to do with the tree stump but for now, I will NOT allow the Saint to cut it down as he so wants to! we checked into getting a chainsaw artist work magic but we did not have an extra 1,000.00 laying around for that! I see a birdhouse or something atop this tree and in time, something will happen. But for now, Back Away from this stump Saint!!!

Only issue I am having thus far, the deer have found the Azalea and Loropetalum plants and have enjoyed munching them! With all the rains we have had this winter, I let my guard down where the gardens are concerned. Last week, I sprayed Liquid Fence on the plants and hope they will make a comeback this spring. Thanks Tina for your help in creating this NEW GARDEN, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden