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Sunday, January 12, 2020


Glorious day to be out in the garden.

Here at Stonewell Farm, we have an abundance of water. Whenever we get a heavy or persistant downpour, spring water flows from the ground throughout the property. In 2013 we ordered a selection of willow cuttings from the USDA and planted them at the bottom of a slope where except for the height of summer, surface water is always present.

We coppice the trees every two or three years, which produces a thicket of new stems.
These stems are 10 to 12 feet tall, but still pliable for the required purpose.

Willows produce indolebutyric acid and salicylic acid, two hormones which help to stimulate root growth

Providing the planting site is consistently moist - the pond is directly behind from where I took the photo - and the ground is sufficiently yielding, the cuttings can simply be pushed into the soil. I used a crowbar driven in at an angle, to a depth of eight inches.

one, perhaps two years growth should suffice to complete the dome.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Grey matter V Grey squatter

Through trial and error, with the addition of a trash can lid, I eventually made our hanging bird feeder squirrel proof.

But I noticed that some birds lacked the agility to feed directly and  instead searched the ground below for dropped seeds and grains,

This winter I erected a post bird feeder which became an instant squirrel magnet, and they took up permanent residence. My first line of defense was an upturned plant pot.

They chewed one of the pot's drainage holes to gain access to the feeder, so I filled the pot with chicken wire.

Now they are attempting to chew the whole pot.

The squirrels do have access to the duck feeder, so I am determined to keep them out of the wild bird feeders.

Dr Doolittle I am not, but did I just hear "Please Sir, can I have some more"

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Perfect Day

Here in Killingworth, today is ideal for transplanting. The plants are dormant, the weather is mild and humid, and the sandy soil here at Stonewell Farm is workable.

Last week I transplanted this wonderfully fragrant Meyer Lilac to this open sunny site

as its previous site by the wall was becoming increasingly shady.

This last summer, I also noticed less of these beautiful, fragrant flowers on our Mme. Hardy rose

which is planted to the west of two shrubs, a spirea and a hydrangea, neither of which are getting any smaller.

In the last two years, our clump of three tree peonies have gone from this

to this, due to our ever expanding magnolia shown encroaching from the right.

What may look like the perfect site, in ten years could be totally inappropriate due to the growth of the plant itself, or those around it.
Live as if you'll die tomorrow. Garden as if you'll live forever.

Maybe, just maybe.

Our ducks are checking out available nesting sites. Even Sir Francis is getting in on the act.

Mayo, (so called because her sibling Cinco chose the cupboard on the other side of the pizza oven underneath the sink) is going for the safety of the under counter cupboard.

Nora, named after her sibling Dora, who loved to go exploring in the woods, until her encounter with Mr Fox, is in her duck house.

Let's hope Sooty shows more sense this year. 

With all this early activity. Maybe, just maybe, we're in for a mild short winter.

Meyer Lemon

A photo of our Meyer Lemon tree to brighten this dank winter day.

26 incase you were wondering.

Monday, September 16, 2019

It's not just the wild west that is full of cowboys.

 This is a photo from an Andrew Pighills Facebook post back in July, and that is where it should have remained, but this afternoon I got a call from the owner of the wall to say the wall  has fallen down again. This photo is after the wall had been repaired 3 months previously

This is a photo I took this afternoon, just 2 months after it was repaired for the second time, by the same person who did the first repair

 The wall on the other side of the entrance, also rebuilt by the same person, is full of small stones that have no structural integrity whatsoever

and this large flat stone placed on its edge and just leaning against the wall.

This photo was taken in July.

This photo taken this afternoon, shows the smaller stones falling down behind the large flat stone which is slowly being pushed out and eventually, over.  

For a wall that will last a century or more, go to and look for a certified waller in your area.

 I can promise you this.
The feeling of sadness as your wall collapses before your eyes will far outlast the joy of the perceived inexpensive build.

Wild flower patch extended.

I think my wildflower patch has been somewhat successful. According to the package, the basil was added to attract pollinators. I thought the smell of basil might deter deer.

It doesn't

In my garden, hanging white strips on fishing line to emulate the alarm signal of the white tailed deer does.

Last weekend I tilled 4400 sq ft of part meadow, part orchard. obviously this is too large an area to cover with tarps as I did with the patch. This area will be flame weeded, raked and flame weeded again before sowing with a perennial wildflower mix this coming weekend. Hopefully the seeds will have a month to establish before the first frost.