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Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Fruiting Orchard

Several years ago, we took the decision  to remove a row of mature Eastern red cedar trees, (they are actually Junipers -Juniperus virginiana) after failing to control Cedar apple rust
Cedar apple rust on Juniperus virginiana
on our four, poorly performing apple trees, destined to become three after the largest tree succumbed to a prolonged wet spell followed by strong winds, and toppled. At the same time, we also decided to enlarge our orchard and fruit garden. So, at this time of year, when our gardening activities are often limited to poring over seed and plant catalogues, we are also pruning our established fruit trees, and formative pruning our new stock.

Our established fruit trees, which were already mature when we acquired the property, consist of three apples, only one of which we are sure of its progeny, (Red delicious) and two pear trees almost certainly Bartlett's, Oh, and one branch on an almost dead Peach tree which produced one peach and then promptly gave up the ghost, to be grubbed out and replaced by an Atlas cedar at the the north east corner of the orchard.  And, while not being productive of edible fruit, the Cedrus Atlantica, will with its majestic growth, nevertheless, feed the soul.
Fruiting Quince Cydonia oblonga

By removing the Eastern red cedars, we've been able to expand our choice of fruit trees within the orchard and ornamental flowering trees without. Plants within the Rose (Rosaceae) family, of which apples are one, are susceptible to Cedar apple rust. Of these, the ones grown primarily for their edible fruit include Apples, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Apricots, Nectarines, Cherries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and Quince (Cydonia oblonga),
all of which we grow in our orchard and fruit garden, along with Persimmon, Mulberry, Blueberry, Gooseberry, Grape, and Currants (Black, Red and White).

 Quince (Chaenomeles japonica, and others) the flowering shrub,is also in the Rose family and now happily grows in our flower gardens along with other Rose family members, Hawthorn, Serviceberry and of course the Rose itself in all its glorious guises.
Flowering Quince Chaenomeles japonica

I started this post with the intention of writing about the pruning of fruiting plants, ah well, next time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Unearthing history.

While dismantling the wall on my current project, a small retaining wall in varying degrees of collapse. The face stones became narrow to the point of having no structural cohesion.

When I began to dig out the soil behind the wall, the reason for these narrow stones became clear.
Intersecting the repaired wall at a 45 degree angle, was a previously built and superior retaining wall.
Possibly out of respect for a previous craftsman, the builder of the second wall had simply walled across the face of the existing wall with the above narrow stones.
Altering the line of the wall was not an option, so I dismantled a small section of the original retaining wall and reused the stone in the repaired wall.
I hope the next builder finds the existing wall as fascinating as did I.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Another successful drystone wall building workshop

This last weekend brought together a diverse group of participants from far and wide. Minnesota, New York, Maine and all parts of Connecticut. Stonewell Farm in Killingworth CT was the venue for our Spring Drystone walling workshop, and, as you can see from the photos, glorious weather, and good humor inspired another successful weekend.
Our next gathering will be the 26th and 27th of September.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Michelle hung out the hummingbird feeders on Wednesday and sure enough we had our first visitor today. As is usually the case, these first arrivals are passing through to breeding grounds further north. The resident hummingbirds should be here within the week.
Get out those feeders.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Feed the Birds

With the turning of the year and the lengthening days, our minds are drawn further still, to the warm spring days which beckon us to another year of outdoor in the garden. Here at Stonewell Farm, we are now firmly in the camp of leaving last year’s growth to overwinter in situ. This provides some succor to the feathered or fur clad wildlife that inhabit the gardens throughout the winter months, be it through protection from the weather, or our ever present kettle of hawks as with this Autumn Clematis and Boxwood.  Seedheads and dried stems can provide a source of food in their own right, as well as sheltering insects which provide another source of nutrition for wild birds.

                   Autumn clematis (above) and Boxwood (below) grow densely enough to provide shelter from persistent wind or predatory wing,

Berries and seedheads provide wildbirds with a much needed source of nutrition in winter.

By leaving last years growth intact, some plants, like this grass,  create a layer of protection for the new shoots waiting patiently for spring to return, while at the same time giving some visual winter interest.


 Occasionally a snowy display of florescences result unexpectedly, as seen on these Hydrangeas.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gardens Speak to the Soul

I live for gardening and wall-building season. The winter months are busy with winter tasks, hauling wood, cleaning stoves and dispensing ashes, sharpening and caring for the tools of the trade, plowing the drives, preparing talks, maple-sugaring, and, then, torturous days of mind-numbing accounting chores,which segue into comfy evenings of BBC mini-series. That's winter. But it's the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons that enliven me. Gardens speak to the soul. They rejuvenate us, invigorate us, and remind us of the seasons of our lives. We grow older, not younger, and yet the fleeting years, which press on our mortality, improve our gardens with each fresh growing season, gaining girth, and strength and floriferousness as the seasons march on. 

Color; after so many months of grey, lifts our spirits and draws us out into the garden to anticipate, peer,  inspect, and wonder. This beauty, this freshness, this green....these colors, these 'the country', we live for this. And it's not just us, our feathered friends await the year for this as well.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Yorkshire Humor

A traveller decided to write a book about famous houses of worship around the world.
He bought a plane ticket and took a trip to China.On his first day he was inside a temple, taking photographs, when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘$10,000 per call’.  Intrigued, the traveller asked a priest, who was strolling by, what the telephone was used for.
The priest replied that it was a direct line to Heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God personally.
He thanked the priest and went on his way. Next stop was in Japan. There, at a very temple, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in China and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to Heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God directly.
‘OK, thank you.‘ said the budding author.He then travelled to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Germany and France. In every house of worship he saw the same golden telephone with the same ‘$10,000 per call’ sign under it. The traveller decided to visit the UK to see if the British had the same phone. He arrived in Yorkshire and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone. But this time the sign under it read ’20 pence per call’. The traveller was surprised, so he asked the priest about the sign.
‘Father, I’ve travelled all over the world and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many houses of worship. I’m told that it is a direct line Heaven. But everywhere I went the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?’
The priest smiled and answered, ‘you’re in Yorkshire now, son – it’s a local call’.

Never a truer word spoken...