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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Frost free & Flowering

At this time of year, greenhouse space is always at a premium. The heated bench is full of germinating seed.

which overflow onto the potting bench.

While the rest of the greenhouse is full of tender perennials. Yes it would be simple to throw out last years pelargoniums and petunias etc and buy nursery or big store replacements, but by over wintering, I know my container plants will be free of chemicals which could be harmful to our bees and other pollinators.

Last year, we lost our lavenders due to poor placement, resulting in insufficient light. This year, I added an extra table which gave them more exposure.

Our bay tree has also recovered after an infestation of spider mites almost killed it.

Last fall, out of pure curiosity I planted three red buckeye seeds, they should flower in four to five years. It will be interesting to see if they come true to seed.

I have several hanging basket fuchsias, but this one (a cutting from Dad's collection) I have been training as a standard for several years

and as you can see it is starting to break bud.
There is a wonderful collection of this hardy fuchsia at Edingburgh zoo.

Whitefly and other aphids are a constant greenhouse problem. Rubbing them out, where numbers are few, or insecticidal soap spray will help control infestations.

Another success story. our Meyer lemon is a spider mite magnet and for a couple of years has not set fruit. This winter I have followed a strict spraying regime

and voila, a crop of lemons for the fall.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Voles and chewed root balls.

Now that the snow is clearing, the vole damage becomes apparent. The voles have eaten  the roots of this rose to the point where the weight of snow and wind has upended the plant, exposing the rootless crown.

I did manage to collect some cuttings which I have placed in a jar of water, along with some willow stems to encourage rooting.

This Hellebore suffered the same fate last fall, I potted a couple of sections that still had roots and after over-wintering in the greenhouse are now ready to be planted out as soon as the weather allows.

The four stems (below) are all that was left of this rose, to which I applied rooting compound and potted back in November. they spent the winter in the greenhouse to encourage root growth. Three have survived, which I will pot on this spring and replant in the garden 12 months from now.

If you find a hole next to a hosta plant it is almost certain to be a vole

They will eat the roots and then pull the whole plant below ground one leaf at a time, until there is nothing left.

Root vegetables like these beets are also at risk, along with potatoes, carrot etc

Encouraging predators into the garden, birds, for above ground hunting

and snake for below

will hopefully keep these little critters at a manageable level.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Killingworth Library presentation 9th May 2018 7pm

What do this N. Ireland peninsular

and this J.M.W. Turner painting have in common?

or this Yorkshire Dales museum exhibit

and this circular stone structure

How is this 18th century chimney

related to this 21st century folly

This original cobbled street

and this set of steps have a similar story to tell

All will
 be revealed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Easter Eggs or Ducklings?

In the midst of yet another Nor'Easter, one has to believe that the ducks know best and Spring will not be long in coming.
Caillou, the matriarch of our flock has this year decided to make her nest in one of the chicken egg laying boxes 

which may help contain her eggs, as she has a tendency to scratch her eggs out of the nest.


Nora, so named because her sister Dora wandered far and wide throughout the woods, until one day her exploring took her to the point of no return.
The incubation period for a Muscovy duck is around 5 weeks, Nora has been sitting for three weeks

Cinco, a daughter of Nora, got her name because she has made her nest under the Pizza oven sink countertop

She has 4 eggs at present and will start sitting when she has a dozen or more, which will probably take another couple of weeks.

The almost identical sister of Cinco, who we named  Mayo, has been sitting for just over a week

and as you can see, has a full clutch of eggs, 17 in total.

Studley, on the left and Sir Francis, are our two drakes.

But don't put away your snow shovel just yet, as Coddle hatched 4 little duckling back in December.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Historic Walls for Wildlife

Yesterday I gave a hands on demonstration of Dry Stone Walling for the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation

The large stones for the adults

and the smaller stones for the children.

In all my years of teaching dry stone walling, invariably a group of strangers come together and within minutes they are working together like old friends.
In this particular case three children came together, and within seconds they were cooperating verbally and actively to create this masterpiece

I would like to think it was the wall that had the full attention of the baby in its mothers arms. you're never too young to learn

The bottom half of this miniature wall started with multiple running joints (stones stacked one on top of another) whereas the top half is almost entirely built with crossing joints. That is a steep learning curve for a child. Well done.

Whatever the end result, the looks of concentration and enjoyment that go into the build make it a worthwhile endeavour.

It's nice to know someone was listening when I was explaining the batter of a dry stone wall. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Have you ever wanted to build a Dry Stone wall without all the heavy lifting?

Tomorrow March 18th

For Kids from 4 to 40 and above

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation

This Sunday, March 18th 2018

Sunday at the Sanctuary- Historic Stone Walls for Wildlife

Join us at Fraser Woods Montesori School
173 S. Main St Newtown, CT


Dr. Robert Thorson, UCONN professor and founder of the Stone Wall Initiative, will share the exciting, hidden life behind stones! Author of the children's book "Stone Wall Secrets", Dr. Thorson will also be signing books and answering questions.


Join Becky Newman, Education Director from Earth Place of Westport, as she introduces stone wall wildlife including Box Turtles and Amphibians!

In addition, Master Stone Mason Andrew Pighills will take participants on an interactive journey of exploration including:
Hands on stone wall building demonstration
Children's stone wall building activity
How to explore, date and identify your stone walls

Please register at this web address