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Sunday, March 31, 2019

How to build a Dry Stone Wall

 Yesterday I completed the wall in front of the old school house at Parmelee Farm.

A wall that was started last November with the help of  Jim Hannon, (center) Martin Defilippo (second from left) and Mike Feeny (left). All past participants of at least one of my walling workshops.

As you can see, it will stand the test of time.

Our next  Stonewell Farm walling workshop is the weekend of April 27th and 28th 2019

Before we get to working with the stone, safety is discussed. Footwear, eye protection, correct lifting techniques, etc.

Followed by an explanation of the various tools available and how to use them correctly and safely.

Once we get to the hands on stage, within minutes, complete strangers are discussing the merits of various stones and cooperating like old friends. 

Saturday evening, as with every workshop, is spent discussing the days progress and relaxing with beer, wine and pizza.

Made in our outdoor wood fired oven

One would think that flat square stone would be easy to wall with, but while it is angular, it is not regular like bricks,

and even the slightest deviation in height, makes it difficult for C to contact both A and B.

Whereas with the rounded corners of fieldstone, C makes good contact with A and B, even though A is slightly higher than B and E makes good contact with both C and D, even though D is substantially higher.

In my opinion, the learning curve with angular stone is steeper than with fieldstone, but once learnt, will allow you to wall with most types of stone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation

Following last years success, I have been asked to take part in the second Stone Walls for Wildlife Program (click above heading for more info) and will take participants on an interactive journey, including:
Children's stone wall building activity

How to explore, date and identify your stone walls. It is not always this easy.

Want to know how our forefathers built these incredible structures? Stone artisan Andrew Pighills will conduct a hands on dry stone walling workshop to create one of these amazing life supporting walls.

Followed by a short interactive Powerpoint presentation.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Invasive Butterfly Bush.

During a recent trip to the UK, I took this photo of a canal side wall full of Buddleia davidii seedlings. In the UK and here in New England, the butterfly bush is escaping our gardens and needs to be placed on the invasive species list before it becomes as invasive as Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)

Here in Connecticut, there are alternatives. Clethra alnifolia is of similar size, fragrant

and comes in various colours

If you feel your garden can't survive without a butterfly bush, sterile varieties are now available.
Asian Moon, Blue Chip, Chip Jr, Ice Chip, Inspired Pink, Pink Micro Chip and Purple Haze are some.

Or, when your Buddleia shrub looks like the photo below, you can cut off all the spent flowers before they produce seeds, with pruners, or a hedge trimmer, which will in turn give you a second flush of flowers.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The influential Gulf Stream.

These three photographs were taken at the beginning of March this year and are due to the Gulf stream, a warm ocean current that flows from the Mexican gulf, across the Atlantic and up the west coast of the British Isles.

A collection of Daffodils and Hyacinth blooming in front of this Skipton N. Yorkshire home.

With a latitude of 54.77 N. Durham UK is further north than Edmonton Canada 53.55 N. Yet this Hellebore is in full bloom.

 My favourite is this combination of Lavender (foreground) and Rosemary. They are huge and happily overwintering in this small front garden in Richmond N. Yorkshire.