Monday, April 28, 2014

Singing Behind the Plow

Todd and I drove to Jackrabbit Mountain in southern North Carolina (right along the Georgia border, about 90 minutes from our house) this weekend to go hiking with his father and stepmother.  The weather was a balmy 82 degrees and sunny both days, and trees everywhere had leafed out into that vibrant green color of late spring that all tree leaves have before darkening to their true shades. Meadows were choked with wildflowers. In the distance the Blue Ridge Mountains were a deep purple color. 

I've decided that even though upstate South Carolina isn't where I'd like to permanently settle, I really love this region for natural beauty.  Everywhere we saw bogs...


...or streams.

We hiked through both woods...

...and meadows.

The ground under the trees was completely covered in ferns.

We saw lots of trillium...


...and many other woodland plants, including ground violets in three different colors.  Even the weeds had an attractive look!

The trees were full of songbirds, and I saw evidence of other little creatures.  Here dew is gathered on an empty ground spider web...

Someone had a turkey dinner very recently!

Todd spotted this black rat snake, who was sunning himself on a log.

Don't worry...they're completely harmless!

We visited the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina, where they offer year-round classes in photography, gardening, nature studies, writing, dance, cooking, craft, art, and dance. I would love to take classes here!  The school is situated on 380 acres of beautiful farmland and woods both, shot through with walking trails.  Here we go!

The sign above says, "I sing behind the plow."  It's definitely a cheerful, bustling place (although I neglected to take photos of the actual school)! 

It was nice to get away for a weekend, and Borga is a changed dog when she gets a nice long walk.  Look at those happy faces!  :) 

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I "Mint" To Have Only One Slice!

Spring is flying by, and every day brings another little milestone.  Our ducks are back!

The trees, too, are filled with the sounds of songbirds.  We have an abundance of bluebirds, towhees, cardinals, phoebes, finches, and many others.  My favorite bird song is one that I hear all day long...that of the Eastern Towhee:

Thankfully, we haven't had as many deer sightings.  We still see them a few times a week, but nothing like the fall, when they willfully and maliciously decimated my garden.

Suddenly, all the trees around us have filled out...even our Japanese Maples.

My little hibernating houseplants that I cut back mid-winter have started showing new growth.

We're enjoying the last flush of azalea flowering...

...even Bosewichte!

New discoveries, like a clematis vine that did not flower the first year we lived here...

...and the first iris of spring.

Todd finished most of the leaf removal...

...and Borga has been soaking up the sun on the newly-uncovered lawn.

I've been toiling away at my little flower bed.  It probably took me close to a week, an hour or two at a time, to clear away the weeds.  It took me another week to dig up the space with my hand spade.  It was terribly difficult, because each spadeful brought up something like this:

The runners/root system of the weeds.  I despaired at ever getting them all up, but I put in two hours a day until they were finally cleared, at least to a depth of six inches.  I'll have to RoundUp any new shoots.  Meanwhile, I was able to get my seeds planted.  This year I went with my favorite "Indiana Annuals" mix:  tall spiky purple salvia mixed with pink coneflowers...feathery-leaved cosmos...cheerful zinnias...and a front bed of mixed marigolds.

It will be a battle with the established weeds, clay soil, iffy sunlight coverage, and possible drought conditions.  If these guys won't grow, nothing will!

In the past few weeks, I've made a nearly-forgotten layer cake...

..a batch of baked chocolate goodies I call "D'oh-nuts" for their resemblance to the sprinkles-covered doughnuts always seen on The Simpsons:

...and a multi-level ice cream cake...

...for my special birthday boy.

I "mint" to have just one slice, but I'm afraid we demolished over half the cake between the two of us in just one day.  It was delivered to Todd's office the next day for "safekeeping"!

Hope you're having a good week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

E-"vase"-ive Maneuvers

Last year, I carefully cultivated a huge patch of weeds.  The rest of the property had been so intentionally landscaped that I couldn't believe that the one really sunny area, edged in irises and bordered by shasta daisies and lantana, wouldn't be utilized.  I waited and watched while the 8' x 4' bed filled out with lovely green variegated seedlings.  They grew and grew, and by fall had become a hideously rangy, drooping mess.  There was no mistaking it:  these were weeds.   They returned with the first warm weather, filling in the tidy arc beyond the lawn.

They filled in so nicely and had such beautiful leaves that I had to ask myself:  were they REALLY weeds?

I just had to remind myself of their appearance last fall.  No doubt about it:  these were weeds.

It took me several days to weed the area, because the weeds, true to character, had a vast underground runner root system, which means that I will still need to plow it up and get every last bit or they'll sprout again.  I don't mind working there, though, because I like seeing all of the little scurrying things.

Little pillbugs, running for cover.

Little flying things, woken up from their naps.


...and millipedes.

Even a little frog!

I love being outside in spring.  Last fall I planted six or seven peony bushes, and they're all coming up.

Sedum is starting to fill in the blank space around the rocks.

The air is filled with the buzzing of little wings. 

Bees love our flowers...

...and so do butterflies.

Our clematis vines are all starting to bloom.

I love their little clenched centers.

This .50 Goodwill vase is perfect for them.

 Of course, I have many...



...other vases in use.  I love the sheer variety of azaleas here, from tiny and pink... sprawling and fuchsia.

It's nice to be outside amid the flowers, looking out over the water.

We've started eating our meals out on the sun porch again, just so we can catch the sun in the morning and listen to the tree frogs at night.  Bosewichte (our cat) heartily concurs with our decision.

Hope you have a great week!