So, what’s going on in your little piece of the world? My little piece of the world has been a hotbed of activity. I have been removing striped liriope and replacing it with a beautiful evergreen sedge that will have pretty stalks of yellow and chocolate brown blooms this spring. The liriope has next to no value to our native wildlife, so it had to go. I have several buckets full of the liriope that needs a new home if anyone is interested.
On Tuesday, I raked and mulched leaves from a bed of iris and daylilies. These, too, have little wildlife value, so they are going to new homes also (or to my compost bin). I am replacing these with ferns and another native sedge that has a great clumping habit and beautiful red tinged blades. Can’t guarantee the colors, but the iris and daylilies are ready for new homes.
For Christmas, Brandi gave me some lovely black metal raised bed corners. I have enjoyed my raised beds edged with pavers, but they are very aggravating when they tumble apart every time I drag the hose through the garden. So I bought 2X10 lumber and am using the metal corners to rebuild all the beds. They are somewhat deeper than the old brick beds, so I’m filling in the top 4 inches with compost, goat and chicken manure, and good topsoil. I’ve finished 3 of the 6 beds I plan to do, and have garlic growing in two of them. Next week, I’ll add potatoes to these beds, along with some bunching onions which I’ll plant from seed. One of the beds will be planted with sugar snap peas. I love those things! I sometimes go to the garden and pick them and eat them raw right there on the spot. Since I don’t use any kind of pesticides or herbicides, I don’t worry about eating them in the garden.
My big concern about the new beds was the expense and aggravation of getting enough good ‘stuff’ to finish filling them. My neighbor, Frank, came through with an offer of goat manure and chicken litter from a friend who has a mini farm in Tallapoosa. We went yesterday and got two truckloads, but it was a time consuming activity since we spent almost 2 hours trying to get his truck out of the back yard where it had gotten stuck and couldn’t pull up the hill on the soggy ground and leaves. I think we loaded both our trucks in less time that it took to rescue his truck. Lesson learned: put the manure in buckets and haul it to the trucks in the nice graveled driveway!
I have spent a part of several days this past week pruning back the old leaves from the hellebores. This wet winter has caused a lot of black fungus, which needs to be removed to avoid the whole plant being infested and rotting. Although the hellebores are not native, I keep them for two reasons-blooms during January and February for arrangements for church, and my honeybees love them!
I’ve started seeds in the basement under grow lights over the last week or so. Have lettuce and spinach up and growing, but no signs of the cabbage or rutabagas yet.
The native plant society is working with a school group who has a field trip planned. We’ll be talking to the kids about the importance of protecting our native plants for the wildlife and for our own enjoyment. Then, they’ll each have a native flower to take home and plant in their own yards. We have planted several hundred at the UWG greenhouse where they are being tended by the dedicated staff of the grounds department. I’ve also started a whole flat of orange butterfly and pink milkweeds for the monarchs. These will be added to the ones we have growing at the college. And some of them will be potted for a plant sale at our meetings. I already have about a hundred red cardinal flowers in gallon pots just waiting to be bought and taken to a new home.
My back yard is still filled with trees and shrubs donated by the Georgia Wildlife Federation for planting on the Buffalo Creek Trail. We’ll begin on that at our next workday, Feb. 17. If you want to come help, we would welcome you. We’ll be there planting from 10-12 that day and again on Feb. 27th. Mostly we’ll be working on the back entrance which will connect the BCT with the Greenbelt. We’ll also be planting some donated cedar trees behind the storage buildings, to screen the buildings from the trail. Some of the donated trees will be passed on to a Clayton County group that is working on a trail down there.
This warm weather has tricked some of my flowers into thinking it is early spring. I have muscari and crocus in bloom along with daffodils. The hellebores have been blooming for about a month now. The daphne growing by the deck is in full bloom and the backyard smells like fresh lemons or Lemon Pledge. In the side yard the beautiful yellow blooms of the native green and gold have started peeking out. In the front yard there is edgeworthia is in full bloom. The smell is something I can’t put my finger on, but if I could bottle it, I’d make a million dollars. The sweet scented ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ viburnum is in full bloom along with the winter honeysuckle. It has a sweet smell you can catch all over the front yard. Scott’s camellias are beginning to open their buds and they are quite pretty. I noticed today that my native ladies’ tresses orchids have started popping up, and it looks like there may be quite a few babies.
Next week Frank and I are leading a rescue at a site where we’ll be able to get lots of ferns, and hopefully some bloodroot, one of my favorite early blooming natives. We’ll also be on the lookout for some parsley hawthorn, some vernal iris, and maidenhair ferns. This will be our first rescue of the new year, since our first attempt got rained out. Can’t wait to get back into the woods again.
Even though it’s winter, there are still lovely things to see in the garden. Get out there and take a peek, or a sniff, or cut a bouquet. Doesn’t matter what you do, but make time for your ‘forest bath’ to get renewed.