Bzzzz April 30th, 2012

A few years ago my then-teenage son convinced me to watch the movie Snakes on a Plane. It’s a movie about—you guessed it—snakes on a plane. Despite the fact that it was an incredibly stupid film, it gave me nightmares. But movie snakes don’t hold a candle to real, live snakes right at home.

This weekend I asked my husband to dispose of two ratty-looking topiary trees that were in large wooden containers on either side of the garage door. I watched from the kitchen window as he dragged them back to the compost pile. They were overgrown and pot-bound, so I wasn’t surprised when he tugged and pulled to try and extricate them from the containers. This went on for some time. I continued to watch as he stood with his hands on his hips thinking about the situation. Apparently reaching  a conclusion, I saw him start in on the containers with a mattock.

And then I watched as he hot-footed it back to the house.

“Those pots are filled with copperheads!”

Now, I didn’t go out to witness it first-hand. It’s not because I’m a big old scaredey cat. Oh, no. Rather it’s because I have complete trust in my husband’s powers of observation and reporting of the local wildlife. I mean, if he says copperheads are out there swarming by the dozens, I don’t really need to go out and verify it with my own eyes, right? A marriage must be based on trust.

I hope it didn’t violate any Maryland state wildlife laws, because I’m going to tell you right here that Harry screwed up his manly courage, went back out and committed mass snake-icide. He was running around with a shovel smacking at the ground, hopping around and looking very threatening. I was afraid of him. I think he got most of the little buggers. I got nightmares.

Okay, so that I don’t leave you with that horrible image I’ll share some garden photos to calm you down. Let’s talk a little bit about hellebores, shall we?

One of the reasons I adore hellebores as much as I do is that they give me hope in the bleakest months of winter. Regardless of what I do, these babies show their little heads sometime in January and gradually emerge from under whatever nature has thrown their way. I have seen them emerging from under a foot of snow, in the freezing rain and even in those dry winter spells.

I help them along by trimming off the damaged greenery from the previous year, allowing the plant’s strength to be concentrated in flowering. They reward me by blooming and blooming. The flowers hang on through spring and even into summer. These are plants that really pull their weight in the garden.

Bottom left: Helleborus orientalis

Now that they are well-established I am faced each year with relocating or re-homing hundreds of little hellebore orientalis seedlings. Frankly, it’s not a terrible task and I always find takers. I’m looking forward to the time when I have the same issue with the ‘Kingston Cardinal’ hellebores. Massed together, they make a very nice statement while also crowding out weeds and looking good almost the whole year long.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Kingston Cardinal’

Have you forgotten all about the snakes yet? Good. Whatever you do, don’t think about snakes. Especially don’t think about poisonous snakes in the garden. Dozens and dozens of swarming poisonous snakes in the garden.

(As always, click on photos to embiggen.)


Posted In: Container Gardening, Gardening, Nature and Wildlife

Tags: , ,


Bzzzz February 11th, 2012

Most days, following a brief period of coffee and news consumption, I launch into a caffeine-inspired frenzy of laundry, house tidying, email, writing and client-related or other work. Now that we are empty-nesters and weekend soccer and school events are a thing of the past, weekends are often filled with bread and cake baking, errands, major cleaning or repair projects and—in season—gardening.

But some days…

Well, some days I just can’t quite seem to figure out what to do. I don’t feel particularly inspired by any potential plan. Do I want to sew? Nah. Do I want to make jam? Meh. Do I want to re-arrange the bookshelves? Not really.

Today was one of those days. I spent about 45 minutes half-heartedly picking up one project and putting it down, wandering around and looking at all the things that needed doing. Nothing was really capturing my attention. So I was standing upstairs, looking out the window and pondering my lack of enthusiasm. That’s then I saw them.

The cedar waxwings are here!

Cedar Waxwings on Winter King Hawthorns. (Click on photo to embiggen.)

The cedar waxwings only make an appearance here once a year and it’s always within about a two-week period in February. In 2009, they were here on February 11—yes, exactly three years ago today. In 2010 and 2011 they were here February 19. That’s impressively regular for a group of animals without the benefit of a Google calendar.

Cedar Waxwings on Winter King Hawthorns. (Click on photo to embiggen.)

The big attraction for the cedar waxwings are the Winter King Hawthorns that line the driveway closest to our house. They are full of luscious red berries even in February. The cedar waxwings fly in in a huge flock, perching in the trees surrounding the hayfield. You can hear them chattering away and see them swooping down in groups of three and four, helping themselves to the berry banquet.

Within three or four days, the trees will be denuded of ever last berry and the cedar waxwings will move on to the next stop on their annual itinerary.

Naturally, I was inspired to whip out the camera and the honkin’ big lens. It didn’t matter that it was cold and a little drizzly. I finally had found my project. Good thing I was standing around gazing out the windows!

Cedar Waxwing in Winter King Hawthorn (click on photo to embiggen.)

Posted In: Nature and Wildlife

Tags: , ,


« Previous PageNext Page »