Thursday, December 30, 2010


Cold, in the 20s.  Snow cover from the December 26 monster blizzard is uneven; some areas are blown bare, others are drifted high.  Deer tracks in the snow crisscross the yard in all directions!

Sometimes you need a new perspective on things.  I took my morning coffee up into the guest bedroom in the loft to see the deer tracks from above.  I sat in the chair by the window and studied the little curved garden that I've had such design trouble with ever since I cut this arc by the west walk last summer:

I wanted to add an "anchor" tree to complete the allee look along the walk, but couldn't decide on anything or on placement, and I didn't want another mixed border with random stuff in it.  

My idea this morning: put in a hedge of 'Tardiva' panicle hydrangeas, in a gentle curve mirroring the curve of the walk and the garden along the walk.  Nothing else, just the hedge.

I love the look of this, but didn't want a hedge up against the house, or any more lines of plants ringing the perimeter of the yard.  I already have one Tardiva in this curved bed, to complement the limbed up "standard" one by the hatch door.  Just add more and I'll have the look of the soft fluffy line of hydrangeas, with more cohesion along the walk.  The west walk right now has jumbled plants -- very nice-- but this will add soothing repetition and a clean line.

Maybe extend the curve a little, move the iris and veronica that are sitting there now, and put in a single curved line of panicle hydrangeas.

Here were a few at Farmington Valley Nursery last spring, just lined up in pots, and I liked the look so much I took a picture of them.  I forget which cultivar.  I guess I don't have to repeat the 'Tardiva"... I could get another.

Hmmm, really loving this idea right now.  Simple.  Elegant.  No jumble of mixed plants.

Monday, December 27, 2010


After weeks without snow, and no white Christmas, the day after Christmas hammered us with a nor'esaster.  A true blizzard.

Howling winds, metal gray gloom, snow blasting sideways, bitter temps.  The whole northeast is a disaster!

We did not lose power thankfully, and Jim got us snowblowed out, with help from Tom who did the hand shoveling, and even seemed to enjoy it!  Tom and Joanna got outside and she got to experience snow.

Greg had headed down to NY on the 26th just before the storm, assuming he could get his 6 p.m. flight to Denver.  We took him to the train in New Haven, but even before he got to Grand Central, his flight had been canceled, and rebooked.... to Tuesday!  He spent last night in a hotel, and now, with the storm abated, Tom & Joanna drove down to NY and connected with Greg.  So he'll stay with them at her apartment until he can get his flight on Tuesday.  NYC is  BIG Mess... not only canceled flights, but subways and buses and trains all stopped and stuck.  A real blizzard show stopper, compounded by everyone traveling after Christmas.

But at least we had a great Christmas... lots of food and wine, and both boys here, and lots of talk and future plans.  A great holiday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wails and Laments

Very cold, in the single digits and teens at night, getting up to the 20s or low 30s in the daytime.  No real snow yet.  The midwest has been blanketed by blizzards and virtually shut down.  Upstate New York and part of VT have been clobbered, but we are snow free.  Just very cold.

I am beside myself with the voles in the front walk garden. The tunnels are huge, and there are about 10 entry and exit holes.  The ginkgo is wobbly and tipping with the soil excavated below it. The beautiful new iteas are also sitting on nothing, and half of the itea on the right has been completely gnawed off... the branch (literally half the little shrub) is on the ground next to it.  The false cypress balls are excavated beneath.

So far I have used several bags of sharp gravel, peppermint oil, and strong smelling tea tree oil spread around the area and in their tunnels.  I have used baited mouse traps.  They ate the peanut butter but left the traps unsprung.

Last weekend I poured rat poison down the tunnels and left small bags of the poison near their trails. But it rained torrentially over the weekend, and I'm sure the poison washed away.  I will reapply more today.

I wail and I lament.  I think I am going to have to take all the plants out of the strip next spring.  Fortunately they are small (and probably dead).  I'll dig up the area and put several inches of gravel in, then cover with chicken wire, then with soil and replant.  I don't know what to do about the bulbs... the tulips can go into wire cages I guess, if any are left at all.

I was finally starting to like this strip, after fussing over what to do with it.  The tulips and alliums were really nice.  The iteas, just put in this year, were the perfect small accent.  I had such hopes.  Grrrr.

Last spring, and I added pink & green tulips this fall.  And colchicums
Spring 2010

Alliums last spring

Itea this fall before vole excavation

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Pruning

20s today, very cold and a little blustery, but sunny.

Bartlett came today to prune the maples and other yard trees.  I asked them to limb up the lower branches of the maples so we can walk under them.  They look sparse and awkward now, but they will fill in and when they reach a good size they will be nicer shade trees in the lawn.