From Snow To A Snake

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter everyone!  It is a beautiful day here in Northern Illinois!  A great day to kick back, get out the lawn chair and take a nap in the sun…

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The garden this time of year is bright yellow with daffodils and everything is starting to green up.  The dragon’s blood sedum is red this time of year and the red leaves of the ‘profusion’ crab apple are opening up.  The bumble bees and butterflies are visiting.

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But when we woke up last Tuesday morning, April 15th, this is what it looked like.  The snow did not last long though, and soon we were back to the green color.  I think I have put the plastic hoop away for good now…

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Yesterday was a beautiful day and I planted some collards, along with some other plants.  This robin kept track of me and followed me around looking in holes I dug.  It may be a little early to plant, but collards are pretty hardy and they were very cheap, so why not! The green onions are ready to eat.

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I divided my chives and put half under my American plum trees, which are just starting to leaf out.   I also planted a hellebore under these little trees.  Here is my theory.  Last year the plums were attacked by a lot of little bugs.  If I put some smelly plants and more variety below these shrubs and leave the lawn a little high while the trees are blossoming then the bugs will get more confused or have more places to explore.  The predators will also have more places to hide out.  Basically, biodiversity to solve the gardens problems.

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I got my daughter outside to enjoy the day and she snapped a picture of me planting some mums.  It was a hot day, but I was covered up, afraid of sunburn, since I was out many hours.  You can see that the hicksii yew shrubs got a little burnt over the winter.  Luckily it was not too bad.

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After trimming some old overgrown thyme I noticed a snake moving and went to get my camera.

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Here is a close up of the head.  My daughter and I guessed it was between 12 and 15 inches long.

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Here you can see the skin pattern a little.  Looking on Google I am guessing that this is a DeKay’s brown snake.  Any snake experts want to tell me if I am on track or not?  They apparently spend a lot of time underground and eat earthworms and slugs.  We have plenty of both of those.  I enjoyed seeing this little guy and glad he has a home in my yard.

Previous postings:  I noticed that when people first visit my blog they often open the link for “Purchase Pre-Planned Garden,” which I posted many years ago.  I wanted to say that only about half of the plants I ordered in that package garden lasted past the first year.  The lavender, sea holly, and the yellow butterfly weed did not survive.  I substituted with other plants.

Food – We are eating several cups of baby kale and greens every day from the plants that made it through the winter.

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Autumn in Zone 5

November 11, 2012

We have had several frosts and tomorrow there is a chance of snow, but yesterday and today the temperatures have been in the high 60s with strong winds.  The wind is blowing down a lot of leaves.

We mulched up the leaves when we mowed the grass and threw it all in the compost.  I also put down some organic lawn fertilizer and then we had a nice rain after that.

The wind brings a lot of leaves to our back gate.  These yellow leaves have just fallen today from the neighbor’s tree.  We open the gate and push all the leaves in our yard before they blow away.

Viburnum dentatum – chicago lustre.  There are no berries on the viburnum this year.  I can’t remember if there was a weather issue that caused this or what happened.

There are still a few geranium flowers and the leaves have been pretty this fall.

This was the solution I came up with for the top hat blueberry.  I buried the pot and gave it a good watering.  I hope it makes it through the winter!  I might get another blueberry next summer!

I enjoy seeing the red crab apples from the kitchen window. – ‘Profusion’ crabapple.

Onions and chives do well in cooler weather, but seem to really do well next to the compost pile!

Food adventure:  We cooked a blueberry apple pie this morning that was delicious.  It was vegan and had a crust of almond butter, ground flax seeds and dates.  I am about to go make a creamy butternut squash soup with mushrooms.  Yum!

God’s Garden

May 6, 2012

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden….  And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.

Genesis 2: 8,9.

I am insprired by God’s landscape/garden design.  It was beautiful and also bountiful, which is what I try to make happen in my yard.  This is such a green time of year with many flowers getting ready to unfold!  We just had a quarter inch of rain and it is not the best time to garden so I will share some pictures.

Chives – both pleasing to the eye and good for food.

Now that I can recognize Red Admiral butterflies I see them everywhere this spring.  Here on Salvia – May Night, which is just starting to bloom.  The bumble bees and honey bees are getting active now, too.

Pinks – Dianthus.  I love the curly cue stamens!

Columbine – In the background are the new leaves and berries of the Serviceberry bush.

I am experimenting with planting containers this year.  This is an edible container: romaine lettuce, parsley, onions, pineapple sage and chocolate mint.  Not in the picture is a container just of leaf lettuce and spinach, that is brimming and ready to eat.

The  leaves in the compost pile were as high as the fence on the left last fall and are now reduced to some really dense good stuff.  (I just added the green sedum tops I pinched off all the sedum to keep them from getting too tall and tipping over.)  The compost and ground are teeming with life: arthropods of all kinds, bugs, slugs, and worms.  Should be good food for the birds this year.  With all this rain the mosquitoes should be appearing soon!