Saturday, March 30, 2013

Speak of the Devil . . . er, Groundhog, That Is!

the construction begins for the new fence and stone path

It was an absolutely beautiful time to be outdoors today. With temps nearing 60 degrees, and the sun shining brightly, we broke ground today on our plans to outwit the groundhog who feasted upon our vegetable garden last summer (see my blog post from Aug. 2012). Reducing our harvest to next to nothing by the end of last year's growing season, it was a formidable foe, and we vowed to have a plan this Spring.

So we began the first step - digging out the sod around our existing raised beds. Bill and I worked on it for about three hours; backbreaking work for someone who's been somewhat sedentary this winter (that would be me). I'll probably pay for this tomorrow with sore muscles and the like. Or maybe not; come to think of it, I'm going to count all that snow-shoveling we did in February as preparation for this big dig. Anyway, we're almost done with the excavation. It doesn't look like much, but trust me - it was more wheelbarrow loads to the compost pile than I care to count.

Next will come the fence; nothing too elaborate - metal posts and chicken wire (with the wire extending out away from the fence underground to discourage any digging). Then leveling sand and finally a top layer of crushed stone to make it all "pretty." Like a page right out of Martha Stewart's playbook.

Exhausted from our progress so far, we put away our tools for the day and went inside. After a shower, we too were all pretty again, and we settled into the rest of the day's duties. But I couldn't resist one more peek out the window to admire our handiwork; the ground now dotted with robins, sparrows and other assorted birds hungrily gobbling up the insects we overturned.

Wait a minute - what's that over there by the bushes? That big round ball of fur that actually looks a lot like Jasper (one of our cats). Couldn't be him, because he's an indoor cat.

DAMN! It's none other than our friendly local groundhog, obviously out to admire our work as well, with visions of swiss chard, baby kale, and yummy collard greens dancing in his/her little head. And it was certainly not the emaciated creature I pictured first emerging from it's cave, after spending many months hibernating. Nope - it's as plump as ever (maybe even more so than last summer)? WTF??? OK, I don't want to even consider that it might be a pregnant groundhog (please, please, please, please Nooooooo).

Oh well - take a deep breath; it is the reason we're building this fence, after all . . . but somehow I have a sinking feeling it's not going to be that simple.  Stay tuned, as this saga is just beginning.
Oh, Lovely Spring!!!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Comes In . . . Like a Lamb

crocuses by the garage

This time last year, the lawn was green, the daffodils were in full force, and the cherry tree was bursting with flowerbuds ready to pop. This year, not so much. Spring is taking it's time to show it's colors. Not that I'm really complaining; this easing into the season suits me this year.  The crocuses are at their best right now; a few daffodils are just starting to bloom. The cherry tree's buds are still tiny, but they are there.

I always get a bit anxious when I start to check and see what made it through the winter in the garden. Tree peonies? Looking good (I actually trimmed off the dead wood last week). The brownish-red buds are beginning to emerge unscathed. Phew! Dodged another bullet. Honestly, most of the other perennials have still to make an appearance with the flush of new growth. They are still dormant; lying low. The warmer weather finally forecast for this weekend should jump-start things.

Last weekend, I took a trip to the Nichols area of Trumbull, and stopped in at the Trumbull Historical Society grounds. I'm embarrassed to say, I've lived in this area 12+ years, and just discovered this hidden gem a few miles from my home.

snowdrops on a lovely hillside . . .

It's park-like setting make it an ideal place to stop and have a picnic, or read in solitude under a tree. I hiked up a hill where, to my surprise, I found a beautiful apple orchard, well-tended; the trees standing like sentinels in a row.

At the bottom of the hill were a few outbuildings and a fantastic old greenhouse. It's interior was overgrown with ivy, making it look like some ancient, abandoned relic from days gone by, but charming just the same.

Across the street from the Historical Society is the Nichols Community Center. On the corner stands a really beautiful fountain. It's the Peet Bunny Fountain, a gift from the Peet family to the residents of Nichols in 1895, but I just call it the Bunny Fountain. Restored in 1992, it's a nice example of turn of the century sculpture (reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts movement and Tiffany-age ironwork).

The Bunny Fountain in all it's glory 

So with this image, I'll leave you to your Easter weekend pursuits, and hope they bring you out into your garden to enjoy the fresh air and the inevitability of warmer days ahead.
Happy Gardening!!!