Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break for Health and Harmony

Filigree of Star (Magnolia stellata)

Sensual flowing waves of soft risings of earth . . . like undulations of skin are the body of this land . . . it lay across from a hillside gently cutting it's Oak, Hemlock and Pine crested curves into the sky. Between here and there a waking forest climbs upslope towards each measured rise from a singing, rushing, overfull river below. Yesterday's last light hints at the golden fields and lay of  the land all clean cut . . .  revealing it's lovely form. Stirrings tingle and tickle along it's surface and beneath, as they near piercing through the mantle and long to grow towards the light. Standing outside just at dusk . . .  I imagine the sounds to come of freshly emerging blades of ghostly growth tossing aside fallen decaying leaves . . . straightaway reaching up asserting their youthful verdurous vigor. 

Today Flower Hill Farm is soggy. . . rain has been pounding hard and the wind is whipping and shaking all the trees. Shivering snowdrops and swelling buds may not mind the raw chill and wet of yesterday, today and the promise of more for tomorrow. I cannot go out in any case . . . so I do not mind all the wet . . .  but imagine all the good it is doing for the trees and shrubberies.  Later in the week the forecast is for a heat wave of nearly 80! It will not last long. I hope this invasive creature in my chest will not stay for much longer either. I have to take a break from my computer so that I can truly heal, for I am in relapse and must obey doctor's orders! Both the real and virtual garden will have to wait and I hope you will too. Please do not forget me. I hope to be back sharing my gardens and wildlife . . .  as well as visiting your worlds . . . very soon. I shall miss you! Happy Passover and Easter to everyone. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

New England is Slow to Fully Spring but Offers Other Things for Blooming Friday

 Daybreak a few weeks ago revealed heavy wet snow . . . then it all melted away and now tonight was forecast to drop more snow maybe up to two inches! I just checked the National Weather Service and they have changed the forecast to just clear and 16 degrees! Our days and nights are getting colder suddenly, as we march towards the full moon.
There are no blooms to speak of in the gardens except for the brave little snowdrops. I will introduce some images from the past. Inside the sun plays with Amaryllis shadows on the wall. 
'Apple Blossom' pink is a favorite of mine. 
Once the sun is swallowed by clouds . . .  this is what the landscape looks like today. No blooms but bright plumes! The male Cardinal is singing his heart out in celebration of Spring.

Snowdrops are pushing aside old leaves and sticks to stand as tall as they can beneath one of the giant Rock Maples.

The Bluebirds have chosen accommodations near the Weeping Cherry but will have to deal with the Tree Swallows when they return, for that is their favored house. We go through this every year.
As the sun sets and throws a wash of pink across the sky, I sneak in last years Magnolia stellata, which looks so lovely in front of the soft sky painting. She will be blooming soon!
Dusk is a favorite time to sit and watch the waxing moon and listen out for the American Woodcock! 
   Woodcocks call out from the open fields and one takes flight, when there is just enough light to find it's tiny almond shape sailing in a figure eight . . .  winging sounds and songs of rapturous melody. He sings out his grand finale then dives fast into the darkening sky nearly impossible to follow, for he zigzags his way to earth and a possible mate. I so love their return to the gardens! Spring rituals continue and warmer days coax buds into slowly softly swelling . . . cautiously moving towards releasing calyx of armor. Colder nights keep the sleepy trees and shrub's vital life fluids from rising and stretching out into their tips too soon. The gardens and forests are not still but mostly dormant . . . on the edge of slumber . . . and this is a good time to quickly finish pruning and sculpting the forms of Viburnum, Lilac, Apple, and Hawthorn. At the moment rain is lightly falling, as mist rises up from the river and races like clouds between where I sit writing these words and Walnut Hill across from the valley below. Today is March's last Blooming Friday to see other participants visit Katarina's Roses and Stuff. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Connection to Trees in a New England 'Landscape Garden'

Each new day the hills and sky greet one another wearing a new cloak of light. 
Dawn's brush strokes stretch across the canvas of air . . . creating an ephemeral painting of ever changing hues.
Hawks are moving through . . .  here a Sharp-shinned Hawk ... Accipiter striatus , eyes the ground for voles . . .  I hope! 

He may have been excited by all the activity of the Robins and Juncos too . . . my presence did not seem to make him feel welcome.
Each day I look out on the landscape and feel so lucky to live where I do. One of the reasons I have such a deep connection to my gardens is due to my love of the trees I have inherited or planted, and the spaces created between them. I truly think of my gardens and farm as a 'Landscape Garden' in many respects. Not like the great English Landscape Gardens of the 1700's, though I do feel kindred to the thoughts of Alexander Pope, who inspired designers of that era by writing . . . "In all, let nature never be forgot . . . Consult the genius of the place." and I agree wholeheartedly with his words “amiable simplicity of unadorned nature”.  Here in my rustic humble 'Landscape Garden' out in the north field a Rock Maple (in foreground) is in dialogue with a Metasequoia, Native Black Cherry and Oak. The Meta and Rock Maple are farther apart than they appear in this photograph. 
My Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Dawn Redwood' is a gift from a friend who worked in the gardens at Smith College . . . a young sapling from a mighty tree that has resided there for many years. Below is the parent of my young teenager. When I stand beneath this tree of such an ancient Chinese ancestry, and try to imagine the youngster in my garden growing to this size I smile deeply . . .  in hopes that others too will preserve it. Being planted in the north field it will hold back strong winds in the winter months. I hope I have given the Rock Maple plenty of room to spread it's lush canopy too.

My Metasequoia has aged with me over these last fifteen to twenty years . . . I have the exact date we planted it written down in a journal somewhere I am sure. Her delicate deciduous foliage adds a lovely rusty orange to the fall garden.
This sculpted native Black Cherry Prunus serotina holds a very special place in my heart, for it was found covered by briars, vines and other trees, when a dear friend died and wanted his ashes spread beneath another Black Cherry down in the woods. I could not find the other native cherry, but discovered this one and now call it Michael's tree . . .  for if he had seen it from the dormers upstairs, he would have loved it and given it many hugs over the years he lived here. This area was completely over grown twelve years ago. It was that long ago . . . his family and I held hands standing around this serpentine form in honor of Michael's life, which was dedicated to preserving the dignity of our earth.

I love this native Black Cherry and from whatever perspective . . .  it is a glorious sight in the landscape.
I look out on this view as I write . . .  now the Black Cherry's naked branches are swaying in the high winds. I recall fondly watching the Baltimore Orioles flying to and from Michael's tree as they have favored it for their nests for several years now. Mike would have loved that too. 
These giant Rock Maples (Sugar Maples) Acer saccharum stand guarding the old house and were most likely planted the time the 1790 farmhouse was built. They are majestic and have been my loyal friends for over thirty years. One of these three may be the parent or grandparent of the much younger Rock Maple shown in the first tree photo above. 

Here the Metasequoia stands dwarfed by the huge limbs of the Rock Maples . . . planted on the south side of the farmhouse, to offer shade and cooling during the summer months. I must be a vigilant steward with these powerful trees for they are close to the house. Wild Honey Bees live in the middle Rock Maple and their branches are a favorite perch for Raptors. These are just three of the amazing trees that are part of my 'Landscape Garden' and life. There are others in the gardens I will feature later and in the forest many many more. I am blessed to have the connections I do with these creatures of nature . . . I stand in awe of their stature and imagine their grandness below the earth's surface too. . . their life in darkness and light and all the years of witnessing the world around them. They are generous in how they enhance the quality of air, earth and awareness within all who grow to know and love them. They stand like great sculptures in the gardens and offer countless wildlife safe housing and nourishment. They are Nature's Masterpieces! 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Full Day Of Spring Walkabout Surprising Visitors!

The sun rises into the first full day of Spring! At least officially here in New England.
A handsome Red Fox is checking out the vole holes . . . much to my delight! 
His mate must have been in the lower garden, while this fellow was near the barn studio . . . for a young guest reported eyeing a fox about the same time, while she was in the hammock and proceeded to fall right out upon her excitement! No worse for the fall . . . but a great story for all and the equally startled vixen ran off down into the forest and over the rock wall!
This one ran off towards the north. I wish I had gotten better photographs but his tail makes them worth while. I hope the entire family will return and dine on my voles and rabbits!
If the Red Fox paused and turned around he would have seen this vista. It is the one I had a few days ago while doing my garden walkabout. The view is expanding out toward the south and Mount Tom.
Here I look over my wasteland and promise myself not to let it win another year! Sumac, brambles and bittersweet rule this slope. If I could get all these rocks moved it would be easier to maintain. We are underneath the serpentine Native Black Cherry looking over towards the lower garden and the Apple trees. I hope this is a good year and they will be filled with blossoms and then later delicious apples.
Taking a few steps away from the Cherry and looking more east we can see the beginning of the Blueberries which extend down the hillside beneath the Apple tree gateway. All of the grassy area before the Blueberries looked very much like the foreground here many years ago. 
Down in the Blueberry field looking up . . . another area to keep suckers, saplings and vines at bay. 
As I walk back up the hill this Robin is showing it's bloomers . . . not much else akin to that name is making a statement just now.
Walking up and past the Magnolia stellata I can imagine it's lovely blooms . . . coming soon!
Reaching the top of the hill just beneath the house . . . nearly out of breath! The grasses will be cut down soon. Here we see another view of Mount Tom. 
Here we are standing right behind the house . . . also known as Flower Hill Farm B&B and Retreat. We have a great view of the one hundred year old Apple tree Nate and I were working on a few days ago . . .  along with the Mount Holyoke Range. Mount Tom is over further to the right out of sight. The view is larger . . .  but for some reason this lens makes it look much smaller and farther away. Now what is that blue in the lower right hand corner!!??
The famous sky tarp... other wise known as 'tarpitis'.
Drumroll please!! The unveiling of chocolate composted manure from my neighbor's dairy farm, for the Hellebores, Peonies, Lilacs, and countless other flowering plants and shrubs. Hopefully it will all get spread about before it rains or the tarp comes out again! Wishing all a Happy Spring and Happy Gardening! 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Winter Melts Away! A Garden Walkabout!

This was what Flower Hill Farm looked like two days ago. . . with the warm days this snow may be all gone today!! Snow falls from the metal roofs and becomes mountainous in front of the house and barn.

Walking through the little Crabapple Orchard on the north side of barn.
Out of the orchard looking back at the barn studio and house.
Still on the north side of Flower Hill Farm looking southeast. This slope is filled with invasive bittersweet and sumac I battle each year... I am trying to get it to be only wildflowers but would love to plant native low fruit bearing shrubs for the wildlife. 
Walking down towards the wild looking over between White and Gray Birch towards Native Black Cherry and Apples in the distance.
There is a great amount of movement on the ground . . . Robins dot the landscape happy for the bare earth.
Hellebores are stirring and today I would guess I will have flowers standing up!
The sky is filled with movement too . . .  alive with calls and songs! I love looking for the V flying high, when I hear Canadian Geese calling out. Spring is a time of welcomed migration and exciting change.
Zooming in . . .  each little goose silhouette brings to mind various movements in Japanese calligraphy.
Now I am leading you over to Flower Hill's south side. We are standing in the lower garden and above the Blueberry fields looking out over Walnut and Carey Hill.
Looking the other way and up towards another Apple, Rock Maple and the house.
Moving out into the south field we get a larger view of the eastern hills and the Tree Swallows house! They will be back soon!!
We take a few more steps into the field and look more left facing east and the 'Bonsai Apple' Nate and I will be pruning later. We also see the Weeping Cherry and two other Apples along with the Gray Birches.
Many a year I climbed and pruned this old Apple this way, but now I leave it to my neighbor Nate.
This tree was let go for too many years . . . Nate is casting out the old suckers that were near small tree sizes! We have more to do but you can see it is much better already. Thanks too to my friend Brian's hard work last year!
You can see from the earlier picture of this view (Three photos above) that we are nearly finished with pruning the old mohawk hairdo! We will finish the job on Saturday and then move on to many more!
Here we are working on another old Apple tree. What glorious days we are having!!
Even 'Old Bob' is glad to see the snow melted away! This was a brief walk along the edges of the gardens . . . I am so happy to see all the snow melting and to have a working monitor so I can see what I am doing here. This is my offering for Blooming Friday to see other gardens with more blooms visit Katarina's Roses and Stuff! Happy Gardening Everyone!!
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