The Wild Lawn

Starting a Lawn after Construction

We’re building a house in the woods.  In the process of tearing down an old house, and erecting a new one, the lawn that was there has been utterly destroyed.  I loved that lawn!  I had crawled on it as a baby, run on it as a child, helped push a lawnmower around it during my youth and have spent hours lying on it looking up at the clouds or stars.  It wasn’t a conventional lush, green lawn either, it was filled with what most would consider weeds – thyme, strawberry plants, small native flowers, mosses, funky little sedges and all kinds of woodland plants.  It was amazing. Now I’m faced with the task of replanting a lawn that I don’t really want to be ‘planted’, I want a wild lawn.

Starting a Lawn after Construction

My Mother and Father put in the original lawn about 50 years ago using seed, but with only a few cuttings a year (if that), no fertilizer, herbicides or supplemental water, the native plants started to creep into the open areas and then did an outright take-over.  Would this lawn work in a suburban setting?  Probably not, but it’s so perfect in this woodland setting that I’m going to do my best to recreate it’s wild beauty.

Sampling from a 'wild'lawn

Sampling from a 'wild'lawn

Sampling from a 'wild'lawn

Sampling from a 'wild'lawn

Sampling from a 'wild'lawn

I know I’ll have to remove rocks, repair the soil that’s been washed away and then put down a base layer of standard seed, but I’m planning on transplanting plant material in from other parts of the property and tucking them in with that seed.  Hopefully they will establish themselves quickly and return the lawn to it’s naturally wild state that I love so much.

And here is a link to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on planting a native grass lawn if you have lots of energy…

Dream of Spring everyone!

 

signature

Forcing Hyacinths

At last years Philly Flower Show I was enthralled with a Hyacinth named ‘Woodstock’.  It had a deeply purple/plum color that I couldn’t resist, so as all plant nuts do, I tracked it down and over ordered.  Oops.  So what’s a girl to do with a glut of bulbs?  Force a few of course.

Hyacinth Woodstock

Worst photo ever (I was bumped I swear!), but it gives you an idea of the color I fell in love with…

Hyacinths must be one of the easiest bulbs to force (forcing is coaxing them into blooming at an earlier time than they normally would bloom by placing them someplace cold for a period of time and then bringing them out before they would normally bloom).  This is the first year though that I have chilled my own bulbs, so it’s a fun little twist on winter gardening for me.  It’s always fun to experiment!

The first step of course was chilling the bulbs for several weeks.  Hyacinths like a solid period of cold, I gave mine 12 weeks in the vegetable drawer in an old onion bag I had kept.  My biggest challenge with this was keeping my husband from tossing them.  He assumed they were a petrified specimen of something I had left for too long (honestly, he’s usually right, but I pointed out to him these weren’t moldy).  Once they had wallowed in my fridge for the appointed time, I pulled them out and potted them as you normally would.

Forcing Hyacinths

I gave them a couple inches of soil beneath their roots.

Forcing Hyacinths

And topped up with a bit of moss… I always think it covers a multitude of sins, don’t you?

They’re watered and sitting in a sunny spot.  They should be blooming in just a few weeks and perfuming my kitchen.  It’s a happy, early spring gardening treat…

And here is a link to one of my favorite sources for flower bulbs… Happy shopping and dreams of spring!

signature

The Garden in January

January in the Garden

The garden in January can be an odd place for a gardener.  In my corner of the world its generally frozen solid, possibly covered in snow and accompanied by a biting wind that precludes lingering out of doors.  My reaction is to curl up by the fire and plot and plan for this coming year’s garden.  I gather my slew of catalogs, pencil and paper and get to work cross referencing my on-going garden list of ‘things to do’ from last year and try to plot and plan my spring and summer gardening adventures.  I appreciate this time to review and evaluate my successes and failures in the garden since at the height of gardening season I’m so busy I can’t stop to even admire my hard work.

January in the Garden

This is who I stare at while plotting and planning…

Time spent assessing also helps me to get a jump on projects.  For example, this year I’m extending the veggie garden and I need a load of stone for a retaining wall.  What a perfect time of year to have that heavy truck roll across my grass since it’s frozen solid and will do minimal damage.  If I have it dropped in the spring, my lawn will be a rutted mess.  I’m also planning a couple other hardscape projects that I need to research for (stone mosaics anyone?).  It’s the perfect time to organize and start acquiring materials.

How do you spend your winter gardening months?  I hope it’s with a catalog, a fire (maybe a glass of wine) and dreams of Spring!

 

(And if any of my fellow garden bloggers are heading to the Garden Bloggers Conference in Atlanta, let me know, I’ll be there and I’d love to put a name and a face together!)

 

signature

Stone Walls in Winter

When presented with a bare, winter view there’s nothing better than a stone wall asserting itself in the landscape.  Like any good hardscape it adds necessary structure through all four seasons, but when the leaves are gone a good wall really shines through.  Stone walls in winter are a beautiful sight!

Stone Walls in Winter

The wall above was built in the 18th & 19th centuries from rocks pulled from fields.  Necessity and beauty…

Stone Walls in Winter

Something a bit crisper…

Stone Walls in Winter

Retaining wall with plants growing happily in crevices

Stone Walls in Winter

Stone Walls in Winter

Rustic steps through a wall…

Stone Walls in Winter

Not technically a wall, more piers and fencing, but I loved it…

Stone Walls in Winter

Stone Walls in Winter

Along a driveway…

Stone Walls in Winter

Double tiered retaining wall…

Stone Walls in Winter

Love this wall.  It ‘loops’ along the side of the road.  Would never normally see it since it’s obscured by foliage during the summer.

Stone Walls in Winter

Stately…

Stone Walls in Winter

Another retaining wall…

Stone Walls in Winter

Bit of character…

Stone Walls in Winter

Stone Walls in Winter

And this obviously isn’t a winter shot, but it’s still so perfect…

Summer Garden Walls

When you’re out and about take a closer look at the hardscapes around you.  It’s such a great time of year to really get a solid look at the bones of the garden.

Stay warm all of my Northern readers!

signature

Sammy’s Guacamole

Holy Guacamole!  My nephew makes some truly rocking guac and he’s shared the recipe with me…  Perfect timing if you’re starting to think about Superbowl (feel free to laugh all of you who know me)…  He whipped up a couple batches over New Years and it was spectacular as always.

Sammy's Guacamole

Sammy’s Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 Avocado's, mashed (choose ripe, but not mushy fruit and let them sit for a couple days if need be)
  • 1/2 Pint Cherry Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 Small Red Onion (diced fine)
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro (stems removed and chopped)
  • 1 Lemon (juiced)
  • 1 Small Serano Pepper (seeded, de-veined and chopped fine)
  • S & P (to taste)

Directions

Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

One of my Nephews favorite tricks, throw the pit into the guac at the end to prevent browning is ineffective (sorry Sammy), read here why.  Instead cover tightly with plastic wrap or waxed paper and smooth it down on the guac.  You need to keep air away from the surface.  The addition of citrus juice helps as well and this recipes hardy helping contributes to maintaining the vibrant green color.

And the best way to remove the pit?

Removing the pit from an avocado

Split the avocado in half and whack your knife blade down into the pit, when you pull back it will stick to the knife and pop out.

Happy New Year everyone!

signature

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Extravagant Gardens!!!  Hope 2015 is a wonderful year for you and yours!

Happy New Year from Extravagantgardens.com

signature

Shared Garden Photos

As we start to get into the heart of winter with no holidays on the horizon to cheer us, I thought I’d share a couple quick shots of my Mother-in-Laws garden to keep you inspired for those coming Spring and Summer days ahead…

Summer Gardens

Summer Gardens

Lovely, no?  She’s a fabulous gardener and also has a terrific decorating eye, but that’s material for another post…  Happy day dreams everyone…

signature

Backyard Bobcat

Bobcat( Lynx rufus)

Let me begin by saying this is not my backyard but a nearby friends.  She is also the photographer behind the lens.

This is a Bobcat, Latin Lynx Rufus.  Amazing, no?  What’s even more amazing to me is that we live 30 miles outside of New York City.  Here’s a quick fact sheet if you’d like to know a bit more about them.

I guess I have a new backyard predator to worry about with the girls…

signature

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!  Hope you are surrounded by those you love…

Merry Christmas!

signature

Finally the Shortest Day of the Year

 

Winter Sky

Winter Sky

The solstice is upon us and that means today is not only the beginning of Winter, but also, sadly, the least amount of daylight.  The good news?  It can only get better from here!

Happy Solstice everyone!  Get out and enjoy the light!

signature