First Day Truly Outside
25 March 2019 | 9:17 pm


This winter has not been thought of kindly in very many circles.  It just will not quit and make room for some warmer days.  Last night the temperature fell below freezing again and this ground remains hard despite clear skies and warm sunshine now.  Careful persistence did allow for some progress in creating a path for the water that is certain to come that does not include removing some of the driveway.

The pictured combination of a supporting pole and bent knees would make it appear that I read and understood points made in the stretching book that daughter Amy presented to me this weekend.  Actually this is the only way that I can reach the ground.  The ditch always fills with plowed snow and ice since no plow can clear the depression.  Recently, a maddock was used to pry away thick ice where some melt water had opened a channel under it.  Today's goal was to deepen the channel in an attempt to contain the runoff that is certain to come.  Two wheelbarrow loads of sod were removed and wheeled downhill.  An old guy must work smart.


These Snowdrops have been watched daily longing to see an open flower.  Transplanted just last Fall, the spectacular display will be seen next year.  That they are alive and trying is all that was hoped for.
Nonnative, they were knowingly placed in our wild plant garden since we need an early flower.


What is it ? is the obvious question here.  The red fuzzy spheres are sumac seed berries that the robins eat.  Near the top of the photo are two globs that feature fuzzy tops and three stem pieces form last year's leaves.  Round Lobed Hepatica is the name of this native wildflower that was transplanted here one year ago.  It has survived and has begun to grow with early Spring flowers promised.  It appears that we actually have two plants here and if that is the case they will be separated this Fall.  Soon we will see pale purple colored flowers appearing ahead of the new leaves.  Yes, these fuzzy lumps have us excited.


Royal Catchfly has proven difficult for us to grow.  A small fortune has been spent buying new plants year after year but it appears that one of last year's plants intends to grow here for another year.  The bright red flowers still seen on the plant tag should make the appeal of this plant obvious.  Cleaning up spent Siberian Iris leaves will happen when both the ground and the plants are no longer frozen.  At that time the desired plant will be gently pushed just a little deeper into the soil.


Daffodils are well under way here.  For some reason our attempts to give these plants growing room usually sets them back for two or three years but these really need to be divided.  That task will properly wait until Fall while the huge Siberian Iris in the foreground is scheduled for removal and division soon.  We have no idea just where all of these reasonably sized plants will go but space must be found.  We have not got what it takes to trash plants that will grow beautiful flowers.  That iris is huge and we are not certain that we can remove it in one piece.  Breaking off pieces is the more likely method.  Soon we will have more to do than we can possibly get done.  We have dealt with that reality many times in the recent past.

Certainty
23 March 2019 | 7:03 pm


During the snowstorm yesterday, Amy and Ed saw a large group of robins at the bottom of the driveway near the sumac trees.  Today Amy and I went for a walk to try to locate some feathers that I saw down at the gravel bank. On the way, there were lots of tracks in the snow.  When I declared the above tracks in the snow robin tracks, it was easy for Amy to believe.  The sumac berries depicted are a favored food before the ground thaws.


I thought these tracks were made by a fox due to the double register.  Amy was not certain so Tracking and the art of seeing was consulted.  She still had some doubts.


Outside the living room window later in the morning, I actually spotted a fox.  We all watched as it walked, trotted, sat, scratched, licked and then got up and walked down into the notch and out of sight.  We caught a quick glimpse of her/him heading up the hill in the woods, but then s/he was gone.


Certainty is a wonderful thing so Amy and I headed back out in the cold to look at fresh tracks that were made by a red fox.  We saw it, so we were absolutely sure that the tracks were made by a fox. These were the only tracks in the fresh snow when we visited the location of the sighting.  They do resemble the older tracks spotted earlier.


This is definitely known to be a place where s/he sat.  This isn't the first time we've seen fox taking a moment to create comfort before going on its way.

Snow Is Going
14 March 2019 | 10:11 pm


It seems that snow has covered the ground continuously here for far too many weeks.  Those of us that have lived in the Southern Tier of New York State for even a short period of time know that some snow will return but its time with us will be brief.  Today is special because we are able to see evergreen plants or new growth for the first time this year.  These Arbutus plants were transplanted so long ago that they could now pass for a natural occurrence of a native plant.  Of course, the wire covering cage that keeps the hungry rabbits from eating these tasty green leaves tells another story.


Early flowers form their buds at the end of the previous years growth cycle.  That these buds spent the winter under the snow never ceases to amaze me.  Very soon we will bury our faces close to the ground to drink in the incredibly sweet fragrance of these flowers.


Snowdrops are native to the area that includes Iran.  Their first white flowers boost the spirits so we have knowingly included then along the edge of our native plants garden.  These flowers will likely be open tomorrow.  Seeds will follow and very soon this area will be thick with  new plants.  These bulbs were moved here just last Fall.
 

Growing the elusive native plant Cardinal Flower has been a passion for us for years.  A goal is to have these plants reproduce naturally from seed with no help from us.  These new plants are tucked under a west facing stone wall.  Heat stored in the stones may help these plants escape death from late frosts.  Foxglove still locked in ice may also offer protection as it grows in front of the wall.  We shall see.

Many other perennial plants are showing early signs of life.  These next few relatively warm days shall prove exciting.  We will be outdoors breathing in fresh air while moving about to see what new growth has pushed above the recently frozen ground.  It is becoming safe to walk on ice free ground so there is no telling just how far we will roam tomorrow.


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