Archive for ‘seasons’

March 23, 2012

A Warm Welcome

Welcome back, Spring!  Emerging from my winter cocoon last weekend, I was happy to find you beat me to the punch, and found your way onto our little acreage before me.  Evidence of your arrival is all over the place…

Well, hello there..

Creeping Phlox & Crepe Myrtle

Hydrangea is back!

Clematis & Lilies

Hey, Baby Peony!

August 28, 2011

August is the Cruelest Month

T. S. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month.”  Well, I beg to differ.  In my book, August is the cruelest month.  With the merciless heat and humidity, the prolific weeds seem to be the only things enjoying themselves.  While I do have coreopsis, marigolds, phlox and a lovely crape myrtle to comfort me, I realize my garden is far from being late summer-ready.  Guess that will be my challenge to plan for next year.

This week has been quite a doozy here in Virginia.  A rare earthquake on Tuesday, followed by the news that Hurricane Irene would be a weekend guest, sent most Virginians scrambling to assess damage and to prepare for potentially more. For us, memories of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 will never go completely away.  The wind from that storm brought down twenty trees around our house but mercifully, not on it.  Fortunately, Hurricane Irene proved not to be as ferocious as her older sister, and brought more rain than wind.  Hours of torrential rain can still reap havoc, causing large trees to uproot in sustained high winds, but thankfully, we were spared this time.

This morning, I noticed the garden is bit battered.  The scorched coneflower and black-eyed Susan plants were trampled down by the rain, and the hydrangea looked a little weary. The tomato plants appeared to be in the roughest shape, but I could see no real damage.

I took advantage of the bright, beautiful post-hurricane weather, and started cleaning up the beds in preparation for fall, getting rid of spent flowers and foliage, and making room for my mental planning of next year’s garden. Today was my turn to fight back; the weeds were defenseless against my re-energized, determined hands and the rain-saturated ground that held them no more.

June 26, 2011

Savoring the Season: Berries

Summer arrived this week, and as it does every year, reminded me that it is berry season.  I got up yesterday morning and decided it was a good day to head to a PYO for some berry picking.  Strawberry season came and went in a flash this year. It was cut short by rain last month, but I managed to pick enough for 5 1/2 pints of strawberry jam, and 4  1-gallon bags full for the freezer.  Blackberries and raspberries are ready for picking in our area, and I was eager to get both.  I still have a couple of jars of blackberry jam left over from last year, but I really wanted to try making raspberry jam this year.  My raspberry dreams were dashed as I was disappointed to learn that rain has destroyed the raspberry crop. Guess I will have to postpone my raspberry ambitions until next year.

Every year, my husband and I do some marathon berry-picking.  An afternoon of both of us picking can yield a year’s worth of berries which can be packed away in the freezer. Blackberries and blueberries freeze well.  You can freeze strawberries too; however, they don’t hold their shape well after thawing, but will still taste deliciously sweet and will be perfect on top of ice cream.  As soon as I get the berries home, I wash them, lay them out to dry and then pack them into freezer bags.  I know I am breaking the rule that you shouldn’t wash berries until you are ready to eat them, but when I am trying to rush out the door to work in the mornings, it is worth it to be able to stick a container into a bag and scoop out some frozen berries and go.  By the time I get to work, the berries have thawed and are ready to eat.  That is later in the year though. For now, we will eat fresh berries until the season ends.  There is nothing better than eating fresh-picked and locally grown fruit!

There is no science when it comes to berry picking.  Although for blackberries, if you squat down and look up into the bush, you may find the biggest, ripest berries hiding under leaves that go otherwise undetected.  I would also advise bringing a bottle of water and wearing sunscreen and a hat.  Find a row and settle in to pick for a several hours or all afternoon. You’ll thank yourself later on some cold, dreary January morning when you pull out a container of blackberries at work for a little taste of summer.

Next up, blueberries…hopefully.

June 3, 2011

Sweet Smell of Summer

We had a few scorchers this week with daytime temperatures getting close to 100.  The early days of June felt more like August.  Everyone knows that hazy, hot and humid are a fact of life around here during the summer, so the longer the warm, pleasant days of spring can be enjoyed, the better.  Um, well…May had other ideas and burned her way out like a furnace, making way for June.  All was not so oppressive though.  After a hot day, the honeysuckle in bloom along the driveway seem twice as fragrant as the day cooled off into evening.  Coming home from work, I was welcomed with the most overwhelming, sweet smell of summer…

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