WHAT THE FOX DRAGGED IN (AND OTHER GARDENING TALES)

Gardening is happening, people. That's the main reason for my absence so far this week. We've had amazing weather recently, but no mosquitos, so I've been gardening pretty much any time I'm not at work or sleeping and it's still light out. And I've been taking hardly any pictures. That's the problem when you really get in the zone: There is no time for picture taking or coming up with blog post ideas in your head.

The Lemony Lace elderberry was looking just perfect in the evening after a rain shower. I can't say enough about this great plant that has such amazing texture and color.
Despite all the time I've spent in the garden recently, it still looks pretty shabby. The weeds are flourishing and I'm trying not to add mulch this year (it's an expense I'd like to avoid if possible this year) so it's a constant fight right now. I did get the bed on the north side of the house divided in two with a mulch path and I'll show you that once I get it planted up a bit more. I'm happy with that change.


The 'Ann' magnolia I planted last year is blooming and looking lovely. I have 'Bluebird' clematis growing up it and frankly, it's a bit overwhelming for poor young 'Ann' so it will get a pretty aggressive pruning after it finishes flowering. It will be just fine with a bit of a chop although I'll sacrifice some flowers for next year. 
The annual garlic mustard weed nonsense continues. I've done pretty good staying on top of it this year, but white flowers (which means seeds) are starting to pop up on the perimeter of the property and I always feel bad about "sharing" that with my neighbors so I need to get out there and take care of that.

I've planted very few things so far because I'm waiting for the soil to warm up just a bit more before I start plunking annuals in the ground. Most are hardening off now and I hope to tackle some of that project over the long holiday weekend.

It's still too early to plant tomatoes here, but I did get some kale, celeriac and parsley in the ground (in addition to the things I direct sowed several weeks ago). I'm trying to have pretty veggie gardens this year, so I'm trying to space things more appropriately and maintain lines vs. my habit of plunking stuff in wherever in the past. And that's why I noticed something strange in one of the raised beds last night. There was a mound of soil that I know wasn't there the day before. When I went to investigate, I found feathers sticking out.

(WARNING: Pictures of parts of birds follow)

Hmmm, I don't remember planting that.

Ew.

With hands fully gloved and tool in hand I started digging and I realized this thing was buried pretty deeply. It was big! I believe it was a chicken wing. The neighbors have (um ... had?) chickens so that makes some sense, but why in the world was it buried in my garden?


I did a little googling and apparently foxes are known to bury parts of their kill that they don't immediately consume to come back for later. There are at least a handful of foxes in our neighborhood (they are welcome residents because they keep a good handle on the rabbit and rodent population), so again, I'm guessing the culprit was a fox.

I didn't dig that hole.

I dispensed with the wing and smoothed my garden over last night. And then I came out this morning to find the celeriac a bit disturbed and a rather significant hole dug where the wing had been. Apparently whatever buried that wing did indeed come back looking for it. I so wish I had a trail camera to set up in the area. Now I wonder if he or she will be back again. I really hope this doesn't become a habit because gross, plus that's not going to be easy to grow veggies there.

That's the update from my garden. What's happening in yours? Isn't it fantastic to be consumed by gardening again?






MAIL ORDER PLANTS REVIEW: JOY CREEK NURSERY

Another mail order nursery review today but before we get to that, I wanted to share a couple photos of the serviceberry tree in bloom. the flowers are really only at peak for a day or two max so I take a photo of it every year. It's rather amazing to me that this tree was a gift from my mother-in-law the second year we had our house, which I think would make it 13 years ago.



The featured nursery today is Joy Creek Nursery, which was another place I'd not ordered from before. They are a small operation, which is the kind of place I prefer to order from when I'm looking for specialty plants like clematis. I've had great success with Silver Star Vinery in the past, but I got there too late this year and the plants I was interested in were sold out.

Joy Creek is apparently so small that they don't have a deal with the big shipping companies, so they charge you actual shipping plus a $4 handling and packing fee. They clearly stated this on their website and I emailed them ahead of time for an estimate for shipping which was close to right on. In the end, shipping was $33 plus the handling fee, so about the same as the cost of the plants.


The packing material on this one was newspapers and other recyclable material including a church bulletin. I love this kind of packing because it's such an insight into where your plants come from. It's a bit of a pain to recycle when it's all crumpled up but that is really picking a nit.

I ordered two clematis that came in gallon-sized pots and as I've come to learn about clematis, the most important thing is an abundance of telltale yellow roots coming out of the bottom of the pots, which these certainly had. In fact, when you get a small clematis, you are really supposed to put it in a container and grow it out there for a year or so until those roots come jumping out.


I was thrilled with the plants: 'Prince Charles' and 'Vinosa Violacea.' Both have been planted and are looking good.





MAIL ORDER PLANTS REVIEW: ARROWHEAD ALPINES

The plant deliveries came fast and furious last week, which is somewhat funny since as recently as a month ago I hadn't anticipated ordering any mail order plants this year.

I discovered Arrowhead Alpines from a familiar source: Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden. I swear, reading that blog can get very expensive. I went there for one specific plant that I fell in love with: Hylomecon japonicum, a bright yellow member of the poppy family from Japan. (Read what Margaret says about it here, but hide your credit card first).

The thing with mail order plants is that it's always the shipping that kills you so this tends to lead to window shopping in order to make the shipping charges worth it. I also picked up a perennial sweet pea Lathyrus vernus and a Primula kisoana.

The box came in perfect shape with styrofoam peanuts as the packing material. I don't really love those because they seem to go everywhere, but they were used judiciously in this case.


Each plant was wrapped in paper as well.


The plants had shredded paper around the roots to keep the soil damp and protect the stems. It seems to have been a very effective packing method.


I also ordered 24 bare root Canadian gingers, which is a lovely little groundcover that I'm hoping to put everywhere I can in the woodland areas of the garden because even garlic mustard cannot foil it. These came in a damp but not wet peaty mix and area in great condition.


Everything came with a nice plant tag, which is so appreciated. I was very happy with this order and thrilled to have found a source for some really interesting plants that I'd never find locally.


Last week I shared my experience ordering from Digging Dog. My friend Linda inspired these posts with her series of mail order nursery reviews. You can read hers here:  Rare Find Nursery and Old House GardensPlants Delight Nursery, Odyssey Perennials and Far Reaches Farm.

FRIDAY FINDS

Everything is running a little late this Friday, so here are some very late-in-the day Friday Finds for you.

How to create real alpine plant trough (without killing the plants).

Drawing in perspective was always difficult for me. M.C. Escher I am not. But I like this tutorial on how to draw your garden in perspective because it starts with a little cheat: Working off a photograph.


I'm starving right now, and I also happen to love dessert and love rhubarb so you KNOW that Heather's rhubarb upside down cake is going on the Friday Find list.

Speaking of food, I love pizza. That's why you'll never catch me eating this. Would you?


And if you missed it (because I posted it at literally 2 a.m.), catch the finished product of our bathroom remodel, sans countertop, which has not been sorted.

Busy weekend ahead here. I feel like I'm behind in the garden and for the first time I think I'd actually really like to hire someone to help me with the more unsavory tasks. I got a lot of good comments about this on the Facebook page, so weigh in over there or leave a comment letting me know how you'd feel about hiring someone to help you in the garden.

Have a great weekend!