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One tough plant. April 17, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening.
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Silence Dogood here. We’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and I share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. When cold weather comes, we haul our endless container plants, which have spent the growing season on our deck, either into the greenhouse or into the house to keep us company over winter.

The only plants we leave outside are our water iris, which somehow survive beautifully in our two frozen half-barrel water gardens, and our agastache, a mint-family member with blooms that attract hummingbirds. Every winter, it looks dead as it sits forlornly in its container on the deck. But, like the dead parrot in the Monty Python sketch, it’s “just resting.” Come spring, it’s one of the first plants to show new growth, with lovely purple-green leaves covering the surface of the pot. That’s one tough plant.

But it’s not the plant I want to talk about today. Last spring, I made up two large containers to brighten the deck, filling them with lobelia, callibrachoas (“millionbells,” the flowers look like mini-petunias), and the like. And for contrast and to spill over the sides, I planted golden-chartreuse-leaved ‘Goldi’ creeping Jenny (a form of Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, also called golden moneywort) around the perimeter of each pot.

I knew the annuals would be done at season’s end, but the creeping Jenny is perennial, so our friend Ben and I planned to plant it out in the fall. Then I got hit with a terribly tight deadline and Ben got busy as well. The closest we came was hauling the pots to the place we’d planned to plant them.

All winter, I looked at the poor pots and thought what a shame it was to have killed those plants, which are some of my favorites. Then, last week, I noticed that they hadn’t died. The creeping Jenny was making a comeback!

I cleaned up the pots today and brought them back to the deck. OFB and I bought cold-season veggie transplants on Sunday and I got some violas to brighten the front of our house and the deck. (Violas are pansy-Johnny-jump-up hybrids that look like mini-pansies: I love violas and Johnny-jump-ups, but not their larger cousins.) I’ll plant some of the violas in the containers with the creeping Jenny to add some splashes of color to our deck while the nights are still plunging into the 40s and more showy annuals wouldn’t do well.

Any plant that can survive our Zone 6 winters outdoors in a container is one tough plant. That goes for our sedums and sempervivums in the trough garden out front, too. What plants do you leave out over winter?

‘Til next time,



Please help us save our plants! April 23, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening.
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The Genius of the Weather clearly has it in for us. After temps reaching the high 80s throughout late March and April, we’re predicted to hit 32-degree-F. lows at least twice this week here in scenic PA. Okay, so we’ve kept our tomatoes and other hot-weather transplants snugged up in our greenhouse. And we hope our greens, cole crops, and etc. are cold-hardy enough to survive these unseasonable dips.

So what’s our problem? It’s that we’ve hauled out the 50-odd container plants from our greenhouse to condition them before cleaning them up, potting them up if necessary, and bringing them onto our deck for the growing season. These include everything from amaryllis, walking iris,¬†and clivia to cannas, citrus, figs, and bay trees.

Needless to say, we’ve rushed our most cold-sensitive plants back into the greenhouse. But oh God, we really, really don’t want to have to haul them all back in there! So we’d like to know what you think. Would throwing a tarp on top of them at night provide sufficient protection, or are we deluding ourselves? Please. Help. Us. Thanks!

Earth Day in the garden. April 22, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Every day really is Earth Day here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home our friend Ben and Silence Dogood share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. Between our chickens, greenhouse, veggie beds, fruits and berries, vast container and houseplant collection, and numerous ornamental beds—not to mention a heavily wooded yard with many trees and shrubs—we keep pretty busy tending our one-acre Eden. Especially this time of year! With our early spring, like many of you, we’ve really been kept trotting trying to play catch-up.

So how do we celebrate Earth Day? By sharing. Giving extra asparagus crowns, onion sets, and “walking onion” bulbs to friends and neighbors. Potting up the lush jade plants we started from broken branch tips in our in-ground greenhouse bed the previous year. (People who get them always exclaim about how big and healthy they are. They should see the parents!) Ditto for the partridge-breast aloes, the aloe vera/barbadensis offshoots, the spider plants, purple zebrinus, plectranthus, and other container plants that root in easily for us. Back in the garden, we pot up catnip for our cat-loving friends, along with peppermint and garlic chives. If people ask for horseradish, they get it. Of course, our chickens and the denizens of our earthworm composter receive special treats to mark the day, too.

We think spending Earth Day preparing our bounty to share with others is a great way to honor our beautiful home world. How do you celebrate Earth Day?