Tuesday, May 03, 2011


UPDATED to reflect change in identification by Dr. Art Evans :) entomologist extraordinaire. He has a regular segment on the local radio and is the author of National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America. Thanks Dr. Evans!

These things recently landed on our doorstep- quite literally!

It is called a Fishfly, from the Chauliodes genus. From the photos on the link Dr. Art Evans sent me, it looks like the Spring Fishfly.
They are HUGE. Oh and you can click on the pictures for nice BIG detailed versions!

Which makes it rather creepy to open the door and see them. Not sure why they are there, I shall have to research them.

They seem to be attracted to lights, and for some reason hang around our back door well into the morning. Weird things!
The kids are fascinated (7 year old daughter) and repelled (11 year old son) by them. But I am pretty sure that this covered nature study this week ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest Garden- Williamsburg

I meant to post this garden last year, when I visited it.  Actually I visit the garden regularly, because Williamsburg is just not that far from here and this is one of my favourite gardens!

A stroll along Duke of Gloucester Street (known affectionately as "DoG Street"), Williamsburg will show you some of the most stunning gardens in Virginia.  This is a graphics intensive post, so be patient!

This particular garden, sits outside a tiny white house, close to the entrance to Colonial Williamsburg.  I have long been fascinated with it's beautiful shaped beds and brick pathways.  The hedges surrounding the property are usually well groomed too, though not ornate in nature.

You can see the little house here.  Most of the garden is given over to herbs, and a pleasant buzzing of bees can be heard once they bloom.

My favourite garden, however, is a little further down.  This 'DoG Street Garden' also has a tiny garden centre, where seeds and plants, as well as colonial style decorations can be bought.
The costumed 'interpreter' for the garden, is a gentleman who is as knowledgeable about gardening as he is about the time period in question.  He grows food year round (inspirationally) without much diffculty!
To the left, in this shot, is a living fence.  A woven lattice of limbs!  You can't see it though, because the peas hide it.  In the centre, I believe we have some squash being grown vertically, while on the right are some melons growing on the ground.  All the plants grown here are heirloom varieties thought to have been around at the time of the Colonial capital's heyday.
Onions, strawberries and peas.  You can tell it is already getting a little warm for peas by the end of May (this is from May 31st) because they are yellowing.
As I said, they sell plants here.  This picture appears to have a small pomegranate tree growing in a pot, with a couple of eggplants/aubergines beside it in other pots.
They extend the season with cold frames and hot beds.  There is a lot of manure around, and the gardener uses it under the coldframe (buried deeply) to warm the bed up for early starts to beans, squash and peas while winter is still hanging around.
The cold frames are insulated with a layer of pine needles or straw.
Bell peppers have been transplanted outside at this point too.  Here in Virginia, and early start with tomatoes and bell peppers will get us crops beginning in June.
I am always fascinated with the garden structures used for support in the colonial gardens.  The rickety bamboo trellis here will probably house a vining green bean- they can get quite prolific in summer, and are often one of the first vegetables to produce, despite going into the ground from seed.
The whole garden is not all vegetables.  Herbs and flowers grace it too- which means plenty of butterflies and hummingbirds.
I often get overwhelmed just looking at the garden- there is SO MUCH to see!  This is the path leading past the herbs and flowers...
It really is a riot of colour, and the buzzing of bees is very prevalent.
The pleurisy root/milkweed is there for the monarchs too.
The herb bed.  There are all sorts of herbs there, and more interesting, is learning the herbs considered important by the Colonists.
Full, and beautiful herbs!  Chamomile... mint... Feverfew... yarrow.... the list goes on.
This woven grapevine is wonderful isn't it?
You can see here that it was very busy there... despite being rather early in the season.  You can see the canopied area where they sell things straight ahead.
And a different view of the flowerbed.  You can see Bruton Parish Church right opposite the garden too.
I am not sure what these are, but they are pretty!
Another fun garden structure there on the left... a woven fence.  I am not sure what the circle is for, but I am guessing more squash, this looks like the traditional squash mounds.  Then there is the metal thing holding the onions with their fabulous heads... I love those!
Here is a closeup of the fence!
I think this is a cardoon.  So many of the veggies grown here are out of style I don't always remember what they are!
These rain barrels are the main source of water for the garden.  They use old colonial style watering cans to water the garden, the ones with the gravity feed.  You can also see some of the tip and pour style here too.
Three stages in the garden- ready to harvest, seedlings and the empty patch where either it has JUST been planted or is waiting to be planted.
Potatoes in the shady spot in the garden.  Just as well really because it can get a little warm in the later part of the growing season.
Protection, colonial style.  This is a thin, waxed canvas and NOT plastic, but it follows the same principals as the poly-tunnels.
Colonial style tools abound.
You often see them using one or another of the tools.  I admit, I really liked the wheelbarrows!
Beans and onions.
Beets and parsnips.  If you look to the top left you can see bell jars- another form of colonial protection for the crops.
The colours here were amazing.  And not just the flowers either!
Here you can see the living fence I mentioned- interlaced branches of what looks to be willow :)  I am not sure about that though- even though I remember when he was weaving them I actually asked him about them!
The two pomegranate trees.  I have not done them justice in the photo because the blooms are quite spectacular.  I love them- and this is where my one came from!
The garden centre itself is a lot of fun.  Lots of plants, heirloom seeds... and at Christmas, decorations for you to make your own 'Williamsburg Decorations'.
And hats and bird houses and gravity feed watering cans... all sorts of colonial style fun!
I went round the garden again to see more!
I hope you enjoyed your tour around the Colonial Garden on DoG Street, Williamsburg!

Another Year, another Spring

Last summer was not a particularly fun one.
Long and hot and dry, my plants suffered.
It started in June.  The first week of June we were in the 90's (that is degrees Fahrenheit) and it pretty much stayed there all summer!
My plants whithered, or were eaten... and the hosepipe bans took their toll.
I am hopeful this year will be better!!

My seeds are purchased (well the early spring ones anyway) and the beds tilled over.  And if the rains stops, I can start to plant the seeds!

I thought that, in the meantime, I'd share some photos from some different gardens from last year!

coming up next... Williamsburg, May 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Garden Update

I keep meaning to update about my garden, but forgetting (although I have been taking the photos)... so here it is after a couple of weeks ;)  I hope to have another guest garden post (or two) coming up too, so keep your eyes peeled!

First up- "salad fixin's" ... quite lovely.  You'll notice the broccoli is gone- cabbage white butterflies infested them- and flour did NOT dessicate them and kill them.  They even got into the florets so no broccoli again this year.  I have to change the way I do broccoli if I am to grow it again.

 You can see here my Jalapeno Peppers from last week.  They were big enough to pick this week, and they are now on my counter ready to use in a recipe for stuffed jalapeno peppers.

 See?  Beautiful aren't they?  I love the way peppers look :)

 I have given my tomatoes new and very lovely, colourful cages :)  The idea is to stop them falling over..

This week I have some good looking tomatoes...

Both kinds of tomatoes are doing well- they seem to like the pots!

The other peppers- the poblanos...

-Which are really growing well here as you can see-

And the bell peppers, are coming along.  This was the decapitated plant remember?  Look - it has blooms :)

I am hoping for peppers soon ;)

Then there is the glorious pomegranate... with the neighbour's tree being cut down, it gets a lot more morning sunlight, and all of a sudden there are bunches of buds all over it :)

They look kind of like this before bursting into flower like the one below.

A colour that is just not captured well on camera!  Still, they are quite lovely to see :)

Another lovely (and delicious) red fruit in the garden, would be my  raspberries...

The bushes are LOADED with them!  I need to pick them and use them... but for what?  Decisions... decisions...

Their neighbours the elderberries and blueberries are growing too... but something keeps eating my blueberries.  I suspect the little brown rabbit we have seen in the garden at least twice this weekend!

These blueberries are from LAST week- this week they are gone :(.
There are a few pawpaws too... Not as many as I would like, although I suspect there are more than I can see easily ;)

The corn is also growing like mad... I like to brag that mine is the best looking corn around here ;)

It is almost 4 foot tall, and looking good :)
And my beans... they are flowering!

These are the Lima beans :)

And here are the green beans :)

Beautiful visitors come to the garden too- this is a Zebra Swallowtail on my pleurisy root.

And a Tiger Swallowtail on the same ;)  The pleurisy root is immensely popular- it is a relative of milkweed, so you know the monarchs like it too.

Some visitors are not so pretty- DD holds her 'friend' which she calls "Toady".  Toady visits us a lot- so often in fact that he has no problems with being held ;)

So that's the garden this week... more later!