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Jul 7

Wonderful, glorious, stunning Catalpa

There is no more glorious sight in these parts than a Northern Catalpa in full bloom.

This week was the peak of flowering for this tropical tree that has adapted to our northern climate. The first clue is the fragrance wafting over the sidewalk. Like a bee seeking nectar, you follow the trail and come across a wonderful show - dense panicles of huge white frilly orchid-like blooms, their centres delicately highlighted with purple stripes and splashes of orange. A pollinator’s delight.

If you have a lawn, in full sun, in need of a “specimen” shade tree, this is the one. Its elegant form, its large heart-shaped leaves, the long bean pods that develop in fall, all ensure season-long interest after the dropped petals have carpeted the grass below in white.Read more
Jun 29

Weeding speaks to the human spirit

I have been weeding, weeding, weeding. That’s the downside of eliminating lawn and making new beds. It’s not as much work as mowing, if you consider the total time spent over the whole season, but it’s intense at this time of year. Do it now or face a 100-fold increase if the weeds are allowed to flower and go to seed.

I started last weekend and hope to have my main beds finished this weekend. Of course this is work that’s never finished. The strawberry bed that was kitchen-table-top clean a week ago has sprouted many unwanted seedlings after yesterday’s plentiful rain – but some quick work with a hoe should take care of them. The best thing would be to find some straw for mulching.

The hoe is good for the small stuff, the growth of a few days. If you let things go any longer, especially if the weeds are in around desirable plants, you have to get a low stool, crouch close to the ground and actually pull the weeds. Lay them down in place, they will wilt and turn to mulch, returning nutrients to the soil, preserving moisture and deterring germination of more unwanted vegetation.Read more
Jun 14

Turtle time

When you sit and watch a Snapping Turtle for three hours and wonder whether she’s laying eggs, whether she’s finished laying eggs, whether she cares about your being there watching her, and when, oh, when will she move off so you can cover the nest and protect it from the raccoon mother with two kits waiting at the end of the gravel shoulder.

When you sit and watch a turtle for three hours you kind of lose track of where your sentence is going.

The setting sun catches the edge of three indentations on her shell, indicating she’s a young turtle. The indentations aren’t readily noticeable because the shell is covered with green moss that grows there while she spends most of her life under water. This time on land is a vulnerable time in the life-cycle of a turtle.Read more