Sunday, May 29, 2011

With spring in high gear and the opera production finished and the scenery put into storage, it's been all about the property and the house and getting the gardens going. It's work I love. Getting the hoses laid out for watering all the various areas we've planted is the current big job. I have well over 200 feet to deploy with probably another 200 permanently laid in the ground, feeder hoses leading to junction points from which above ground hoses lead in various directions to water vegetables, berry bushes, fruit trees and ornamental plantings.

We close down the suet feeder in the late spring, summer and early fall when our woodpeckers and flickers have no lack of sources for food. We keep the seed feeder going for the pleasure of seeing all the birds in the area come just eight feet from our front windows all through the day. Squirrels do try to get into the feeder but as soon as their weight hits the feeding platform, the feeder closes up. They usually learn in the early spring that it's futile to try, and limit themselves to ground feeding for dropped seed, which I don't really mind at all. I was lucky to catch both bird and squirrel at the same time in this shot.

For our first three years in the new house, we were free of woodchucks (aka groundhogs) raiding our vegetable gardens. There was a very big, fat and hungry one living in a burrow by Fritz's old house downhill of the Center, who would clean out any garden his office manager planted by her wing of the building, and she eventually gave up on most of it.

This spring, we began to notice that something was clearing out spinach and lettuce growing in the cold frame that's now open for the warm weather. We saw a woodchuck running from the garden into the woods one day as we drove up the hill. Then a half dozen newly planted bulbs that Fritz had planted were dug up and eaten. So he got out the Have-a-Heart trap and set it near the cold frame between the second and third raised garden beds. The bait (a half apple) was eaten without springing the trap the first day, so he got out the WD-40, got all the working parts thoroughly freed up and the next day we caught this relatively little fellow.

We drove it across the Exeter River and opened the trap in a wooded area. After a moment's hesitation, off it went to freedom -- his and ours.

The daffodils are gone by now and it's time for the iris to blossom.

This Icelandic Poppy is new this year. Since this picture was taken, it put up a brilliantly yellow flower among the orange ones. I hadn't expected two colors from the same plant.

Yesterday I went out to water the planters under the four foot-deep solar overhangs around the house and saw that large numbers of bright red beetles were mating on the stand of lilies in front of our bedroom windows. There were at least two dozen couples going at it, with one or two more today.

Everything looks beautiful. Those are red lily leaf beetles and they are a complete pain in the ass! They will defoliate your plants if left unchecked. You can pick them off. We use a dilute pepper oil natural spray. The plants seem to be unaffected, but the beetles hate it and stay off. They will mate on your plants and their egg sacs are very unattractive and look like piles of Sh!t on your leaves. Get rid of them, if you can.
Hope that helps.
Our best to you and Fritz.
Stan -- thanks very much! This is the third year we've had the lilies but the first with the beetles. Your advice will be taken!
What lovely gardens!
I am mad jealous.
The groundhogs are so cute. I hope for your sake he doesn't find his way back.
Hello Will,

What a lovely garden you have, how many acres of land do you have? this is my first time reading your blog. nice photos by the way..


Beautiful! I want to have my own garden too..It feels refreshing. Someday :)
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