What a winter!

A trip to our favorite nursery (New Leaf Garden Market) last week was the start of the yard's "spring cleaning." We received sympathy for our wind-burned & crispy rosemary and stocked up on seed potatoes. Apparently, some folks around here plant their seed potatoes on St. Patrick's Day. We decided that might be a tad early, given that our last frost day is still weeks away. But what do we know.

One of the crispy rosemary shrubs has been replaced by a mugo pine. We needed something with a strong visual structure to provide contrast to the rampant yarrow and other feathery textures in the front bed. Neither the rosemary nor the mugo pine is a native.

We did move one native--our ninebarks are looking so good (and strong, vigorous and


) that we nudged one of them back from the path by about 3 feet so as not to crowd the path as it matures. Our chokeberry is full of itself as well, and has already decided to start "thicketing." We'll have to keep an eye on that scoundrel. Two other natives, both inkberry hollies, are looking decidedly peaked. Unsure if they were victimized by excessive moisture or wind, but will be babying them along this spring.

Last year, we grew tomatoes and cucumbers in a bed that is raised  more than 20" above the surrounding soil. We discovered that we are too short to harvest these crops from that height. So this year, the tomatoes and cucumbers will be lower, and we'll have more of a hummingbird garden in the taller raised bed. Joining the tomatoes and cucumbers on the western side of the house will be some sweet pea vines, where last year we planted sugar snap peas. That trellis just needs more flowers.

Another change to the yard is the addition of a fallen branch with nice crooked angles to anchor the back of the "meadow." It has received the approval of several birds, (example left) so apparently the aesthetics are to their liking.

A final change is one I'd like others to test for "truth." I had read a lot of reviews on Amazon for various goldfinch feeders, and a number of them claimed that they thought the yellow tops of certain tube feeders helped to attract more goldfinches more quickly. I promised myself I would paint the lid of my goldfinch tube once the weather warmed. Yesterday, we actually had a enough heat for long enough for my Rustoleum brand paint to cure. Today---eight goldfinches on the feeder. I'd not seen more than 5 before. Maybe the females see the bright yellow, go to check out the handsome fellow, and then hang around for a bite to eat (hide their disappointment). Anybody else want to give it a try? Report back!

It's Raining Again and the Water Runneth Down the Street, Carrying Who Knows What

Help Bees, Plant Trees