Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

To all our friends and family!
  May this night presage a happy and healthy year for you all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Tis the Season!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Daily Bread

In local news, Country Kitchen Herbs will be on hiatus this month. This means my Pumpkin Cranberry Bread will be in short supply, so don't call.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
For those of you who don't know, Country Kitchen Herbs is Janette Wright, who grows her own herbs - herb gardens being a topic we intend to cover another day. But for now, we want to bring to your attention what Janette does with those herbs (and other things): she makes bread - fresh baked, home made, bread of all kinds. If it's true that you cannot live by bread alone, Janette's makes the case that it sure doesn't hurt!

Janette made her way to Brodnax, Virginia (and Scott Wright) by way of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which is a story in itself. She can be found most times at the local Bakers and Farmers markets in South Hill, Virginia, and if you contact her ahead of time, she will have just about any kind of bread you desire: Chewy Bulgur Wheat, Caraway Rye, Pumpkin Cranberry, Rustic Italian, and also scones, Iced, Cinnamon-Ginger, Cranberry-Pistachio, and more. Talk about having it your way!

For those of us who have lived on Wonder Bread (alas, RIP), Janette brings a noticeable upgrade in our quality of life. 

Here is a typical newsletter from Janette. As I said, she is on hiatus this month, but will be back in January. If you would like to be on her email list, you can subscribe here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter's Cold

 When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

On that note, we continue our winter theme. Here is a lengthy and helpful article from the venerable Better Homes & Gardens, advising us about garden preparations for winter.

The short answer? Winter preparation is all about cleaning up...
As fall progresses and temperatures drop, those plants that aren't killed outright by frost prepare for dormancy. Clear out the blackened stems and foliage of annual flowers and vegetables to prevent the possibility of their harboring disease pathogens and insect eggs over the winter. The cool weather is a good time to make a cold frame, dig and box in raised beds, and make general repairs.
....and covering up....
It's important to spread new mulch now -- a thicker winter layer -- to protect plants and soil over the winter months. The idea is not so much to keep the soil warm as it is to keep the temperature even. Once the soil is frozen, mulch keeps it frozen. So if you have shade trees, convert the fallen leaves to mulch and use it throughout your property.
We've long advocated the benefits of mulch in other contexts (see here and here). But in fact, it is a prime part of Ben's Creek's winter preparation services as well (coming soon to a flyer near you!).

Read the whole article, and then prepare your yard for a well deserved winter nap.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Will the World End in Fire or Ice?

That question is just a bit above my pay grade. See Frost, R., if you have to have an answer.

But garden-wise, the question of what summer heat or winter's cold might do to our plants is right up our alley. We posted summer heat advice here. Today, we direct you to extensive advice from Fine Gardening on preventing and repairing winter damage. Whether it's snow, frost or ice (or rodents?!) that ensnares our landscapes, Bonnie Lee Appleton warns us:
Over my many years of dealing with winter damage, I have experienced just about every kind under the sun—or snow, I should say. From an evergreen shrub’s burned leaves to the total death of flower and leaf buds, winter can be a devastating season for our gardens.
"Devastating" - not a happy word. But cheer yourself up with practical tips on broken branches, frost damage, dessication, and more (including a bonus non-answer at the end on sun scald)!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

That Which Abides....Hardscape, Part Deaux!

Shoreline Repair
Lake property hardscape work is as unique as the properties themselves. Following up on this post, here are more photos of our recent  work.

New stone and retaining wall

Rip rap

Herring bone pattern walkway

Dock steps

Dublin fossil beige pattern walkway
New stone against large wall