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Gardening with Sticks

(post by Jason) Since we make our living with horses it’s a necessity that most of the farm remain in unfettered grass pastures. It’s fun to improve the fertility of the soil underneath the grass and watch the grass species respond. However, for someone who has a real passion for watching green things grow it’s kind of not enough. The first four years we owned this farm we were so busy building it out, moving horses, building houses and moving ourselves that I really didn’t have time to do anything that wasn’t purely utilitarian with the landscape or the yard with the exception of improving the pastures. However, this past year we’ve become settled enough, at least on a temporary basis, that I’ve devoted a little bit of my spare time to landscaping and gardening.

One of the trees I have been fascinated with since moving to Tennessee is Eastern Redbud (cercis canadensis). They are native to this region and the fencerows are full of them. Their deep purple blooms in early-mid spring are absolutely spectacular. So imagine my surprise and disappointment when I found out that on this entire farm with it’s many miles of fencerows, we only had two redbuds and only one of them was healthy. This past winter I started to remedy this deficiency by transplanting several redbuds into our fencerows, particularly those surrounding our house. Most of them took and I was rewarded for my efforts with some excellent purple blooms. I look forward to a lot more in years to come as the trees gain maturity and height. One of my other projects has been adding some spring bulbs, mostly daffodils and tulips, to the landscape. So far I have planted about 250 bulbs and I have another hundred ordered. I realize this total is far from impressive but it’s my hope to add a few hundred bulbs to the landscape each year until the results are more in line with what I have in mind. Digging holes in our heavy, dry clay loam soil is no fun and so far my greatest labour saver has been a two foot long two inch wide auger that attaches to an electric drill. Most cordless drills don’t have enough power to run the auger and in any case run it far too fast. I had to get out our oldest industrial electric drill to find one with enough reduction gears to run the auger at more or less it’s proper speed. It makes short work of an 8 to 10 inch hole! I also finally managed to find the time to add some landscaping and mulched annual beds to the front of our house. The foundation plantings are very simple; American holly at each end as well as some groupings of rhododendron, spirea and potentilla. Additionally, I built several flower boxes for the porch. This year I added red and white sun impatiens to the boxes and directly in front of the porch. It was boring but at least we had some colour. My last summer project arrived today. I ordered three dwarf crape myrtles to provide some summer interest and colour in one of my daffodil beds. These shrubs came bare root via Fed Ex and I will admit they weren’t exactly the picture of health on their arrival. In fact Melissa laughed out loud when she saw them and referred to them as my sticks. That said I’ve had great luck transplanting bare root shrubs in the past so I have some hope that if Ewen and Carter can be cajoled into leaving them alone they will be okay. Time will tell on this matter! Next on the list is adding some Southern Magnolia (magnolia grandiflora) to the landscape. Time will also tell when this gets accomplished!


Jason holdings his “sticks” that are supposedly three crape myrtles. He did plant them, Ewen already dug up one of them.

Lofty, Lotus, Faune and Romeo; I can’t believe I’m seeing a hint of fall color in those trees.


Nemo and Taco


Murphy, B-Rad and Alex

Merlin and Duesy

Silver and Gus

Rocky and Roho were being silly

Calimba, Cinnamon, MyLight, Cuffie and Wendolynn

Hesse, O’Reilly and Baner

Lucky, Lightning and Slinky

Donovan and Gus

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