January 2009

Happy New Year!

It's now January 3rd 2009 and this freeking snow bloody well isn't letting up any, we got yet some more fresh snow overnight.

Looking at the brighter side of things however, at least some interesting picture opportunities presented themselves in the backyard. Here are a couple of ceramic garden ornaments sporting fresh snow.

By the sounds of it we can look forward to temperatures well above freezing for the coming week, starting off with 3 days of rain. That ought to be good for some fun slush driving on the roads!

Well, weather prognostication is just that, an educated guess at best, 'cause nothin's for sure. The next night we were supposed to get higher temperatures and rain. The precipetation came alright, but the higher temperatures didn't. So, it's 1ºC or so and the precip is now falling in the form of very wet snow, as is evident from the bent-over Camelia and Rosemary.

Just for fun, to the left a picture shot Jan/11 to show what the Camelia looks like without the snow. It got quite the bending job, didn't it?

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' is not a terribly early riser -for a Hellebore- but with that snow cover for almost 4 weeks it has had a fair setback. We can normally expect it to start flowering by 3rd week of February or so, but judging by the shape it's in now -Jan/11- it will be well into March before we can expect to see any flowers on it.

It's pretty much the same for the earliest Helleborus in the yard, we've seen it in bloom as early as late November, but around Christmas time is more the norm for this one. Not his year, as you can see.

We're now into the last week of the month, and all around the yard the spring bulbs are popping up, like these tulips in the front yard. If you look closely, in the center of the picture, you'll see it isn't just the spring bulbs popping up again, the slugs are back as well!

By the looks of it, we should be seeing the first of the snowdrops opening up later this week, a little later than last year, no doubt because of the snow cover it had for darn near 3 weeks over December/January. Last year we saw the first bloom open on January 20th, this year???

One of the things we did last fall, was to add crown moulding and a set of light fixtures to the stairs and landing, as well as install what we refer to as the 'stairway to heaven' into the attic. We added plywood to the top of the joists and we now have a lot of convenient additional storage for things like all the Christmas decorations for example. A light fixture was installed in the short hallway at the top of the stairs to give much more light in what used to be a virtually black hole.

As you can see, the fixtures are in an oiled bronze finish and we thought it would be nice to take the dining room light fixture and have it finished similarly. This is where our friend Dan comes into the picture, he owns a bodyshop and agreed to re-spray the fixture we've had for so many years. We picked it up last Saturday and it's back up again, thank goodness. We didn't realize quite how much we depended on the light from that fixture, even though we don't use the dining room all that much. We're very pleased with the overall outcome.

It's the last day of the month and seeing as it was dry, comparetively balmy -8ºC- and mostly sunny, we decided to take advantage of the weather and erect one of the new collapsible greenhouses we purchased last fall. In the process we discovered that most of the straight joiner pieces -molded plastic- were ever so slightly undersized and several split when trying to join 2 pieces of the frame tubing. We toyed with the idea of using the old greenhouse structure with the new cover, but it proved to be too small a frame and the cover fit very loosely. So, back to the drawing board.

The tubing used for this frame is slightly larger than ½" and thought was given to using copper piping but ultimately we used doweling to hold the original tubing together. And that worked quite well as you can see. This structure is slightly larger in all dimensions than the one that served us for about 5 years. Now it's making a rack and populating it with the usual mix of annuals and perennials. We have found this quite a useful structure to give a late winter boost and help potted perennials break ground sooner to have them decently sized for the first of our spring plant sales, typically the 2nd weekend in April.

Well, here is the first of this year's snowdrops, a good 10 days later than last year. Better late than never though.... Looking around the yard you can witness plenty of evidence of how cold it has been. It's not unheard of for us to see the first Daffodil buds by the end of January, they're barely up this year. We'll be lucky to see those in bloom by the end of February at the rate they're going.