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The end of April is nearly upon us, and I am already behind in the garden. Late season snows and a book deadline eliminated most of my gardening time this month. As it always does, spring weather finally arrived and eliminated the snowy weather, but the most important change in my schedule results from turning in the manuscript, photographs, and photo captions for Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. It has been a labor of love, and although I still have pages to read and an index to write, I am happy the worst is behind me. I am still very excited about the book, and think that it will be a great resource for anyone who wants to garden in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Readers of Eastern Shore Gardener will be among the first to know when the publisher, University of North Carolina Press, gives us a publication date!

Uvularia-grandiflora

Above: Great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) a native woodland wildflower.

For me, playing catch-up in spring means weeding. I am trying to keep hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) and ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) from taking over.  I am also lifting and dividing a few perennials and teasing self-sown seedlings out of the ground for potting up to give as gifts or donate to local plant sales. (You know who you are, shoot me an e-mail!) My favorites this year are seedlings of great merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora). My original plant came from my mother’s garden, and it has spread nicely. In addition to enlarging by politely spreading rhizomes, seedlings appear around the original clump. I also have spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) everywhere. These are trickier to dig because their corms are deep in the soil and it is easy to miss them with a spade.

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As the holidays approach, I wanted to post information about a wonderful new tool that has recently earned a place in my permanent arsenal. I first read about it in my friend Nancy Ondra’s blog, http://hayefield.com/ in a recent post of her’s titled Shear Genius. Nancy doesn’t post about anything that is not up to snuff, and I ordered a pair right away. I’ve now had a chance for a garden test, and they do not disappoint.

Jakoti-shears

Cutting back clumps of perennials has always been a tedious chore, but my new pair of Jakoti Hand Shears makes it easy. Just grasp the clump (or at least part of it) in one hand and chop with the other. The blades are made of carbon steel, and the shears have a heavy, well-made feel in hand. (The picture above doesn’t quite do the shears  justice, since it involved holding a camera in one hand.) See Nancy’s blog for more pictures and information about the tool. (Note that I am not getting any kind of kickback for my endorsement!)

Nancy’s brother Tim brought them to her attention.  In addition to playing ice hockey and training goalkeepers, he has been a professional gardener for over 25 years. He was so impressed by these English-made shears, he is selling them. (They aren’t available otherwise in this country.) They cost $58, including shipping. To order, contact him at http://jakotihandshears.com/

Think about ordering a pair for yourself or for a gardening friend. You won’t regret adding them to your arsenal.

Mom’s Garden

I don’t have a light and cheerful lead sentence for this post, because it centers on the fact that my mother died recently. She passed away unexpectedly on August 17, and her death will cause fundamental change in the lives of all her children and grandchildren, along with her first great-grandchild, Charlotte, a.k.a. Charlie, who joined our family just barely a year ago. As I was pulling weeds in mom’s backyard a day before the funeral, I realized that her death also begins the inevitable separation of our gardens.

Mom's-Garden

ABOVE: The sunniest part of mom’s garden, located on the edge of her woods, is cram-packed with hostas, ferns bear’s breeches (Acanthus spp.), peonies, and more.

Surprisingly, thinking about our life-long connection as gardeners, and not just as mother and daughter, brought more comfort than sadness. It also yielded insight into the plants I love and why I garden the way I do. Continue Reading »

Last weekend was very exciting—box turtle-wise, that is. Saturday night (7/29), friends who were exploring my front garden came indoors to report that a female box turtle was digging a nest along the front of the garden. We all piled out to get a glimpse, keeping a respectful distance, of course.

Turtle-first-hole

Above: First attempt, Saturday night through a carpet of thyme.

She was still working on the hole when my husband and I went to bed that night. In the morning, I was disappointed to find the empty hole, which wasn’t filled in as I expected. I did a bit of research, and found that turtles commonly dig one or more test holes and then abandon them for unknown reasons. Experts speculate that they find the soil conditions unacceptable.

Happily, she returned Sunday evening at about 6:00 p.m. and began to dig a second hole in a new location.

Turtle-nest-side

Above: The start of her second, successful, nest. You can see the hole just beneath her left rear leg.

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Thus far on Eastern Shore Gardener I have recommended plants, but today I am posting my first product endorsement. After an evening of working in the Victory Farm Community Garden, I discovered I had  once again been attacked by one of the Eastern Shore’s most frustrating pests: Chiggers. That evening I had a new row of welts around the top of each of my socks, plus bites in a few other choice locations. As every gardener who has been bitten knows, I was facing weeks of itchy bites that never seem to go away.

Chigg-Away

The next morning I walked into one of Chestertown’s local community pharmacies, Stam Drugs, to pick up a prescription. Almost just to make conversation, I asked what they had for chigger bites. You see, I thought I had already tried everything and the chain drugstores seem to all carry the same, uneffective products.  The woman behind the counter pointed to a nearby shelf, and recommended a product called Chigg Away. For the vast sum of $6.99, I decided it was worth a try. (I also bought a new container of Afterbite, an ammonia-based product, that until now was the best treatment I had found to date.)

When I got home, I applied Chigg Away to all my welts, and the itching simply stopped. Really, it just stopped. None of the other products I have ever tried have been anywhere near as effective. Although I applied it once more the following morning when I felt a bit of reoccurring tingling,  a single application was actually all I really needed.

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I hope you’ll join me at Unity Nursery in Church Hill, Maryland this Saturday, June 15, 2013 for Adkins Arboretum Day.  There are speakers scheduled throughout the day, plus plenty of opportunity to tour the nursery, which specializes in ecologically sensitive and functional outdoor spaces. If you haven’t been there yet, they have great garden ornaments and a wide selection of native plants.

Meadow-runoff

Meadow runoff. Spend the day learning about ways to make your garden and landscape more Bay friendly by reducing runoff, attracting wildlife, and much more!

 

I am scheduled to give a talk at 2:00 p.m. titled titled “Sustainable Gardens and Landscapes: One Step at a Time” that is based on my upcoming book Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. During the day, I hope I can meet some readers of Eastern Shore Gardener! (If we haven’t met yet, look for the person accompanied by a small black-and-white dog. I will be coming straight from a puppy class I teach on Saturday mornings, and Bing, my demo dog, is happy to announce that he will be with me for the day.)

Other speakers include Robyn Affron, Master Naturalist from Adkins Arboretum,  “Wildlife Gardening”  at 11:30 a.m.; Nancy Robson, garden writer and author, “Garden Stormwater Management” at 12:30; Neenah Newell, Landscape Designer at Unity Church Hill Nursery, “Wall Pocket Gardening” at 1:15 p.m.; and Michael Jensen, President, Unity Church Hill Nursery and Unity Landscape Design/Build, “Shoreline and Erosion Control on Waterfront Properties” at 3:00 p.m.

Hours for the event are 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Unity Church Hill Nursery is located on Route 213, south of Church Hill. The address is 3621 Church Hill Road, Church Hill, Maryland. Phone: 410-556-6010. Hope to see you there!

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, but I wanted to share a picture of my husband’s latest welding endeavor. His welded boats and trellises have periodically appeared in photos of my garden, and he has recently begun making flowers as part of his garden sculpture experiments. The daisies below are his latest.

Welded-Daisies

Above: Welded Daisies by Peter T. Evans, a.k.a. the Mad Welder!

He is donating this piece to the silent auction to be held June 9 for the “Art in Bloom” fundraiser held by RiverArts and Community Mediation in Chestertown. The piece is 4 feet tall and 20 inches wide. I hope some Eastern Shore Gardeners will attend the benefit and bid on it!

Also, in case anyone is interested, I am donating a collection of plant divisions (at least 5)  from my garden to the silent auction. Divisions will be selected to suit the winner’s garden.  I hope some of you will bid on that as well!

Hope to see some of you at the reception. For more information, click here: Art in Bloom!

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