Make Hay While the Sun Shines – Part I

<> Spoiler: No hay was actually made.  No irons actually struck. <>

shrubs for sale at Foundwell Farm
shrubs for sale, Foundwell Farm

The last two days were in the 60s and clear, a rarity so far this spring. Having  bought a few plants on Wednesday during a nursery field trip (more photos coming soon), I had some planting to do (this post), and a compost and loam delivery on Tuesday meant I could also make the vegetable garden bed (the next post). Reminder: click on photos to enlarge them.

My first planting task on Wednesday afternoon was to discover where on the property I could fit two hazelnut shrubs (Corylus americana), which can get 15 fewherelemonbalmpeachguild9May2014et high and 12 feet wide. I walked around and mulled this for a while, then procrastinated by weeding the entire peach guild (which really needs to be sheet-mulched, as it tends to a strange weediness — weeds I see nowhere else in the yard), digging up a large lemon balm plant (Melissa officinalis, which seeds like a weed, and for which there  exists a 43-page PDF!) and three anise hyssops (Agastache foeniculum, which seed like weeds) to move to new locations.

In fact, I was planning to plant one hazelnut next to where the anise hyssops were, and to that end started whacking recklessly into the ground with my pick axe. But I kept hitting a rock. I couldn’t hoist it. Eventually, I put down the pick axe and used my hands to remove the rock. Which wasn’t a rock — but the septic system pipe. electricalconduitpeachguild9May2014I checked to make sure I hadn’t punctured it, lying on the ground to smell for anything unpleasantly odoriferous, feeling and looking for moisture.  Seemed OK, so I covered it back up and put a bunch of small stones on it all to remind myself not to do that again.

Back to wondering where the hazelnuts would go. Still no idea. Wandered around the yard again. While I considered, I replanted the lemon balm into the new sideyard perennial bed, replanted two anise hyssops into a nearby border (one either side of a rose I inherited with the yard), and the other one in a different place in the peach guild, not far from when I removed it.

Then I planted the new elderberry (Sambucus nigra) with the other two in the sideyard bed;  the two new asclepias (butterfly weed … not sure which kind, though I suspect the orange-flowered Asclepias tuberosa) near the two I already had (which are pink-flowered swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata), in the peach guild (monarch hosts; they also attract green aphids … not good …, which in turn attract tiny little wasps and ladybugs); and the two new blue vervain plants (Verbena hastata), all of which I’d bought in the morning. The vervain should reach about 2-3 feet tall, with blue flowers that attract butterflies and bees. They like moist, even wet soil, but they don’t need it, and they like full sun, which they should get in their chosen spot (and — my motto:  if they aren’t happy here, I can always move them to a new spot).

sixlupinesinfrontbed9May2014Finally, I planted the 6 new lupine into the front yard bed, which took about two minutes for all six, they’re so small.

And then spouse came home. I met him at the car with the words all spouses love to hear, “I have a few issues.” (He was no doubt thinking, “Only a few??”)

First I showed him the septic pipe near-fiasco, and it turns out that that PVC conduit is actually what holds the electrical connections to the shed. Buried only 6-8″ deep, which is a bit shallow, but, still, whew.

Then we wrestled with the puzzle of the hazelnuts, walking around the yard, my third circumambulation on the same quest. Spouse suggested spaces just off the rock wall that serves as a property boundary, which I had discounted, thinking he would not want to mow around more shrubs there; there are already a tulip poplar tree, an apple tree, a dogwood, a euonymus and a small birch tree in the lawn that he has to dodge (since they can’t dodge the mower),  But by planting the hazelnuts near the rock wall beds and sheet-mulching them advantageously, they shouldn’t pose any obstacle. Out came the pick axe again and in went the hazelnuts, easier to plant than removing and transplanting the lemon balm had been.


Then it was time for a rest. And to admire this orange-belted bumblebee (Bombus ternarius) that was also resting, in the peach guild, while a robin serenaded us both for the better part of an hour.

‘Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.’ – Ray Bradbury


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