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Showing posts from January, 2011

Ground Hog Day Signals Spring?

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While I will be glued to the TV set next Wednesday awaiting the weather prognostications of that most famous of all woodchucks, Punxsutawney Phil, my own herd of marmots will have to dig through an additional two feet of snow before they can see the light of day. Chubby Chuck and his kin hang out around the compost pile during the growing season, eating the discarded remnants of such exotic delights as watermelon, bananas, and mangoes, in addition to the usual fare.

They're a tough lot, though. Years ago, Chubby's predecessor grew so ancient that he had cataracts in both eyes but continued to hobble to the apple tree every day, fill his tummy, and carry one or two small apples back to his burrow. Although I was certain he wouldn't make it through the winter, there he was the next spring, ensconced in an above-ground hollow he dug out beneath the propane tank.

Last summer, one unfortunate soul had a run-in with either a car or the neighbor's fox terrier that resulted …

Gardeners, Landscape Design, Environmental, Horticultural Professionals, and Government Execs Land Ethics Symposium Set for February 17, 2011

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Gardeners and garden-related professionals, environmental consultants, and government officials won’t want to miss the 11th Annual Land Ethics Symposium, sponsored by Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve (New Hope, PA). The symposium focuses on ways to create economical and ecologically balanced landscapes using native plants and restoration techniques. By combining sustainability and attractiveness, the speakers offer practical solutions to common site problems.

This year, topics include some challenging thoughts on how the horticultural industry can meet its own needs without compromising sustainability, recommendations for landscapes associated with historic buildings, innovative approaches to restoring the ecological functions of floodplains, building biodiversity into landscape management, and making the most of the colors of natural ecosystems.

There’s always at least one speaker who sweeps you back in time and reminds you in a very visceral sense of why you chose a vocation or avoca…

Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Idea

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A bird feeder that is really squirrel-proof is something you have to see to believe, especially if you've been disappointed by baffles and other squirrel-proofing ideas that just don't work. And that's exactly what happened to us. We spend every Thanksgiving with my life-long friend who lives in Virginia. The prior year she had received a Duncraft squirrel-proof bird feeder as a Christmas gift, and we watched in amazement as scores of birds flocked to it to feed undisturbed by squirrels.

That same Christmas, in 2009, we got our own Duncraft Squirrel Proof Selective feeder, so we're entering our second winter with it and I can't say enough positive things about it. When we first put it out, the squirrels were all over it, sitting on the top, swinging from the wire cage, jumping onto it sideways from nearby tree branches, etc. We have some pretty determined squirrels here and they were used to getting what they wanted. But eventually, they gave up.

On any given day, w…

Set 2011 Gardening Resolutions You Can Keep

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One pleasant way to stay connected to our gardening hopes and dreams during the dull, gray days of winter, is to start visualizing gardening projects we're happy to complete: Gardening Resolutions.

First, re-examine unfinished, or never-started, projects from the previous year. Try to understand why those projects were not completed – did you simply run out of time, or was the project just not that important to you? We spent most of the 2010 growing season on screening our 300-gallon propane tank from view and learned that two large projects in one season is one too many.

Clear out anything, plant or hardscape, that isn't working and replace it with something that will. Gardening is supposed to be fun, not a struggle.

Next, make a short list of maintenance, clean-up, editing, and hardscape projects that can be started before the growing season gets into full swing. Start with the most urgent tasks, since there is always more work than time to complete it.

Each year, identify at le…