Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dark and Snowy Days

  I have always rather enjoyed cloudy days.   I figure since most people prefer sunshine, someone has to like the Un-Sun, so it may as well be me. Whenever the sky is overcast, we have slightly warmer temperatures.   Besides, as Mark Twain (I think it was him, anyway) said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." 
The snow is really piling up out in the gardens, which is a good thing, for the most part.  I'm very happy with my Snowblower Trails yet; the dogs and Screech Kitty and I walk them every day.  I had to go back out with the blower twice in the past week to clear some drifting and ended up battling with the machine because all it wanted to do was climb the drift--the front end went up the snowbank and the handlebars would be on the ground if I let the machine have it's way, but never fear, I was able to wrestle it back down and keep going. 
Granite and Grasses
I think next year we'll invest in some tire chains for the beast, that way maybe it will have more bite in the snow.  Still, it's a win-win situation for me because I'm getting a great upper body workout fighting with the snow blower.  I know I could join a gym, and probably should, but it seems like there's so much work to do  that I should be able to get a bit more fit accomplishing stuff around here. 
The backyard
Another friend with a snowmobile, Eric, stopped in this weekend and went out in the Back Eight for me again.  Cody's trails had all just about been covered up by the fresh snow and subsequent drifting.  I've been going cross-country skiing at least four times a week on the snowmobile trails. 
Part of Snowblower Trail
On Sunday, I went out cross-country skiing in the afternoon, but I didn't have a good time.  It was too warm, and the snow stuck to the bottom of my el-cheapo waxless skis.  Instead of 'step-glide-step-glide' the rhythm was 'step-glide-STICK-stumble, step-STICK-glide-fall down'.   I went out about a half mile before deciding to turn back for home. 
The hill behind the Quarry...wish it looked this good in the summertime.  I love snow; it covers up all the work for six months.
I repeated the 'Step-Stick-Stumble' routine until I finally lost my balance and over I went.  Where I fell down, the snow was around 4' deep in drifts. When I put my ski pole out to push myself up it plunged through the snow and I ended up with my face planted in the snowbank. Flailing around like a carp out of water, I finally managed to regain my feet without taking my skis off and headed for home.  But then the sticky snow started building up under my heels and caused the boots to slip sideways on the skis which turned my ankles out to the side.  (It's a good thing I have strong ankles.)   There I stood with the outside of my ankles resting on the snow and my skis standing on edge; I hastily looked around to make sure Joel's game camera (or Sneaky Carl)  wasn't recording this auspicious event.  Just call me grace.  I'll never make the Winter Olympics this way.

I finally managed to get closer to home and was glad to see the barn coming back into view.  I took off my skis and walked the rest of the trail.
Bristlecone pine
Since I have Snowblower Trail now, I can go much nearer to the gardens without needing to use snowshoes or x-country skis.  This has truly been liberating for me; I know it sounds odd, but  I missed the garden walks in the winter time; I so missed the garden.  I really look forward to my little quarter mile trail every day.  Feel the burn....ok, there's no burn, it's just fun.
No sitting on this bench, too much fresh snow.

The only visitors to the Formal Garden have been bunnies, as I can't get the Snowblower down into the lower level.  I stood there and stared at this bed; it's up for renovations soon, but exactly when, I don't know.  We want to take out all the stones and start over with different stones.  Yes, the Semi-Annual Procrastinatoe Garden Rock Rotation.  (I guess I won't be needing a gym this summer, anyway!)               

I bought this tree last year at a Big Box Store, and all the tag attached to it said was 'Specialty Tree'--which could mean just about anything, right?  For ten bucks, I took my chances  and brought it home.  The evergreen has a strong weeping habit but doesn't seem to require much staking---time will tell what it turns out to be.               
Here we are on the other side of the Escarpment Bed.  When we put these rocks in place, I thought we were nuts, but now I think this is one of my favorite spots in the garden.  If we'd had the equipment, we would have gone much higher than 6' but that's all we could lift with the wrecker.

There, clinging to the side of the Quarry waterfall, is rhus typhina, 'Tiger Eye' which ran away from it's mother plant up much higher on the hill.  Yes, 'Tiger Eye' sumac runs...but not so fast to become a true nuisance.  But I like the naturalized effect on the rocks.
Here's another part of the garden that will need some looking into before the trees get too old, there are three 'Fat Albert' spruce trees here, all bought for a song and planted much too closely.  We still have some time to move them but best not wait too long, as I've been pruning them.  Their height might be lower, but their trunks will be much bigger with more established root systems since they are older than they look.  We'll have to root prune them before we move them. 

As I made mental notes about all the work that needs doing, I started to get stressed out, but then I stepped off Snowblower Trail and went over my knees in snow.  Ahhhhh.....Thank Goodness!

I headed into the house with a smile on my face.  Although I'd just looked at enough work to keep us busy for half the summer, I had no regrets about not being able to 'do' something. 

Thank God for Winter and the chance to rest up.  It'll all be there when the snow melts.


FlowerLady said...

Karen ~ Thank you for this winter tour through your gardens. It really is amazing seeing the contrast of winter and then when your gardens are in their full glory. It would be nice to be able to rest from gardening but that doesn't happen down here.

You sound in great spirits.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Karen, walking your garden with you is like strolling in a beautiful park. It was a great idea to make those trails.


gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

This was a pretty winter stroll. A lot of winter interest here.

Alison said...

I love that you took a chance on a plant simply labeled "specialty tree." You are my kind of gardener! Not all my plants are named cultivars, and I like it that way. All of my native shrubs are species shrubs.

Darla said...

Can't imagine that a gym could compete with all you do around your gardens....

Rosemary said...

Your winter wonderland is beautiful, I too enjoy the break of winter but will be glad when we start to see some of the snow melt.

Sall's Country Life said...

Karen, I love strolling around your garden...you do all the work, and all the falling, and I enjoy the scenery!! I'm really missing our house and yard, but I'm sure I wouldn't be walking around our yard either. The snow is at least 3 feet deep and the wind chill today is 30 below. It's hard to be an outdoors-person when it's this cold out!! Loved your pictures, give that cardinal a handful of seed for me (I miss all of our birdfeeders too) !

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

You have so much winter interest in your garden that all that snow looks pretty. I am quite tired of it all. Girl you are going to have such big muscles. LOL!

xoxoxo said...

Ha! Love the visual of you fallen over in the snow and then looking up with an evil glare--only to find out no one is watching :) I have DONE that myself and felt very silly giving the evil eye to no one :)))))

lifeshighway said...

I enjoyed your winter stroll and yet I feel some disappointment by the lack of sneaky-cam video.

Beth said...

Karen, Your gardens are beautiful beyond belief! Love the photos with the conifers. And, I must say that you inspired me to grow my own Christmas trees after you cut a Scotch pine from your yard this past Christmas. How cool is that!
Blessings, Beth

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Karen, You don't seem to having too much downtime with all that snowblowing and cross country skiing. I'm not moving far from the fire and the seed catalogs. Your winter garden is stunning! P x

Zoey said...

What a lovely scene for winter walks and cross country skiing. It sounds like you are getting a lot of exercise. I am envious! I just sit on my butt and watch it grow.

Sunny simple life said...

What a lovely post. I enjoy seeing everyone's snowy pics as we don't get any snow here. I love the little red barn. Charming.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Your place is beautiful with or without its outfit of snow. I am laughing at the thought of your adventures, but I'm sure you weren't laughing when you were stuck in the snow. You still have rocks to move? Oh, my!