Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Signs of Spring

All this week it has been raw and cold...After a few warm  teaser days, winter seems like its back...And yet...it isnt...The air feels different...the sun is stronger and stays longer in the horizen...You can actually smell the earth now....Its cold, but alive out there...Its time for the first bulbs to emerge......Crocus is one of my favorites....

Im always thrilled by the transformation of winter into spring...I think of all the new things I want to put into the garden...All the mistakes of last year have been forgiven...I anxiously start doing regular garden walks to see (1) what has lived (2) what is thriving (3) and what has died....Natives plants like my summer sweet , oakleaf hydrangea, little bluestem  and inkberry are thriving, as they should be....If you want a no fuss  garden, just put in alot of natives.....But my favorites this time of year are the bulbs...If you live in a climate that can tolerate these cold hardy superstars, it is nature's way of rewarding you for the long cold winter....While humans shiver and cover up and curse the cold, bulbs are loving it every step of the way to bloom time...Sudden spring snows dont faze them...They just stunt their growth until the cold snap passes....I first saw the beauty of bulbs while living in New England...Every March I was amazed at the masses of crocus, grape hyacinth and daffodils pushing their way up thru the dirt and snow....Sometimes it seemed the worse the winter, the more beautiful the bulbs that would emerge in early spring....I first saw this early beauty called  scilla at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts 2 weeks after a blizzard that dropped15 inches of snow.

Another great thing about bulbs is that you can grow them in containers over the winter...Just add organic matter/soil, some fertilizer like Bulb Tone and plant your bulbs...Keep the pot in a cool spot like a garage until early spring and keep it watered, never allowing the soil to dry out...Around the spring solestice here in Maryland, I put the pots outside to finish the bloom time.

So however you celebrate spring in the garden, dont forget to get some bulbs..Places like Lowes and Home Depot often have bulbs grown in biodegradable containers so you can just dig a hole and plant the whole container in the ground...The "pot" breaks down in the soil and fertilizes the plant...This is good for folks who forgot to plant bulbs in the fall or had no time to get them in the ground last year.
So heres to the beginning of a new growing season.

Happy Spring!

Monday, February 21, 2011

February Thaw

Late winter is a funny, fickle time here on the Shore...One day the temps are in the 50s....The next day winter is back with a vengeance with hard blowing winds and temps dipping back into the 20s and 30s.
I love taking walks with our Cavalier King Charles spaniel  puppy Sophie during the mild spells...We look for signs of skunk cabbage and early bulb greenery. As it happened last weekend, we lucked out with Old Man Winter and took an impromptu trip to RareFind Nursery in Jackson, New Jersey to attend the annual Hamamelis Festival...or witchhazel.
My beloved grower of hellebores, Pine Knot Farmhttp://www.pineknotfarms.com of Clarksville, VA, were coming up for the event and selling their plants!..I was looking forward to an exciting weekend.

On a balmy Friday, we loaded up a rented van, packed Sophie with  her bed and food and headed for the horse country of central Jersey..We pulled into the driveway of Peacefields Bed and Breakfast  outside Allentown, approximately 3 hours later....Its a lovely place built in the 1840s with huge creaking porches, tangled wisteria.... and they welcome dogs like Sophie with open arms.

The next morning we entered a large barn at RareFind where about 70 people were gathered to listen to the talk on witchhazel..American Distilling Company from East Hampton,  CT was the guest speaker  on this fascinating plant.I learned alot about this beautiful tree that thrives well in the mid Atlantic area....More than I ever thought possible.
About 90% of the world's  harvested  witchhazel is forested in central  Connecticut..Witch hazel growing and harvesting is a family run business where many generations have worked to cultivate and harvest witch hazel...So why is this such an important plant?...Witch hazel has a long history in the Northeast US...Native Americans used the tree bark  as a salve for burns, scrapes and for skin disorders...It was also used as an astringent..They passed on this information to the early colonists..American Distilling Company manufactures skin care products using raw witch hazel...The alcohol used in their skin care products is distilled, not processed chemically...This  process gives great benefits to consumers because the distilled alcohol doesnt dry the skin like synthetic alcohols do...Toms of Maine healthcare products company is a major buyer of American Distilling Company...Some witch hazel has scented blossoms, others dont...Witch hazel blooms are protected from the fierce winter temps and winds thru a special kind of leaf curling and delicate oil on their petals.
Learning all about this made me want to drive up to Connecticut to witness the harvesting, which takes place in early late fall/early winter.
After the talk, all of us ventured into the nursery greenhouses to buy some witch hazel of our own.
It was tough choosing which kinds to bring home...RareFind Nursery  is home to about 20 kinds of witch hazel that they grow in their greenhouses...I ended up with:

Hamamelis xintermedia 'Jelena'

Hamamelis mollis 'Wisley Supreme' Chinese witch hazel...The English love this one.

Hamamelis xintermedia 'Antoine Kort', a very rare kind of witch hazel that is possibly only available thru
Rarefind Nursery...Plus it has a heavenly, citrusy scent!

Thus happily stocked with witch hazel, we spoke to the folks at Pine Knot Farms about their beautiful hellebores, which also bloom around the same time as many witch hazels....I picked out a dozen favorites and crammed everything in the car..Sophie was a trooper and shared her backseat with the plants.

When I got home I wondered how long it would be before I could get a mild day to plant the hellebores.
My landscaper friend from the Western Shore agreed to plant the witch hazel in a few weeks, along with some evergreen azaleas I managed to fit in the car.
This Friday ended up being a great day for planting....65 degrees and no wind....a perfect thaw.

I love their cheery faces and delicate petals that hide the toughness and tenacity they have in winter winds that other flowers cant tolerate..They remind me of the Celtic  pagan celebration of Imbolc, which celebrates the halfway point between the winter equinox and spring solestice. Others call this special day Ground Hog Day.

However, all good things must come to an end...A late winter storm is predicted for tomorrow, with a few inches of the white stuff...I think these babies will feel right at home.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winterthur...take me away!

Yeah, its cold and raw outside....Its about this time of year every year that  I start thinking about seeds...coldframes....growing herbs... I  harbor a strong desire for ANYTHING green!...Fortunately a beautiful estate and garden  located  in  eastern PA named Winterthur fills some of that needy void, even in the winter...

Their woodland gardens are great places to get lost...And their garden shop is filled with items to make any gardener sigh with delight...  

Sometimes its fun just to observe the raptors along the garden paths that are much easier to spot when theres no foliage...

No matter what season is happening, theres always interesting flora and fauna...

One of my favorite spots is the Enchanted Forest, where a HUGE nest invites one to jump inside...

The sweeping vista of the pond and hillside are worth the short  hike to get there....
Best of all, this magical place is only a little over an hour from where I live.....

Bunny Run Garden is surrounded by a forest of trees....so coming to Winterthur gives me ideas on what to put in a shady woodland garden...

I hope you find a  quiet sanctuary to contemplate and dream this winter.....in preparation for the warm months ahead.....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year...New Beginnings ..First Blog!

Last year, I was having so much fun reading my garden and nature pal's blogs, it really got me thinking...Why couldnt I start my own blog?.....I love to write ....and dream....and write more....After feeling quite intimidated by the process of it all, and hemming and hawing for another few more months , I sat down with hubby and just took the plunge...I have tried to be fearless and move beyond my obvious lack of technical experience  in the blog and computer  world..

So here it goes...Hello...thanks for reading my blog....Some of you may already be thinking...Why Bunny Run?...Isnt this sorta a garden blog and dont rabbits eat precious things in the garden?....Well, yes and yes....But the name just coming back to me...Ive had an absolute adoration for the long eared varmints since I was little and firmly believe all creatures have a place in my garden....My own pet rabbit  that I had at age 10 was called Bun....She slept in my arms every night......I am constantly delighted and amazed by the critters that inhabit my garden.

This delight has grown into full obsession going back from last April, when hubby and I moved from busy metro Washington DC to the woods and water and marshlands of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.....The previous homeowner  of our house was not a gardener and with the exception of some nice azaleas around the front of the house and a neglected magnolia tree in the backyard, our new 1.2 acres was bare woodlands......Our house was tucked inside the woods....Its a whole different world out here where your neighbors are often  animals rather  than people....But theres no place Id rather be and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be living here...Some places have that magnetic pull and when I first saw this place, I felt it right away...A very comforting feeling.
Even if that means starting over in the new garden (for the 3rd time) and doing all those countless  little things to settle in....A seasoned gardener on the Shore once reminded me to look at my experience as a privledge to begin the blank slate again, filling the open spaces with the plants that I love and that I am learning about every day....Her words to me were: "Deal with it and move on!"...And  even when the distance is longer to drive to places, Im inpatient at times to get things done  and my cell phone has dead zones everywhere out here, waking up and watching foxes and deer stroll outside my bedroom window, hearing the calls of birds Ive never  heard before  and watching  a resident eagle pair making a nest near our backyard  makes it all worthwhile...Last week I saw a raptor with a rat in its beak, so there is hope.
I am home.