Curb Appeal

Here is a link to the HGTV ‘Curb Appeal’ episode in which I participated…it aired in spring 2009. My work is featured in the second half of the show.

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Posted under Media

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 27, 2010

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A Horticulture Blog for Geeks

Via the wonderful garden blog Garden Rant, I have just heard about a new blog called The Garden Professors. It is written by a group of—literally—professors from the University of Minnesota, Washington State University, Michigan State, and Virginia Tech (my alma mater). I haven’t had a chance to really get down and dirty into the blog, but I wanted to go ahead and mention it (and Garden Rant) so that you all can check it out if you are so inclined.

Imagine…professors writing a garden blog!! From their research to our eyes! The latest info! Enjoy!

Posted under Blogs

Baby Steps

After the glorious spring-thaw weather last week, we have stepped back slowly into winter.  February can be either brutal or a one-step-forward, one-step-back type of month.  I think February is the worst month…you can finally feel the sun again, yet the air just will not let go of winter.  And it is often the snowiest time, too.

Yet the garden is taking its baby steps toward spring.  We are so lucky here in the upper South–we really do have the opportunity to have a four-season garden.  There is always something of interest going on.  Here in my garden, the Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, have just started blooming.  The Hellebores (Lenten Roses, Helleborus x orientalis, Stinking Hellebore, H. foetidus, and Christmas Rose, H. niger) are all pushing up their flower buds.  Before we know it, they will be in bloom.  I’ve seen Daffodils and Crocus pushing up.  The Leatherleaf Mahonia, Mahonia bealei, is just about to break into bloom.  I love its fragrant, cheerful, long-lasting flowers.

Actually, almost all of the early bloomers have a powerful fragrance.  Winter Honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima; Winter Daphne, Daphne odora; Sweetbox, Sarcoccocca hookeriana…you can smell all of these half a block away.  And they will all be in bloom very soon here in growing zone 7.

Once the Forsythia and Camellias start to bloom in a few weeks, it’s all over but the cryin’ (or should I say laughin’ since it will be SPRING!) :-)   It’s time to start getting outside, walking around your own garden, and seeing what is beginning to stir.  I think you will be surprised.

Winter Daphne

Winter Daphne

Posted under The Winter Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 23, 2010

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Frances Mayes Website/Blog Link

To know me is to know that my favorite author is Frances Mayes, writer of the Under the Tuscan Sun series about her life in Italy.  I have spent many an hour dreaming as I read through her books.  Her work has influenced me greatly.  She is a gardener in her own right and usually writes extensively about gardens in each of her books (in addition to cooking, decorating, traveling, etc.).  She has a new book coming out in March:  Every Day in Tuscany. Can’t wait!

For those who are interested, she has a new website link for her updated webpage and periodic journal.  Both are great pleasures.  Enjoy if you are so inclined.

http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/

Posted under Writers

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 14, 2010

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Let the January Thaw Begin!!

Here at Woodland Cottage, today the sun came out and the temperature actually climbed to a [balmy] 52F degrees!  I made my first trek in weeks around my entire garden to survey for damage from the heavy snow/ice/cold.

The ground is still mostly frozen tight, locked up; but there is a bit of thawing happening on the surface.  I’m happy to report that I didn’t see any major damage on anything–just a lot of fallen sticks and limbs.  There are a few limbs broken from the weight of the snow, but more evident are the limbs which are sagging–but not broken–from being stretched by the weight.  I’ll either prune or tie these up with strong, natural twine as we approach true spring.  I think I’ll tie up things like camellias that are full of bud–when they start to bloom, they will weigh down considerably–and I don’t want to prune off the buds now. I can prune the branches when they have finished blooming.  On other broadleaf evergreen things that are sagging–like waxmyrtles, weeping yaupons, boxwoods, ligustrums and tea olives, for example–I’ll trim them a bit at a time to see if lessening the weight will allow each branch to pop back into place.

Winter burn on leaves is a funny thing.  Sometimes, the leaf burn and damage are not apparent until the plants begin to put forth new growth in April or May.  It can be deceptive.  NEVER cut a winter damaged plant until spring growth starts and you are sure a branch is dead.  You would be surprised what is salvageable.

Also, just because we got through this freeze doesn’t mean we are finished for the winter.  Don’t be fooled.  Sometimes, the most severe damage can come from a late freeze occurring after plants have begun to come out of dormancy.

Soon, it will be time to begin appreciating the gifts the winter-blooming plants offer us.  Can’t wait!

Posted under The Winter Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 14, 2010

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The Red Fox Pranced Across the Road

It was 20F degrees Monday night and I fired up the grill at my Arlington, VA, home, Woodland Cottage.  I stepped out the door a few minutes later to put the chicken on and I heard the most awful, primal noise.  At first, I thought it might be two cats mating; then I realized that on many a spring and fall night, when the windows are open, I’ve heard that racket.  And as you know, it is very distinct!  This sounded like another type of animal, maybe hurt…or even a child in trouble…I almost called 911.  But when I came out a few minutes later, to turn the meat, it was quiet again.  That dead, muffled quiet of winter.  Very strange.

Yesterday, the owner of the landscape installation company I use, Tom, dropped by to visit some jobs with me.  We walked around the yard and heard a hawk screeching.  We looked up and there it was–a big’un.  I told Tom the story of the strange noises from the night before.  “Hmmm…maybe an owl caught something?”  “I’ve never once heard or seen an owl in the 12 years I’ve been here,” I said, and he said, “Well, I bet you have owls in these woods.”  We stood there a minute, silently, and I can tell you I still haven’t figured out what caused that awful noise.

We have lots of wildlife around my house.  The house is perched on the top of a hillside and the garden drops downhill in the back.  I live only 10 minutes from Washington, DC, and still we are loaded with animals.  Racoons. Gray and black squirrels.  Possums (Gramma used to say “Opossums”).  Lots and lots and lots of deer (they are so hungry and destructive to my garden that I put up a deer fence around my property about five years ago).  The occasional snake and lizard.  The most wonderful variety of birds, year ’round.  A jungle of loud insects in summer.  And yesterday, when I was taking some recyclables out to the can, a big–BIG!–red fox came out from a neighbor’s yard a couple of houses down, stopped, looked at me and pranced (no other word describes it better) across my street.  Not a care in the world.  He was gorgeous.  Of course, the Piedmont of Virginia is known for its fox hunting–think Middleburg–yet it is a fact that quite a few live right here close to the city.  I’m waiting to see some pups at some point.

I seem to hear the animals so distinctly now, in the winter quiet.  In the summer, all the sounds blend together into a loud blur.  It’s hard to distinguish one from the other.  Not so at this time of year.  We’ve had quite a bit of snow this winter so far and I’ve seen all kinds of animal tracks.  Some I can identify and some I don’t have a clue.  It’s also interesting to see the animals eating the snow and licking the frozen pond water for their liquid sustenance.  All I can think of right now is get me South of here for some warmth!

Posted under Animals in the Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 12, 2010

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