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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

In one of his garden projects,  Joe is designing a grassy circle of small trees, surrounded by hydrangea, rhododendron, and native grasses, at the top of the hill as a location especially for children, so they may take “hikes” and sit on blankets in the side yard and look at the big view across the river and through the trees.

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The Palisades are a terrific respite from hours of weeding and raking,  my knees stuck in the dirt, arms and legs weary from tugging and pulling on horrible, creepy, invasive vines.  It pays every once in awhile to stop looking down at the weeds and to look up and catch the larger view.   This view reaches past all the noisy leaf blowers, dismisses the roars of lawn mowers and shifts one’s thoughts beyond ones aching muscles.  When I stand up from weeding, I see the Palisades of New Jersey across the Hudson River. What a mood they provide each day. Posted by Picasa

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Mint Tea Anyone?

Pinch a couple of mint leaves out in the yard, drop them in steaming water and have a cup of mint tea.  Delicious!  It is late November and they are still fresh and green.

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Try mowing this yard!  We are working to naturalize this back yard.  We have removed all the invasive Norway Maples and are now replacing them with native plants.   Step by step, so they say.

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November Colors


Tomatoes from the garden, even at this late date. But we are at the very tail end of the survivors. 

Today, there was evidence of sleet in the rain.  It is cold and damp outside.

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The backyard needs a lot of work.  We have decided to give it a guided naturalized look.  Right now it has a look of “transition”.  Take a look at our progress.

Just kidding!!
Our backyard view cannot be improved.  However, the is a lot of work to do on the ground.

Since we cut down the huge hollow oak we are being invaded by “alien plants” that eagerly suck up the newly available open space and sunshine left by the gap from the felled oak tree. Japanese Knotwood, wild rose and Japanese wisteria are everywhere.  They are attacking all the native plants around them.  We cut out many invasive vines that were strangling a number of our baby dogwood, ash, birch and black cherry trees.  It will be months before we get it all completely cleaned up.  And we need to read a lot of books to understand what to get rid of and what to encourage.

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Naturalizing our Yard

We are taking down down our Japanese Wisteria now that we know that it is not a native to our area.  It is an invader.  In the words of Douglas W. Tallamy who wrote “Bringing Nature Home:  How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants”  Japanese wisteria is invasive to the North East and discourages native plant growth.  Also, our native insects do not eat or use alien plants like this Japanese wisteria.  This is why landscapers often refer to these non-native invading plants as “Pest-free” ornamentals.  But not only are they “pest-free” they are largely inedible to native insects and birds.

We must now try to figure out which native vine we will use as a replacement.  

Unlike invaders such as Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinsnsis), native plants sustain wildlife. Native plants do support native insects and serve as a source of food for birds and animals. 

A good book to read about how to replace invaders with native plants is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide called “Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants”.  They recommend we plant instead American Wisteria (Wisteria Frutescens) or the Kentucky wisteria (macrostachya).

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