Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Good Day from the Spring Hares!

Large hares in the making.
Available soon on my newly refurbished website; Launching this week.

 These will be the newest rabbits at upcoming shows, as well.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Potager, a favorite type of garden Part 1

        Because, in my  enthusiasm and optimism, I have 7 separate and distinct gardens here in the Hollow, I thought it would be nice to journal each one of them. In video ( coming later) and in posting, I will endeavor to share my accomplishments and failures along the way. You may have your own advice to add, or maybe, I can encourage those of my fellow travelers for whom gardening is a delight and a hobby, to partake in my version of  cottage gardening: Hopalong Hollowscaping.
    The first garden I want to share is my favorite type, a Potager, also known as a Kitchen Garden. The distinct advantage of this type of garden is that you aren't limited to any one type of plant, because ALL plants are welcome here! Animals too.

 Especially little songbirds....
in this rose bush!
Roses and catmint can grow alongside fruit trees and vines, tomatoes and Hollyhocks. A potager can be quite small, or enormous. You can grow in raised beds, pots, trellis and directly into the good earth. The style can be formal or informal.

We are very informal.
     Our Potager follows an odd path, it was designed to run along our porch and the side of the house. It has grown from a tiny 5'x5' patch, to a meandering and interesting  42'x 15' space.
 Things are  in  disarray as I've still much work to do here in this section.
In the little clay pots, I'm planting perennial seeds for my flower gardens. These are seeds that don't do well for me when sown directly into the soil.
Therefore, I'm growing them in the pots first and will transplant them when the time is right.
In the long strip of soil behind this, I am planting a "cutting garden", by sowing easy to grow annuals like Zinnia, Salvia and Gomphrena. It is great to have an experimental growing space in your Potager. This is how I acquired nearly all of my Lambs-ear and Shasta Daisy plants.
 I am SO proud of this strip of 2 year old Lavender! It is bursting with buds!

 I have learned a good deal about Lavender after killing them off for so many years. The proper soil and location is key, but there is also a little trick that will improve your chances of having good Lavender. When you plant those first year plants and they have grown about 7"-8" tall, take your scissors and CUT that plant down to about 5".  Be careful not to cut  into the wood, you are just giving the plant a nice haircut and preventing it from making blooms. If you see a little flower bud coming up, Snip it off! I know this is painful to do, but keeping it trimmed down the first year will give you a beautifully shaped, compact and healthy plant.
 A row of strawberries are growing alongside the Lavender plants.
James built a second bee haven for the Potager. I am hoping to attract the Carpenter bees into laying their eggs in the chunk of log in which I've drilled larger holes.The Carpenter bees have been very naughty on this side of the house,boring into the siding.  I'll let you know if this is successful. If you haven't built an insect haven yet, give it a try this year.
 Mounted to the wall is some cattle fencing, which makes for a great trellis. This year it will support Cucumbers and morning glories. In the bed with the bee haven is: Catmint, short Butterfly bushes  and Black-eyed Susan.

Herbs are planted in the large pots; this prevents the free-range chickens from digging into them .
These pots run along a walkway,
with little pink primrose and ajuga growing at the base of the pots and tall daylillies behind the pots.
You can be  creative in a Potager because anything goes!
  Below is the tomato trellis ( actually an antique windmill) and the ground surrounding it is being prepared for strawberries.
Speaking of Chickens digging in the garden...
 Demelza's adopted family is doing wonderfully!
Although they are still more Silver than Lavender, we love them all.
And here is a brief howdy-do from those orphaned December ducklings I raised...
All grown up and enjoying life in the Hollow.
I'll be back with more on the Potager, when it is finished.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lavender babies for Mothers Day

Good greetings to Mothers one and all!
Here in the Hollow, there is one mother that is particularly happy today.
Our ginger feathered hen
   Demelza is what as known as a Broody hen. To those not familiar with farm terms, this is a hen who REALLY wants to  be a mommy and will sit and SIT and SIT on eggs, whether or not they are viable, FOREVER. I once had a broody goose sitting on colored plastic balls for 2 weeks, she refused to budge.
Because I do not want anymore ginger colored chickens, I allowed the beautiful Demelza to sit on 2  unfertilized peahen eggs, just to keep her in that nest until the time came when My special order arrived.....
I ordered these chicks back in December, because there is something very unique about them....
 They look rather ordinary now.... although cute as the dickens!,
 but as they grow, their feathers will become more and more LAVENDER colored.
Lavender chickens!!!
In the gardens!

 Demelza needed some babies to satisfy her urge for becoming a mother.
This is why I let her sit on those devoid peahen eggs, to occupy her in anticipation of THIS very day.

The chicklets needed a mommy to keep them warm and teach them the ways of chicken life;
 so  I brought them outside, made a nest in the little shop, and placed Demelza with the babies.

Naturally, she thought SHE had hatched them, all 10 of them, from 2 peahen eggs. 
They immediately cozied beneath their new mama... she is a much nicer alternative to this:
 which is what I would have used if that broody hen hadn't accepted the chicklets.
But she did!
 Happy Mothers Day Demelza!
And to all of you mothers, as well

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our first art show of the year is behind us.

And now, it is time for the REALLY important stuff:


 Armed with numerous seed packets, promising  spurting growth and endless and delightful summer color, and 85 roots that simply thrill the mind's eye with images of 6 foot Hollyhocks and Bright blue Delphiniums spreading for yards and yards, one cannot help but be excited.

It is what we gardeners strive for; All that COULD be.

 We garden-folk are exceedingly positive thinkers;  THIS years garden will be the very best and  THIS year, the Lavender WILL produce basket's full of blooms and THIS YEAR, that penstemon seed will  really take off and those miniature pumpkins won't rot on the vine.
 Here is what I admire about those who "toil in the soil";
we don't really think of it as toil or work...even though it is. When you are digging that hole to sink the naked and dead-looking bare-root rose, you are thinking about a fabulous, heavenly scented, fat bush filled with luscious, cascading pink roses.
 When you carefully bury the scraggly looking Phlox root, give it a good drink and mark the spot, you are imagining how gorgeous those tall lilac colored bunches of bloom will look amongst the even taller pink coneflowers and the shorter blue catmint.
Scattering minuscule seed hither and yon causes you to reflect on how wondrous it will be if those red Poppies actually DO come up and bloom at the same time as the deep Blue Bachelor Buttons.....and the pale blue Toadflax. 
 Gardeners are dreamers AND doers.
A beautiful garden is a lot of work, but it is soulful and satisfying work.

By the end of a gardening day, you may be sweaty, covered in soil, and aching from head to toe... but you know that what you've done is to create a garden... a wonderful, wonderful  
When Spring arises, and you poke around those garden beds to see what has actually survived to please us all for another season, it is like a miracle!
And every day, it gets even better.
If you get 2 gardeners together, the conversation can go on for hours with talk which may seem like a foreign language to those who haven't caught the garden bug.
And speaking of bugs....
The insect hotel we built last year has been a huge success. 
 Just watch them as they work!

After all the newly hatched bees moved out, the emptied tubed were soon being refilled by more mother bees laying eggs and building walls. 
Here is the link for building this bee haven
It seems that everyone is busy in the garden, yet,
We still need a place to sit, and imagine.....
and a place to think...
about where to put that great garden prop you just discovered.
So, to all of my fellow garden lovers, let's go outside and get our gloves dirty! 
PS. WOW! Mulch was on sale today, 5 bags for$10.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A quick hello

This is a quick post, as we are heading out tomorrow for Nashville to set up our first show of the year. I've been absent, with nary a moment to check on blogs or to write one myself.
With countless garden chores, (85 roots to sink, seeds to plant) AND, the job of finishing up all the critters to take to the Country Living Fair, I haven't had a moment of relaxation.
The hare and kitty above are nearly done, so they posed for me.
Needless to say, I will still be stitching on the 3 hour drive and all night in the hotel room.
Bonnets, missing limbs, rabbit tails, etc.

 Hopefully, by the time the show begins on Friday morning, I will have 11 cats and 7 new large hares and at least a dozen  mice and small bunnies.
 Geez, I haven't even had a chance to name anyone yet!
When I get home, I will have many garden posts to share, and I will breathe a sigh of relief.
Fondly from the Hollow, Jeri

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pussycats and A newly discovered story by Beatrix Potter

 I had to take a brief time away from my drawings to prepare for 2 shows in late April. 
 I've been working on pussycats.
I have a very difficult time capturing the essence of the feline and practiced by forming 11 heads. I knew that if I kept experimenting with techniques, I may eventually get it right. Unfortunately, kitties are not my forte, but I will keep trying and trying until I have it down.

   The faces are slightly odd, with each one being completely different from the next, much to my dismay.
 I think they will be much improved when they have bodies, millinery, baskets and frocks.
 I have to admit my strength is in forming rabbits, not kitties.

 But I digress...
Speaking of Kitties. I recently learned, from a British Publication called the "Teddy Bear Times", the following:
Three handwritten manuscripts from 1914 were recently discovered in the Beatrix Potter Archives, along with a rough watercolor illustration of a black "Kitty-In Boots." The tale was unfinished due the circumstances of the time, such as the "Great War", and the manuscript was left, as is.
Below you see the little colored sketch done by Beatrix.
 With such an exciting discovery as this, it was no wonder that Warne and Co., (Miss Potters publishers from the very beginning) decided to bring this new tale to life.
Those of us who have always loved the work of Beatrix Potter should be thrilled at the prospect, but who could do the artwork that would be compatible with Miss Potters lovely, delicate and sensitive painting style?

The story-telling  and the artwork of Beatrix Potter are like a fine fitting glove. Without one, the other seems rather null and void, to me anyway. The graceful and soft paintings are one of the main reasons we love her work.
 What a task it would be to find the perfect artist, one who would compliment the story of the little black pussycat, to Miss Potters satisfaction.
     First, I think the artist should be British, and second, the artist should be someone who feels a kinship with Beatrix, and third, the artist should have the light, airy touch and talent displayed by Potter herself. I can think of at least a  dozen British artists equal to the task. 
Therefore, I must tell you that I am completely bewildered by the choice of artist.
A well-known cartoonist.
Personally, this is not the style I see in my imagination when thinking
 I think this is an odd decision by the publisher.
Meaning no disrespect to the above artist, but as an admirer of Beatrix Potter's work for over 30 years, I  protest the choice.
I am sure the  artist does great work in his chosen genre, but I, personally, would 
 have picked a Fine artist to illustrate Potters long lost story; One who could imitate her style more precisely.

Tell me,what your thoughts are on this matter, fellow Potter Fans?