Hopalong Hollow....

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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Poor ugly Peggy!

Poor Peggy, she was never much in the "looks" department, but thanks to an overzealous rooster, 3 times her size, she has become even uglier.
 Scrawny, shabby and small with dingy white feathers and a flopsy  comb, you would think the boys would completely shun her.
 But not this handsome Big Bruiser, he adores her and has mated with her so many times, her poor little backside is bald and scabby due to his claws. She spends much of the day hiding under a concrete table in the garden just to avoid him....but he always knows where she is, and is never far from her side. He is smitten. I have treated her raw skin with ointments and am attempting to make her a little padded vest  to protect her back from the roosters deadly talons.
Hopefully, most of my Lavender chicks will turn out to be hens and NOT roosters.
  If so, the big Bruiser can divide his romantic intentions between MANY hens and not devote all his energy and ardor to the poor dilapidated Peggy.
 And since I'm on the subject of  LAVENDER chickens, allow me to boast about my lovely patch of Lavender, which, by the way, actually does look purplish, unlike some little chicks that I know.
 A month old now, pullets and cockerels. Hmmm. I keep wondering when they will turn colors....
BUT
 in the Potager, just look at that!
  For the first time ever, my lavender patch is producing prolific blooms.
AN update on  the sitting peahen, Hettie Pepper. She didn't have the patience to stay on her two eggs, which is probably a good thing since they turned out to be DUDS.
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So now she's back to pestering the young pullets and cockerels all day long.
 It is an honor to be included in my favorite magazine's:
Early American Life Magazine
My work  was accepted in two categories for the "Directory Of Traditional American Crafts" for 2016
       1.  My Book Illustration, under the category of
 "Painting"



and
2. My  "Hopalong Hollowfolk"
 under the category of
 "Toys".
I've read this magazine for over 30 years.
To see all the wonderful craftsmen and artists selected this year, you can get the August issue at new-stands later this month.
One of my Hopalong Hollowfolk will be pictured in the Christmas issue coming out in September. 
The magazine kindly sent some free copies my way and I would love to pass out 5 of them to my readers. Just leave a comment below and Next week I'll pull 5 names outta the hat for the winners.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

We can fly!

From my vantage point on the porch, I see this  sight every summer...little birds learning to fly. What fun!
Up in that corner of the eaves.... 
is a
What a feat! Every year they add another floor.
 After a few weeks, parents entreat their little fledglings to try those wings out!
Here, I will repeat a post I did 6 years ago... because nothing has changed, as little baby birds become aviators one by one....
 Welcome to flight school.
    " Peter Pan flight school had several graduates this week as all the wee BarnSwallow babes took to the skies!

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 One by one, little birdsies held their breath and lept from the comfort and safety of their mud daubed nest and into the blue, blue skies; up, up and away! First there were 5.
 Then there were 3...
and 2...

 and 1.
But this little fellow wouldn't take the "plunge".
.
 
"I'm scared!"
Despite the encouragement of nest-mates and parents and aunties and uncles, dear little birdie number 5 remains in the nest.
 "I am ever so lonely. Where, oh where, did everyone go?"

 All of the young, new aviators swoop past  little Mr. Lonelyhearts nest, on the hour, admonishing him to:
"Come along, come along!
 It's GREAT up here, in the vast, clear skies! 
You simply won't believe your eyes!!! 
There are things called trees, and bees..... and clouds and seas!
 Other flying things to EAT, really crunchy, tasty treats! 
 Let's go!!!!!!"
 But little Mr Lonelyhearts just sits on the edge on his nest.

  This patient reporter will keep a vigilant eye and camera at the ready.... if and when birdie number 5 takes flight."
 Well , that was a few years ago, as you can see by the one-story nest. But, as I said, nothing changes; one by one the baby swallows leave the nest and swoop endlessly round and round the house with their newly discovered talent of FLIGHT!
 And, naturally, number five eventually discovers his wings.

 
 Here they are, stretching those wings and working up the courage to FLY!



Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Rose covered Cottage and native plants for your garden

The small shop and arbor were literally covered in fragrant rambling roses last month. Now, the wild white roses have fallen, but the small pink ramblers are beginning  to engulf the cedar arbor.
 There are 5 different varieties of climbing roses in this section, and all but 2  were gathered from the woods and hedgerows.
If you have native wild roses in your area, see if you can dig up a few roots and plant them in your garden, near a fence or close to a building. I planted these from tiny 5 inch roots, forgot about them, and was amazed to see the vast display this year!

It is often the plants you see by the roadside, or the "Common" so-called weeds that grow abundantly in your area, that are too often overlooked as a welcome addition to your cottage garden. 

Orange Field lilies grow in our meadow with abandon. There are SO many that I could open a lily farm ( if anyone wanted orange lilies) . If ever you come to visit me, I will be sure to send you home with a pail-full!
 James mows around them creating islands of field lilies... it almost looks like a  wild park.
 I move dozens of these to my gardens, as well.
 Orange is not my favorite color, but these happy, native plants are still a staple in many of my gardens . They are TALL, spread underground and multiply, and fill in spaces where nothing else seems to grow. They can grow so thickly that you could make a hedge with Field Lilies, if you wish. Perhaps  these grow in your area, if so, make use of them.
 Another common native is the Violet. Violets are wonderful for under-planting in ANY garden. They are fabulous short border plants and bloom twice a year.
Two more wonderful native plants in our area are the Ox-eye daisy and the black eyed Susan (not yet blooming), growing along steps with violets.
 Are they weeds? I think not!
   Now, just because you are plopping many of the same plants into your garden, that doesn't mean your gardens will all look alike, INDEED NOT! It all depends on what other flowers you combine with your natives.
  Here are oxeye daisys planted in my slope garden with bright yellow Evening Primrose, and pale yellow snapdragon. 
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And in another garden they mix with Queen Anne's lace, (another native plant plucked from our woodlands)  a purple butterfly bush and a rose.
 Here, in yet another garden, are more ox-eye daisies happily existing with Lambs ear and hot-pink colored roses.
and again, in another area, with the field lilies.
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There are many other native, wild plants you  can easily find; Joe Pye,  Ironweed, Angels bower Clematis, Dames Rocket, Buttercup and red clover. All grow freely here in the Southeast. You may have different natives in your area. Not only are these plants free, but they seed wonderfully creating even more babies and more garden choices.Take a drive along a country road, or ask a farmer if you can dig up a few of his "Weeds", if you don't have your own. Find your natives and invite them into your cottage garden.
 PEAHEN Disappearance.
I was quite distraught when both of my peahens disappeared within 2 weeks of one another. Usually, when they decide to sit on a nest, they stay within our parameters of the fence, but I could not find them anywhere.
 And then, Hettie Pepper (pealady #1) suddenly reappeared,behaving strangely. She waltzed  around the yard, honking and hooting, flew onto the roof and from there, over the fence and onto the drive. She jumped upon the remnants of an ancient fallen tree trunk, and disappeared.

 And here she is: In the hollowed out cradle of the trunk.
 Snug as bug in a rug...sitting on 2 eggs.
It's a  safe,cozy haven for a nest, what a clever girl!

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

Potager
        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.
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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.