Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jorene's Perennial Gardens-May 30, 2011

We've been working hard replanting the dry creek bed shade garden with hostas, ferns, hydrangeas, bleeding heart,coral bells, columbine, Solomon's seal, and other shade friendly perennials.

Another view of the shade garden and dry creek bed.

Japanese iris, hostas, blackeyed Susan, coreopsis, and purple clemantis on the trellis.

Purple and white bearded iris.

The little present Thursday night's thunderstorm left us.

A view of the fallen pine tree limb from the other side of the gate.

Native daisies and phlox in the foreground with bearded iris and bluestar blooming in the background.

Pink and white peonies with purple salvia and Japanese iris in the background.

Purple salvia, sedum, and Japanese iris in the foreground. Purple and white bearded iris with pink and white peonies in the background.

Campanula blue bell, armenia dusseldorf pride, and lamb's ear in the foreground with catmint and blue star in the background.

A broader view of the front sun perennial bed.

My favorite clematis.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ponderosa Lodge Farm interns/WWOOFers Take On Tree Tops Canopy Tour at Adventures on the Gorge (May 2011)

It poured down rain throughout the day, but we all piled into the cars and took a brief drive over to Adventures on the Gorge. There, our guides, Lauren and Read, suited us up in our gear and helmets, and we flew through the air for more than 3 hours. The Tree Tops Canopy Tour at Adventures on the Gorge has 10 zip lines, 5 cable bridges, and 1 rappel station, with each view more breathtaking than the last. We started out with a brief hike to the learning station where our guides taught us the basics of zipping, braking, and self rescuing. Then, we were off to our first zip which proved to be more eventful than I originally anticipated. Coming into the landing, I failed to brake as forcefully as necessary and crash landed on top of our guide. Thankfully, she did not kick me off the tour, and I managed to avoid crashing landing on the subsequent zip lines. Our guides also informed us of the flora and fauna located throughout the New River Gorge. For example, there is an insect that has slowly eaten and killed many of the beautiful, old hemlock trees in the area, but the folks at Adventures on the Gorge along with the West Virginia Natural Resource Division are attempting to stop the insects by providing them with an appetite suppressant pill. The third zip was a long, blind zip. In other words, we could not see the ending platform when we started the zip because it was hidden by the trees in between the 2 platforms. There were several more of these throughout the day. The rappel station at the end was perhaps the scariest and most fun. We all rapelled off a platform located 35 feet in the air into nothingness. Then, Read unlatched us from the rope and we all hiked back to the bus for the short drive back to base camp. It was an exhausting, freezing, wet afternoon, but it was well worth it. Several of our interns conquered their fear of heights, and we all left with a lifetime of great memories and a strong desire to return to the Tree Tops.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hiking Grandview State Park

This weekend, we took our interns to Granview State Park for some hiking and a picnic. It was drizzly all morning but we still got some hiking in and enjoyed the views.

The park is located outside of Beckley, WV and is only 30 minutes from our Lodge. At the Main Overlook, 1400 feet above the river, you see an active railway and the town of Quinnimont, where the first coal was shipped out of the gorge in 1873.

This is the view from the main overlook.

Liam, being a goofball.

Jorene, Emily and Rhianna are trying to catch up with Liam on the Tunnel Trail.

You can't catch me Daddy!

Finally, a good picture of Liam.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Farm Photos - April 28

The ducks, not swimming in the pond, but in a pool of water in the stream.

Grazing in the field.

Brutus, sitting in Jorene's flower beds, just waiting for me to take his picture.

This row is ready for planting, Daddy.

Rhianna and Christina planting potatoes.

Liam and Hope hunting for Easter eggs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

And so it Begins . . . Jorene's Perennial Gardens-April 2011

This Spring in our zone 5 climate has been typically wet and cool with temperatures usually in the 40s and 50s. The perennials seem to love it because they are growing at a rapid pace with some of them in full bloom already. Below, are photos of a few of my perennial beds and a description of their current states.

This is one of the two budget garden beds that are now approximately 2 years old. They currently contain Itea Virginica Henry shrubs, hostas, liriope, lambs ear, daffodils, and tulips. The Itea Virginica Henry shrubs are almost full size, but they do not have their leaves for the year yet. I removed the ajuga that I planted last year and placed it in the new garden beds on the other side of the gate. I also added approximately 100 tulips and more lamb's ear. The tulips in these beds did the worst out of all the ones I planted around the lodge last fall, mainly because the deer love them and have easy access to them here. These two beds are nearly completely filled and should look pretty nice this summer. Besides the tulips and hostas, all of these plants are deer resistant and require very little care which is essential since they are so far from the lodge.

These are photographs of the two new shade beds that the interns built for me last fall. At approximately 15 ft by 50 feet, they are large and a lot of space to fill. I have planted ajuga, ferns, hostas, astillbes, bleeding heart, azalea, and hydrangeas. Ajuga is one of my all time favorite perennials. It is a wonderful ground cover that grows in any soil type and under any light conditions. If you have any difficult to grow spots-such as the area under a large pine tree-this is the perfect choice. However, it spreads quickly and can become slightly invasive. It has a bluish-purple flower in the early spring.

The daffodils in the friendship garden are naturalizing nicely. Tulips get all the spring time glory, but daffodils are my gardening favorite for a variety of reasons. They are deer resistant. They naturalize. They are low cost or even free. They are one of the first bulbs to bloom in spring. It is great to see them after a long cold winter. To learn more about how this bed came about and my love hate relationship with it, please see our April 2010 perennial blog.

This is the shade garden that I constructed last year. With pink, blue, and white perennials, including columbine, bleeding heart, hydrangea, meadow sweet, lamium dead nettle, and foam flower, as well as a large variety of ferns and hostas, it was beautiful by the end of last summer. Unfortunately, DH just replaced the French drain along the side of the lodge; this required bringing in heavy equipment to dig a huge trench. I am fairly certain some of the perennials did not survive this abuse, so I'm starting over again. Our wonderful interns, Christina and Rhianna, constructed a dry creek bed for me. Additionally, we added a Japanese maple, azaleas and starter hydrangeas to the bed. I probably will not know for at least another month which perennials survived the big dig of Spring 2011 and which ones perished, but hopefully we can get it looking as nice as last year.

My two front porch beds contain boxwoods, day lilies, hostas, and tulips. Currently, the stars of the show are the approximately 200 tulips bulbs we planted in the beds last fall. Even though deer love to eat the tulips nearly as much as I love to look at them, most of the ones here survived and are blooming nicely.

This is my full-sun front perennial bed in which we planted another approximately 200 tulip bulbs last fall. It also contains purple, blue, and white perennials, including spiderwort, blue star, clematis, scabiosa butterfly blue, bearded iris, Japanese iris, lilies, Russian sage, delphinium, coneflower, and ajuga. It also contains a small blue hibiscus that I planted last Spring along with lamb's ear and a wide variety of sempervivum. Along with the beautiful tulips, the ajuga and white violas are currently blooming (see below photos).


Friday, April 22, 2011

Busy, busy farm interns/WWOOFers

Our interns have been very busy lately, helping with various projects around the farm. This week, Christina took over the construction of a dry creek bed in Jorene's shade garden. She may have found her vocational calling in landscape design.

First, we scraped off the top two inches of soil in the shape that we wanted the creek.

Then, she began laying the rocks Rhianna and I hauled out of the woods to form the dry creek bed.

Brutus came along to inspect and stole one of Christina's favorite rocks.

The finished product! Good job, Christina.

Meanwhile, Rhianna had the glorious job of helping me install a French drain on the same side of the lodge. The old drain was covered with clay soil and had become clogged with gravel that was too small for the drain, so we had to replace it. I had a friend with an excavator dig most of the soil out of the trench, but I still had to do some hand digging. Next, we cleaned off the masonry block with wire brushes.

Then, we painted the wall with a sticky, asphalt material that will waterproof the masonry block.

Then, we placed the perforated drain pipe in just below the foundation. I plan to cover the pipe with 1" gravel to insure good drainage away from the house.

Rhianna also mulched all of our flower beds with wood shaving that we get from a local log home builder.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Excavating for our New High Tunnel--Part 1

Today, we began excavating for a high tunnel we plan to build through a co-share with NRCS. It will be 26' x 48' and should help extend our growing season by 4-6 months each year! We're very excited to begin this as it is taking up my entire garden space. I haven't been able to plant anything yet, and I even had to pull up my grapevines and move them.

As you can see, our ground is very uneven. Getting a high tunnel with this large of a footprint in will take some considerable excavating and leveling. There is a 8' of difference from the low end to the high corner.

My friend first began removing the good topsoil that was in the garden. We will save that to put inside the greenhouse after we are finished.

Our interns, Christina and Rhianna are checking out the action.

My contractor cut at the high bank and use the fill to raise the level of the garden.

Rhianna and Christina helped survey the work and check the slope of the land. The work continued for several more hours, with more leveling and sloping of the bank.