Baby, it’s wet outside! Still puttering in Helen’s Haven

Baby, it’s wet outside! Yet, I’m still puttering along.

Oh sure, other than laying the mulch, most of what I’ve been doing could wait.  However, I like to be outside, visiting my garden and generally feeling nature all around me.

The birds take flight as I walk down the garden paths.  They know I’m their friend.  They don’t leave out of fear, but rather, then know I like the sound and motion of their comings and goings.  I put water out; Aster cracks the ice each morning so the water is accessible.  We put out feed so we can watch them up close.

The squirrels, on the other hand, know they are my foe.  It’s not that I don’t like their antics, I do, but not in competition with the birds.  I’ve tried giving them their own feed, but they seem to want what others have.  They don’t play nicely.  I still have 3 that my Haveaheart are waiting to catch so I can relocate to the neighboring park.

The lone deer that showed up this summer has yet to return.  Well, it’s not as if there was anything left after his/her short visit.  Helen’s Haven is inside-the-beltline of Raleigh.  One would not think we would have a deer problem.  But about a mile away, just outside-the-beltline is a new development.  This development is near Crabtree Valley Mall.  I’m not sure what took so long for this prime piece of land to be developed, but it did.  I have a client who lives there.  That development, displaced many deer.  Hopefully they found their way to the Country Club across the street.  I believe deer live there.

As you may have seen in an earlier post, I blanketed Helen’s Haven with 20 cubic yards of composted leaf mulch.  Good stuff.  I hired 2 kids to help.  We got it all done in a day.  I could barely roll over in my sleep that night and was feeling it all through the next day.  Remarkably, I was only good and sore for one day; the next day I was only moderately sore.  december-25-2008-089

Before the mulch could be laid, several areas of the garden needed to be addressed.  Here’s what went on in Helen’s Haven this week:

  • Pruned ‘Brown Turkey’ fig.  I only did it enough to be able to access around it to lay mulch.  I’m not a fan of January pruning for fear that warm days in January, that fifth season, where we have a fist full of warm days in the dark days of winter.  But a girl’s gotta to do what a girl’s gotta do.  In the spring, I will prune her a lot more.
  • Found a nice pegged fig branch, ripe for digging.  Dug it up, potted it up and put into the holding area for the first person to come along wanting one.  As it happened, Heather, one of my mulch helpers claimed it within 6 hours; it went home with Heather.
  • Cut back all Buddleja.  Unlike the fig, now is a good time to cut back butterfly bushes.
  • Cut down the Native dogwood we lost in the drought of 2007.  I left the trunks; not sure why; I guess I figured I would do something with it, add a vine, a bird feeding station, or just to hand the hose….just kidding.
  • Pruned the cross vine. january-2-2009-010Actually Heather,  pruned it.  Heather, only 18 and one of the volunteers I work with to maintain the butterfly garden at the JCRA, is a great pruner.  Her attention to detail will want me to have her do all my pruning.  Heather worked as the advance team while Brian and I delivered mulch, one wheel barrel at a time.
  • Cut back lemon grass.  This was my first year growing it.  I loved it and will grown it again.  It was fun to walk by, pick a piece and crush and sniff.  I was talking to a grass guy, as in ornamental grass, who was telling me about another grass guy who spread lemon grass on the floor of his booth space during a conference.  The image was delightful, and I cold smell it as he told the story.
  • The Shasta’s also needed cutting back…mostly deadheading.  The plant itself, had nice green tuffs showing, but there were sticks sticking out from being deadheaded long a go.
  • Mowed.  This helped to get up the last of the leaves.  Then the winds came with a front, blowing in more.  Oh, well.
  • Marked in my calendar for the Plant Delights Nursery open houses.  Here’s the winter schedule:  February 27, 28, March 6, 7, 8 am – 5 pm.  Looking ahead, PDN will be open during the Raleigh area Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour weekend, September 19/20.  So if you are coming to town for one or the other, make a weekend of it and visit both.
  • Added a Nest Spruce, Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’, Pygmy Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Pygmaea’, spring bouquet Viburnum, Viburnum tinus ‘Compactum’ to the Mixed Border.
  • Added a Buds yellow Dogwood, Cornus sericea ‘Buds Yellow’ to the Woodland Garden One bed.
  • Fertilized fig with powered dolomite limestone (CaCo3).  2 cups for my big one.

And now we have rain and more to come. The rains basically started last December after our worse drought in 100 years. Oh how we would have worshiped this last year, it’s getting annoying now.



  1. patientgardener said

    Gosh you have been busy. Its funny how once we get the weather we have been waiting for we soon get fed up with it!!

  2. Aint that the truth!

  3. tina said

    Sounds like you got an awful lot of housekeeping done. I just love days in the garden like this one.

  4. I need to get to work on the buddleja, too. We probably have 19 of those in different colors as they are deer proof.

    The grasses are starting to show a bit of green at the base so I must tackle those soon as well.

    Great tips!


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