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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Landscape and Beauty

Hi Boys and Girls!

Well, the day after Christmas and back to reality. I tackled a job that should have been done in November. This is only one of many that should have been done prior to our first freeze.

Our blueberry trees are still in large pots. For our area, the Tifblue works well.  http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/fruit/blueberry/blueberries.html Last week I found full-size wine barrels at a crafts show and the vender cut them in half and delivered them. What a deal! They are about 50 gallon size. So, today sweet hubby Roberto drilled a drainage hole on the side of each barrel.

Why isn't he using an electric drill? Well, one reason is that it is broken; another reason is that we like using my dad's old drill. It works.

We then found a sunny location not too far from the hose bib. We put 3 bricks under the barrel to facillitate air circulation. We placed the existing pot into the barrel. We know at some time we will transplate the tree into the barrel with more soil but that will be when all danger of frost is over. Our soil is not acidic enough for blueberries. So we used soil preparation recommended by Texas A&M. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/
We planted the blueberries 3:1 peat moss and horticultural perlight. http://www.homeharvest.com/soilamendmentsperlitevermiculite.htm
We topped each plant with pine needles and always put our coffee grounds in the plant each time we water. We had quite a bit of berries before the birds got them last summer! So, here they are in the wine barrels. I plan on purchasing another variety that works well here so pollination will ensure nice big fat berries.

I know sometimes a winter garden can be depressing. After a freeze, everything looks so sad. There are some items that still bring a smile to my face even though the majority of the yard is in "down time."

We have had this "nicho" for many years. A nich is a decorative recess for holding a statue. They are usually associated with Greek or Roman architecture. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/414014/niche
We are in Texas. We decorate rustic so this Niche or Nicho is made of old barn wood and the roof is tin. It fits, don't you think?

Another thing about a winter yard is the wildlife that seek shelter. If you are interested in having a habitat for birds and other small critters, you might consider creating a wildscape. That is what we have. There are certain requirements that are very easy to fulfill. Check out this site to see how easy it is to make your yard into a wildscape.
It is easy for us to have a brush pile in which birds can nest and hide. It is way back in the yard so it does not look so ugly. Actually, when I took this picture, there were about 25 birds in there doing their thing. They are so cute!
Another major requirement is water. I don't want my bird baths to crack when we have a freeze so I keep this large shell full of water. It belonged to my mother but makes a wonderful little water source for the birds and whatever else comes around when I am not looking. I still have my hummingbird feeder up and keep it full with fresh sugar water (4 cups water to 1 cup sugar. Boil. Cool.) We have a hummer visit it daily.
I know these birdhouses are whimsical but they really do offer protection from cold and snakes. Roberto made these many year's ago but they are in constant use. We do have to clean them out every now and then.

So, I just gave you a small glimpse of our wildscape. You can create a variation of this even on a patio if you live in an apartment. Your brush pile could be a hanging plant in which a bird can seek refuge or build a nest. If the plant dies even better. A fern is really great because when it dies and turns brown it still retains stiff fronds in which birds can build a nest. I speak from experience!
A small birdbath or tray of water fits easily on a patio. An outdoor minerature potted tree will attract birds. So, check out the wildlife site and find some joy that will carry you through the dark days of winter.
Play outside, turn the soil, watch birds puttering around, search the sky for migrating geese. Have fun!
Let me know what you find interesting in your winter garden.
Now, I better get my block cut out for Pieceful Journey.

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