Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Searching For Green

This year's gardening season ended with unexpected suddenness.  Knowing that many weeds will spend the winter reclaiming our garden beds spread a pervasive gloom. To disperse the dark clouds  despite hand numbing cold, it was necessary for me to get outside, have a long walkabout and look for plants that continue to conduct their business despite adverse winter conditions.  That is exactly how the past two hours were spent.  I feel better already!

An evergreen ground cover is always a morale booster.  This is our single patch of wild arbutus.  Two years ago a winter starved rabbit ate all of the above ground plant growth when the snow cover retreated.  We messed with nature by installing a sub-ground flat stone barrier and a wire cage.  Safe from large foragers, these plants have regrown once again and will flower this spring.  Small foragers have left their marks on two large leaves.

Moss growing on a fallen tree is a welcome sight.  I wonder if the hole in the trunk is an entrance to some rodent's home?  No tracks are visible but this log is large enough to hold a large cache of stored food making trips outside unnecessary.

Moss growing on rocks that are in contact with the ground always deserves a second look.  A recent rereading of an old college geology text found an explanation of how broken rectangular chunks of sedimentary deposits were made round.  According to Richard J. Ordway, a memorable college professor, the action of repeated freeze thaw cycles is most severe at the thin corner edges causing them to break and fall away.  Cracks in the stones show the orientation of the original horizontal layers of deposition.  The farmer that cleared these stones from his field threw them down without regard for which side should have been up.

This evergreen ground cover continues to exist on its own.  Partridge Berry is growing mixed in with pasture grass.  There is little doubt that the grass will soon have exclusive ownership of this ground.  The single berry formed from two fused at the base flowers always catches the eye.

This deer dig reveals the former location of a wild fern.  Pieces of the fern were broken off as the deer pulled the snow clear of the plant.  Then the fern was eaten to the crown.

Any attempt to plant here unearths vast quantities of stone.  These were haphazardly piled so the the actual work at hand could continue.  The top of this wall had developed a serious lean.  As I walked by I wondered if I could push the upper part of the wall back into place.  It turns out that I could do just that.  With the mass that was holding them in place removed, the central portion of the wall fell to the ground.  It was more luck than my cat like reflexes that prevented injury from the falling stone.  Having learned nothing from that experience, I think that I can rebuild the hole while the upper stones remain mostly in place.

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