}

July 16, 2015

MY 'BACK FORTY' - MY SECRET GARDEN AREAS I'VE NEVER SHARED BEFORE

A HOSE BRINGS WATER TO THE CHICKEN COOP, 250 FEET AWAY FROM RUNNING WATER AT OUR HOUSE. HERE ARE SOME PARTS OF THE GARDEN THAT I RARELY SHARE ON THIS BLOG.

When folks call a tell me that they are 'stopping by' to see the garden, I usually panic. I feel that I need to manage expectations - honestly, I only focus on one tiny part of the garden on this blog - a small portion which is fenced off for the dogs, on the east side of the house, where the dogs have full run, and where the greenhouse is. It is a more manageable size, about 75 feet bu 250 feet, but that said, we live on about 3 acres of garden - garden which is mostly over grown, but which was a garden at one time when I was a kid, and when my dad was growing up here from around 1920 until 2000 when I moved back as my parents were aging. It's all too much to take care of, as you often hear me gripe about, but really, even when messy and overgrown, it has its charm. Since 75% of our property remains secret, I thought that I will share a few photos of these areas. You might find them interesting.

TODAY, NO PRETTY CLOSE-UPS LIKE THIS (BUT I DID WANT TO SHARE THIS NEW LILY THAT BLOOMED TODAY. THE BULB IS FROM ENGLAND (H.W. HYDE & SONS). THIS BEAUTY IS CALLED 'THE TORCH'.

THE LONG WALK - THE STONES ARE WEEDED, BUT THE FENCE IS STILL NOT UP. FOLLOW THIS PATH TO THE BEE HIVES AT THE END, AND THE DUCK HOUSE.


When you exit though the back porch at our house, and want to walk out back to see the chickens and ducks, you need to take the long walk, a stone path which was set out in 1926, and at 200 feet, it is rather long - to hand weed. I find it interesting to look at old photos, as see how the walk has changed and evolved over time. In the 1920's and 30's there was an apple orchard along the right side, but in the great 1938 hurricane, the old Roxbury Russet trees were all lost. 1950's it had blueberry bushes along one side of it, in the 1960's a large grape arbor and 70's,  just grass and lawn since there was a bad mitten court on the right hand side, and a golf green on the left ( don't ask, long story). In the 1980's, a new perennial border again. Garden grow, die, grow again, get cut back, redesigned and laid out again. At least this one has stayed in the same family through 5 generations which is pretty cool I guess.


A GIANT-LEAVED NORTH AMERICAN NATIVE FROM THE SOUTH THRIVES IN THE UNDERSTORY OUT BACK - MAGNOLIA MACROPHYLLA IS STARGING TO TAKE OFF, WITH 3 FOOT LONG LEAVES, IT'S LIKE A BANANA.


JOES NEW BEE HIVE IS CALLED A TOP BAR TYPE. SO FAR, IT SEEMS TO BE DOING FINE NEAR THE EDGE OF THE WOODS. THE PETASITES TO THE LEFT OF IT IS A NEW SPECIES FOR US - A GIFT FROM THE BERKSHIRE BOTANIC GARDEN, AND SMALLER THAN THE PETASITES JAPONICUS SSP. GIGANTEUS, THIS ONE IS A EUROPEAN SPECIES - PETASITES HYBRIDUS



THE LONG WALK PASSES THOUGH AMNY SHRUBS AND PLANTINGS, MOST OVERGROWN AND UNKEMPT. ALL OF THIS USED TO BE A LARGE YEW HEDGE WHICH SADLY, MY PARENT REMOVED 20 YEARS AGO.

THIS RARE ARALIA ELATA 'SILVER UMBRELLA' IS MASSIVE, AT NEARLY 20 FEET TALL. IT SUCKERS TERRIBLY WITH THE THORNY TYPE OF ARALIA, WHICH GIVES THE GENUS ITS COMMON NAME, BUT I WOULD NOT BE WITH OUT THIS BEAUTY.



THIS, LOOKS LIKE A PATH IN THE WOODS, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY OUR COMPOST PILE. THIS IS A HILL, AND IT'S ALL COMPOST. WHEEL BARROWS OF LEAVES, BRANCHES, LOGS AND WEEDS ARE ADDED WEEKLY, AND HAVE BEEN FOR ABOUT 60 YEARS. IF ONE KEEPS WALKING ON THIS PATH, YOU WOULD FALL OFF INTO A SWAMP JUST BEYOND WHERE THE PATH ENDS.

THIS OLD AMERICAN ELM IS DEAD, A VICTIM OF THE DUTCH ELM DISEASE, BUT WE KEEP IT FOR THE WOODPECKERS - CAN YOU SEE HOW MANY HOLES THERE ARE IN IT? THIS YEAR WE HAVE HAS NESTING HAIRY WOODPECKERS AND A PAIR OF RED BELLIED WOODPECKERS.

THE BASE OF THE ELM SHOWS HOW LARGE IT IS, AND IT'S READY TO FALL. NOTICE THE BABY INDIAN RUNNER DUCKS - GETTING BIG. SOMETIMES WE SPRAY OR INJECT FOR INSECT MANAGEMENT (THE SAFEST WAY TO SAVE A TREE), BUT WE ALSO KNOW WHEN TO CALL IT A DAY. NOW, THIS ELM IS HOST TO A NEW ECOSYSTEM. 

OUR CHICKEN COOP WILL NEVER MAKE IT ON A LIFESTYLE BLOG, BUT IT WORKS. I HAVE A PHOTO OF MY DAD FROM 1917 SITTING IN A CHICKEN YARD WITH PIGS ON THIS VERY SAME SPOT, MAYBE I SHOULD POST SOME OF THISE COMPARISON SHOTS?

TURN AROUND FROM THE CHICKENS, AND YOU WILL SEE THIS - LOOKING WEST.  I AM THINKING OF PLANTING MORE HYDRANGEA HERE, SINCE THEY SHOULD ENJOY THE UNDERSTORY EXPOSURE.
TURN AND LOOK SOUTH, AND YOU WILL SEE THIS - SEE, THE BACK OF THE GREENHOUSE. THIS GROVE OF EASTERN HEMLOCK IS NEARLY 80 YEARS OLD, BUT IT SUCCUMBING TO THE WOOLY ADELGID. WE TRIED TO SAVE THEM BUT AT $1500 PER TREE TO SPRAY THEM (ANNUALLY) WE DECIDED TO PASS. SOMEDAY, WE HOPE A SAFER, PERHAPS INJECTABLE METHOD WILL BE AVAILABLE.



YES, OLD LAWN MOWERS AND TRACTORS - BELIEVE ME, WE NEED THEM. IF ONLY WE COULD AFFORD A REAL SMALL TRACTOR - ANYONE HAVE AN EXTRA 20K TO SPARE? THZEY STILL WORK, SO THE OLD YANKEE IN US KEEPS REPAIRING THEM.

HOSTA, HOSTA EVERYWHERE - WHY? THEY HELP SUPRESS THE WEEDS, AS WE CAN"T KEEP UP - SO LOTS OF INVASIVE OR NICELY LUSH RUNNING PLANTS LIKE PETASITES, HOSTA AND TALL GRASSES LIKE THIS MISCANTHUS FLORIDULIS AT 12 FEET TALL HELP MAKE UNTIDY AREAS LOOK MORE GARDEN LIKE.



IN ONE OF MY FAVORITE AREAS OF OUR YARD, THE OLD HEMLOCK GROVE, THERE ARE ABOUT A DOZEN EASTERN HEMLOCK TREES THAT MY FATHER AND HIS BROTHERS PLANTED IN THE 1930's. SADLY, THEY ARE WEAKENED FROM THIS ON-GOING WOOLY ADELGID INFESTATION, AND ONLY HAVE A FEW MORE YEARS TO LIVE. SO SAD.

IT GETS MORE AND MORE RUSTIC OUT BACK, WITH LESS LAWN AND MORE TREES UNTIL IT ALL TURNS INTO WOODLAND. THIS IS TOM THE TURKEY'S HOUSE ON THE RIGHT., AND ON THE LEFT, THE DUCK HOUSE AND THE CHICKEN COOP. THIS POST IS ONE LEFT OVER FROM THE OLD GRAPE ARBOR THAT ONCE STOOD HERE IN THE 1950's AND 60's. CONCORD GRAPES.



7 comments :

  1. Love this walk through the property... Been a long time.

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    1. Thanks Toni! But remember, you'll see it once again when you visit in November!

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  2. Anonymous7:42 AM

    dear matt
    thank you for posting pix of your lovely "sing sing" (poultry yard) and the rest of the back forty.
    would love to read more about consumption rates for ducks/meat birds for a household such as yours, and what breeds you currently like. Local slow food chapter here is promoting heritage breed cayuga ducks. have you ever raised this breed?
    all best,
    ~ 02568

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    1. You are so lucky to have a slow food chapter there (but wait, your zip code tells me that you are not too far away maybe!). We don't pay too much attention to 'egg rates' or 'meat rates'. at least, not yet. I will say that the Indian Runner breed is primarily and egg laying breed, and can lay eggs not only more often than most chickens, the eggs themselves are better for cooking. In the past, we've counted nearly 250 eggs per duck. Our chicken breeds this time are less practical and more interesting, as, I wanted eggs which are more attractive or flavorful and different that what I could find at the farmers market or at our local Wegmans or Whole Foods.We are raising a dozen Maran's and a dozen Araucana as well as a nostalgic dozen of Barred Rock, as that is what we had back in the early 60's when I was about 2 (I could tell from an old photo). With chickens, it's mainly eggs for us. We still eat the older hens and roosters, but after they are old, so yes - - chicken soup chickens.

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  3. what a lovely post! you certainly have your hands full but sometimes the "business end" is the most interesting part of a place. love the beehive. and you're so lucky to have so much history and continuity to surround yourself with. thanks for sharing!

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  4. No need to panic. The back forty land is beautiful.

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  5. Anonymous12:34 PM

    I enjoyed looking at your 'back 40'. Don't we all have areas of our gardens that need some work? I loved it. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Melanie

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