By LYNNE IRONS
Last Saturday’s cold snap lit a fire under me. There were so many last (for me, first) minute winter preparations.
I stapled a bunch of grain bags over the hardware cloth windows of my hen house. The girls were mighty chilly last Friday night. When I closed their door that evening, their feathers were blowing around on them. I always feel sorry for birds in winter with their bare legs and feet.
I am trying last year’s method on my agapanthus again. I had good luck, but it was quite mild last winter. I have them in very large pots, the size of bushel baskets. I cut them to the quick after they experience a light frost, cover with several layers of Reemay, close up their plastic hoop house, and finally, cover with white plastic that lets in light but not heat. It was satisfying to button them up and forget about them for a few months. I also use this method on potted perennials that did not make it into the ground this season.
I finally dealt with the dahlias. They have been wadded in a tarp in the yard for a couple of weeks. I put them in grain bags with peat moss and store in an unheated back room. It gets warm in the daytime but they always manage to survive. In the past, I have found two things will lead to failure: too cold and damp, or too hot and dry. Sometime in mid-February, I check for extreme dryness and give a little spritz of water if necessary. Mice can be problematic. Get a good cat. Did you know that dahlias were originally grown for pig feed? Rue the day the pigs get out — they will head straight for your dahlia bed.
Oh bother — there is a basket of still-to-be-planted tulip bulbs. Hope I won’t need a jackhammer. I did plant the old-fashioned double daffodils that Tina Fisher was so kind to share. Thanks for the delivery, Don.
I hate how we rush the seasons nowadays. It seems like we were gearing up for Christmas while we were still finishing the Halloween candy. I received seed catalogs in the mail last week. That is just not right. We should be curling up to wish over them in February.
I will say that I am happy to see the Christmas greens replacing those saggy pumpkins. One year I made a good amount of Christmas wreaths for friends and for sale. It is a worthwhile task. I use the foundations that have four wires — two on the top and two larger ones on the bottom. The juniper or straight pine boughs can be stuffed in between the two snuggly without the use of wire. After the basic frame is secure in this manner, anything can be crammed in under the rings — again without wiring. I love to use seed pods, feathers, bird’s nests, or anything that once held the essence of life. I must say I am not crazy about bows.
Does anyone own a salt magnet? This summer, a friend gave me a large fish. I decided to salt it before freezing. I guess I was thinking about our ancestors’ food preservation methods. I made an enormous chowder on Sunday and whoops, you guessed it, it pretty much turns the mouth inside out. I am such a non-waster of food that I am determined to redeem it.
The Callery (Bradford) pear in front of the Baptist church is simply stunning with its fall color. It is amazing how long the leaves stay on that tree. They also line Clough Lane next to St. Augustine’s. I might have to purchase one next spring. They are fast growers and bloom nicely in the spring as well.
I know I repeat myself, but once again, I have to mention the Callicarpa. Now that the leaves have fallen, its tiny purple berries are breathtaking. Check out the one at the entrance to Polly Hill.
Did you know that the toxic Chinese toys are not sent to the European Union as they have stricter laws than we do? Oh, and the euro is beating out the dollar in value. What is happening to us? Here is another good one — those cheap Christmas lights (made in China, of course) have a warning about the lead: “Wash hands after handling.” Makes me think twice about letting my grandchildren help put up the lights this year.
One last parting shot — Texas is the worst polluting state in the country. In fact, if it were a country it would rank seventh in the world. I will refrain from one more sentence.