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Saturday, January 5, 2013

"another year over AND a new one just begun . . . " PART ONE


Today is the first Saturday of 2013! The date is January the Fifth, the Eve of Epiphany, which is also the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and it is the day I've chosen for my urban garden's 2012 year in review as well as a great opportunity for me to return here to Blogger after not posting since "the Monday after Thanksgiving," as I have been contending with some health issues as discussed briefly on TLLG's tumblr and Facebook venues.

I realize that most accountings of a given "year in review" take place in late December of the year being reviewed; but since this review will solely be dedicated to my urban garden, I have chosen this particular date, because last year on this day, Juan V came over to help me complete my garden winterizing for the winter of 2012! Hence January the 5th 2012 through January the 5th 2013 was the last full year in my garden!

In other words, last year at this time I was just putting the finishing touches on preparing my garden for the winter season! I consider winterizing an important part of my garden's survival as I have discussed a number of times here on Blogger (and you may also read an extensive account of various how-to winterize methods in a three part guest post which I wrote for Fern Richardson's Life on the Balcony in 2011).

The timing of the arduous task of garden winterizing changes from year to year, as it is always dependent on what Mother Nature is doing; and it was so warm in the December of 2011 that Juan V and I did not begin to winterize my garden for the 2011-2012 winter period until December the 27th of 2011, and as I've just stated, we even waited until January the 5th of 2012 to complete our work!

It ended up that everything I grow took a very short nap last winter, for it seems that no sooner had Juan V and I completed our work then it was time to de-winterize the garden and get things set for the 2012-2013 garden season, a "task" we did in mid March of 2012, and if you'd like to refer to our scenario of this "event," you may do so by clicking here.

As for our winterizing for the 2012-2013 winter, Juan V and I did the entire job on December 4th of 2012, followed by our decorating the garden for Christmas on December the 11th of 2012, meaning winterizing AND finishing touches were finished sixteen days before we had done our major portion of garden winterizing in 2011!

The images above today's blog entry provide a visual for what I've just described in this narrative, and so, without further ado, here's my garden's year end review! (How poetic is that!)

And FYI, I will divide this year-end garden review into two parts and in a number of separate posts here on Blogger. The first part (today's post) will be a comparison of some of the highlights which occurred here this past year (which are indicated in the photographs above this entry). For the second part, which I will post on Monday (January the Seventh of 2013), to get me back on my schedule, I will do a brief pictorial breakdown of other events which occurred in specific months within this year's review and provide my schedule for posting this year-end review series.

Let me begin part one with my promise of a comparison of some of the changes, and I will do this by informing you as to why I've placed the various circles, arrows and numbers on the aerial views of my garden that are posted above today's blog entry. Both photographs were taken by Juan V.

Within the first image (at the top of this entry), in the upper left hand corner, you can see a white circle with the word "ONE" inside of it, and in the second image, you can see a turquoise-colored arrow with the word "ONE" imposed over it. These indicate a physical change Juan V and I decided to make re the appearance and functionality of a structure in my garden. 

In the first image, "ONE" is referring to a set of bamboo shelves as seen in the partial view image of them posted below.

These (as you may recall) are shelves which I've had in my garden for a number of years, where they have "served" as an "urban hedge," a hedge which I've discussed a number of times here on Blogger (in posts that you my refer to by clicking here).

Because weather conditions in the northeastern United States – where my garden is located — have cut the life of my urban hedge short (as bamboo gets ruined after it is subjected to a certain amount of precipitation), Juan V and I had to devise another way to have the "protection" of an urban hedge by using materials that would survive Mother Nature's visits to my garden. Hence, Juan V and his friend Lucas built a gorgeous structure for me which is (unfortunately) off-camera in Juan V's aerial image, but the arrow in the image indicates where it is located.

Nonetheless, Juan V's urban hedge renovation/installation was an "event" this past year in my garden; therefore, I'm giving it the attention it deserves by including it in this year-end review, and I've posted a couple of photo-ops of it below.

As you can see in the second image (taken by Juan V near the 2012 Halloween season), his installation was able to allow me to be functional as well as whimsical in my garden storage and decor. The pale-green metal bouncer-chair to the north of it was also part of the "events" in my urban garden this past year, and I will be discussing it as I proceed in my year-end review.

However, getting back to the aerial images atop today's entry, in both images with the circle containing the word "TWO," another one of my urban hedges (my "trellis-style" hedge), has been highlighted. In these two images you can see the different roles it played in my Christmas decor for the respective years.

Last year Juan V and I simply placed Christmas tree branches in the clay pots below the hedge, as seen in the image below.

This year, Stephanie — a woman that I met from Quebec and who sold me my Christmas tree — and I also placed Christmas tree branches in the clay pots below my trellis-hedge structure; but we trailed the branches all the way up the length of the structure, and we made sure the branches covered its width. 

Our decision to provide a more dense "hedge" of branches was to give the birds who have been visiting my garden in the year 2012 a landing place in the colder days. Stephanie and I also strung lights throughout our "installation" for a festive look; and, I was even able to hang a "basket" of suet for birds that visit my garden as seen in the image below.

The suet container for my feathered friends can be seen here amongst the Christmas tree branches (and you can see one of my "friends" here — a house sparrow), but, in telling you this I'm now getting ahead of myself in describing the change in this particular hedge, which took place in honor of the holiday time, for visiting feathered friends were one of the biggest changes in my garden this year and I will get back to them later on in this year-end review when I do a pictorial breakdown in part two of this review.

As for this trellis-style hedge itself, its function is not limited to Christmas decorations, nor is it limited to be a landing spot for my visiting birds — although a Mourning dove may beg to differ as evidenced by his photograph below.


For, as you may recall from previous entries here on Blogger, this particular hedge provided very different functions within the year 2011 (when it was first installed) in my garden and the following are a few photo-ops which indicate this fact.

As you may recall (from 2011), when this "trellis-style" hedge was first constructed by Juan V, he and I decided to try using Honey Suckleas it is a trailing perenniall, and our efforts as well as the efforts of the honeysuckle can be seen in the images below.

But, as you may recall, its fate was not meant to be, at least in my urban garden, and Juan V and I had to ultimately pull it out, replacing it with an annual! You may recall that we chose to use a Cardinal Climber, a fact that you may remember upon seeing the following image.

However, since this review is for 2012, you might be wondering why am I bringing in the 2011 trellis-hedge situation! And rightly so! But the fact is, in 2012, the trellis-hedge remained without anything trailing up it; as this past year, Juan V and I discovered it wasn't necessary to have anything there!

This was due to the fact that my Cotinus coggygria (AKA Smoke Bush), a shrub to the trellis-hedge's immediate left had gotten so wide that a vine growing on a trellis might grab the Smokey Bush, and, therefore, we left the trellis empty as seen in the image below, which is an aerial view by Juan V that he took last summer, several weeks (in August 2012) after our decision to leave the trellis bare (in March 2012).

And as you can surmise, a vine on the trellis would not only have been a thing to monitor for its tendency to grab on to what grows around it; but also it would have crowded the garden.

The pale-green metal bouncer-chair in front of the trellis is something I referred to earlier in this post as it was a new arrival to the 2012 garden, replacing a wooden arm-chair seen below.

This wooden arm-chair had been in my garden for several years. This image featuring the chair was taken in 2010; however, on this date in January of 2011, Juan V dismantled it due to rotting wood and salvaged the "good slats" for me to use inside my kitchen as a base for a shelf!

It was a great way to repurpose a chair, that had "served" me well past its due, and Juan's dismantling it left me with a fantastic excuse to replace the wooden arm chair with a bouncer from Mulberry Street. (The bouncer can be seen below in a "prominent" location within my garden.)

It is a classy bouncer, but  I rarely had a chance to relax it! However, my visiting birds (who as I've stated earlier were a big part of the 2012 year in this urban garden), certainly enjoyed "sitting" in the chair whenever they got the opportunity, as evident by a house finch seen in the image below.

Some of my visiting birds even enjoyed perching on the bouncer's welcoming arm, as you can surmise from the photo-ops below featuring a Mourning dove followed by photos of blue jays.

And, one of my favorite 2012 feathered friends (who I hope have included visiting my garden in their 2013 New Year's resolutions) even took shelter from inclement weather by "hiding" underneath the bouncer's mighty seat such as Cam (my visiting cardinal) did; as evidenced in the photo-op below.


After this long digression from the differences in the two aerial images posted above today's blog entry, I am returning to them, and am now referring to what has been labeled "THREE" in both images.

Within the first image (2011-2012), in the circle marked "THREE," you will see two wooden chairs around a table. I have given the wooden chairs to Michael, a man who helped me during some of my 2012 garden upheavals which included a so-called renovation, Hurricane Sandy and a nor'easter (more on those events later).

Directly to the north of the chairs, you will see an empty rod-iron stand. Prior to my winterizing last year, that stand provided a "home" for my Fagus sylvatica (AKA Beech Tree), but it is always necessary to move this tree closer to a building during winter-time, hence the empty stand in this image.

Be that as it may, even though that stand has been a home to the container that housed my Beech Tree for a number of years, this  past year, Juan V and I did some "Feng shui" in my garden, and we placed my Corylus avellana 'Contorta's' (AKA Contorted Hazelnut) container in the stand; where it thrived in its new location — so much so that we repotted it into an amazing container!

However, in winterizing, just like the beech tree, my contorted hazelnut had to be moved nearer my building for the winter months, and, therefore, to give my visiting birds a place to land during these winter months, Stephanie and I placed a Christmas tree in the vacant stand, decorated it with lights, and put my  star (which I've used in my garden for a number of years by putting it atop my Chelsea Larch) on my Christmas tree's top, all of which can be seen in the second aerial image atop this entry. Also in the second image (2012-2013), THREE is imposed over a turquoise arrow. This arrow indicates the spot where my beloved and prolific Physocarpus opulifolius (AKA 'Mindia' OR Coppertina) tree had been located for a number of years.

And, no, I've not made a typo in referring to my wonderful coppertina tree by referring to it in the past tense in terms of it being in my garden! As it happens, this lovely tree, which can be seen in its winter gear in the first image showcasing a scene  2011-2012 (its placement in that image is indicated by a circle with the word FOUR imposed over it), had to be relocated this past year because it needed more space then I had to offer as it was growing by leaps and bounds; therefore, I donated it to Michael's garden where hopefully it will live happily ever after!

Meanwhile re the coppertina's life in my garden, you may recall that in May of 2011, Juan  V and I repotted this tree in a larger container, but not even a full calendar year later had passed when it was already showing signs of needing an even bigger container; and a larger surrounding area to spread its branches! Once again, we did plant it in a larger container, but it continued to struggle with its need for more space, and so as stated above it was given to another garden this past August.

Returning to these comparison aerial images, you will notice, my "fireplace-fixture-turned-planter" has been included in area FOUR. This planter during "active" gardening seasons has always been a home to a various plants that I grow, but of course, during winter months, as is the case with the majority of the things which I grow, they are moved closer to my building. Last year I left a few empty containers (containers which have now been donated to Michael's' garden), in my "fireplace-fixture-turned-planter," but this year I left it empty so Cam, my adorable visiting cardinal and I could play peek-a-boo, as evident by the image below.


And this brings us to the last numbered reference in these "comparison images," number FIVE, which in both images refers to my Chelsea Larch as well as my Actindia kolomikta and Actimida (AKA Kiwi Vines). My larch has been with me for nearly seven years and at the end of this past season, in December of 2012, Juan V and I had to repot it in larger digs and we did a little more of our "Feng shui," and let the larch face a different direction, but still allowing it to stare into windows of the building directly north of me, which it is certainly "accustomed" to doing!

As for the kiwi vine, it too had to be repotted into a larger container as it is now growing along the north side of my garden, where as before it stuck to the east side of the garden; I suspect next year it will "turn the corner" at a northern point in my garden and grow on the western portion too! This concludes my description of "items" referenced by number in the aerial images atop today's blog entry; as for the black arrows seen in both images, they indicate a huge upheaval which occurred in my garden during the 2012 year when the "floor" of my garden underwent a so-called renovation, whilst the orange square, which is imposed over both images, is referring to placement of my contorted hazelnut for the winter months.

Last year my contorted hazelnut "served" as an image for my 2011 Christmas card, whilst this year, it is providing a landing spot for my visiting birds! My visiting birds "served" in the production of my 2012 Christmas card by posing for the card's cover which can be seen below.

This concludes Part One of my garden's year-end review, and I'll see you on Monday with Part Two! AND HAPPY "TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS" EVE!




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