Protecting Shrubs in Winter

In the milder zone 7b of my former home in Tidewater Virginia, people often tie up their roadside shrubs with burlap to protect them from road salt. Now we’re in New Hampshire. Here it’s done, not only for that reason, but to protect branches and shrubs from the weight of snow. We often see small shrubs and large ones protected with tents of burlap or tied up tight with roping.

Tide Hill Korean BoxwoodWe learned the hard way last year when three new dwarf boxwood (Buxus microphylla “Tide Hill”) were buried under 6′ of snow. In March, when I finally dug them out, the entire crowns were crushed. Multiple stems were completely snapped off (bonus: I rooted them and now have a dozen baby boxes).

The three boxwood were transplanted to a more protected garden and three dwarf Helleri holly (Ilex Crenata “Helleri”) replaced them. More rugged than box, but they have similar small leaves. We will maintain them as a small hedge.

Even though a mild winter was in the forecast for the 2015 winter months, we weren’t taking any chances. We wanted to protect the small Helleri hollies from the elements. So mister gardener made small sandwich boards that he put over the hollies when the first flakes began to fall.

Dwarf Helleri Holly protectionThe next snowstorm covered the boards.

Helleri HollyNow take a look below at our 7-ft. snowdrift over the hollies today. The final snowstorm this week confirmed our suspicions about the Seacoast of New Hampshire. Listen to no one… not the weatherman, not the clerk in the store, not the Farmer’s Almanac, not the mailman, not friends or neighbors. This we know: snow is a given. Take preventive measures to safeguard the garden, the house, the automobiles, and yourself. We are learning….

7-ft drift

Blue Snow…

Frigid temperatures have plunged us back in an unwelcome deep freeze this week. Snow on the ground is frozen solid like a glacier, dangerous to walk on. Oh, but last week we were able to enjoy a perfect snow (in my opinion), a nice wet snowman building snow that created a flocked winter wonderland. No matter how tired we are of the white stuff, the view was breathtaking.

Gray clouds that seemed to spread a bluish cast over the snow. That blue cast was actually due to the density and heaviness of the wet snow. Snow is colorless. Dry, fluffy snow contains more air bubbles to reflect light out, thus looking more white.  The heavy, wet snows absorb more red light and the more red that is absorbed, the bluer the the snow. Image Image Walking through the neighborhood was like walking through a movie set where every branch, auto, and blade of grass has been sprayed with faux snow. Image Image Image Image Image And we weren’t the only ones out and about. We passed a steady stream of walkers, runners, and canines out for a slushy snow excursion.

walkers

Ice Storm

During the sleet and freezing rain this morning we could see the shadow of a bird hunkered down in the bird feeder that, like everything else outdoors, was decorated with glistening icicles. It couldn’t have been a pleasant morning for anyone but we were curious to know who seemed to find permanent refuge in the feeder.

ice on feederSoon, up popped a head. It was an American Goldfinch. He was hunkered down eating and staying dry in the shelter of the feeder.

finchWhen he saw me at the window with my camera, he hopped to the side. But he didn’t leave. Soon the lure of food and shelter outweighed the fear of me watching him and he returned to his safe harbor snug in the sunflower seeds.

goldfinchThe American Goldfinch can remain in New Hampshire for the winter if there is a food supply. Not to worry, little fella. You came to the right yard.

I don’t mind winter but I hate ICE

I don’t mind winter. I don’t mind cold weather. I rather like snow. I don’t mind doing a little shoveling of the white stuff. Cold winds don’t bother me.  But I simply hate ice. I’m terrified of driving on it, walking on it, and hate scraping it off sidewalks and windshields. The Northeast has had a lot of snow followed by fast thawing, then freezing sleet and rain with more of it expected overnight tonight.  Even my cute little deck snowman has shrunk into a solid block of ice.IMG_7490We didn’t see icicles when we moved in March of last year but the ice stalactites we now see around Exeter, including our house, could be a scene from Virginia’s Luray Caverns. Take a look at the similarity of structures…

English: An image of the Drapery or Flowstone in Luray Caverns known as "Saracen's Tent". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wikipedia: Luray Cavern stalactites

icicle stalactites

Our icicle stalactites

When you have a freezing and thawing and freezing pattern, you can easily develop ice dams. This is all new to me but evidently our home inspector was wrong when he said our attic insulation was just fine and dandy. We developed ice dams that trapped water melted by escaping attic heat. Ice dams can destroy gutters and force water into a home. When we saw a drip inside, we knew we had to take action. We have now contracted to have the attic insulated much MUCH better but we found a trick from This Old Home that temporarily saved us.

We filled a stocking with a calcium chloride de-icer and laid it over the ice dam. It melted a channel to the gutter to help water to flow. We also sprinkled it on the ice along the gutter. It worked like a charm! All clear now and we know a lot more about New England ICE.

Drive-By Photography

For the last several days, fall colors at their peak have truly wowed us in Exeter. Whenever we are in the car, I grab my smartphone in an attempt to capture the brilliance of yellows and reds. I should just stop doing that because 90% of my photos are either a blur OR the sad trees have been directionally pruned around power lines by NHDOT.

This weekend, a quick errand to the P.O. gave me a view of the most stunning sugar maple I’ve seen thus far… growing in front of the old Congregational Church. We were creeping along with others pointing and gawking at the tree so I was fortunate not to end up with another iPhone photo smudge.

I was not alone in my drive-by photography. I saw two photographers with big cameras capturing images of the tree from the sidewalks. Maybe I’ll see those images later on a postcard or blog post.

IMG_6819 IMG_6822 IMG_6826

Festivals and Fairs, oh my!

Today we decided to head toward the coast to hit a couple of fall family events. Our first stop was the 5th Annual Hampton Falls Craft Festival just a hop-skip down the road from Exeter.  Fall was in the air as booth after booth featured Halloween or pumpkin themed crafts in addition to a variety of other artistry such as hand blown glass, original watercolors, photography, soaps, basketry, and, mmmmm… fudge!

We had a fun time enjoying the food, the music, the incredible art but I was most excited to have my first ever taste of a popular Italian desert…. a cannoli. “The Original Canoli Girl From The North End” of Boston began making cannolis with her Nonni when she was 6 years old. She surprised her grandmother with a homemade sign for her business…with  cannoli spelled wrong. She said her Nonni loved it and the spelling stuck.

"Canoli Girl"Very well-known, she has taken up where her grandmother left off and takes her business on the road selling these popular sweets. I give my original and authentic cannoli an A+. Want a bite?

IMG_6301 IMG_6303On our way back to Exeter, we stopped at our second festival at Applecrest Farm Orchards where folks were there for apples, pumpkins and atmosphere. U-Pick or buy apples by the bushel, pick out a pumpkin in the fields or already lined up, plain or painted. There was also food on the grill, fresh ice cream, mums of all colors and, of course, lots of vegetables inside. We walked away with tomatoes and a smile.

………………………………….Click on any photo to enlarge 

To Market, To Market

The Exeter Farmers’ Market is in full swing. It’s a great place to stroll, chat with other shoppers, get to know your farmers, and get to know your food. Today mister gardener had potatoes and chicken on his shopping list. I had herbs.

ChivesBut it’s hard to stick to your shopping list when we find things like this:

Good thing we brought two shopping bags!

Graffiti hits Exeter

But this is not your typical graffiti. It is called graffiti knitting or yarn bombing and it’s all been done in Exeter for a very good cause. Beginning on April 1 and running throughout the month of April, Exeter community groups tagged trees, hitching posts, the bandstand, fences, doors and signs with wonderful knitted, crocheted and felted creations. Sponsored by local businesses, all can donate to the fundraiser benefiting Womenade, an organization that provides financial assistance when it is not available through other sources.

Take a look at some of the amazing creations:

375 Years Old and Thriving…

Water Street

Exeter, NH

After exploring the state for a year, we have finally taken up residence in the quaint town of Exeter, New Hampshire, a historic mill community first settled in 1638. The Squamscott/Exeter Rivers and Great Falls powered numerous mills: sawmills, gristmills, a cloth mill, paper mills, and a snuff mill that was mentioned in the writings of George Washington after he visited in 1776. Abraham Lincoln stood on the steps of the Exeter Town Hall and gave a speech and his son attended the local preparatory school, Phillips Exeter Academy, founded in 1781. We love the community, the vitality, the rich history, the close proximity to Portsmouth and Boston, the fine restaurants, charming shops, and the small town flavor. There’s much to be discovered and we’ve just begun…. as soon as the snow melts just a little!

Phillips Exeter Academy

Phillips Exeter Academy

Runners

Exeter Academy students run along the Squamscott River with 1827 mill buildings across the river, now Exeter Mill residential community.

The Green Bean

The Green Bean

11 Water Street

11 Water Street

Personality Plus Waitress at 11 Water Street

Miss Personality… our waitress at 11 Water Street