Winding Down the Month of February

Unbelievable.  Month #2 of 2012 is on its last week. Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day, Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday zipped right on by...leaving only Leap Day plus one left to rip off the calendar.

[An aside...I had a Stewart cousin whose birthday was on Leap Day.  Lib, who lived into her late eighties, was fond of saying she was usually the youngest in the room because she had "celebrated" the fewest actual birthday-days. And, when those days finally rolled around every 4 years, she was especially pleased when folks remembered her "special" day.]

Since I last posted, we have received our fruit tree order from Stark Bro's Nursery from Louisiana, Missouri.  We got the 11 bare-root trees planted into their new homes/holes in our Orchard quadrant in the WayBack Garden.  When I write "we," I really mean Mr. T...since I'm still pretty limited in my contributions.  I did mix the special root-boosting hormone concentrate into the water can and hold the trees up straight while Mr. T back-filled the holes.  Then I helped mulch the new babies with oak leaves we composted from last Fall.  Not much, when you consider how back-breaking it can be to work this hard-packed clay soil we have, I agree.  But, at least I can that old Shake 'n Bake commercial..."and I helped."

Mr. T has been preparing the holes for these trees since last year.  He marked off the orchard for tree placement and tilled the holes repeatedly in order to break up the concrete-like clay.  Then, he worked leaves into the holes on a couple of occasions.  And, when we got the notice that the trees had shipped, he cultivated it all once again.  So, he was as ready as ready could be when they arrived via FedEx.

I can't say enough good things about Stark Bro's and our order.  Give'em an A++!  All trees were well-packed into a single box, and the roots of all were still moist. We opened the box and popped the new babies into the big galvanized tub of water to soak, as directed.  Then, it was a matter of time...a LOT of time...for planting.

Here's the list of what we received and planted:

Items Shipped from Stark Bro's

Red Fuji Apple Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

Stark® GrandGala™ Apple Dwarf SupremeStark® GrandGala™ Apple Dwarf Supreme*
1x Each

Whitney Crabapple Semi-Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

Stella Sweet Cherry Semi-Dwarf Supreme
2x Each

Carolina Belle Peach Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

Contender Peach Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

Moonglow Pear Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

Starking® Delicious™ Pear Dwarf Supreme
2x Each

Methley Plum Dwarf Supreme
1x Each

We already had 2 Cortlands and 1 Golden Dorset (all from Tractor Supply, planted in Spring 2010); and 2 Grimes Golden and 2 Blacktwigs (purchased from the Guilford County  4-H and planted Fall 2011).  With the addition of our latest trees, we think we have completed that quadrant.  Since Stark Bro's prunes the Supreme trees for you, we only have to spray all with dormant oil (which we got this past weekend at Tractor Supply)...and wait for them to break bud and bloom.  I'm ready!
African Violets in bloom:
(l to r) Scarlett, Tennessee, Martinique, and Evelyn

Meanwhile, it's again too cold to do much outside anyway, so I've been enjoying my indoor garden.  The African violets that live in the front bedroom window are all in glorious bloom, a riot of color as you can see from the photo (right).

A note about the violets...these are all Optimara violets.  Bro J (who is in Sales with Marshall & Bruce Printing Co., in Nashville) does the printing for the Holtkamp Greenhouses, creator of the Optimara line, and which bills itself as the "world's largest grower of African violets." Who knew you would find something like that in Nashville, Tennessee?! Or, that they would be for sale EVERYWHERE!

Tiny vase with
double Rip Van Winkle daffodils

With every prediction of freezing temps and frost, we try to clip the daffodils that have blossomed outside and bring them in to enjoy for a few more days.  This photo (left) is of double Rip Van Winkle daffies, picked from the Cutting Garden and placed in the darling little NC-made vase, which we got on our last visit to the Biltmore.  The flat vase is a fired pottery piece with a teeny-tiny (spikey) frog, about the size of a nickle...secured in the middle of the vase...and it holds about 1/2 cup of water.  Thought it unique when I saw it demonstrated in the Garden Center on the estate...but didn't really think I'd use it much, other than to display as a piece of art.  I love it!  Makes me smile when I come in for my coffee in the morning.  I've now replaced those early blossoms with King Alfred and Ice Follies daffies.

OK, I'd better sign off for now. Heading to Sam's Club later on to purchase my tax prep software...oh, goody.  I have a goal of getting this chore done before another month gets torn off the calendar.

Hey, it's a goal...and I am a goal-oriented individual, right?


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