Last week went by quickly. Fergus returned from America on Monday, where he had been giving a series of lectures. His first speaking engagement was in South Carolina, only a hour from my hometown. One of the first things he mentioned was that he had a great burger! Despite a tinge of jealousy, I was happy to hear he had a good trip.
Late afternoon view of the house from the Horse Pond meadow
We began the week cutting grass and cleaning up around the Horse Pond. This was a multi-day project. Similar to the meadow cutting, this late season cleanup will ensure that the grass is still short come spring, when the bulbs start to emerge. It was a little more tedious than the meadow, however, since there were plants that we couldn't strim around, but had to hand clean. One example is the group of Redtwig Dogwoods, Cornus alba, by the water's edge. We had to weed and cut the grass that was growing up underneath the shrubs by hand, since they're planted so densely. It's monotonous work, but it is necessary to provide a nice, clean view in the winter, when the plants are displaying their brilliant red bark.
Bracken Fern naturalizes on the hillside
Across the Horse Pond meadow, there is a large hill, which is home to a wonderful stand of Bracken Fern, of the genus Pteridium. These ferns, which spread by underground roots (rhizomes), seem quite happy where the clay soil meets sandy soil, on what used to be an iron mine, several hundred years ago. We cut back the grass and ferns on the hill, and sorted them into different piles as we went. The grass went on the compost heap, but we will save the fern fronds as insulation material for the winter. Specifically, we will use the fronds to protect the Banana plants that stay in the Exotic Garden over winter (I'm sure I will have example photos when the time comes).
Bagged fern fronds