This morning I woke up fairly early, made myself a coffee while Sky and Elizabeth still slept, and sat for a moment behind the house enjoying the early morning heat. The sky was a clear deep blue with just a couple of clouds to the south, the sun shone through the screen of trees across the gully to the east. Those trees are budding with emerald leaves that nearly hide our neighbors house on the other side of that gully for the first time this year. It looked like it was going to be an absolutely beautiful day and probably be the first day above 80 degrees Fahrenheit we have seen this year. I headed back in, made up some breakfast and more coffee for everybody- fried egg, waffles, and raspberries for Sky, scrambled egg, green salsa, and cheese quesadillas for myself and Elizabeth- everybody's favorites.
After we had all eaten we headed back out to take Mel on his usual walk, the sun was still blazing. Elizabeth decided she would take a run around the trails and Sky and I cut back some willows and dogwood along our marsh trail that would have ended up crowding the trail over the course of the summer and made it difficult to mow. We always save the cuttings when we trim back any variety of willow because you can use those cut branches and stems to propagate more willow trees. The stuff is amazing. You can basically stab it anywhere in the ground that is relatively moist and it will just grow roots and establish itself... it takes time but we have had great success doing this all along the riverbanks and anywhere else we want to put it.
Lots of the willow in this picture is stuff we have planted along the river bank since we moved in. This one in the foreground is from last year!
Mel decided to go fishing as we wandered along the bank collecting more willow!
We tend to trim the willows and dogwoods back hard in the spring when the ground is at its wettest and move the cuttings to areas of the property that are thick with Japanese Knotweed to compete with it. In this way we are slowly but surely limiting the invasive knotweed's spread. It takes a lot of effort week in and week out from spring through fall... knotweed is so resilient and grows so rapidly that we have to continuously cut it back to allow the transplants to even have a chance. It unfortunately means that parts of the riverbank looks awful as we knock back the old dead growth to allow us to clear the sprouts each spring.
I truly dislike being so destructive to any part of our property but the truth is that Japanese Knotweed would take over the whole field if left to its own devices. We don't have any interest in using a herbicide on it and couldn't even if we wanted to due to its proximity to the river and our water sources. We could get a bulldozer in to dig it all out but its roots can be 10 feet deep and incredibly extensive so the whole riverbank would be irreversibly changed. Even the cost would be prohibitive. So we deal with the seasonal ugliness and every year plant more native species in this mess of old knotweed stems and walk through with a machete about once a week to cut back its rapid growth. We are realistic about it- it will be years before the native species are able to hold their own. We will continue to help them as best we can in the meantime. Sky makes a game out of it and is always making sure to stomp out any "knotweed minions" she sees on our walks. She often says we are the "willow king, queen and princess defending our kingdom from the knotweed king and his minions." We couldn't ask for a better helper! Even Melvin helps- though he is less interested in getting the living shoots and more interested in running round with one of the dead canes like a stick.....
As we headed back across the field we paused by these two robot sculptures that the previous owners placed. We have decided to leave them as is and may even continue the trend and make our own. I am never quite sure how to feel about them but they are definitely unique! the small sapling to the left is one of the hardy cherries we planted last week.
The blossoms on the crab apple have gone absolutely wild!
We headed back up to the house and as we did it started to rain and even hail a little! Goes to show how quickly the weather can change here! All of the pictures in this post were taken over the course of about 2 hours this morning. We are all hanging out inside now for lunch and deciding what to do with the rest of our afternoon since the weather doesn't seem to know what to do. You can see the sky was still partially clear in the pictures but it was coming down hard for a few minutes! Luckily it wasn't enough hail to do any damage to our plants and quickly became a nice gentle rain.
That's it for me today! We are going to play a couple of board games and get some more seedlings ready to go. I'll be doing a veggie garden post soon soon, promise. 😁