Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Juneteenth!



Tomorrow is June 19th, or "Juneteenth", the oldest celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

This weekend, many cities, including Albany, NY, held Juneteenth celebrations with food, music, entertainment, and other family-friendly events.


The story behind this celebration goes back to 1865.  It was on June 19th that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that all former slaves were now free.

Want to know more? It just so happens that a close relative of mine wrote a book about General Granger back in 2013. Check it out on Amazon, here.  If you are a history buff, especially if you are interested in Civil War history, you should take a look. 

Happy Juneteenth!



Saturday, June 3, 2017

Garden news around these parts: Tours and sales and hummingbirds in my own backyard (edited)




Overcast! Oh, yes it is, again! So cool and gray this spring has been. Very like English weather. At least in our yard, this has thrown off bloom times. Until yesterday, I had not seen any returning hummingbirds, where as in most years, they would have been here and happily darting about from blossom to blossom by now.

But last evening, I did spot a couple, zooming around in the near-dusk. They seemed frantic, even by hummingbird standards, going to places in our garden where, normally, plants would be in bloom: clematis, trumpet vine, peonies. But although there are buds on those plants, the hummingbirds were finding little to sip there.

I quickly boiled up some sugar water (see how to do that, here) cooled down the nectar, then rinsed out the feeder and filled it up. I hung it out last night, just before 8:00 PM, hoping the hummingbirds would find it in the morning. 

And they have.  Even bleary-eyed as I was making coffee, I quickly noticed their comings and goings at dawn this morning. It took them no time at all to find the feeder. I guess they were hungry. (Sorry, no actual hummer photos: They are too quick and my camera is too humble.) Later edit: Despite my lack of sophisticated camera gear, I was later able to get the somewhat blurry photo, above, of one of my hummingbird visitors this afternoon.

If you have never fed hummingbirds before, please do a little reading before you start. Usually, I only feed them in the spring, as it can be a challenge to keep the nectar from becoming rancid once the weather becomes very hot. But my theory is, now is when they really need the help. By midsummer, there is much more nectar available from natural sources and they don't need the feeder then.


Yeah, about that weather forecast.


Today was supposed to be sunny. Looks cold and gray to me. (Sigh.) Eat up, little hummers, and keep warm as best you can.
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 Alas, the wet spring has been a challenge for sellers of plants this year. But you can take advantage of resulting special deals, such as at Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery, one of my favorite plant sources in this region. These next two Fridays and Saturdays, they are having a huge sale - all stock is buy one, get one free. The nursery will be open for retail sales for only four more days this spring, starting June 2 and 3, and then June 9 and 10. Their hours are 9-5 all four days. After that, the nursery is open by appointment only.  Find Fiddlehead Creek nursery in beautiful Washington County. Their address is 7381 State Route 40, Hartford, NY 12838.

It is getting to be the season for garden tours. There are two good ones coming up that you can buy tickets for right now. Check out Historic Albany's 2017 House and Garden Tour

Center Square Association, Hudson/Park Neighborhood Association and Historic Albany Foundation are proud to present the annual Hidden City House & Garden Tour on Thursday, June 22 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Every year, this tour brings the neighborhood to life as homeowners open their doors and gardens to the public. Guests are able to tour, at their leisure, the beautiful and historic homes and hidden gardens that make up the Center Square & Hudson/Park neighborhoods. This year we'll also feature Pine Hills.

The link for tickets is here: http://www.historic-albany.org/hgt/ 

And another favorite, the 23rd annual Secret Gardens Tour presented by Soroptimist International of Saratoga County, is coming up on Sunday, July 9, from 11 AM to 5 PM. From their promotional information:

This year, we are featuring an eclectic mix of 11 private gardens in and around Saratoga Springs. From homes on North Broadway, to a cluster of in-city yards, to a handful of suburban secrets, the gardens are a mix of styles and sizes, in both sun and shade, sure to inspire garden lovers of every level.



One cautionary note from me: Garden tours of private homes and spaces may have accessibility issues. You should be aware that there may be stairs, slippery places, narrow and uneven footpaths, lots of walking. Before you set off with your aged aunt or strollers full of wee bairns, you might want to call ahead for advice and details. (Trust me on this.) And please, do NOT bring your dogs.






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