The chickens and I are joining Sarah from Down By The Sea for Through the Garden Gate, February. Through the Garden Gate is a monthly link up for gardeners to share what is happening in their garden each month.
Honestly, there just isn’t much happening in our gardens just now. I hesitate to join along but here goes anyway.
We will start our walk out on the North 40. In front of the hen-house, a majestic holly tree is still covered in beautiful red berries. When I first got into chicken farming a few years ago, I read that holly berries are poisonous to chickens, I was quite concerned as we have three different hen houses, coops and runs near that tree. Turns out the chickens instinctively know not to eat the berries.
A thornless blackberry is planted at the base of the purple martin house, it has a few green leaves.
The trees are bare skeletal sculpture against the winter sky and the grass is brown. We’ll stroll around back behind the big hen-house where the pond is frozen and the chickens like to go ice skating from time to time.
We farm with no pesticides or herbicides and our gardens are presented in a natural way – a polite way of saying it is a bit of an unruly natural mess, you won’t find neat tidy rows. Orchestrated chaos that’s what it is. Mulch is nonexistent because having chickens that free range it is rather pointless. The chickens spend every free minute rearranging mulch, plants and anything else that comes across their path. We have learned to accept that this farming style can be a bit messy and weedy and we are good with that because we feel it is better for the earth and wildlife not to use chemicals.
February yields mostly brown tones and weed/seed heads and grasses that are left in place for winter interest as well as food and cover for the birds that visit and call our place home. I enjoy the sculptural quality of the grasses and seed pods.
A concrete hare marks the spot where my hellebore is planted in the perennial garden. Early February Miss Patty LaBelle scratches through the leaves and confirms there are no signs of life just yet.
There is a bright red cardinal high up in the poplar tree, the oak tree is a preferred spot for vultures to roost. It also makes a great haunted tree look when they are in residence. Firey red leaves and berries on the Nandina. Sculptural remains of pokeberry.
Blackberry lily seeds remain, plump and ready for re-seeding themselves. Honeysuckle is intertwined everywhere, at least it provides a bit of green.
Wild morning glory scrambles up the pole to the bat house.
Grasses sway in the breeze and reveal birdhouses tucked inside here and there.
Sweet Annie is a favorite of mine, every time I walk past I run my hands through it and then enjoy the scent it leaves behind on my palm.
This is a weed, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the name, but I still find the seeds interesting.
Chickens scattered under the grape arbor and under the pear trees.
The Koi pond at the front of the property is still in winter slumber, the fish are barely visible just below a layer of ice.
The magnolia – Saucer Magnolia – Magnolia Soulangeana
and dogwood buds are just beginning to burst with growth. A pair of Bluebirds up in the magnolia survey the house below, soon they will begin to build their first nest of the season.
Dried Goldenrod and perennial Hibiscus and a hardy banana tree, Banano resistgente Musa basjoo – cut back for Winter.
Cinnamon was hatched late last summer, she is a Buff Orpington and Black Alstralourpe mix, she lays lovely brown eggs and she blends in nicely with all the other brown in the garden.
Dried flower heads of Sedum – Autumn Joy.
Snowball scratches among the wicked thorns on the David Austin rose – Winchester Cathedral – a prize find. Last spring, the garden center forgot to water this rose and when I found it, it was all but dead and therefore was significantly discounted. This brand of roses is normally not in my budget. I brought it home talked ever so sweetly to it, watered it and told it how happy I was to have it living on the farm.
I was rewarded with beautiful flowers for the remainder of the summer. Sweet victory.
A striking combination of purple and green from sage.
Finally, green shoots of daffodil – signs that spring is coming.
But first more snow fell and everything is covered in white magic.
Front wildflower garden.
We lost several trees and lots of branches from the ice and snow.
Finally over in the woodland area, daffodils emerge.
Back to browsing all the seed catalogs and dreaming of spring planting. We anticipate more winter weather in the next few days – say it ain’t so.
Thanks for walking through the gardens with the girls and me. I hope you will visit Sarah and the other bloggers that are joining along this month.