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We Have a Winner!

Hooray! A name has been chosen at random and Nancy is the winner of a copy of The Roses at The End of the Road. As soon as I have her address I will mail it right out.  I’m glad the book – or news of the  book – will be a part of your birthday celebration.

Time to Order New Roses – Looking for Hardiness and Fragrance

Scabrosa rugosa

It is time to order new roses, even if I have to look at a wintry landscape for some weeks yet. I looked through the catalogs and agonized but I finally made my decision. I am ordering two roses from the Antique Rose Emporium (ARE) because they send large container grown roses. This makes the shipping costs more expensive but the healthy bushes are such a nice size that the extra cost is worth it to me.

Basyes Purple Rose – ARE

Basyes Purple, a rugosa cross, is my fail-safe choice this spring. It is rated as hardy to zone 4.  This promises to have a really rich unusual color.  I have several hardy rugosas, often bought because of the description and reputation of the color. Scabrosa is a big hardy shrub with single pink flowers.  It has been billed as ‘the best of the rugosas’ with “purplish-crimson’ flowers but I don’t think they are substantially different from the common rugosa beach rose. I will say the flowers are large with beautiful golden stamens and big orange hips in the fall. It is also true that the bush is vigorously spreading.



Abraham Darby – ARE


The gamble I am taking this spring is David Austin’s Abraham Darby. David Austin’s goal was to create modern fragrant everblooming roses that looked like the romantic roses of yesteryear.  His roses are beautiful, and fragrant and so far have been too tender to survive for more than a couple of years here at the End of the Road. However, I am going to try to grow Abraham Darby once again because it is such a beautiful big fragrant rose whose petals shade from apricot to yellow to pink. Just luscious. It is billed as a tall shrub or short climber. It never got too big for me, but when I gave one to my daughter who lives is what is theoretically zone 5 it grew into such a vigorous climber that her husband decdided it was too ‘messy’ and took it out.  Our climate has definitely changed over the 32 winters we have lived here and are now listed as zone 5, but I have to remind myself that it is more than average temperatures that make up one’s zone. The Antique Rose Emporium does list it as a hardy rose so we will try again. The photograph here does not truly suggest the delicious buttery-ness of the large blossoms.

I’m not guaranteeing I won’t buy another rose or two this spring, but this is today’s order.

Don’t Forget – Still time to enter the BOOK GIVEAWAY of The Speedy Vegetable Garden. Click here and leave a comment. Drawing will be Thursday morning, Valentine’s Day!

I Finished My Handmade Garden Projects – Giveaway

Handmade Garden Projects by Lorene Edwards Forkner

The trouble with the Handmade Garden Projects book by Lorene Edwards Forkner is difficulty in choosing where to begin. Steel trellises or other things made with metal scraps? Clever hose guides? Or creative containers?  Then the Bridge of Flowers committee thought it might be a good idea to make hypertufa containers to plant and sell at our Annual Plant Sale on May 19. The decision was made. If you decide you want to have your own copy of this energizing book, Timber Press is offering a Giveaway. Leave a comment on this blog by a week from today at midnight, on May 24 and I will chose a winner at random on May 25.

Five of us ladies got together for our hypertufa party. We gathered assorted materials to use as molds to each make a hypertufa container (otherwise known as a Rustic Lightweight Trough) for ourselves and one for the Bridge Plant Sale.

I was surprised to find out that you don’t whip one of these troughs up one afternoon and plant them the next. You have to think ahead. After you have made your trough (of whatever shape) in your mold, it has to be put in a black plastic trash bag to cure for 24-48 hours. Because we had our ‘party’ when the weather was still quite cold (but not below freezing) we all chose to let our troughs cure in their bags for nearly a week. We were all very careful using our goggles, dust masks and rubber gloves, and I was so busy that I never got any photos that day. Lorene gives full directions beginning with an ingredients list – and I want to say that I have some leftover materials to make more troughs. There is also an equipment list. All those dusk masks, etc., and then step by step directions.

As suggested, I rinsed mine off several times with a hose to wash out some of the alkalinity provided by the cement and let some of our rains practice their scrubbing on them. Lorene recommends not planting the troughs for at least three weeks from construction day, and I just barely held myself in check long enough.

Our group intended the troughs for succulents, but Lorene has other suggestions. I also noticed directions for making a succulent container out of galvanized gutter which may be my next project, unless I decide I need the neat hose guides more urgently.

Lorene Edwards Forkner is clearly the type of person who goes shopping in her basement, attic and garage before she runs out to buy some expensive garden art or equipment. But, I’ve been thinking that all the upcoming tag and yard sales might also be good places to gather material for some of these projects.

Some of the troughs we made

A number of other bloggers are posting about their take on this great book. Check them out.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here and you might win your very own copy of Handmade Garden Projects.

Chicken Encyclopedia – Storey Blog Tour & Giveaway

The Chicken Encyclopedia by Gail Damerow

The chicken is a familiar farm animal, but even those who are setting up backyard flocks may not be aware of the more arcane facts of their life. Some may not be aware of the most basic facts of their biology. I cannot count the number of times people have told me they would love to have chickens producing eggs in the backyard, but they just cannot stand the thought of having a rooster. BASIC FACT: Hens, like women everywhere, do not need a male to produce eggs. Hens, like women everywhere, do need a male to produce a baby.

Chicks in mailing box - keeping each other warm

Related Basic Facts: A rooster fertilizes an egg before it has a shell and before it is laid in the nest. The white of the fertilized egg is what becomes the chick, while the yolk is there to nourish the chick as it develops. That is why day old chicks can be sent to a new chicken farmer in  the mail. The newly hatched chick needs no food or water for three days. Of course, those of us who have picked up a cheerily cheeping box of chicks from the post office are happy to get them into their brooding area as quickly as possible, to give them the warmth that is essential, as well as food and water.

Chicks in brooder box - warm, fed and watered

Gail Damerow’s Chicken Encyclopedia published by Storey will answer hundreds of other questions about chickens. Some of the answers will help you decide what kind of flock you want to have. There are always aesthetics. So many breeds from big handsomely feathered birds like the Faverolle to the Silkie to a nearly featherless hybrid.

Chicken Encyclopedia - Comb Styles

Even the shape of their combs might influence your choice. There is the familiar single comb, but also rose combs, pea combs, strawberry and pea combs.

When I first had chickens the winters were colder than they are now. Some of the birds with their tall single combs would get frostbitten which was alarming to see in January, but they always recovered by June. Chickens with smaller combs like the rose comb did not suffer as much from the cold. Nowadays it doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.


I have chosen different breeds over the years, fat golden Buff Orpingtons, cheerful Barred Rocks, elegant Silver Laced Wyandottes and others. It is nice to have a pretty mixed flock clucking around but the last few years I have only ordered Araucanas/Americanas, which is the way Murray McMurray hatchery labels and sells them. These are the chickens that lay those pretty blue eggs. I haven’t chosen them because of the prettiness of the eggs, but because they are such good layers, easily laying reliably into their third year. What I give up is a mixed flock of beautifully feathered birds. I don’t think Araucans are the most attractive birds you can get, but I decided I need to be practical in getting more eggs for my buck.

This post is part of Storey’s virtual blog tour. Be sure to visit the other bloggers who are giving more information and responses to the Chicken Encyclopedia.  Also, you can win a copy of this fascinating book by leaving a comment below by midnight March 14. Be sure I have your email address, and I’ll announce the winner, chosen randomly, on March 15.  Storey will send your copy of the Chicken Encyclopedia once I have your mailing address.  The other blogs are also having Giveaways so you have many chances to win this great book. Thank you Storey!

2-Mar     For the Love of Chickens
3-Mar    Vintage Garden Gal
4-Mar    The Garden Roof Coop
5-Mar    Common Weeder
6-Mar    Chickens in the Road
7-Mar    Garden Rant
8-Mar    Fresh Eggs Daily
9-Mar    My Pet Chicken Blog
10-Mar    Coop Thoughts
11-Mar    BoHo Farm and Home
12-Mar    Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs
13-Mar    A Charlotte Garden
14-Mar    Farm Fresh Fun
15-Mar    The HenCam
16-Mar    Life on a Southern Farm
17-Mar    ADozenGirlz, the Chicken Chick
18-Mar    North Coast Gardening

Storey Publishing has its own blog which is full of information and fun. I know because I once contributed some chicken lore. I guess I just did a little crowing there.

All’s Quiet

Life looks quiet here at the End of the Road, but looks are deceptive.  Yesterday I read and signed my book, The Roses at the End of the Road, at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls. On my way home I stopped at a friend’s open house – and sold more books there! Tomorrow I will be signing books at Tower Square in Springfield, right outside the fabulous Festival of Trees exhibit. Expect some photos.

And inside the house work continues on my kitchen renovation. Fortunately, I can use the sink and the stove again! This is baking season.

It is also Giveaway Season. Tomorrow I celebrate four years of blogging, of learning, of meeting other skilled and helpful bloggers by giving away a copy of Debra Lee Baldwin’s inspiring and useful book, Succulent Container Gardens, and a copy of my own book.  Click here and leave a comment. You still have today and all day tomorrow to have a chance to win these two books. I will announce the winner, chosen at random on Wednesday, December 7.  Good luck.

Turkeys in the Road

Yesterday we again saw turkeys walking across the field; they came right up to the end of the road. Turkeys are no longer a rare sight in our neighborhood, however – – –

one day I was visiting a friend and he showed me this – and asked if I could guess what it was.  I could not. It is a well filled turkey crop, that part of a turkey that is an important part of its digestive apparatus.  This wild turkey had been eating corn and beans that had spilled in the barn. When the turkey was butchered everyone marveled at the turkey crop which has to be very strong to hold all the grain it eats, but looks so thin and fragile.

Don’t forget to check out the Giveaway for Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant in my earlier post. It could be yours!

Slowly, Slowly

Snow in the Sunken Garden

The weekend was chilly and windy; the snow is nearly gone. There was work to do.

Cardinal Richelieu in the Shed Bed

Four potted rosebushes arrived from High Country Roses: Cardinal Richelieu, Agnes, Madame Hardy and Goldbusch. Their arrival inspired me to go out and clean out the Shed Bed which is right next to the hen house.  I could not resist planting Cardinal Richelieu which will add its rosy purple hues to this assortment of pink roses.  You will notice the arrangement of stones around the Cardinal and Mary Rose. Their purpose is to keep the hens from taking dust baths in the newly cleared soil.  The weather cooled down after I planted Cardinal Richelieu so I have covered it with a bucket each night, and it is doing fine.

My husband has been busy removing, not adding to the garden. Naturally I didn’t get a Before picture so the After difference is somewhat subtle. For thirty years we have allowed the old pasture fences, posts and barbed wire, define our space, but no more. The south fence  in the photo above and the west fence have been taken down. The advantage will be greater ease in mowing around the roses to the south, while the western space will allow a stroll to what will become our Windbreak Grove. Yet to be planted.


Slowly, slowly spring is coming. The rhubarb is sending up its ruddy shoots, the garlic is up and the grass is greening.

Don’t forget the Giveaway of Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant. Leave a comment on the previous post and I will choose a winner on Saturday, April 23.  Good luck to you all.

Starter Vegetable Garden Giveaway

Tis the season to start gardens. If you have been tentative about starting your first garden this year here is an opportunity to win a book that will be an immense help.

Storey Publishing generously sent me a copy of Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens by Barbara Pleasant to giveaway to my readers. If you would like to win a copy  leave a comment at the the end of this post.  I would love to hear about your own garden plans for this season, but all you must do is let me know you want to win the book  When you post your comment you’ll have to give your email address which will not appear publicly, but which I can use to reach you if you win and get your street address. The lottery will close on Friday April 22, Earth Day at midnight. The winner will be chosen on Saturday, April 23.

While this book will be an excellent guide for the new gardener it also has valuable information for the more experienced gardener with sections on stretching the season, organic remedies, high value verticals. There is something for everyone.

Earth Day is the perfect day to win this book which is all about growing the most local food that can be produced -right in your own backyard – saving all kinds of energy.

The Final Winner!

Rose at Ramble 0n Rose has won The Perennial Gardner’s Design Primer by Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra. Congratulations!  I want to thank everyone who has helped me celebrate three years of blogging this month.  And thank you Storey Publications for being so generous in making this Giveaway possible.

Hen House #4

Local chicken lovers have tended to make good use of extra lumber, roofing, and even old shower doors, but Sheila’s hen house has a long history. While a young Sheila was still living at home with her parents her father gathered up the lumber from a bridge that was being dismantled to make a shed. When Sheila and her husband moved to Heath something more than 30 years ago they dismantled that shed to build a goat shed. The goats now have their own very nice building, and the hens have taken over the shed. The henhouse has two sections, divided by a chicken wire barrier. The hens have most of the room, but the front section is big enough for grain barrels.

Last year Sheila gave up keeping chickens while renovations were made to tighten up the building. There are a number of wild critters that like creeping into midnight chicken houses to get their next meal.  Part of the renovation included beautiful new egg boxes.  The boxes also open from the back, so that Sheila doesn’t have to go all the way into the chicken space to collect eggs. Here’s what I want to know.  Sheila’s chicks and mine arrived in the same shipment in June, but her chickens are already laying while mine lay an occasional egg but don’t see to have gotten the hang of it yet.  What explains that?

Because of problems with critters that crawl and fly, Sheila has a well fenced henyard. She even has fencing over the top so that hawks cannot swoop in for a snack.  This henhouse, yard and all, is located inside the electric goat fence, which means that her goats can visit through the chicken fence.

There are lots of things to consider if you are going to raise chickens, and my henhouse series does show the different problems that people have solved.

Don’t forget you still have time to participate in my Giveaway – The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer. Click here and leave a comment before midnight on Saturday, December 18.