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Tractor Supply Chicks and Brighton Azalea Garden Update

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The new most searched topics for this blog. How much are those chicks? Are the azaleas blooming?

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First, the azaleas. Yesterday I was told out at the gardens that they are at the 35-40% mark for blooms. Tomorrow should be a good day to go, or next week, as more varieties respond to this warmer weather.

Oh, and take money. $6 per person to tour the gardens. Under 16, and 65 and over, don’t pay. This is new. I don’t know how rigorously they will enforce it during the week, but on weekends, they will be collecting money. I understand it. The gardens needed lots of work. Older plants died, and they have replanted extensively the last few years. The gardens are still lovely. Worth taking the time to visit.

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As for those baby chicks, not many left at the Mt. Airy store today, and they are on sale for a buck a bird. Yep, $1 each. Minimum of six chicks, unless there are just a few left. A couple of the tubs had sold signs on all the chicks in them. I suppose that when they get a few weeks older, they are eating more and the profit margin is shrinking.

While we were there today, I did pick up shallots for my garden. And, a bag of snap peas to plant. Tomorrow I will head up to my garden to continue planting. Not quite ready for the tomatoes for two more weeks, and the zukes and cukes won’t go in until the end of May. Too much of a risk. They don’t like any cold nights.

Spring is definitely hitting us hard now. If only the pollen would go away.

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Sure Signs of Spring

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Around here my favorite sign of spring is the blooming of two of my plants.


The rhododendron. Every winter I try and protect them, to whatever extent I can. This year, the deer decided to chomp on one of them. The snow cover prevented them from eating on the ground, so they chewed up the bottom of one of these plants, as well as a few evergreens.

Thankfully, they did OK overall. The other two are a darker color.


And not as quick to flower.

My second indicator is the tangerine azalea.


Almost blooming. This year I have about a dozen blooms on this plant. Some years it flowers more than others.

In the spring, too, the hostas are incredibly pretty. They are a nice contrast to my north facing azaleas that bloom last.


Along with the azaleas, the lace maple in full color.


The lace maple is one of those trees. It just leaps out and captures your attention.

Springtime. When the plants renew themselves. The trees turn green and the shade returns.


The backyard is green and shady.


And the meadow is full of buttercups.

Spring in this part of the world is the reason we stay here. Lovely weather. Beautiful surroundings and lots to do.

Mother’s Day Stuff

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Like tea and scones at the Conservancy. Or azaleas at Brighton Dam. Or brunch somewhere.

What are you doing for Mom’s Day?

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What could be more enjoyable than a leisurely stroll through all the gardens at the Conservancy while drinking tea and eating scones (some of them are mine!)? Garden clubs and volunteers are there to show you the beautiful flowers popping out in the gardens. Tea is being served in the historic farmhouse. This is all on Saturday the 10th.

On Sunday, you could head out to Brighton Dam to see if the azaleas finally look like this.

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We were there today. The azaleas are coming along, but this winter did freeze a fair number of buds so they aren’t as magnificent as other years.

Whatever you do, the promise of spring time temperatures and flowers galore should take you outside to enjoy this lovely weather.


Le Jardin

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It’s Sunday morning in the neighborhood. The sky is misty. The plants are happy. A Sunday report on the state of my garden, and of the Brighton Dam azalea garden.

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We stopped at Brighton Dam today on our way to Boarman’s to get fennel. They didn’t have any and we had to go to Harris Teeter, but that’s another post. The azaleas are past peak. Still pretty out there, but azaleas are over the hill. The cormorants were out in full force though.

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As you can see, there are splashes of color but way past prime viewing season.

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My herb garden is going nuts. Check out the large number of chive blossoms. Edible, tasty, pretty too.

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And, of course, the mint, which is essentially a weed. Can’t kill it. Spreads like crazy. This one has been in the same container for five years. For the life of me, I can’t remember which variety it is. It comes back every spring.

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As for my non edible garden, we got our first white rhododendron this year. Never saw one before now. The rhodie are doing well. With lots of new growth and more blooms than I thought.

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Plus, these flowers have never appeared before. Sometimes I wonder where in the world they come from. There are about a dozen of them out there now. I believe they are a type of iris. Any suggestions?

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Finally, too, the tangelo azalea has bloomed. Not as much as other years but still awesome.

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In terms of the pleasure we get from our flowers, shrubs and trees, it is well worth the effort I put into keeping them healthy.


Gardens and Parties

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Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Sometimes it seems to be another Hallmark holiday, but sometimes it really is special. Are you doing something for or with your mom that she really wants to do?

Even if it’s just a walk, or a meal, or a homemade card, those little things that bring joy are what most of our moms appreciate the most. The long leisurely phone calls where you listen instead of talking. Those little gifts taken to her, like in my case, getting her the heavier items she needs and can’t carry well anymore.

Driving her to someplace she really wants to go. My mom isn’t a flower or garden person, who doesn’t walk on uneven surfaces very well, but she loves to be driven out in the country just so we can talk.

Or, in my case, taking her to where she wants to go for a luncheon, even if it isn’t a place I normally like to go.

Today at the Conservancy lots of moms and grandmoms came with their families, even in the misty morning, to wander the grounds, have tea and scones in the farmhouse, visit the animals and talk to the gardeners.

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The children got to hear a Mother’s Day story. While proud parents took pictures.

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Mom may have even gotten a gift of some flowers to be planted when they stopped at the Conservancy community garden plant sale.

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All in all, we had a great morning. Tomorrow, if your mom loves flowers, the azaleas are in bloom at Brighton Dam, but if she isn’t into the crowds, maybe waiting a few days and having a visit after school, or early in the morning, when they open at nine.

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Here’s to all our moms.

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Brighton Dam Azaleas May 5 2013 Report

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They are getting there. The early bloomers are lovely. Lots of buds though. Mother’s Day should be perfect. And, how about this little gem?

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I assume WSSC planted the flowers. I can’t imagine them allowing an individual to do it, but who knows? Plenty of color even on a gloomy Sunday morning.

A romantic spot for a walk.

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Weekdays and early morning, this was at 9 am, you can have the place to yourselves. As you can see, many varieties are still in budding stage, not yet blooming. Still, there are spectacular blazes of color on some of the smaller paths.

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Unusual colors too.

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I could go here almost every day and be happy just to wander the trails.

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Easy to access on the Howard/Montgomery county lines. This is a treat for all of us who live here.

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Lovin’ the Springtime

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Finally, we seem to have stumbled upon a true spring time. Lovely sunny low humidity days. Perfect for al fresco dining. No bugs. No wind. Looks like a bit more of this weather in store also. Today we opted for dining outside as much as possible, and also spent time on the yardwork.

First, a report on our impromptu lunch on the patio. Using CSA items mostly, but making my simple salad as a topping. CSA greens with some scallions, baby turnips and red cabbage. A couple of pieces of that mozzarella I made. One of those huge spicy peppery radishes, and half a Valencia orange. Add to it some homemade vinaigrette. The topping is my Tuscan inspired tuna.

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In the little cup is a dollop of vanilla yogurt I picked up at Breezy Willow Wednesday, served with a few apricots and some frozen blackberries, left from my Larriland stash in the freezer.

Dinner is happily slow cooking in the oven, the last of the lasagne I made from my homemade sauce. Took it from freezer to oven. No fuss while we enjoy the weather in the back yard.

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I can hear the tractors, my husband in the field and my neighbor in his yard. Doesn’t everyone park their tractor by the patio while taking a lunch break?

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As for how things are developing in the flower and tree department. Azaleas really starting to flower.

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This purple one is really full of blooms. Also having a banner year is my crab apple. Within a few days, this should be a vision in white.

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Anything significant blooming in your space? Spring has definitely sprung in West Hoco.


Under the Weather

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It never fails every spring, I pick up at least one cold while the weather keeps vacillating. Today after doing a fair amount of work in the gardens, I succumbed to that stuffy head, achy muscles and simply miserable feeling. Making me miss a hocobloggers get together at Xitomate. I judge a Mexican restaurant by their moles and their camarones dinners.

We will get there to try it with friends some night, just didn’t make it today. Besides, I can’t wait until they get to Turf Valley, much closer to our house.

Before crashing on the sofa with lemon water and rosemary crackers, I did get many of my herbs in the garden, and spent about an hour pulling up black fabric in the main veggie gardens. I will plant the tomatoes in three weeks, after the last chance of frost. Tell me, is there anything better than the scent of tomato plants?

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They are all happy in the mudroom under the window facing east. As for the flowers outside, the dogwoods are blooming. The early azaleas too. I will be taking a trip to Brighton Dam tomorrow if I feel better to see what is happening there.

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Yes, under the trees the dandelions are going nuts. So are all our other weeds, and the wild parsley that keeps the bunnies out of my herbs. Herbs planted and planned this year include blue sage, common sage, French tarragon, French thyme, African blue basil, marjoram and sweet basil. The chives and rosemary are coming back as well as that weed called mint. If you do nothing else, plant a few small pots of herbs. Thyme does very well around here.

As for the Thelma Sanders start from seed squash experiment, I ended up with one dozen plants from the saved seeds. Not a bad germination rate at all. There will be a section in the garden for the squash and cucumbers to hopefully happily coexist.

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Finally, one last thing about locally sourced meats. We got half a lamb last week from England Acres. Twenty seven pounds. Dressed the way we wanted it. At a fraction of the cost of buying it at the store.

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Next week is their first week for their chickens. Believe me, since there are none left in the freezer, I will be popping out to the farm for a couple.

I may be fighting a simple spring bug, but the weather and that beginning of growing season always gets me motivated to go out and enjoy my favorite time of year here in the midAtlantic.

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Brighton Dam Azaleas 2013

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Definitely late blooming compared to last year. Lots of buds, just a few early bloomers.

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I did quite a few errands today, but took a break and walked the gardens which opened last week. Many buds and a lovely blue sky with a few plants here and there bursting with color.

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These early pink blossoms were scattered around the property but when you walked the trails it was mostly just greening up. Beautiful sunny day. Many people out. Give them a week and they will start popping.

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It is still a serene setting for a walk.

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The gardens on Brighton Dam Road are open daily until mid summer. No pets. No picnics.

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The Year 2012 In Review, from the Blog

I was going to do a highlights post. Lo and Behold, WordPress did a year in review for me. Weird that I clicked on my dashboard and found the year summary just as I was sitting down to write about the most popular posts.

In my summary page, it showed many views of the local resource page, and my About page. I decided this afternoon to update them to make sure they were current. Including more detail and a few more pictures.

As for my most popular posts, the top five came out this way.

Number Five — Baby Chicks at Tractor Supply — people still click on this one. It is from last April. I suppose this year I need to take pictures of the chicks. I only did a superficial summary last year without finding out how many people buy chicks from them every year. They certainly had a nice variety, and they sold out quickly.

Number Four — CQ Field Day, CQ Field Day — my account of the amateur radio weekend at the local school yard, with the local clubs. I cook for them, and I blogged about it. It got picked up on a national radio club feed and it still gets views, when people search on their call sign, W3AO, or Whiskey Three Atlantic Ocean. We won this past year. We are used to winning. A large group of very competitive hams.

W3AO Field Day 2012 Class 27A

W3AO Field Day 2012 Class 27A

Number Three — Brighton Dam Azalea Gardens — I shouldn’t be surprised by this one. Lots of people want to know when the azaleas peak. This year, again, I will be monitoring them and taking pictures, and posting them. We live right up the road from the gardens and visit them frequently. We also have been all over the property doing bird counts with the local club. One of my favorite places in Howard County.

Brighton dam azaleas

Brighton dam azaleas

Number Two — The YEMMies are Coming — Why? I have no idea, but lately every time I look at the sidebar where it lists most recent popular posts, the YEMMie post is there. It has over 200 views, most of them recent. Obviously, there is adequate discussion on the media about the Young Educated Millennial Mothers. I discussed in my post about mothers in my CSA making baby food themselves from the organic veggies and fruits, and of former coworkers looking for pasture fed, and/or free range meat and eggs and dairy. We certainly see an increase in younger patrons at the farm stands and markets we frequent.

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And, the Number One post for the year, my personal view after the fatal accident that closed rte.32 in November, that was picked up by the Preserve Woodmont facebook page, was My View from West County. That was one of the crazier days out here, with people we know stranded, or rerouted, or lost trying to get through the clogged roads.

Our visit that night to Bistro Blanc included conversations with a number of people who had real problems getting anywhere that day. If we had medical emergencies, or a fire out here, the gridlock would have made it next to impossible to get emergency vehicles in. It took people three or four hours to get through west county that day. I lamented the fact that our infrastructure upgrades that were in process when we moved here in 2005, have pretty much not materialized.

They are only now working on the second interchange up near us, with the Rte. 144/Rte. 32 one still in the planning stages. Even then, the two lane road is still overcrowded, and has been overwhelmed by commuters traveling from north and west of Howard County.

It will be interesting to see what happens once they finish the Linden Church interchange next fall. Will the clogged up area move north to 144? Will they see the bailing out of traffic on roads like Pfeffercorn? We see it now on Triadelphia, Linthicum, Burnt Woods, Ten Oaks and Howard. I think it will just make the funnel move further north, but still create hazards for those living here.

I really wish they would just at least do something about the mailboxes, trash collection and recycling. Having only one way delivery for mail, and one way pick up for trash and recycling has made driving even more dangerous due to the sheer number of cars, trucks and buses on our roads.

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I find it interesting that my most viewed post had to do with west county infrastructure. I have noticed, reading the local blogs, that most of them focus on Columbia and Ellicott City. I am not sure how many of my fellow local bloggers have been out here other than to pick strawberries at Larriland. At eight years in, we have seen many changes, but also have seen much that keeps us rural and disconnected. Not a bad thing, most of the time. It still is a lovely place to live. And, to blog.

Have a safe New Year’s Eve. We are staying in, eating well and popping the cork on a split of champagne, if we can stay up until midnight. A few people will shoot off fireworks at some of the more remote properties not far from us, if the weather cooperates. We hear them and see them every year.