Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mom and Dad's Yard, March 2011

 Dry hydrangea blossoms in the snow, March 6, 2011.

I had a good time taking photos in the snow at my parents' house last Sunday.  They have a large, wooded lot with a creek, and I've wanted to take photos there for a while.  I waited for the snow to start falling before going outside for pictures - a light, fresh layer of white fluff would make the yard look fresh and clean.

My parents live at the foot of a large hill in the Southern Tier of New York.  We used to live near the top of that same hill.  Either way, we saw lots (and I mean LOTS) of deer.  I'm on a quest to help my parents plant deer-resistant perennials in their yard.  The deer left the foxgloves alone last year.  This year I'll try flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata), and lavender, and mums (the deer are reputed to not like sticky/aromatic plants very much - we'll see).  The deer are fun to watch, and beautiful in their own way, but they're heck on a yard as far as flowers go.  A herd of them gave me a wary once-over Sunday when I stepped out on the porch to take some pictures.

There's a very large, old oak tree in the middle of the back yard.  Mom and Dad insisted that it be kept when they had the house built 13 years ago.  It's a magnificent old warrior, with a huge scar down its side from a long-ago lightning strike.

You can only see the bottom third or so of the oak tree in this shot.  
It's very tall, and about 3 feet in diameter at the base.
You can see the lightning scar on the right side of it.

Dad and Mom have put a great deal of work into their landscape, and they added a number of ornamental trees around the yard.  One is a gorgeous river birch (Betula nigra).  Its bark is a thing of beauty in all seasons, but especially striking in the winter.  They also planted a Colorado blue spruce, a corkscrew willow, an ornamental cherry, a tree hydrangea, a dwarf Japanese maple, and an ornamental pear, which have all stood up to the deer.  Other shrubs and small trees (rhododendron, pieris, azaleas) became deer chow.  It's been a learning experience.

I love the creek in their back yard in all seasons.  (Well, maybe not in late summer during a dry spell - there's not much attractive about a ribbon of mud in the back yard.)  It runs between two lakes, and in the spring some mallards usually take up residence nearby.  They know my sister feeds them bread crusts, and they follow us around, quacking, while we work outside.  There are also some very large carp that migrate between the two lakes each summer.  The creek is not very deep, and it's quite a sight to see these large fish churning through the shallow places.  Our daughter has a favorite little nook on the edge of the stream, under some bushes, where she likes to sit and watch the water go by.

My Dad built a bridge over the creek a year or so after they moved in. 
He and the grandkids have enjoyed many games 
of "Pooh Sticks" there when each was little.  
This year will be their littlest grandson's turn - he'll be two this summer.

I love this yard, especially the sound of the wind and the rain in the trees.  The large screened porch on the back of the house is my Mom's favorite place to read in the summer.  We all enjoy family picnics out there, with my Dad as the grill master.  Their home has been a haven for all of us - what a blessing!

One last photo:  this brave little tree, I couldn't even tell you what species, is actually in bloom right now.  You  have to look close, but there it is - tiny little flowers under a dusting of fresh snow.  We think spring is just around the corner, but it is already here if you know where to look.