Happy New Year friends, and a little catch up

Happy New Year friends!
Maddie here, peeking over the hedge at ya'll. It's a bit frigid here where I am, but there are lots of new garden wonders to thrill me, even in it's early stage. I went outside and emptied the compost bucket into the overfilled iron square Miz Mary gave me that is heaped up with leaves and compost and pine needles to the very top. The other compost unit I need to open up and check on the level and see how it's doing. I am sure I will have to build yet another compost bin for transferral. Pallet's will do nicely. Free, and easy to set up. I saw there was a lot of "tree hair" lying on the ground all over the back yard from the high winds and such while we had gone to San Antonio to see our son, Patrick graduate from basic training at the Air Force. (tree hair = dropped or wind blown limbs and twigs). There will be a nice little brush pile for burning later on when I bundle up and gather it all. As I walked back towards the house, Sugar was running like mad like a crazed thing happy with being outside in the cold and "herding" me. She ran past and played like a puppy. How I wish sweet Smeagol had lived long enough to experience the huge fenced back yard and been able to play with his mama/sister dawg. I'd rather he'd been buried at home instead of the pasture he's at rest in now. But at least he was placed next to Rose. Or at least that's how I like to think. I know the reality of it, I'm just sentimental <g> On the way up the back yard, I stopped and saw that the Kaffir lilies that my girlfriend in Oregon had sent me in a care package in the fall were sticking their little green sad noses out of the ground where I'd planted them, so I turned around and went to the huge pile of leaves and pine needles that the next door neighbor had gifted me with in the late fall one day when he was gathering up his leaves in his yard. I had mentioned that I never discard my leaves to the city unless there is a communal compost pile to glean from. They don't here. Apparently they just suck up the leaves from the fronts of the houses and take them to the landfill. Oh well. At least we have recycle pick up of sorts and trash collection here. Something I never took forgranted at Old Faerie Holler. No recycle in the Old F. H. and none in the last home in Greeneville. They apparently don't want glass either which is odd, but I'm happy to put out the paper, plastic and washed cans. Makes way less trash to be taken and since I've composted since I was 18, well......even less than they'd reckon if they were aware. I might actually look into seeing about a compost program for gardeners here since I see a few local nurseries nearby. So back to the garden and the new gardens. I covered the Kaffir lily shoots up with four inches of leaves and pine needles until the harsh blast of sub zero weather is past us. No snowfall to protect things, so I covered everything that was tender. On my way back to the house after I did that, I peeked at the Ivory Prince Hellebore and got a wonderful surprise. Little blush pink noses peeking out of a lipstick "tube" of new green leaves. WOW!! These are tucked in a slight raised bed that looks like a sort of "foot" or shoe against the western side of a huge willow oak tree. I enclosed one side of the middle tree with the large garden blocks two high, and then planted the hellebore, a tiny hosta, some narcissus bulbs and a few muscari and crocus for good measure. The Ivory Prince was tucked tightly against a tree peony but I was able to tease it out carefully without too much disturbance and it bounced back rather well. I also took the opportunity to tease out a baby hellebore of undetermined variety and color and tuck it between the "toes" of the tree's roots on another tree next to the one I predominantly planted the shade lovers. It's thriving nicely. Once I see if they seed, I will scatter more at the feet of the other trees. I have a lot of clean up to do. Not only the tree hair, but there are too many privet to take care of. James wants to keep the two largest. I know how insidious they are. I hope to get him to trim it down a bit and stop it's seeds. I may take a warmer day and just cut off the seeds myself to prevent any more little privet from germinating. I pull to memory the packed and filled woods of the former old Faerie Holler with all those privet that towered over 15 foot! I also noticed that there were little green noses up in the eastern front bed of assorted narcissus and crocus and muscari. Nothing overly spectacular yet, but give them time and they will wow me and spread out. It's so bloody cold here and no snow cover, I will need to give things a little leaf litter to provide extra protection. So far the blooming shrubs are holding their own fairly well, and I will check again for more signs of spring. Already James and I have noticed buds on the variegated hydrangea I tucked between the houses on the northern side. Little pink tipped buds all along the seemingly dried out and dead stems. I am excited to experience my first spring here. To tide me over, now that I have my own computer up and running and am not using James to get on the internet, I can access my files and folders of springs past to quicken my heart and bring a happy tear to my eye of things I cherished and appreciated. I will appreciate them even more now that I have lost them, but it's a good feeling to know that while I did have them, they gladdened my heart so much. I'm glad I documented them like I did. And still do. I have planted shallots, red onions, and garlic into the edge of our veggie garden and already they are up four inches, so James went out and mulched those with four inches of leaves as well. Never can be too safe when the temperatures plummet to -12. Our windchills now have been brisk. I'd just love a few inches of snow, but what can one do? The weather god will do as he see's fit. I am now enjoying the first arrivals of enticements. Aka, the seed catalogs. Gladly pulled out of the small box (the larger farmer's sized one that will hold a small child neatly folded up will go up later once we paint it and find a good sturdy pole for it) out front, I've gotten Territorial Seed, Select Seed, and Thompson & Morgan. I am waiting for One Green World, and Pine Tree Seeds. Even White Flower Farm will be welcomed, just to enjoy the offerings regardless of the prices. Inside, the cacti and succulents and the few remaining tropicals are suffering through a different dry and warm environment. Instead of the desert like arid heat of a heat pump, or the inadequate heat at all (lost a LOT of babies and treasured friends to the too cold house we rented last winter) this winter is a welcome gas heated central home, but again, it's a bit too dry. The den where we've got almost everyone with exception to a few scattered around windows in the laundry room, kitchen window tops, living room, bath, and bedroom, is dry and cooler. The bathroom seems good with good western light now that the leaves are off the old oak trees finally. In the living room, there are only a few low light plants left to enjoy the strong eastern sunlight. Sanseveria's of odd and unusual varieties and one of my two huge seven foot schifeleria that enjoys the northern and strong eastern sunlight. In the kitchen, I have kalanchole blooming, a rat tailed sans blooming as well as crown of thorns euphorbia in bloom, and the red old fashioned amaryllis sending up shoots that were given to me by a friend last summer. were I to have a colder place for it, it would be dormant right now. Oh well, we'll see what it will do at the proper time. And maybe I'll have clivia to set bud this year. One can hope. I managed to keep the yellow one that Pen sent me a few years ago. The blood lilies are now dormant and just dirt in a large pot for winter, but the African daffodil decided to send up three new leaves, maybe it will bloom for me this year. I will stop for now but promise to return at another time when there are things to share. What's going on with you all over the fence? I've been quietly lurking and reading, and am happy to see some familiar as well as new faces here. I hope everyone is well. Thanks for letting me share a bit.
madgardener gardening in zone 7b in Tennessee
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