This week’s warm weather has encouraged the grapevines to open their first buds.
The daffodils have been in bloom for two weeks and show no sign of stopping.
One of the earliest blooms on our block.
Every December, many of the city’s residents bring home a small conifer for the winter holidays — and then discard them in early January.
Mulchfest is part of the city’s adaptation to this cycle: deploying large chipper trucks at numerous locations around the city, where people can bring their trees to be chipped, and optionally take home a bag of the resulting material to be used as mulch.
While most people just leave their tree, or perhaps take home a small bag of pine chips, there doesn’t seem to be any real limit to how much mulch you’re allowed to take, so I’ve learned to bring a shopping cart and a stack of empty tote bags, so I can bring home enough for a dozen sidewalk treebeds around the neighborhood.
The mix of pine needles, twigs, and chips will slowly break down over the coming year to provide a stream of supplemental nutrients to the soil, as well as improving moisture absorption and retention and building soil health.
The new holly has produced a lovely crop of berries to add some bright color to our winter.
Most of the flowers are gone from the garden, but the cockscombs (Celosia) are still vibrant.
Newest addition to the garden: a large Rudbeckia (“black eyed susan”). It’s slightly bedraggled after its trip here by truck, but I am optimistic that it’ll perk up over the coming days — and I think it still has enough time to make itself at home that it has a decent chance of surviving the cold this winter.
The spotted lanternfly is back again, and in larger numbers than last year — I’ve seen five in the last 36 hours, and only managed to kill two of them.
Please be on the lookout and do your best to kill them on sight, before they damage our trees and garden plants.
The latest addition to the garden is a lovely holly shrub donated by some neighbors, now repotted in a giant tub donated by another neighbor, with a hundred pounds of soil ordered online and delivered by cargo van.
(Not pictured: three more identical tubs, each with their own hundred pounds of soil, awaiting more flowers expected to arrive over the coming few days.)
The evergreen foliage and bright-red berries should provide some lovely color this winter.
The label describes it as a “Blue Princess” Holly (Ilex × meserveae) which could eventually grow to be 12 feet tall, although I suspect that the limited volume of soil will prevent it from reaching that size — I suppose that if it does well I’ll need to prune it back to keep it from getting much past six feet just to keep it manageable and avoid obstructing the light entering the building’s windows.)