Saturday, February 3, 2007
A cold start this morning but nothing like the next front which is on its way.Yesterday was the exception and the first night that wasn't below zero in 8 or 9 days. I came home from work knowing that I had to take advantage of the temporary warmth and clean the chimney. Ground Hog Day signals we're halfway through winter and serves as a reminder to get up on the roof and run the brushes up and down. This winter's mild temperatures have kept volunteer fire departments busy with chimney fires and some lost homes and buildings. Like it or not, if you're going to burn wood, someone has to keep the chimney clean.
I pulled out the 28 foot ladder and grabbed the ropes. Up I went to the roof's edge to toss the ropes over the house to the other side. I have this procedure which is probably crazy to look at but it keeps me safe. I tie the rope to a birch tree on the other side and then to the ladder so I have a rope guide for going up and down the roof with tools and brushes.
The rope part was easy but with all the cold, the snow never came off the standing seam roof. I grabbed the snow rake and pulled one roof section to the top but the snow wouldn't come clean. It seems that no matter how old people are, they still have too many "Why nots?" that have been left untried. I looked at the rope and the roof and said "Why not?" In just two steps off the ladder rung I found myself hanging by one arm and half a leg. It happened too quickly for expletives as I molded myself to the ladder and got both feet firmed back on a rung. "No climbing the roof today," I thought.
Two hours latter the chimney was clean, from the cellar up this time. Gail helped do the stove while I took the two sections of stove pipe outside to wire brush clean. The shop vac hummed and things were cleaned up for the balance of the season. Chimney sweeps are available for this chore but until I can't do the work, I'm the boss on this cleaning crew. Or is it Gail??
With the advent of Ground Hog Day come flower shows, designed to jump start a gardener's emotions and facilitate the Federal Reserve's next interest rate decision. There's no doubt about it, flower shows, especially those which occur when it's still very cold outside, encourage people to begin planning for spring work and summer gardens. That translates to money spent. As example, two days ago when the daytime temp was having an effort of a time crawling above zero degrees, we received an on-line order for hostas. It was the second order in two days, thank you very much, but the earliest we'll be able to find the hostas in the garden is April. Just the same it shows that garden catalogs, flower shows and too much cold weather all suggest to people to get going.
The pictures I'm including today are from the 2004 Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle. It's something like 8 acres in size and is one of the big ones. It's a nice show to go to if live out that way as the landscaping companies which display do a great job with life size home facades and accompanying hardscape and plantings. This year the show runs from February 14th through the 18th.
In the northeast, the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show is February 22-25 in Hartford, in Maine there's the Bangor Garden Show March 23-25 and the PortlandFlower Show March 7-11. In Masschusetts there's the Central Masschusetts Flower Show in Worcester, March 2-4 and the New England Flower Show in Boston March 17-25. New Hampshire offers the Seacoast Home, Garden and Flower Show March 30-April 1 in Durham, and New York has shows in Syracuse, Henrietta, Troy, Hamburg, and Hempstead. Pennsylvania offers the oldest show in the US at the Philadelphia Convention Center from March 4-11 and Rhode Island has its show February 22-25. If you're close to any of these shows or can plan a trip to one or more, you'll be impressed with the enthusiasm and sorry you didn't visit a show sooner.
Here in Vermont the Vermont Association of Professional Horticulturists is gearing up for its show March 9-11 at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. This year's theme is A Walk On the Wild Side. It will emphasize woodland , meadow and wetland gardens and will host Bill Cullina of the New England Wild Flower Society as a guest speaker. Try http://www.vermontflowershow.com
If you have a flower show in your area, post me a note so others know what's going on and where. It takes great financial and personal expense to pull off a flower show each year and the best reward for those doing the work is to see good crowds with lots of questions. Try to be part of the gardening crowd!!
From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the sun shines brightly as the wind creates circular whirlwinds of powder show and the spireas along the bank hold tightly to their snow caps.
Gardening thoughts and wishes;