Ah, Jan­u­ary. I have cre­ated a new folder in Pho­to­shop Bridge enti­tled Gar­den 2011. I have one sin­gle photo in it, but it’s an impor­tant one—a shot of where we’ll be cre­at­ing a wood­land garden.

Out of neces­sity came oppor­tu­nity. We had the local tree guys out to take down a large tulip tree that was in immi­nent dan­ger of falling onto the chicken coop and across the dri­ve­way. It was a tricky under­tak­ing because of its loca­tion. The older of the father/son pair is in his 60s, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he scam­pered up that tree. Start­ing at the top he sawed off limbs and then he topped it. I was in the house when the top 10 feet of the tree came down. There was a huge crash, which I would have been wor­ried about except I heard the two men erupt into whoops of glee. Isn’t it great to take joy in your work?

Any­way, the rest of the tree came down, as did another in the way. I will also have to move a lot of the hostas I planted there in the past two years since they will now likely scorch in the sun. I’m not show­ing you pho­tos of it all because the whole process made a humon­gous mess that I will have to deal with when the ther­mome­ter climbs above freezing.

While the tree guys were here they made me a good deal offer to clear some of the woods. I hopped on the chance to get this sec­tion of the woods cleared of under­brush and trash trees. It is the area near the house that we look on when we eat din­ner out­side in the sum­mer. With­out all the tan­gle of under­brush and trash trees, we’ll get a bet­ter view into the woods. We’ll also put in a path and a bench to over­look a ravine that you can’t see very well in the photo.

What­ever else goes in the wood­land gar­den, I am deter­mined that it will be low main­te­nance. We already have a healthy crop of moss. I like moss. Some of the hostas will also find a new home there. Then there will be bulbs. And a ham­mock. And my bot­tle tree.

So here you have it, the first view of the new wood­land garden.

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If you were expect­ing a savory fall poul­try recipe from read­ing this post title, you’ll be dis­ap­pointed! You can’t eat these chick­ens because they’re pets. And you can’t eat this sage, because it’s orna­men­tal. (Okay, the flow­ers of the stun­ning salvia ele­gans—pineap­ple sageare edi­ble.)

As I was giv­ing the chick­ens fresh water this morn­ing they were kick­ing up such a fuss about the fact that they didn’t get their after­noon walk­a­bout yes­ter­day that I opened the gate so they could have extra time wan­der­ing the yard and gar­dens. Fall is one of their favorite times of year, I think, because there is such adven­ture search­ing for bugs under every fallen leaf. I am also less prone to shoo them away from areas of the gar­den that I don’t want them scratch­ing in since the gar­den is largely dev­as­tated by fall already. What harm is a lit­tle bit of chicken for­ag­ing going to do?

The chick­ens did seem to tire of their bug hunt­ing adven­tures early though because I caught them con­gre­gat­ing near one of the bird baths for a mid-day snooze. As you can see though, T. Boone Chick­ens is still guard­ing his girls.

He’ll have some help with the guard duty soon though. As it turns out, my instincts on the gen­der of Edith’s baby were cor­rect. Baby is a rooster and is now learn­ing to crow. He is now called Ricky since he is clearly not a Lucy.

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Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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