Digging In and Looking Back


We had an anniversary this week. We moved to this tiny paradise on a hill two years ago. It was a marriage of sorts, of people and place, and deserves anniversary recognition. We celebrated by digging, planting, and constructing, and generally reveling in the explosion of spring in this lovely spot of earth.


The day we moved in, the apple trees were in full bee-buzzing bloom. We had never thought to find a place with dozens of ancient apple trees and were amazed at our luck in landing here. We couldn’t have arrived at a more beautiful time of year. Aside from the apples, the lilacs and wild honeysuckle were just starting to bloom. It is a peak time for fragrance and birdsong. Intoxicating.


That first year, we could just see the blossomy tops of what appeared to be a ring of old apple trees through the brush and small trees behind the house.


Zoe in the yard the day after we moved in.  The blossoming tops of the ring of old apple trees are barely visible.

We decided to clear back to those trees and open things up for vegetable gardening and a small orchard and sitting area.


The big oak when we moved in, surrounded by small trees and brush.  


The first lawn mowing.


We quickly cleared high grass for raised beds within a week of moving in.  The next summer, we moved the raised beds to the area below the house and turned this into our little orchard area.

It will be a work in progress for years, but has been incredibly satisfying to work on this beautiful property.


The big oak and ring of old apple trees revealed.  


Little orchard with swale and companion plants.


First cherry blossom


Now that we’ve been here through three blooms, we’ve seen the fruiting cycle of these old trees. We had heard that the wild trees often bloom and bear fruit every other year. And sure enough, the trees that bloomed that first year didn’t bloom the second year and now are blooming again.


Last May.  Only two trees blooming and a branch here and there on the other trees.


This  May.  All the trees are blooming, except for the two that bloomed last year.

This is the bloomiest year in the cycle.  Depending on where in the yard we are working, we can hear the buzzing of bees in different apple trees.


This beautiful tree has little yellow apples that stay all through the winter–at least until the Waxwings visit for a mid-winter gorge.  

It is quite loud and makes me happy. Good for the bees and good for the trees.


The past few weeks finally brought us some warmth and sun.


Before the sun.  A little greening up on the hillside.

Green growing things, which had been patiently waiting through cold, rainy April, apparently decided to make up for lost time.


From this …


… to this …


… to this in a few days.

A plant orgy of sorts.


Maples just budding, with teensy developing seeds.


Soon after, the leaves are popping out and the seeds developing their wings. 

IMG_3280.jpgIMG_3283.jpgIMG_3276.jpg IMG_3307


This chipmunk looks like he was indulging in excessive spring celebration–cheeks stuffed to overflowing with something.  At least it wasn’t parts of our car.  

Now that the weather has improved and the soil is warming, we have been working like mad to get things planted. George also has been busy making fences. Both pups are gourmands, LOVING veggies, flowers, herbs, grass, soil, fertilizer–if we plant it, they will eat it. And they have generously shared their personal fertilizer on a few choice perennials.


So, we are putting up small fences, at least while they are young.


We have eight raised beds this year (with little dog-proofing additions), two large beds for corn, tomatoes, potatoes, melons, and squash, and a separate bed for growing flax (which I’m going to try to process for spinning). Our little orchard trees are thriving. I will transplant the apples I grafted last year to the gaps in our ring of old trees.


Last year’s grafted trees are ready to transplant.

And my herb garden is flourishing. We are rich.


Aside from all our work outside, we’ve had visitors. Our son and daughter-in-law were here early in the month while the weather was a little iffy. But we had glorious weather and crashing waves on our trip to Pemaquid Point.


Last week, we had doggy guests. Capp’s brother, Henry, and a sweet female, Quinn, came for two days.



Capp and Henry.

One day was freakishly hot, so we had dog summer camp, complete with a pool.


Our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren will be here in a few days so we are madly trying to get everything planted before they arrive. I think we are going to make it.



46 thoughts on “Digging In and Looking Back

    • Thanks Ingrid. We love it here and would not trade this little piece of property for anything. I expect to have way too many vegetables from the garden. Not a bad problem to have!

  1. Wonderful photos celebrating your 3rd spring at the new homestead, Brenda. I love your long views (which direction is it N,S,E,W?) You’ve done a lot of work!
    I can’t imagine having FOUR rambunctious retrievers all at once. Must have been a hoot – their faces are adorable. 🙂
    Enjoy your long weekend with your family – you’re inspiring me to get my planting done, too!

    • Thank you Eliza. Such a spring! When we looked at this property, we pretty much decided to buy it the minute we stepped out of the car–based on the views. We face east and south. Perfect for gardening and well protected from the strongest winds.
      The dogs were a breeze, actually. They got along so well that they entertained themselves. We didn’t have to do much except enjoy them. Lots of hair though!
      Enjoy your weekend, too, and happy planting.

  2. I enjoyed the tour of your garden, in fact the first few paragraphs were like the beginning of the kind of gardening book I love to read. You have both put so much work into your property, and it must be lovely to see the results already. I was interested to read that some of your older trees only flower ever second year, which is the same as our old (ish) apricot tree…I miss it when it doesn’t flower. Love the four retrievers playing together, I bet their personalities show up within ten minutes of getting together.

    • I am glad that you enjoyed seeing the garden. I view this blog primarily as a record for us. When I decided to keep blogging after we stopped traveling, it was to track our projects and all the changes that we are making here. But it’s lovely to know that others appreciate it too. We have at least ten years of projects in our heads. Let’s hope we can keep moving that long.

  3. Happy Anniversary, neighbor! It is a beautiful piece of property and what fun to be breathing new life into it! Just the best of times isn’t it?? See you sometime this summer, I hope!

    • Thanks Denise. The best of times, indeed. We still are a bit stunned that we found a property so perfect for us and we so many fun possibilities. I will be by your place in early June after my daughter’s visit. Are you there most of the time that you are open, or should I call ahead of time? I want to meet you in person!

      • Hello Brenda, i’ll be away from the nursery ( Noah’s graduation in South Carolina) until the 12th of June. How about just after the 12th, I don’t want to miss being here when you come!!! We’ll stay in touch for sure between now and then. Have a great visit with your daughter, what a lovely time to have a visit in Maine! Enjoy!! denise

  4. Congratulations on your two years! I loved seeing the before and after pictures. I just love that oak tree with the flowering fruit trees. You certainly found a perfect place. And all those yellow labs! So much fun.

    • It’s a little hard to believe that we’ve been here two years already. Wouldn’t it be nice to slow time down a little so the years didn’t fly by so darn fast? I had some mixed feelings about clearing so many young trees when we first started. But seeing the oak and apples emerge from all that shrubby competition was very exciting. It’s a bit like pruning, I guess. Taking out the clutter to allow the sun and air in.
      Imagine Blondie with the crew of labs we had here! A wise senior citizen keeping all the young pups in line.

    • Thank you. It’s always nice to hear when people enjoy a post. Once our visitors are gone, we will be doing some trail walking of our own with the dogs. Time to hit the hiking!

    • Yikes, goosebumps. That’s a first for me. At least, so far as I know! I love the ferns this time of year, but need to learn to identify them. I only know the names for one or two. Happy gardening to you too, Judy. Let’s hope we have a nice mix of sunshine and rain this year. I am always optimistic in May!

    • We’re trying! There is so much we can do here, we’re only limited by time and our creaky bodies. I am in constant admiration of your gorgeous yard and garden. We don’t even strive for your orderly lawn and beautiful borders–you have created a work of art. But we are having fun digging, growing things, and enjoying the view.

  5. Congratulations on the third year! I am so glad I found your blog and so glad that you saved those apple trees. Your dogs and their visitors are enchanting. Best of spring to you! And I find your gardening and projects as fascinating as travelogues.

    • That makes me feel good Lisa! We have lots more apple trees running down our drive and scattered through our woods. One of them in particular has delicious russets, but needs a bit of work. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much pruning done this year–these old apple trees will keep us busy for years.

  6. What a wonderful opportunity to create a new outdoor environment, and it looks like you are making the most of it. I’m a little jealous. Funny you mentioning trees blooming every other year. Our ‘Golden Raindrops’ crabapple is not blooming at all this year after blooming like mad last spring. It looks perfectly healthy otherwise.

    • This has been our dream for many, many years (while slogging away at desk jobs), so we are like kids in our excitement. Maine is full of beautiful properties like ours (at very reasonable prices), but so many people pass them by because they don’t like a New England winter. They don’t know what they are missing. As for the apples, I don’t know if crabapples have a similar blooming cycle. Apparently many of the wonderful old varieties of dessert apples had this two-year cycle, which made them less desirable commercially compared to varieties that fruit consistently every year. There is an active group of people here in Maine restoring the old apple varieties.

  7. I know you blog mostly for your own record but, really, so many of us enjoy it so much! The photos of those silly dogs will keep me smiling for days. And I have to admit to being a bit envious of your spread. We live on this lovely lake but it’s a small plot of land, with limited room for planting and experimenting. I dream sometimes of having acres to ramble through and tend. I will experience it vicariously though your posts!

    • For me, the unexpected benefit of blogging has been becoming part of such a wonderful blogging community. I feel as though I have friends around the world sharing bits of their lives with me. It’s very comforting and enriching. I have to admit being a bit envious of your lake! Messing about in boats is at the top of my list of pleasures. I’m a water creature at heart. But, I agree that we are extremely fortunate to have almost seven acres to play with. We had not expected to be able to afford this much land, so it feels like a windfall that dropped in our lap.

  8. It all sounds good where you are, Brenda. It’s really lovely to see the development of your land, how it’s progressed and what you’re up to. Lovely, also, to see the dogs – having four must have been fun! Well done on all the planting (it’s hard work keeping up with it all) and I hope you have a lovely time with your family.

    • Thanks Sam. We’re having a busy month, so the planting was a whirlwind. We are looking forward to a more leisurely June. Somehow that never seems to pan out, though!

  9. How wonderful to enjoy the beautiful results of your hard work. After a slow start, spring really has exploded! In April, I cleaned up debris from garden beds at a leisurely pace — but all of a sudden, I’m racing to get everything weeded and mulched before the plants get too big to easily work around.

    • Yes, it’s been such a changeable spring. Everything is growing like mad now. We had our first lettuce from the garden tonight. Let the veggies begin!

  10. You have created your very own heaven on earth! Lovely seeing how much you have achieved, and in such a short time too. It’s been a real pleasure following your progress, fascinating actually.
    Your dogs, and their pals have put a huge grin on my face, what lucky pups they are. How I wish I could send you some of ours, with all that land you could easily handle a couple more. Thanks for such a heart-warming post.xxx

  11. It feels like paradise here to us. I have never felt this attached to one piece of earth. You would have loved the pups, Dina. Wouldn’t it be nice if ours could get together for some play time!

  12. Hope you manged to get those plants in before your family arrived! It must have been a wonderful time to move into your new home, we moved in our current home in the autumn, which isn’t quite the same! The cat has been helping us in the garden too, he dug up the carrot seeds that we had just sown! Sarah x

    • Of course the cat is helping in the garden! What animal doesn’t love crumbly, yummy soil, with seeds and sweet green sprouts emerging? I had a few things that didn’t get planted before the family hit, so have been playing catch-up. The weather is still cool and wet, so I raced around this morning to buy some more shrubs that I think will be able to get sufficiently established before the hot weather hits. After those are in, I should be able to take a break on planting for a while.

    • Thanks. I stumbled upon your blog when I was researching antique spinning wheels (I have three) and didn’t expect to find full-on pidgin.
      I lived in Alaska for many years and went to Hawaii as often as I could. Haleiwa has my heart. So I’m enjoying your bloggie (even though you’re in Montana).

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