Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Jeri,s Garden Tours, soon to come.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Solitary Bees and a Handful of mice

Part one: Solitary Bees.
We are all familiar with Honey bees and dearly love and respect them for their industriousness,  complicated and fascinating hive life, their comforting buzzing presence in our gardens, and last but not least, their HONEY. The honey bee is not a native to America but was transported by English Colonists in 1638.

 But there are other bees, equally interesting, and actually more productive as pollinators than honey bees. These are N. America's wild bees, our native bees. I am speaking of Solitary Bees, friends you may like to introduce into your own garden. Amazingly, there may be over 30 thousand species of Solitary bees pollinating our world! Meet the Orchard Mason Bee, a gentle little bee that doesn't even sting.

Osmia rufa couple (aka).jpg.
(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
 I first learned of these bees when I purchased a mason bee house at a country fair, and proceeded to learn all that I could about them from this little book, " The Orchard Mason Bee", by Brian L Griffin.
  Mason Bees and other solitary bees such as leaf cutter bees, bumble bees, capenter bees, and  onion bees do not produce honey nor beeswax. In the Mason bee world, all females are fertile and build their own nest inside natural tubular cavities such as hollow twigs, previously occupied beetle holes, or bored in tree stumps. You CAN also provide these bees with ready made homes, as do many gardeners.

 The female  Mason Orchard Bee chooses her own personal tube and then flits from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. When she has a nice "basketful" she backs into the tube, depositing the goods, and laying an egg atop the nutritional mass. She then builds a partition of mud and leaves the tube to collect more nectar, continuing the process until the tube is filled with eggs. All the female eggs are laid in the back of the tube, the males towards the front. The mother bee then blocks the tube with a mud door and goes on the find another "tube" in which to lay more eggs.
In Spring, the young bees begin to emerge from the holes as they chew through the mud daubing. The males emerge first and hover around the openings waiting for the females to venture forth. The males will mate them and then die...alas, Mother Nature can be rather sad sometimes

 Because solitary bees have no Hive, Queen or Honey to protect, they are docile little creatures just going about their business and in so doing, pollinating nearly1600 flowers per day, as opposed to the honey bee, who visits about 700 flowers a day, pollinating only 5% of them.
 You can easily attract Mason bees to your garden by providing them with one of the many ready made bee houses available, or you can make your own bee house with a block of wood and a drill or a handful of bamboo.
DIRECTIONS for building a bee house ABOUND ON YOU TUBE.
I purchased the above bee house is on Amazon. It is rather cute with a basket weave exterior. You can find any style to suit your garden, take a look!
 I purchased these paper mason bee tubes from "Crown Bees".
 I plan to place them securely in an old bird feeder for next years "bee nursery"

Fellow blogger, artist and nature lover, Tammie, has built a wonderful Mason Bee house, check it out here: 

 Although I've had a bar bee hive for 4 years (for honey bees), I have never actually FILLED it with honey bees because it seems like such a hassle to raise honey bees, and frankly, I am not all that interested in collecting honey, I just want the pollination for my garden.

 That is why I love the Solitary bees; they are so easy, so natural and they do a marvelous job in the garden; besides,they are very interesting little people.

 One day I will fill my honey bee hive, but for now, I am happy to have the Solitary Bees flitting amongst the blooms.

Part 2: A mystery structure

James is building something special here at the top of my slope with the wattle fence. I wonder if anyone can possibly guess what this will turn out to be? Not what you think, I bet! Take a guess, and I will show you next week when it is completed.
Many are guessing this is to be a swing... it would make a great swing, but it is not.
I will give you a hint, it is actually something for the BEES and the Birds.
Part 3: Mousies!
and little rats too.
I've been busy making rodents this week.
These little rodents will be looking for new mouse holes in which to dwell...
They will be up for adoption soon on this blog.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hopalong Hollowscaping...wattle garden fence

     Our first project in the Hopalong Hollowscaping  Garden series will be a fence that no self-respecting farm lady would pass up, nor goose, nor duck, nor chicken. WHY? Because nothing says rustic cottage charm like a little woven fence reminiscent of colonial gardens, Old English and French gardens and last but not least, Bilbo Baggins front yard garden in THE SHIRE. This will be a VERY short, 12" tall woven wattle fence, just tall enough to enclose a garden border or run along a pathway.

   But before we begin, I must show you two ladies who are hoping someone will tell them Happy Mothers Day very soon. Mathilda and her best friend Alice, are taking turns on the Goose EGGS, which they both laid in the same nest. Sometimes they sit on the eggs at the same time....

          but the majority of the time, it is Tilly sitting while Alice waddles around in the meadow or frolics in the creek.Well, sometimes friendship is like that.
 Because they chose a hot sunny spot to build the nest, we put an umbrella above to provide some shade during the hot afternoon. Mathilda keeps chipping away at the paint on the house... looks like I'll be painting after the hatch.

   For me, it is going to be a toss up as to whose egg hatches first...and very interesting to find out which of the 3 ganders is daddy. I'm putting my money on IVAN, the gentle goose with the proud and noble face.
                                                               Now, let's make a wattle!

Saturday, May 2, 2015


I really don't enjoy flea markets. In fact, I find them rather creepy and slightly yucky, if you really want to know. So it was with trepidation that I grudgingly obliged the Lord of the Manor to accompany him to one of the local "FLEAS". We agreed to meet back at the van in 1/2 hour ( that just shows you how little faith we had that we would find ANYTHING of interest.)
Well, I hit the end of the Market where the so-called antiques are kept. Generally it is just a bunch of junk from the 60'sand 70's..NOT my idea of what antiques should be.
NEVERTHELESS, we did accumulate, within 30 minutes, mind you, a few objects which  I found very acceptable:
Alas you say, what do you want with this really old and slightly unattractive taxidermy squirrel?!
Hey, remember me? I am the lady who keeps deceased chipmunks, mice and birds in the mudroom freezer to serve as models for artwork at a later date!
Poor little feller, nobody loves him.... If I put a hat on his head and give him  a walnut to hold in those grasping paws, he will make a swell model! Only $15

Next, more on the fanciful side is this old farm windmill stand.....missing the windmill.
Probably from the 1940's. It has a great height at 8 feet and large footprint with a rusty, chippy finish. What a fabulous Trellis this will make for any climbing vine or cukes or tomato plants. Cost $15
I think we might even be able to attach our Eagle weathervane to the top of it,
which been stored in the barn for months.
Next, a very cute  antique egg carrier, much smaller that the one in my kitchen. James found this little treasure
Great to display my scratched eggs in my shop. Only $25 and a business expense.
 Always on the look out for props to use, I found this tiny basket, being held by my weird little new friend.
NOT MADE IN China, this was beautifully made of oak by a Basket Maker, and it is just the right size for one of my Fuzzyfoot Rabbits.
 Fill it with little felted flowers or felted vegetables?
It was $18 
 Here is a fabulous old oak basket, it is a large one! I do collect antique baskets so I don't mind that it has a slight  problem in the bottom.. I don't plan to carry a bushel of apples in it, maybe place it near the shop door with  some pots of Lavender?
ONLY $10
James found a few items in that 30 minute time span,. We looked up the vise and found it to be a pre 1926 from the "Columbian Hardware Co. Cleveland Ohio" He will certainly use it.

 So the moral of this story is " Don't diss it till you try it!"
I am pretty pleased with my 30 minute finds, and will give the Flea Market a thumbs up today. 
So how about you? DO you Flea?
 Fondly from the Hollow, Jeri

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Greetings and a hearty honk honk from the Hollow!

Hello from the Hollow, I've had a hectic 2 months!
By now, the Country Living Fair and the Fiber fest are behind me, and I can relax a little. Well, if you can call it relaxing to pull weeds, haul stones, plant trees and lay walkways. I can!
Firstly, the Fair was GREAT, AFTER the threat of tornadoes passed!
 I met a few blog readers who were kind enough to make themselves  known to me and we sold plenty of art, books and  oh dear... Fuzzyfoots and Featherweights.
Many little folks found new homes... I will miss them! A few larger Fuzzyfoots departed and All but 2 of the smaller buns were adopted.
I worked on these 2 ladies in the hotel room as they were not quite together; needing a stitch here, a button there, and whisker or two.
I knew they were being adopted on Sunday at the Fair and wanted them to look their best.
Their new mommies were pleased to meet them!
I know they will be well cared for and loved.
 There were little people on every shelf and table, this table was packed tight, but thinned out quite a bit Not everyone found a new home, but that is fine by me...
I just get to keep them longer.
 When we arrived home, the gardens were bursting at the seams!
 This section of the  potager is going strong, just look at those marvelous colors.

The "Goat garden" which I completely renewed last summer is coming into it's own,
The side garden is beginning to flourish, even the slope plants are about a foot tall already, as are some weeds; I know what I will be doing this week...
 Mathilda the goose is sitting on her (and her best friend Alice's) NINE eggs. She has nested in this corner in the Potager, right off the walkway, where she is disturbed daily by any number of strolling ducks, dogs and chickens. She chose a busy thoroughfare, I'm afraid.
The lovely Hettie Pepper has chosen a nest as well, as I discovered 2 of her eggs in this garden,
Ouside my potting shed... which is now a small Mercantile.
 Can't wait to show you what I have done inside this little building.
  On a more solemn  note, I would like to pay tribute to my dear little friend, Peepers, who quietly passed away last week.  
I painted her portrait when she was 3yrs old, giving her a tail she never had. For she was born without a tail as were 7 of her kittens.

  No condolences are necessary, she was lucky to die of old age, here at home, age 18yrs.  She had 2 litters and a good life here in the Hollow.
I still have 2 of her daughters, they are 16 yrs old. Cats are stoic about death, and seem to accept it quite peacefully, in fact, she was purring much throughout her last hours. We can learn much from felines.
 Good bye sweet girl.

Below is her daughter Sasha, who will be gardening with me all summer.
Since I have a good deal of time off from shows, I plan on bombarding my blog with lots of garden posts and videos, hope you'll be on board!
Until then, Cheers and Happy gardening!