Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Deer Proofing and Art Viewing

Saturday was a hot muggy day but I wasn't traveling far afield today, just into town, to attend a Deer Proofing workshop by the Fauquier County Master Gardeners at the old Marshall school. This group of gardeners hosts workshops throughout the year for the community and this one appealed to me. Plus I had been noticing lately on my drive home the beautiful flowers blooming in the old school garden, and had wondered who was responsible.
The grounds are glorious. I wasn't able to see inside the building today but it will be open in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I can make that date.
The garden comprises of a group of beds, each one tended by a member, and each bed packed solid with perennials and annuals, while another area was filled with vegetables and herbs.
 There were also decorations added, a bird house with succulents on its roof, prettily painted wooden features, stepping stones and wind catchers. Some were obvious while others peeked out from under blooms or leaves. But I was stopped in my tracks at the sight of not one but three humming bird moths, flitting among the bee balm plants.
For me, it was like Christmas Day, I was so excited to see them. I'd first seen one of these last year and thought it to be a rare sighting but here was a whole gang! And they were oblivious to me and my camera, as they busily collected nectar.
The garden was teeming with wildlife, the air filled with chirrups and buzzing and fluttering wings. Butterflies, moths and bees buzzed from bloom to bloom, while a large frog enjoyed the damp shade by the pond. I even saw a garden snake slither under some leaves but wasn't quick enough to take a photo.
The gardeners walked about and were happy to give names of plants and advice on tending them. It really ignited an interest in me to get back into gardening again. I'd always had gardens filled with perennials in England but my first (and last) garden here in the U.S. was gobbled up in 3 or 4 days by unknown insects, leaving just a few barren stalks sticking out of my tilled earth. I'd not bothered since then but had been told that it was likely that the free mulch I'd had delivered by Falls Church had been the culprit, infested with insects. Seeing this beautiful display today reminded me of what I was missing, so I'll be planting a few plants this year at Meadow House before the fall.
I used to have a mallow tree too in England, which grew like wildfire.
But today, I was here to learn about deer proofing the garden, and since we encourage all wildlife up on the hill, I guessed fencing would be the best way, but didn't want it to look ugly.
 Chairs had been laid out in the shade and a table stood with leaflets, refreshments and a pretty jug of flowers. The workshop was about an hour long, including lots of useful advice and even a little competition where some of us had to select from a pile of vegetation which would be deer candy or not. We all did pretty well and were handed a perenial for our efforts, which was a lovely surprise.
Here's mine, planted as soon as I got home and a couple of photos of the Master Gardeners imparting their valuable knowledge to us, with plenty of laughs. We learned that deers have 4 stomachs, eat about 8lbs of greens a day and can jump up to 8ft high. but they don't have a good perception of depth so won't jump unless they see a clear landing. So we learned about various types of fencing and methods of deterring them, such as noisy or shiny hanging objects or bad smells. but for me the most important thing I learned was a bout the plants that deers dislike, and the ones they love. We were advised to put all the deer candy in the middle of our flower beds and then put the deer gagger plants on the outside. And we learned how about laying down organic scents that deers dislike. I came away with a wealth of information and a reawakened interest in perennials. It was with reluctance that I left the garden to carry on with my day's agenda, but not without stopping to watch the hummingbird moths again.
 The FCMG does have a website, click here, and offers plenty of advice or classes for those avid green thumbs.
My next stop of the the day was the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg. I've been driving past this for a couple of years and finally found a few hours spare in which to visit it.
I stepped out of the car into the blazing sun, and took photos of a the two beautiful bronze sculptures outside and then scuttled towards the building with its comfortable A.C. And as soon as I opened the door I saw this.
A huge horses' head right in front of me, carved so realistically that I wanted to stroke it. I had unknowingly decided to visit while an exhibition was taking place. This piece is called Still Water, 2011, by British sculptor Nic Fiddian-Green. It's hammered lead with copper rivets on an oak base, standing 10'2"ft including the base.
I found a PDF online, click here, dated 2014, but it holds all the 2015 entries too, so I'm assuming it's both years.
My favorite painting was Harvest Raven by Shawn Gould, Page 67, and my favorite sculpture was Dreaming of Jill by Bryce L. Petit, Page 104.
Understandably, I wasn't allowed to photograph any of the exhibits, apart from Still Water, but harder than not taking photos, was the disallowance of touching any of the sculptures. But again, completely understandable. The standard of work was breathtaking, some of the pieces were just astounding.
I had the place to myself, and walked around slowly enjoying the private tour, and then on to the rest of the art throughout the building. I noticed, quite proudly, that the majority of art pieces displayed, not included in the exhibition, were by British artists, many dating back a few hundred years. My favorites are below.
The Hunt in Belvir Vale, 1835, by John Ferneley.
The Day's Catch, 1864, by John Bucknell Russell.
Gone to Ground: A Grey Hunter with Foxhounds, 1887, by John Emms.
A screen incorporating paintings by James Seymour, Thomas Butler showing early Thoroughbred horses.
A sterling silver on marble sculpture called Park Drag, 1910, by most likely Elkington & Co. in London.
A bronze sculpture called The Thoroughbred Horse, 1949, by Hebert Haseltine.
I finished my walkabout and then had a quick look about the library, which held many cups and awards from Middleburg horse events. But I couldn't stay long. I was acutely aware of a plant sitting in the back of Stuart that needed planting, and I was itching to start putting together a list of a few perennials to go in the garden before the fall. Maybe I might get a hummingbird moth flitting around some bee balm plants alongside my hummingbirds. Wouldn't that be something?

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