Finally got back out to the cabin over the weekend. No frozen pipes, thank heaven, but the sink in the addition had sprung a leak. Seems that when the plumber installed it, he overtightened the drain pop-up sleeve. The plastic couldn't take the pressure and cracked, so now our contractor has to get him back out there to fix it. Good thing it's still under warranty.
Lovely weather the whole time I was there, though it did get a bit humid. I had planned to put up the blinds we ordered back in December, but stopped by the neighborhood nursery en route to the day's errands. I went in search of some ground covers for the hill where we put in the new septic tank & field to keep it all from washing down the hill. Turned out this nursery specializes in just what I was looking for. As a result, I ended up with 20 pots of lilies of the valley (averaging 4-6 pips in each pot), 5 ostrich ferns, 2 branford rambler ferns, 3 marginal ferns, a Christmas fern potted w/ sthg else, half a trash bag full of euonymus, aka purple wintercreeper, and half a trash bag full of pachysandra cuttings. Phil, the nurseryman, also gave me two 5-gal. buckets full of compost. I then spent the rest of the afternoon getting all the euonymus and pachysandra planted, as well as a few of the lilies and a couple of the ferns. I finally stopped because the gnats were getting so persistent; they shifted from "snack" to "feast" mode, as I told TW. I was shocked to find I'd been out there, not the 2 hours or so I thought, but 4 hours.
I only managed a scant hour for planting the next day, in no small part because our property in most places has just enough clay to hold the rocks in place. Because it's been so dry lately, that clay is baked solid, too. The only places I could dig down more than 1/2" were the places leaves had collected and started to decay. I decided to take Phil up on his offer to lend me his mini-tiller. Boy, is that one slick tool! Despite the rocks and hard-packed clay, I managed to dig holes for the remaining 17 lilies & ferns in less than an hour!
I've now got an electric mini-tiller on order, which I'll use to work 2 more buckets of Phil's compost into the clay on the north side of the house, where I'll plant a rambler fern, a royal fern, and a "keepsake" mountain laurel. That compost is so rich-looking, I'm hoping the ferns & laurel will finally succeed where everything else I've tried to plant there has failed. So far, the only things that have survived are the wood hyacinths that naturalized from the neighbor's yard and a few of the lily-of-the-valley pips Mom brought me several years ago but which have never bloomed. Oh, and the moss that fills the otherwise bare spots.
The muscles protesting my gardening binge are starting to forgive me, the clay stains on my hands are starting to fade, and my broken nails will grow back. I look forward to my next trip out to the cabin to see how many of these plants managed to take hold despite the wretched growing conditions. (I was very liberal with the compost, as if apologizing to the poor plants.) When I returned the tiller and collected more compost and the plants for the house, Phil offered to check on my plants and water them for me if we don't get rain out there! Bless his heart, I'm definitely recommending him & his nursery to our neighbors out there!