Forward, March . . .

March 1st, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' ⓒ 2012 Michaela Medina  - thegardenerseden.com Not just yet, but in a matter of weeks, the Witch Hazels will begin to bloom (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ in March of 2012). Read more about spring blooming Witch Hazels in my previous post, here.

Although March belongs, in large part, to Winter, this never seems to stop Spring from sending flirtatious hints our way. Just step outside, and already you will hear her sweet song in the treetops. Beneath the snow, below the cool, naked branches and icy stone, sap is running and life is stirring . . .

Sugaring-Season-Deer-Ridge-Farm-ⓒ-michaela-at-thegardenerseden Sugar Maple sap is running, and the local shacks are busy boiling (Click Here to Read About Maple Sugaring at Deer Ridge Farm, Guilford, Vermont)

Hamamelis-vernalis-in-the-Garden-ⓒ-michaela-thegardenerseden.com_ The buds of native, Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) wait patiently for a warm sunny day, to release their honey-sweet scent into the breeze. Read about the Vernal Witch Hazel here.

Hamamelis-vernalis-Forced-Branches-ⓒ-michaela-thegardenerseden For now, this northern gardener must be satisfied with an armful of forced branches for her Eden indoors. Read more about how to force branches by clicking back to my previous post, here.

So when March snow falls softly, coating trees and obscuring the view, I remind myself that these are the last few weeks of Winter. Soon, her icy beauty will vanish and we’ll be saying hello again to coquettish Spring . . .

Black-Capped Chickadee ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina  - thegardenerseden.com Ever-wary of predators, a Black-Capped Chickadee surveys the feeding stations for safety before swooping in for a snack . . .

The Hills of Southern Vermont in Late Winter with Snow- Covered Trees ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden.com

Ermine (Stoat or Short-Tailed Weasel ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina  - thegardenerseden.comPerhaps the Ermine (aka Stoat or Short-Tailed Weasel) is hunting today? Read more about this fierce, tiny hunter in my previous post on the white-cloaked ermine, here.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Early Spring’s Sweetest Things…

March 30th, 2011 § 8 comments § permalink

The New Sugar Shack at Deer Ridge Farm in Guilford, Vermont

Spring, oh spring, where are you? You certainly are a bit coquettish this year; teasing us with early catkins on willow, then snapping us with a sharp, cold sting. Yes, Spring has been withholding many early-season pleasures here in New England, but she always shows us just a bit of sweetness at this time of year in the form of maple syrup. Cold nights and warm days are part of the swing-season magic responsible for sap production here in the Northeast. And this year —with the chilly weather lingering a bit longer than usual— the maple sugaring season has been starting, stopping and sputtering along. Some days it’s too cold for sluggish sap to run —buckets sit frozen on trees— but on warmer days, the percussive sound of drips echoing along the road makes my morning walk something of a maple dance. And I think it’s always fun to end an early spring walk with a hot stack of fresh blueberry pancakes or lemony French toast, smothered in sweet maple syrup. Yum…

Though less efficient than modern methods of sap collecting, the classic tin sap-buckets are still my aesthetic favorite

The Scenic, Seasonal View Along the Road in My Neighborhood

This sugar maple has three buckets. What’s the largest number you’ve ever seen on a tree?

Though I have participated in the maple syrup-making process many times, I don’t boil sap here at my place in Vermont. However, locally made maple syrup is one of my favorite sweet treats, and since many of my friends and neighbors produce and sell maple products every year, I have access to some of the best syrup in the world. In fact, driving up and down the mucky roads in Vermont and elsewhere in the Northeast this month, it’s impossible to go far without seeing the familiar, early-spring sights of tin buckets hanging from maple trees (Acer saccharum) and steaming sugar shacks. Here are a few photos of the maple-syrup-making process, which I shot at local Deer Ridge Farm over the past couple of weeks (many thanks to Jerry Smith for allowing me in to the sugar shack during this busy season). Learn more about how maple syrup and other products are made from maple tree sap at the official Vemont Maple Syrup website, and for more links and resources on sugaring season in Vermont, be sure to check out this excellent post at the lovely Traveling Near and Far blog.

The heat necessary to boil maple sap down, creating sweet syrup, is usually generated by a wood burning stove or furnace

Jerry Smith of Deer Ridge Farm in Guilford, Vermont is Busy at Work, Boiling Sap He Collected from Local Sugar Maples

Sweet-scented steam fills the air inside the Deer Ridge Farm sugar shack

It takes an average of 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup*. Just imagine how much time & work goes into that sweet topping, next time you take a bite of your Sunday pancake, waffle, pop-over, French toast or a sip of your Sugar Moon cocktail!

Maple Syrup is My Favorite Breakfast Topping, and I Particularly Love it on Lemony French Toast (click here for recipe)

My Sugar Moon Cocktail (click here for recipe) is Made with Locally Produced Maple Syrup

Blueberry Breakfast Popover (click here for recipe) is Absolutely Delicious with Fresh Maple Syrup

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Special thanks to Jerry Smith and Deer Ridge Farm. Maple products and other produce from Deer Ridge Farm may be found at the Brattleboro Farmers Market (click here for more information).

*Thank you also to Traveling Near and Far for links, resources and fun facts!

Article and photographs are copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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