Two-fer Teaser on Next Step

It’s rodent day 🙂 I’m just teasing, everyone knows it is Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog ever, didn’t see his shadow early this morning so Spring is on the way! I chose the chippy photo because it was cute and we find that chipmunks are less destructive than those big fat ground wrecking hogs.

Speaking of ground-wrecking, this brings to memory the gigantic groundhog hole that we found on our little island down in the lower field (I have a feeling it was more of a groundhog city down there). It was by far the largest rodent hole that we’ve ever seen. Last year we moved some large stones to cover it but left an opening just in case there was a groundhog using it.  Thank goodness, it proved to be unoccupied.

Ground Hog hole filled in with big rocks Crabtree Gardens Next Step Secret Garden

Four large stones that covered the hole are marked with red X’s.

Thinking about the groundhog hole and ground wrecking also reminded me that I needed to give an update on the secret project. After all, this mound of rocks and group of trees was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when we announced our expansion to the “next step”! Here’s a photo of what it looked like the first year we purchased the property. It was the perfect location for a groundhog to live,  since the farmer avoided plowing this island.

Small Island in a sea of corn stalks Next Step Secret Project Crabtree Gardens Drums PA

This island of trees gave us the idea way back in (2007)

Getting back to the project, a previous post on Columbus Day back in October explained that we were waiting for our excavator to arrive to move some earth because we ordered beaucoup spring-blooming bulbs that needed immediate planting. We also had plans to extend our parking area with gravel and use the excavated soil to extend the area around this little tree island.

Unfortunately, due to the warm weather extending into November, the excavator had machinery in use at another location. We waited for weeks and trusted that he would arrive in time. The excavation of the new parking lot wouldn’t have mattered that much if we didn’t have a use for all of the soil that would come out. But the original plan was to use this soil to build up the new area and give us planting space for the bulbs that delivered in late October. It was now late in November and they required immediate planting before the ground froze to ensure they had some time to put down roots that would allow them survive the winter. (I was stressed.)

Green Mountain Excavating

The arrival of Green Mountain Excavating on 11-30-15 saved the day and my sanity!

We made a quick decision and had to reach out to another excavator because several days of rain were predicted followed by a dip in temperatures which would cause the surface to freeze. It was a blessing that Butch Ervin of Green Mountain Landscaping was able to come to our rescue. Since Butch came at a spur of the moment and didn’t have many hours available to give to us prior to heavy rains, instead of starting the parking lot, we opted to have him relocate a pile of topsoil that we were planning to use elsewhere. It solved the immediate problem.

Top soil added to trees in small island building a new garden Next Step Secret Project Crabtree Gardens Drums PA

A triangular shaped island is taking shape.

There was just barely enough soil to provide us with an adequate planting area for our bulbs. It was a rushed effort to get those bulbs in and covered. I’m not even sure the right bulbs were planted where they were planned. I learned two good lessons; 1) Never get bulbs before a planting area is ready and 2) Give your contractor a firm date.

Beginning a new garden project one side of a triangular island Crabtree Gardens garden expansion

The front entrance side of the triangular shaped island is ready.



Here’s the project today. Look closely, see all those pink flags? They are marking the areas that don’t have bulbs in and can be stepped on.

Secret Project Next step crabtree Gardens Footprints in the snow

Remember, this is just the beginning of the shape. There’s more dirt to move creating the other sides. Oh, and that big pile on the left is mulch. Yes, it’s frozen solid with a garden fork in place. Time and weather worked against us and we couldn’t complete the mulching. I’m praying the bulbs were able to put down roots so we have a colorful spring.

Next Step Secret Project Bulbs planted in new Island frozen mulch Crabtree Gardens


I know these photos aren’t pretty flowers and this doesn’t look like much work since October and you’re probably thinking “Sandi, this is so boring, enough about this dirt and those bulbs already.” Right? You only care about what the big secret is. Well, the building and completion of the island is important to the final outcome. Trust me, you’ll see.

Now, let’s talk about clues. You may be trying to figure out the theme of this space rather than what we are doing with it. That’s what should be happening.  Many of you will probably get the theme today by some things I’ve already mentioned in this post. I’m not going to give away what we are going to do with this space until we make the announcement in the spring. Besides, I need to make sure the parking lot gets completed!

Ok, for those who are still uncertain, I’m giving you one last great clue on this post and it’s a sure giveaway. We picked up a bottle of wine on the weekend because it was the perfect clue for our secret project and here’s a photo of part of the label.

Secret Project Next Step Wine Bottle Label 2016-02-02 017 (2)

If you review the previous posts that are linked you’ll see a theme and hopefully with today’s post be able to connect it together 😉  If you know the wine, you’ve got it! Don’t forget, we will be having a giveaway in the next couple of months so you may want to keep your guess quiet until then. More on that soon! Thanks so much for sharing and following our journey.














About crabtreegardens

I am a passionate decorator and the head gardener at Crabtree Gardens, LLC, which is a five acre naturalized garden located in Drums, PA. I advocate chemical-free, low maintenance gardening methods and working along with nature. I'm a freelance garden writer and member of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators.
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