I’m Craig Cramer and Ellis Hollow is my personal blog. It’s mostly about gardening with some music, art and politics mixed in.
Ellis Hollow is a small hamlet about 5 miles from Ithaca, N.Y., in the southeast corner of upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region. (Lat: 42:26:16N (42.4378) Lon: 76:28:23W (-76.473)) Here’s a birdseye view, and an aerial via flatearth.com.
We’re Zone 5, more or less — and rising. Downtown Ithaca is a solid Zone 6, and one of the colder valleys on the other side of the ridge is a solid Zone 4. None of this kind of detail is reflected in either the USDA Hardiness Zone map or the new zone map from the National Arbor Day Foundation
I’m in a little frost pocket, so my frost-free season averages about 120 days. But it’s very variable. One year in three we get frost after Memorial Day. I’ve had fall frosts before Labor Day, but often go into early October without a hard freeze.
Deer pressure is pretty intense. I fenced the vegetable garden. I’ve got some ‘deer candy’ planted here and there, but rely mostly on plants deer don’t like.
My soil sucks. It’s mostly Rhinebeck silt loam and Wayland and Sloan silt loams. These are heavy, poorly drained soils. After snow melt, springs pop up in the lawn. Having hauled lots of manure, the veggie garden and some of the flower beds are approaching ‘garden variety’ soil. But I try to focus on plants that like wet feet.
The site has been settled since the Civil War and there’s been a lot of disturbance in the last 150 years. The property was once the site of a cheese factory, but that roughly quarter acre area is now buried with fill from road improvements a couple decades ago. (There’s still asphalt showing in places.)
It’s a unique setting. On one side is a busy road and a quick hop into a very cosmopolitan (if somewhat small) city. On the other side is a large wetland and a ridge that’s just spectacular in fall when the colors change. Every morning when I walk out the back door, I feel like I’m on vacation.
On a good day, I say that I’m a naturalistic gardener inspired by the genius of Piet Oudolf. Most of the time, though, I describe myself as a sloppy gardener who just loves to grow stuff. I often employ the ‘pot and shovel’ design method: I wonder around with a pot in one hand and a shovel in the other hoping I can find a spot for the plant in the pot.
In my day job, I’m a communications specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. You can explore a lot of great gardening information through my work website. While I hope this site reflects positively on my employer, nothing I write here should in any way be construed as reflecting Cornell University policy.
Back in the day (when print was king), I was editor of Rodale’s New Farm magazine.
The family at Taughannock Falls: Corey, Elly, Me, Sue, Nate, Trista
Here’s a garden blog search widget. If it’s good, I may move it out into the main site.