Didn’t someone predict that fall’s colors would likely be lack luster this year? Me? I disagree heartly. Even given the winds and rains we’ve experienced recently, I see plenty of glorious color festooning trees and shrubs, and most have never looked better. In our yard, especially stunning are ornamental pear, bluebeech, viburnum ‘Forest Rouge’, three flowered maple, witchhazel and hazelnut. Tamarack and red oaks are beginning to change their stripes and ginkgos are hinting at something great any day now.
Arla finds fall her favorite season and I’d not disagree. There’s less stress to get in the way, meaning there’s relaxing time to enjoy it all. That garden bench is getting a workout.
That said, we did spend the past weekend – a beautiful one with clear blue skies and moderate temps – packing stuff up for the season. Isn’t it a good feeling to see the pots and planters emptied of their annuals. It was time – we felt a mild freeze Friday night that finished off fuchsias and begonias. And tomato plants will have to be fodder for the compost pile. Emptied pots will be tucked away in the back room of the garage, tropical plants will be relocated to the greenhouse across the street (thank you, Kelley and Kelley) and terrace furniture will find a winter home inside as well. All’s in order. The last few rains topped off the rain barrels, so we’ve been using that water to furnish newly planted trees and shrubs with one last swig.
The gardens still hold allure. Stunning combinations of dusky shades of lavender, maroon, and salmon – typical fall fare – strike just the right melancholy note. Grays and silvers of seed heads liven the scene. Frosty mornings recently revealed an ethereal, winsome tableau. Late, late floral color is limited, but includes - in addition to the usual asters - monkshood, Japanese anemone and ‘White Pearl’ cimicifuga. Late October and still enough interest to help us love what we do.
Contentment. I’m not sure I’d given much thought to the idea pre-pandemic. I’d pretty much done as I’d pleased without a notion that life should be otherwise. Now, with constraints, we have learned to live with less. Less flying about at the drop of a hat, less socializing with family, friends, and cohorts (No holiday gatherings? Heavens), less time spent in restaurants, theaters, galleries, health clubs and stores! (My, how we missed the state fair). Who among us could have conceived that all the narrowing of options would be a relief. Do we need to be constantly on the go? Are we often racing frantically to keep two steps ahead of what life throws at us? That said, could we now take the time to cultivate an appreciation – see anew – the magic close to home? How often we walk down that garden path, peer out that window, or sit on that terrace bench without really seeing, feeling, smelling, touching. Time has given us the chance to be at home at home.
Each day is a performance, no two exactly alike, and each one in its own way captivating. Our world may have contracted in so many ways for thee moment, but at the same time it’s overflowing with wonderment. No, we don’t have to wander off our little plot to be amazed at the best of life – changing cloud formations, patterns of light and shadow, wind in the willows, sounds in the night, the texture of a leaf, the complexity of a seed pod or flower, birds fluttering about the feeder, the fragrance of a late-blooming snakeroot. That’s contentment – being at peace where we are, knowing that in being right here, not in Chicago, Seattle, or Venice, we’re not missing anything that matters.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD -SEPT. 28, 2021
Time to wrap up this season, as I see fall in my eyes. That said, there is still lots of interest out there. The usual fall color, yes, but beyond that, consider Japanese anemone. (the white just glows in moonlight), monkshood, turtlehead, actaea ‘White Pearl’ (AKA cimicifuga and snakeroot) and solidago ‘Fireworks’ (yes, I know, It’s still a goldenrod, but what a display, and aptly named. Beyond floral display, look closely for leafy color changes in perennials as fall approaches. Some epimediums, hosta and ferns delight with burst – no, burst is too strong a word – perhaps I should say these plants delight us with infusions of subtle color. Really sweet. With floral finery at a low ebb, foliage can take center stage.
All summer long, roadside ditches hardly rate a second look – now, my, what a sight as native asters in white, purple and mauves burst forth – yes, here I can say burst – in clouds of splendor.
This is hardly the time of year to be thinking about pots, but a shipment of pots ordered last May from a supplier new to us has arrived (we were kind of expecting the delivery in a more timely fashion, but shipping what it is, I guess we should be thankful we didn’t have to shovel snow to accommodate their arrival). At any rate, we’re tickled with not only the classic lines (with names such as piecrust planter, scallop planter, lattice planter and dragon scale planter) of these terra cotta pots, but also that they’ve been treated with a finish approximating age. A pretty convincing finish at that. Come share our eagerness, even if you’re not in the market for pottery at the moment.
It’s not too late to tuck in a few perennials or two. We still have a nice selection both in pots and in the field that are ready to find new homes. Stop by Monday – Friday 8:00 -4:30.
How many more delightful weekends like the one just past do you think we’re due? Having spent untold hours in the garden – no letup – this summer, thinking we owed ourselves a treat, we spent Saturday on the town – visiting favored galleries, shops, (suitably masked of course) and parks. Didn’t feel the least guilty for playing hooky, but back to gardening chores on Sunday nonetheless.
The soil is super wet after frequent (well, more frequent than normal) rains lately, so didn’t want to muck around the garden too much. Still, we’re mad at persistent weeds. Extremely obnoxious has been sorrel. Needs to be gotten out by the root. We cut back some sedum that has suffered, divided a few alliums, that have encroached on the paths. Hydrangeas are at their showoff best just now. Cut a huge bouquet for the dinning room. Their varied colors and forms made for a dazzling display, one that will last until we tire of it.
The wind lately has preyed upon the locust tree above our back terrace. It’s brittle anyway, but gale – force breezes really loosen up twigs and branches. And then there’s our one remaining ash – a tree that we should have had cleaned up last winter when the tree man was on site. Looks like we’re letting the wind do the job.
The rain barrels are full, not much need for their contents any time soon and more rain predicted later this week. Always the way.
We’re high on a new viburnum, ‘Forest Rouge’. It’s a viburnum – that is not especially distinguished for most of the year. We planted a trio of them several years back in front of the dog kennel, which they’ve grown to screen nicely. They shine – and how- right about now when dark green, glossy foliage is trans- formed into a rich merlot with increasing cool temps. Clusters of creamy white berries are likewise made more interesting, turning reddish then purple. We vow to promote its use to all comers.
Hate to say it, but I felt the first twinge of winter one day last week. The day began with layers of clothes, topped by a winter jacket. Short sleeves soon prevailed, but for a brief moment there was winter in the air, and I don’t think it was my imagination. Sheepishly, I traced a finger across the car window to make sure it wasn’t frosty.
Well, a more wordy blog than usual, but that’s what I (you) get when I haven’t set pen to paper all summer.
Enjoy Minnesota at its best.
Scent, color, stature. This time of year, we can’t be referring to anything other than lilies. Oriental lilies. Hardy as nails (though not immune to visits by deer).
And a pure delight. Easy to tuck into the garden. Indeed, we’ve planted a broad selection of these beauties throughout the garden at home. Especially favored are spots near windows. If weather is favorable to fling open the windows, my, the entire first floor is awash in spicy fragrance. Choosing favorites is a fool’s errand as, really, they all rate a second look. Be that as it may, here’s a sampling of the nursery’s offerings, blooming right now or about to be.
Salmon Star is a perennial showstopper. Creamy white background suffused with the gentlest salmon. Dark spots, luscious.
Stargazer, of course, is well known for its soft, mouth-watering combo of pink, red, and white.
Touchstone is actually a cross between oriental and trumpet lilies, inheriting the best of both worlds. Deep plum purple, upward – facing flowers.
A dozen other varieties, round out our offerings this year. Words provide but a faint impression – why not come by and see and smell for yourself.
I see summer.
After a mixmaster of winter and spring, I see summer.
I see summer in the friendly, cotton candy clouds ambling by across a cozy blue sky, appearing for all the world to be lingering low enough to shake hands with.
I see summer in the wonderment of animal life – monarchs and hummingbirds performing their trademarked choreography before our eyes; raccoons trying (successfully more often than not, I regret to report) to outwit the fellow who fills the birdfeeders; fawns, two by two, getting fat off of phlox, daylilies and lilies in the gardens of you-know-who; and rambunctious squirrels who dig up our pepper plants as fast as we can secure them in the earth.
I see summer in the eyes of my spouse, eager to once again take up entertaining on the back terrace. We miss the connections. The hiatus has been long and sad.
I see summer at every turn, appearing right on cue.
So now we slowly, even tentatively, find ourselves back to the world we left behind so many months ago. It somehow seems strange to go mask less in stores, approach friends at a less than 6’ distance, and to offer a hand in greeting.
We can feel good about ourselves for making it through all this. Fifteen months ago, I wasn’t so sure we had it in us to stand up to a pandemic – who knew what to expect. But here we are – more resilient for the experience, not that we’d wish that on anyone, but I think we saw a confidence that ultimately strengthened our relationship, even as we saw those relationships adrift at times. It feels great to be back.
But what about that industrial – sized dispenser of hand sanitizer? A friend who I think knows about such things says we’re not out of the woods yet, so best to hold on to all those supplies.
Oh dear, June half gone and I’m feeling a hurry that has escaped me these last 15 months. No more the friends and events that have been missed. I’m slowly getting my feet back in the water – eating out (mostly at those splendid sidewalk venues) and seeing folks again, though shaking hands and hugging still seems awkward. Getting used to going maskless. Enjoying farmers markets, maybe even entertaining again. The house and garden have seemed so lonesome.
Time to open the windows to fresh air and light. See you around.