Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Greetings!

We've adjusted to the change of season quite nicely, although the bulk of any garden work get's accomplished on the weekends. Our aim every year, is to have the garden to bed by Remembrance Day which is November 11th here in Canada. I will miss the patio furniture, with it's bright orange cushions, and miss the rich red and orange flowers that drew my eye with interest. But for now, it is surprising how many blooms are still around, even a late iris and a few Azalea flowers. They don't seem to know this is not the time of year they should be in bloom.

If you are like me, and struggle to find late autumn interest in your garden here are a few that are doing well.
Perennial Red Bistort, or Persicaria amplexica "Firetail" has always done well for me. It can be invasive in a warmer zone but here in our Nova Scotia garden, it just manages to get through the winter and gives a long show of bloom. Other Persicaria can be real runners so I would advise not all are created equal and the infamous Knotweed is in this family. Firetail has been in bloom for at least two months only now showing a touch of cold weather damage.
Another plant that has really shone this year is an annual, a red salvia from Sweet Valley Herbs, 'Salvia elegans'; they have it listed as Pineapple Sage. It has not slowed down at all and I hope I can overwinter one of these as their webpage states this can be brought in and used as a houseplant.
Also blooming is a good flush of Stella d'Oro daylily, another stalwart in the garden. After it's initial bloom in spring, I pull out the tatty folliage, and new fresh green grows. This can be effectively used as an edging around a bed; I have also seen chives used like that.

Then, there's the autumn show of leaves! Below is the path coming up to the back yard, before stepping through the arbour. We have a small deck off this side of the house which gives a good vantage point for photographing.
These are what I call full season interest plants.  The Viburnum tomentosum 'Shasta' is the wonderful red burgundy at the top of the photo, underplanted with cotoneaster and in the foreground is Pieris 'Valley Valentine' which is covered with the bloom sprays for next year. You might note some branches on the Viburnum are upright. A few years back, during a heavy snowfall, the shrub developed a break in the main stem. It recovered but since then, it tries to revert to a more upright shrub which is not the habit of Shasta. Each spring I survey it closely and trim off any branches that are not in keeping with it's form. Guess I missed a few.

This past weekend we trimmed back what was initially thought to be a small shrub, Acer ginnala, the amur maple. Well it isn't..it is a small tree and so another purchase where I didn't pay enough attention to the growth size. I am sure I am not alone in making mistakes like that.

"So much more light" the garden says! "Thank you."

Hope you are enjoy these Golden Glowing beautiful days of Autumn because sadly, all too soon, they will be gone. Won't use the "S" word just yet ;-) but it's coming soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Giving Thanks

Scary spooky wonderfully scented black velvet nights!  

Bright ripe orange pumpkins are glowing on porches across Nova Scotia; Howard Dill's legacy thrives around here. He was the man made famous when he developed "Dill's Atlantic Giant" pumpkin which kind of made us all a bit famous in Nova Scotia to growers around the world. Do you know they race pumpkins on Lake Pisiquid in Windsor, Nova Scotia next week (Windsor is where Howard Dill developed the giant pumpkin)? Yup.. they hollow them out and race them, this year on October 14th! Check it out.

Meanwhile I shiver in fear of that first killer frost. It will surely come but so far amazingly, not even a light frost to taint the garden. Leaves on trees along the highways are turning their beautiful autumn shades, and closer to home, bean leaves are showing more purple, rhodos red and viburnum rusty orange. The garden is a damp and glorious thing.
There are other maturing changes in the garden. Satomi dogwood trees are fruiting large red berries which almost immediately disappear, robbed by squirrels. So, I decided to hang a small wind chime in the tree closest to the house and when it tinkles, I rush outdoors like someone possessed, clapping my hands..shoo shoo! I so want to enjoy the view of those luscious red berries standing up on their strong stems for a few more weeks. Fighting a loosing battle I expect. Everywhere critters are laying in winter groceries.
The garden is in her autumn finery, witchy colors of purple and black, deep browns, sienna, gold and burgundy. In contrast, the Cochicums are flouncing spring crocus color through the dying spent perennials and it looks odd, yet comforting. It says to me, spring is just steps away...take heart.
Earth may be in her autumn moistness but, there is rebirth too...seeds being disbursed, planted now. Following mother nature's cue, it's a good time to scatter poppy seeds, nicotiana, verbena bonariensis and morning glory. We have had all of these in the garden for a long time thankfully, growing from the seeds that fell from the mother plants the year before.
Which brings me to my thoughts about being thankful. It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, a time of vegetable garden abundance, sharing with friends and family and taking time to make a mental list of all we are thankful for. I have been thinking about how my garden blog has enriched my life and thinking also about folks I have 'met' along the way via the internet. Like good compost, the dialogue builds, layer after layer and before you know it, friendship grows. One person I connected with, through his blog writing is Mark Charlton. He has a special, honest and sincere writing gift, and his first publication touched me dearly.
Counting Steps.....it is what life is all about isn't it, journeys through life, landscape, friendship, motherhood, fatherhood. Going forward, step by step, to dream, to remember, to mature, and for me, being able to garden another year and be thankful I can.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, with a special thank you to Mark and his beautiful and inspiring gift..."Counting Steps". (Available via his blog or Amazon)