Sunday, October 01, 2006

Garden Bulbs

This afternoon's chilling rains finally drove me into the house to the fire Gail had started in the woodstove. I don't mind working in the rain but when the temperature falls to about 42, I just don't last very long. Arthritis slows my fingers and it's not worth the pain to work on longer than necessary. Once I made a decision to quit for a while I still had an urge to walk the gardens once and review in my mind my garden "to-do" list.

Vermont has a short summer in my book. Working away from here full time and then helping Gail keep the nursery going the balance of the time means that the summer flies by. As I walked through the lower hosta garden, the number of weeds signaled the lack of time I spent there keeping "my pride" looking clean and professional. The frequent rains were enough to make this a challenge anyway but it's clear that I needed more help than I received on this part of our business. I never saw anyone walk back from viewing this special garden without fine comments. It's one of those "eye of the beholder" things but it clearly didn't meet my standard for neatness. Just the same there aren't that many places in Vermont where you can invite yourself to see over 400 hostas and a great assortment of shade plants nestled in a very old stone barn foundation.

I walked out under the drooping apple tree into the field. The peony nursery is weedy but healthy and the roots are well established for a terrific display come June 2007. To the left, the row of Olallie daylilies blooms on with vigor, with Vermont Ocean Swells issuing forth strong scapes with multiple heavy branches and lots of bloom. The scapes remind me of the waves I left behind in Maine almost three weeks ago.

Straight ahead, Autmn Prince stands over five feet tall with scapes carrying tons of daylily flowers not even close to blooming. We've had two minor frosts this week and this daylily remains strong. I'll have to plant some in the upper level so travelers can see what a nice plant it is for fall color.

All the gardens need their fall clean up and need to be tilled between the rows to prevent annual grasses and weeds from catching tighter hold than they already have. Many folks speak of chemical controls and we're not quite there yet. When gardeners arrive, they have a desire to see a neat, clean, weed-free nursery. They don't care that Gail cares for most of the place herself in the summer so we have to make an effort to meet expectations even though time is short. Using the Troy Built tiller between the rows takes time but it's the quickest way to avoid other chemical infiltration.

As I walked through the field I noticed some garlic seed heads dangling to my right amongst an old garden. A few years back Alex got into this potato thing. He doesn't even eat potatoes but he was interested in old varieties so we planted a number of different varieties. We all decided the blue ones weren't for us, the red ones made the best potato salad but we liked it more in summer than fall, and the winner was a fingerling named Russian Banana. A half dozen Russian Banana potatoes parboiled and then pan fried with a little basil, oregano and thyme makes for a great treat. They also make great french fries.

The first year the potato crop was acceptable but the next year the deer came in and forgot to leave. Alex was furious and read that garlic would keep the deer away. I doubted it but as we visited one farmers market after another, we bought various varieties of garlic. Before long you would have thought we were preparing crops for the annual Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival in Wilmington, Vermont Now we have I'm not-so-sure how much garlic and we still have a bunch of deer, now being kept further away as I get more of the deer fence installed around the perimeter.

Despite the rain, it was a fruitful day and the sense of accomplishment felt as good as the warm fire Gail had going. Hope your day ended nicely too!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond were a flock of geese are flying by just low enough for me to hear their voices from inside the house.

Fall gardening wishes,

George Africa

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