Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jigsaw Puzzle Edges

28.9 degrees here on this hill this morning. The sun takes longer now to pull itself up over the tops of the tall tamaracks and their yellow fall needle cover. It's fun to watch though as the early morning sunrays sparkle as they shine down on frozen dew drops and frost encrusted grasses. The change in temperature hasn't occurred to me yet and I headed out with Karl, the wonderdog, without my jacket. My senses returned when I almost slid off step number three before we even made it to the ground. Adjusting to fall and winter is just adjustment.

This is the second day of frost and we hope that it will enhance the colors of the sugar maples. Last years colors were mediocre but there is still good possibility here. I often enjoy sitting at the big rock across the road a bit and looking across at Hooker Mountain and then up towards the northwest. I seem to sit there longer when the colors are more vibrant and the air is clear.

Thoughts usually turn to cleaning up gardens once a good frost stops all signs of growth. Just the same, there are still many colors to pursue and enjoy. We don't have the time to grow them but the various colors of flowering kale (above) are a great enhancement along the drive or at entryways to your home. There are some nice colors available and this plant can handle some hard freezes so it's valuable and inexpensive at the same time. When serious frost levels it, one trip to the compost pile and it's over.

Seems like for as long as I can remember there has been a traditon of sorts to get a pumpkin out front someplace and some Indian corn to hang by the back door. Gail picked up both at a recent farmers market and they look nice. It appears that the blue jays enjoy the corn best of all as I had to scare off a couple yesterday that were already pecking out their favorite kernals.

My mother always enjoyed bittersweet and my dad would always find some and bring her a giant handful to trim and arrange in a tall maroon vase. It would cascade out of the vase onto her tall cedar chest and also hang by the entry doors. Little hands that just had to touch it left the yellow seed jackets scattered on the chest or floor, often resulting in a minor scolding that did nothing to prevent more of the same curiosity.

When we moved to Vermont in '52 it was difficult to locate any bittersweet. Then with the initial building of the interstate highway system, some designer thought it would look nice along the median, perhaps for decoration, perhaps for erosion control. That was the planned introduction of an invasive species of vine which now covers trees and fences in southern Vermont while sadly it smothers out ancient apple varieties. I've noticed it growing all over Vermont. It's easy to spot this time of year because the frost turns the thin leaves a light yellow which en mass is a standout even from distant roadways.

There are many nice varieties of hybrid aster now but the old standbys of New England Aster can help fill the void. Chrysanthemums are a well known fall flower but fewer growers here are handling them any more because the mass marketers almost give them away. Although the industry has created some beauties which don't require pinching, they still require some labor and every box store sells them as throw aways. The colors and petal variations are terrific and for a few bucks you can have that temporary color.

Guess it's time to get going here. I can see steam from Peacham Pond rising above the pines. In the sunlight it's obvious where a doe and two young ones wandered through the lower field earlier this morning. Deer apparently don't walk in straight lines. Their feet broke the frost in the field and left a pattern like the edges of a jigsaw puzzle piece.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the ravens and jays have started a vocal competiton never to be aired on VPR, and where the puzzles of nature and life in Vermont continue to provide interest, challenge and satisfaction.

Frosty gardening wishes,

George Africa
http://vermont flower

Gardening event reminder: The Granite City Garden Club (Barre area) will co-sponsor a free lecture Monday night at the Aldrich Library in Barre. Dr. Robert Gilmore, a New Hampshire landscape designer, will offer a slide show discussion entitled How To Create A Low Maintenance Garden. He has written The Woodland Garden and Beauty All Around You: How to Create Large Private Low Maintenance Gardens.
Starts at 6:45 PM.

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