Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kettle Pond Memory

The pounding rain woke me at 4 this morning. The sound was an immediate reminder that the list of today's chores would have to be reworked over the first cup of coffee. I flicked on the outdoor light from my office and the white slush that covered the ground confirmed that the weather prediction was on target this time. It was difficult to see as the snow had clogged the window screens but sufficent light got through to know that this was a storm that would be around a while. I knew I would have to wait longer this morning to catch a glance down the hill towards the peonies that were on my mind today.

Vermont has a short growing season and we have to savor every bit of enjoyment. Gail and I have grown accustomed to working in cold, wet weather although I have to admit she lasts longer than I do. Arthritis affects people depending upon the type it is, a person's age and genetics or how they have used their bodies over their life. I am already missing the stamina I used to have and my right hand doesn't move well early in the morning on days like this. My pinky finger and the next one that keeps it company have worn out joints and even dislocate at times when I'm holding tools a certain way or even just typing. Working outside today will be unpleasant but at some pont we will both be pulling on boots and jackets about the same time we ask we other "What are you doing?" Gardeners are like that and even though the gardens aren't producing new and interesting sights each day, we feel obligated to do what we can to make the next growing season even better than this one was.

I looked back towards the peony rows over a hundred yards away. A third of the area was represented by rows of white signs where I already pulled myself along the ground and pruned off the stems. It had been a great year for the peonies until that hard rain storm in early July. The bud counts were great and the flowers wide and full. The balance of the peony nursery needs to be pruned and if the weather comes true next Tuesday, Gail will finish the job for me.

Peonies are indestructible plants with giant root systems. Late September into October are perfect times to move them and there are 7 on my list that are supposed to be dug and replanted today. Gail wants a nice row in front of the house addition we put on a couple years ago. They won't be visible from the house but they will look beautiful for the folks who are driving back up from a visit to Peacham Pond.

Gail wanted the very old 'Festiva Maxima' because she has a good supply I think, but being the "digger" I have the say. I'll go with 'Top Brass' and 'White Wings'. I have large plants which will set in well and adapt quickly to their new locations. I like the whites which have golden centers which look like someone took bright golden-yellow yarn, crumpled it into a ball and tossed it into the middle of the petals. These two will make us happy. I'll plant them 4 feet apart and by next September they will almost fill the perimeter.

I've mentioned planting peonies before and I do so on our website too. I dig deep holes well amended with compost and lined on the bottom with 6" of chopped maple leaves. I insure that the roots are not planted deeper than a couple inches below the surface and I keep the roots free of weeds and root competition during future growing seasons. It's worth the bother to plant them corrrectly. There's nothing better than visitors offering nice comments and inqusitive questions about how successful these plants can be.

The rain is falling against the house. The images outward are cold and dull but my image of even a week or two ago is of bright colors and falling leaves. When Alex was small he called these "rememories". A bright "rememory" is of the shores of Kettle Pond, three miles down the road from here. Just the picture reminds me of the many walks I have made there--a Kettle Pond Memory--a place of peace. If you haven't stopped to visit yet, consider it the next time you're passing by. Even a brief walk will give you your own "Kettle Pond Memory".

Gardening wishes from the mountain above Peacham Pond where three mourning doves have made their first appearance to the feeder where "blue jays" and "pecking order" will soon define the day.

George Africa

No comments: