Saturday, December 02, 2006

Remembering Summer

Saturday afternooon and the wind doesn't seem to have let up a bit since daybreak. The temperature has dropped to 31 and it has been holding there for some time. Last night after supper I dumped a couple 5 gallon buckets--my "rain gauges"--and this morning there was over 3" in each. The daily paper said there was an inch an hour falling in Burlington last night and it flooded out the sewer network. The Winooski River goes through Marshfield village and continues for 65 miles before it gets to Lake Champlain. Today it is flowing about as high and fast as I have seen in quit a while. This isn't the first year the weather has acted like this but with the land saturated as it is, it doesn't take much to create problems.

Usually there would be snow on the ground but this year the rain and warm weather has kept us snow free. November finished the month in number two place for the warmest on record. It hasn't been this warm since 1948.

I guess it is the warmer November that continues to remind me how much I enjoyed the flowers this summer. They seemed to come out early and hold their color longer than usual. The rain which came mostly at night kept the daylilies looking beautiful and the scapes seemed in great abundance for weeks on end. Just a great memory!

There are a couple things which I can't seem to follow through on from year to year. It drives me nuts as soon as I find out I have messed up again but apparently I never feel guilty enough to mend my ways. I have three good cameras and I know how to take pictures. You'll never see my stuff in galleries or with price tags but usually you can honor whatever it is I have photographed with the ability to name it generically. ...mountains, river, brown tree, red flower, little fluffy dog....that kind of thing. My problem is I never take the pictures that I should.

Each year I make a new list of pictures I need for our web site. You'd think after 4 years I could get around to a picture of the daylily Chicago Apache instead of taking twenty each of Witch Hazel or Wayside Green Lamp. I can't. You'd think I could take some garden photos to break out when the snows of January are three feet deep. I can't. This got so bad this summer that I actually had to contact a writer/publisher and say that I had to forego being in her book because I couldn't get the pictures off to her.

It's not so much taking the pictures that is the problem. It's identifying them. I actually bought a camera with a recorder so I could walk down the rows and say "Nefertiti, Rococo, Mauna Loa, Hesperus, Citrina, Lusty Leland, Night Beacon, Alaqua, chipmunk, another damn snake" but I didn't like the feature. I probably have 500 beautiful close up photos of daylilies and at best it's a crap shoot as to what they are. When I try to coax Gail to look at the monitor with me she always reminds me "I can only identify them in the garden." Somehow I have to get better at this for next year.

The other thing I have gotten terrible about is updating my maps. When I plant a new something-or-other I always write the name on a tag and bury it in the same hole, always at 3 o'clock. That's so if the tag that's above ground is grabbed by the tag fairy or some child aspiring to be a plant tag collector at maturity, I can still determine what is what by digging down on the right side of the plant til I find the tag.

Having a garden map makes it easier to replace tags in the spring, and to plan garden revisions during the winter. But maps around here need to be updated every year. I like to do mine in the fall when customers have forgotten us and the frost has had a chance to make mush of all top growth. Again this year I have failed with my maps. Frankly, I can't even find my maps. Gail got so tired of hearing me ask "Have you seen my maps?" that she bought me a new pad of graph paper in hopes it would quiet me. It did silence the irritating questioning but it didn't get the maps done.

The other day I saw some free software in a gardening magazine. It was supposedly made for designing gardens. By the time I had logged in and taken a ridiculous survey and finally got to the design feature, I found out the thing was set up for an 8 foot wide garden. We don't have gardens like that and when I tried out their icons for various plant varieties, the space filled up so fast I had little chance of ever getting from Abba Dabba Do to City Lights let alone Wylde Green Cream or even Zounds. I guess all software designers are not garden designers too.

Regardless of current photos or updated maps, the flowers of the summer of 2006 were very special. If you didn't have an opportunity to stop by, now is the time to pencil us in for next year. The picture up top is typical of what you might see here, late July, first week of August. It could be a memory you'll want to relive annually. Hope to see you next year!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the blustery winds are so strong they encourage the smoke from the woodstove to come back down the chimney...... instead of floating down the valley and through the fir balsams where the deer rest quietly.

Gardening thoughts,

George Africa


Ann Zuccardy said...


As usual, your gardening prose draws me in.

It has been a weird November indeed! I'm not a big cold-weather/snow fan, so I'm not in any rush for winter. However, looking at your colorful floral image today reminds me of how I love to look at how my perennial gardens change through the seasons. For instance, some perennials take on a whole new character in the fall and winter. I especially love the way my sedum looks in late fall and early winter when its dried reddish-purpleish flowers still stand proudly and are sprinkled with a "powdered sugar" dusting of early winter snow. I even enjoy tossing my coffee grounds into my compost pile in the winter. It doesn't "do" much, but I like to dream about what's going on under the surface of all things when nothing outwardly seems to be changing.

We received a light dusting of snow last night. None on the ground today, though. I hope this finds you well.

Ann Zuccardy
Vermont Shortbread Company

IBOY said...

I don't think you need to feel too bad; your garden picture is quite extraordinary. I know what you mean about taking daylily pictures; you get out there and start snapping tons of pictures, and end up with all these unlabelled daylily pictures on your computer.