Thursday, October 11, 2007

Counting Crows

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The weatherman forecast the start of several wet days and thus far, today has escaped much of the prediction. Just 5 PM now and 53 degrees and as darkness sets in, the air has the feel of a storm en route for breakfast. If the way the birds are feeding is any indication, the rain will be heavy when it gets here. First the juncos, then the chickadees, then the mourning doves, now the young blue jays, never any crows. Crows don't eat bird seed from a feeder but they will eat cracked corn from the ground. If you want to count crows it has to be in the morning, but the other birds are here off and on most of the day.

All the way home from work I thought about getting over to Kettle Pond to see what the foliage looked like. I knew I was late but it's an annual thing that I have to do at least once. I enjoy walking out to the canoe launch, sometimes a good deal further. I knew the walk would be easier this year because a crew from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps worked on the trails again this year.

Every year I stand on the teeter-totter dock that makes no sense and take pictures of the shore, the mountains, the young loons still gaining courage to leave Vermont. I never get a good picture of the loons as they are always too far away for any equipment I have but it's fun just the same. A walk to Kettle Pond is kind of like walking in the garden. It mellows the difficult times the day has brought.

I returned home and put Karl the wonder dog back in the house so I could make a quick walk through the gardens and then head downtown to ride the tractor for an hour. I promised Gail I would have the western garden, 10 feet wide by 400 feet long, rototilled and ready to begin planting Saturday. Karl resisted the thought of exclusion and the opportunity to get good dog smells from around the gardens. A gentle nudge didn't encourage a change of attitude but the sight of my right foot coming up behind his tail made him scoot along quickly. Different reminders accomplish different goals in life.

The garden by the drive has a few different anemones that begin blooming in late September and continue on despite cold nights. I don't know the names even though Gail has reminded me many times. They look so nice that late garden visitors always ask about them but usually they are long since sold out. I think if they appeared in just one well written magazine article they'd be in every nursery going but except for specialty places you don't see them that much. The white woods anemones which bloom in the spring are a different story. They spread like spilt milk and are more often available although they probably shouldn't be.

As I walked along, a lily became obvious. Our lilies end their beautiful garden presentations with the tall bloom of Uchida. I must admit that pronouncing Uchida twice the same way is about as easy for me as saying Sagae, the beautiful hosta with a similar name problem. Despite many rains of late, the blooms continue to open with a fragrance that beckons from afar. This one caught my eye because a slug had smelled the fragrance and climbed a five foot stem to feast on the petals. Slugs are not afraid of heights I guess and this one climbed 240 times its height.

I walked past the mailboxes and looked down at the hosta garden. It was a mess from August on because I was away making gardens for next year. Nonetheless the hostas themselves grew strong with good attention early on. Although the deer have been trimming them down well, a couple sports of H. 'Summer Music' have heavy seed production this year. The pods are thick walled and the seeds are quite large. I cut off one scape just to be sure I have one. Maybe with luck I can harvest some of the remaining seed from other hostas this weekend.

Two more steps and I ran into a ripening stem of white baneberry seeds. The insects are beginning to dig inside the pods and help with dispersing the seeds. This particular baneberry is very colorful with bright red stems holding each seed pod tightly. It's also the most poisonous so keep these away from kids. As with all baneberries, the foliage looks great until the seeds reach maturity and then dormancy brings on the blahs. Lots of wild flowers are like that but it's not a reason to give up on them.

I glanced at my watch and reminded myself that the calmness of the gardens was nice but I had to get going with the new garden. A flock of geese called from above and I knew I had to move too.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where darkness comes too early and Karl begs to go outside just a minute or so before the evening news starts. Good dog, good dog!

With fall gardening wishes,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

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