Saturday, October 13, 2007

First Frost

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Last night's heavy frost
Is this morning's
Sugar maple confetti,
As colored leaves
Float safely
To the comfort
Of the earth.

It's a beautiful morning here on the mountain. The ground is covered with a thick white frost, the first real frost we have had this year. I cautioned Gail to bring in any plants she wanted to "save" last night but I fear a few of the specialty coleus were forgotten sometime after the nightly news and the roast chicken. Some days are longer than others and this week was a series of jobs that had to be done no matter how tired we were.

The weatherman has had some problems lately and this morning is another example. The sky is clear and the sun is shining brightly through the holes in the maple canopies where leaves have parachuted to earth for their first and last descent. It is crisp and the air feels good as you walk along woods roads admiring the sights. This morning was a Wonder-dogless walk as Karl is sleeping in. He has some seizure problems that we are trying to adjust but sleep works wonders after he has had a bad time. Yesterday was difficult on him.

I rode and walked, rode and walked this morning, as I enjoyed the sunrise and the leaf color. It has been an odd year as the colors have grown stronger and held tight to the trees much longer than we expected. There were several heavy rains and lots of wind after three solid weeks of drought but for some reason Mother Nature knew we needed to enjoy a fine fall display after two consecutive years of "Not so good".

I like to walk back roads, especially logging roads or roads thrown up decades ago. There is a peace that is only interrupted by bird songs or flushing partridge or deer. On occasion a bear or moose, deer or fox, fisher or coyote will be standing around a bend or slightly off the road, watching with care. These sightings add to the peacefulness.

Today I thought through the gardens we'll plant today. The little verse, Frost, appeared to me on the Osmore Pond road and really does represent what I saw. Fall marks the end of gardening for many but for us there are different things to see and do.

Gail has prepared a good sketch of the 400 foot garden which we will start today on the western perimeter of our new property. I rototilled it more than a dozen times since the second spraying with weed killer. I picked the rocks after each tilling and have most of those removed. I have the hoses layed out and buckets of manure ready. Within the hour, Gail will have the truck loaded and we'll be on our way.

The soil along this piece is sandy load, The half closest to Route 2 holds water most of the season as a three foot culvert allows water from the adjacent mountain to make its way to the Winooski River. This half will be excellent for bee balms, four different ligularias, aruncus, rodgersias, actea, astilboide tabularis and some Macleaya cordata, the plume poppy. I expect that someone will give me some grief for planting plume poppy and darmera because of their tendency to become a nuisance. Properly cared for they can be made to stay within bounds and in mass plantings they are very impressive. Next summer I don't expect much of the planting but the following year the garden will be a show stopper.

The back door just closed which means Gail is a steps ahead of me and I have to get going. If you don't have plans today, get out and enjoy the foliage. The Forest and Parks people closed off Owl's Head Monday night so if you want to enjoy that view, plan on the mile walk to the top. The Lanesboro Road still has nice views and the Mack Mountain Road from Route 2 back to Peacham Village is very nice. Along the way you can think through your gardens and what you need to do before morning frost becomes morning snowflakes.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond, where white crowned sparrows from somewhere, one nuthatch and a breakfast club of chickadees have gathered on the platform feeder in the morning sun. Steam emanates from the tall grasses as the thick frost melts and a new gardening day begins.

Fall gardening wishes,

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener


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