Saturday, November 03, 2007

November Chill

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I woke early this morning after hoping for over an hour that the arthritis in my right hip would fade. It didn't, so I got up and began my Saturday ritual. The house had cooled off last night as the fire in the Vermont Castings Vigilant wood stove was less than vigilant through the wee hours. Two trips to the wood pile, crumpled newspaper and two matches later things have begun to come around.

It was 23 degrees last night, absent of wind, with skies dotted with clouds and stars. The hurricane off the East coast may change things today. This morning things are calm and no amount of coaxing got Karl the wonder dog to think about joining me for a quick walk. I went down the road and into the lower hosta garden where the wooden bench was solitary reminder to the crowds who visited that garden this summer. I was embarrassed by the presentation this year with weeds and a multitude of maple seedlings everywhere but there was little I could do. My energy was diverted to a new piece of property and brighter beginnings for next spring.

The leaves of the birches, poplars and beeches hold firm and offer color. My eyes glanced towards the corner of the foundation wall where 'Hadspen Blue' Tokudama flavocircinalis', nigrescens and 'Striptease' hostas usually provide color. The wall was strong and firm but the colored plantings lay flat from several hard frosts. It's a nice granite wall and it looks fine to me at any time of year. If Robert Frost could join me, I'm sure he'd have some words to share. Gail just gave me a copy of a compilation of his works dating from 1916--more winter's work--perhaps I can find some words about foundations.

I wandered towards the standing stones which have reminded several visitors of the Seven Sisters. They are still just nice stones to me and I have encircled them with epimediums which have really grown this past season. This is a flower which will continue to gain popularity and probably price. It's still worth the expense. You should consider it in your garden if you haven't yet.

The deer have topped off about every hosta but for some reason have left Summer Music, Daybreak, City Lights and August Moon. Some nice seed pods remain on some sports of Summer Music which came in a tray of tissue cultured plants a couple years back. Obviously the person doing the culling wasn't perceptive enough that day. Actually I'm pleased with the find as these are big plants, rapid growers and I think they have some potential. I may name them 'Off Key' at some point in the future. Time always permits lots of fun thoughts but fewer completions.

As I headed up the back path to the house, the blue jays began scolding me for not filling the feeder yet. All that remained was a block of suet, enclosed in an onion sack and tied to the flat of the platform feeder. The ravens, Vermont's stealth bombers of the woods and fields, coast in and try to grab the suet but so far it has held firm and provided caloric warmth for our smaller feathered buddies.

It will be a cold morning but I have more leaves to rake, more wood to cut.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where early morning car traffic results from Youth Day when young hunters get a crack at deer before the competition of the regular season. Some parents have forgotten the fact that good hunting starts when you get out of the truck or car.

Fall gardening encouragement,

George Africa


IBOY said...

George... I draw a blank: what's the first leaf picture (the yellow one)... it's a stunner.

George Africa said...

Hello Don;
The picture is the leaves of the beech tree. This is a tree in trouble now but when I was a kid just moving to Vermont, they were everywhere. The annual beech nut crop was dependably large and deer, bear and partridge would turn over the leaves like rototillers, looking for the sweet nut meats. A friend of my dads would take us raccoon hunting at night with dogs (a different story) and beech forests were favorite hunting sites. As a kid I'd collect and eat them too.

If you go to our Vermont Flower Farm site and go to the "Our Forests" page, and scroll down, there will be three tree pictures grouped together. The picture on the right is a beech tree suffering from beech scale. Here in Vermont the trees are doomed and I have yet to find a cure for the problem which includes scale and fungus. When you see a tree with pock marked bark as in the picture, it is best to cut it for firewood as once the infection gets more serious, the tree appears to be hanging onto life (which it is) but most of the internal wood is already dead, punky and useless to burn. This is typically a very dense wood and a great firewood with high BTU production. It is a beautiful wood for furniture and cabinetry but sadly, on it's way out.

Although having nothing to do with gardening, here's a story. When I was a kid I went sledding at about 10 below zero after a big weather front had moved through and covered everything with ice. The crust on the snow was thick and slippery. I headed to the top of a hill with my trusty American Flyer sled. Went out of control down another hill, into a forest and lost control just as I hit a beech head on. No idea now long I was knocked out but awoke dazed, cold and with a heck of a headache. Maybe that's the reason I am the way I am. ???

Good gardening!


IBOY said...

I'll bet when you woke up, you said "Son of A Beech!".
Well, I went around to the front of our house, and thee is our thirty foot tall American beech with the same leaves... sometimes I just don't really look at things. The beech colors up about the latest of anything here, after most of the other leaves are gone.Thanks for the tales, and I'm very sad to hear about the plight of the beeches; sometimes I wonder what will be left; the elms gone, chestnuts,the green ash borer coming, oak wilt coming. Sad.