Thursday, September 18, 2008

The End Is Near

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It was almost 5 PM and 58 degrees out when I pulled into the driveway tonight with the last of the zinnias. Gail had cut six buckets of various zinnias for a friend who is getting married Saturday. They easily would have lasted in the garden except that the statewide prediction for tonight is for killing frost with some lows in adjacent upstate NY in the low 20's.

Zinnias are a great flower and we will surely miss them. Those cut today will make a nice presentation for a very nice bride at a very nice outside wedding on a hill outside of Morrisville.

It's quiet here now as Gail and Alex started a Shakespeare discussion group tonight at the library. Neither of them knows what it will involve as it was billed as an informal group that might include reading plays aloud, watching films, or working on dramatic monologues. Alex has been reading Shakespeare since he was about 6 so it should work for him. Gail's experience has been teaching Alex as well as learning from him but she's tired. Maybe her commitment will materialize as a dream in a soft library telling.

As for me, there's lots to do around the gardens here on the hill and down at the nursery. Time is short and my arthritis races against dropping temperatures and cold ground. I can tell by life around me that the challenge of fall days is felt but others too.

The Japanese Beetles are really eating. Soon they will drop to the soil and another generation will be on its way to driving me crazy next year. I have spread milky spore at the nursery and have the greatest confidence with it. Just the same it generally takes more than one season to become well established. I cannot forget this July when the first flush of daylilies burst forth and Gail and I hoped for some sun and a bunch of customers. We received sun and customers and in mid afternoon the first day we also received a hatch of these miserable beetles. They hatched in the hundreds, probably thousands as I think about it, landing on every fragrant yellow daylily we owned.

As long as the soil temp is 50 or above, spreading milky spore is fine to do. I have written about it before and suggest you consider it. You'll have a decreasing amount of mole damage visible next spring and plants will return to bloom as opposed to being placed on the missing in action list. This situation will improve each year.

The male hummingbirds have been gone for several weeks but today it was clear that the last females had headed south too. We made a lot of people happy this year at the nursery as many saw hummingbirds for the first time.

The monarch butterflies hatched Tuesday and are feeding on the Eupatorium maculatum 'Gateway' as if there is no tomorrow. They are easy to get close to as they are hungry for sweet nectars as their flight schedules are set and they have to move along soon. Usually I spot a number of their green chrysalises this time of year but thus far I have struck out. The gold trim and black spots are things I remember from first grade when we hatched them on the elementary school windowsill.

As we all prepare in our own way for what will be left after the first major frost, we have to recall how great gardening is and how many people it makes happy. If you have time left with your gardens, pick something and share it with a friend. The smile of appreciation will be worth it--even if you're exhausted like me!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where the temperature has dropped to 38 degrees and the clear sky enhances the cold.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
Vermont Gardens

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