Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fall Colors Make Us Happy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just finishing up with the evening news. Gail is in from a walk in the dark with Karl the Wonder Dog and Alex has come out of hibernation for the first time since last Thursday. He has had a terrible virus and is just starting to move. The regional news mentioned 175 potential cases of flu at Dartmouth College, 60 miles from here. People at work are coming up missing, either sick themselves or staying home to take care of family. Hope all gardeners are keeping up with all the recommendations and staying as healthy as possible. "hands-off-the-face!" is one of the difficult suggestions for this gardener as I swat flies and wipe off errant pieces of dirt or jewel weed seeds that have catapulted into the air at the brush of a body.

Fall foliage takes center stage right now and it won't disappoint so far this year. I had to work in Burlington and Shelburne today and the foliage views from Interstate 89 from Bolton through Richmond are the best I have seen and I have driven that road since 1980. I was cameraless again today so the pictures I am sharing are more from around here taken Sunday. My son Adam in Seattle loves foliage time so I'll keep these going for a few more days.

Gail tells me that she got another daylily order emailed in today and she has the final one ready for tomorrow. Hostas and specialty plants have already been ordered so things are shaping up for next spring. We still have well over a hundred giant clumps to get moved next spring and included are the Olallie daylilies from several years ago. Gail and I checked them out tonight and some are still blooming, many with lots of buds left. Their colors are not as brilliant as many daylilies but the fact that they are blooming here on October 6th and after several killing frosts is worthy of note.

We're hoping for a half pleasant weekend as we have a few more daylilies to dig and divide and about 20 more hostas to get planted. Then I will start vacuuming the leaves with the shredder and getting them down to the nursery to stockpile for next spring. I recommend a shredder vac but personally cannot recommend the Sears model that I purchased several years back. It does an incredible job and has a powerful motor but it is so quick that on a typical fall day the bag is full after you push your way through a twenty foot strip of driveway or lawn. That means stopping the motor, taking off the bag, lifting it to wherever you want to dump it (in the back of the truck for me), reinstalling and restarting the project again. The engine always starts well but this is a laborious set of repetitive actions to get the leaves cleaned up. The next one I buy will consider this one's shortcomings and also be self propelled. I keep thinking of that $1200 expenditure for the big one you pull behind your tractor????? Better not tell Gail.

Lots of folks ask me about the leaf mulch during the spring and summer when they see me planting. My formula is always the same. If the leaves are wet from recent rains I don't worry but if they are dry, then I get out the hose and really water them down. I sprinkle on about 20 pounds of 5-10-5 or similar fertilizer per truckload of leaves. Then I water heavily and just wait for spring. Although the top of the pile will not degrade in one winter, the fertilizer and the water create a good environment to get the chopped up leaves working and the resulting mulch is black and crumbly. A better shredder than the Sears brand would make me happy but there is a certain joy in having nice piles of leaves to jump start new transplants. A self propelled model would be super!

Now for the pictures. The one up top is looking west from the top of the daylily beds near the hosta shade house. If you click and enlarge the photo you'll notice the various different trees. I'm going to use this picture sometime soon to write a piece about "What Makes A Forest?"

I photograph Marshfield Pond annually several times because I love the place so much. The cliffs in the background were the site of our state's peregrine falcon restocking program back in the late seventies. I have finally found the trail to get to the top and I want to climb it in the next couple weeks. I was recently informed that this pond is only 12 feet deep at the deepest place although it seems to me I have lost nice fish and line caught on the bottom suggesting more depth than that. The water is so black that there's no way of seeing the depth.

This next picture is a grouping of rock-cap ferns or Polypodium vulgare. A bazillion years back Gail's father probably stacked the smaller rocks on this large boulder as he cleared the pasture. The polypodium spores landed here and the rest is a nice picture. There's a nice sugar maple to the right edge of the boulder. It still has a limb dangling out of it from when a bear climbed it in haste years back. It almost matches a broken tree limb from a nearby yellow transparent apple--similarly approached by a black bear for a fall meal.

The Montpelier to Wells River Railroad used to pass here until being thrown up in the early 1950s. Readers might remember a picture of a moose I took at the end of this picture last fall. The fish and game guys have finally trapped out the beavers who were regularly damming the culvert on the right side of the road. Some of the road edges make for careful travel as the erosion from the beavers was not a positive engineering feat. To the left of the road from this perspective is Bailey Pond.
Many daylilies left to be cut down, some to be split, all must be done in the next eight days.

Bailey Pond is the first of three kettle ponds carved out by the glaciers years ago. Glacial erratics, the name for large boulders left erratically here and there, line the road and give kids climbing challenges while their parents get weak stomachs.

Yes, fall foliage season in Vermont is a time of bright color, apple cider, craft fairs, the last of the farmers markets, harvest dinners and a time to think more seriously about putting your gardens to bed. Still think I better get with it and dig, dry and store the potatoes.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where it's 46 degree out as we await yet another rain storm.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm: a website from which someone ordered three Brunnera'Mr. Morse' plants yesterday. They filled the gallon pots before Gail got them ready to be shipped.


joey said...

George, your photos are stunning (but I knew they would be). Glad you took time with your camera ... a good friend! You are ahead of us, even in northern MI, but we're catching up fast. Here, down state, we are just beginning. Happy October!

Kate said...

Was just up in the Killington area last Wednesday till Friday. WOW! is all I can say and this is coming from someone who lives in NE PA! Vermont is definetly the place to be this time of year! Your pictures are stunning! Now I just have to get motivated to download my pics to my blog.