Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bird Song Morning

Sunday, July 24, 2011

57° and windless on the mountain. We opened the windows last night and the cool breezes of around 11 PM made sleeping easy. Actually after a day working outside since 6 AM in 90° and high humidity, sleep came quickly. The songs of the vireos and warblers woke me half an hour ago and as I sit here writing and thinking, the bird songs welcome a calming morning. Thin gray clouds slide across a powder blue background sky and I know we are in for another nice day.

The hot weather continues without let up and I'm heading to the nursery in a few minutes to get some more watering done before customers begin to show up mid morning. It is a funny affair at the nursery, trying to track when you need the most help to handle customers. On Saturdays, and on most weekdays except Mondays, people do not arrive in numbers until about 2:30. Yesterday it was almost an hour earlier and it seemed that just as soon as we finished lunch, cars arrived, one after another. Sundays are different and I have never figured it out. Some people arrive before I put the flags in their flag holders by the road at 7:30 while others plan that we'll be opened up around 9. Today we will see who wants daylilies and who wants to beat the heat.

We have intentionally left the fields of daylilies to themselves with their only water coming from the sky. I have an excellent drip irrigation plan ready to install but the floods of May put us so far behind and added so much extra work that irrigation was a thought for next year. Relying on almost no rain for three weeks means that the daylilies sport smaller flowers but the bud count remains very high based on root systems which were so well prepared for summer with good rains last fall. The plants came into spring in excellent shape and this spring's constant moisture allowed them to soak up plenty more. The down side was twofold. Rain meant lack of sun and cooler initial temperatures and rain washed lots of nutrients into the river. We have not managed to return the fertility to last fall's levels. 20 inches of rain will do that.

Regardless of weather issues, the color as you drive by Route 2 is excellent. Even speeding, crazed drivers passing unsafely on the flat past our business sometimes slow to look and some turn in to visit. Once here, smiles and compliments are plentiful.

Morning at the nursery means deadheading the daylily flowers to improve the image and reduced the opportunity that the plants will start to set unwanted seed pods. It takes the better part of a full day for a couple people to do the whole 4 acres which is why it doesn't get done every day as I wished. I work gloveless and in the end, the deep purples of the Grape Velvet, Strutters Ball, and Wayside King Royale do a magnificent job staining my fingers and palms. If you work gloveless like me, remember that straight out of the bottle el cheapo store brand lemon juice is the very best way to become stain free in minutes. Give it a try!

Just a reminder that it's berry season in many parts of New England and I am receiving some fine reports of berry picking opportunities around. Strawberries are coming to an end in most places although some commercial fields have the newer late varieties where tasty reds are still in abundance. On Friday, friend Tracey from Marshfield Inn dropped by some freshly picked, grown-on-her-mountain raspberries which were a treat. Wild blueberries are in their glory, and black raspberries are fleshing out. I hear that some spots already have blackberries and of course some of the hybrids are ready to pick. Here on the mountain we have to watch all the berries with care and get out and pick before they reach prime. Two sets of bear sows and their cubs, one big bruin and an assortment of other critters get to the berries quickly and they can eat a patch in an evening. I have noticed that the drought has caused the deer to eat the vitamn rich raspberry leaves in most places so berry drop will occur early as a result. When you finish the paper this morning and still aren't sure what to do, dig out the berry buckets, bug dope and water jug and head to Groton Forest or a local pick-your-own berry farm. Berries can't be beat! If you have a place to plant a few, Gail has a dozen or so Latham Raspberries in 5 quart pots ready to go. We should have picked the blossoms so they didn't go to fruit this year but I bet they'll still be great producers next year. Come visit!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the bird chorus continues and I wish our birder friend Joan was here to tell us who is singing to us. This really is a Bird Song Morning!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa. Come visit!
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