Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I just returned to the house after a chilly morning moving some gravel around a new culvert I installed in one of our woods roads yesterday. From yesterday to until today the ground froze solid and cleaning up the crushed rock from the bottom of the pile was a treat. I still have a few more things to clean up in the same area but need a couple more loads of gravel and those won't come until spring. This fall I have been outside every day working on one project and then the next. Blogging has taken a backseat to outside chores but the weather has been great and I am feeling good about what I accomplished.
During the past week Alex and I rebuilt two platform feeders and since we have not seen a bear here in a couple weeks we decided to go for it and put the feeders up. The mourning dove count is at 15 right now and the first evening grosbeak of the season just arrived.
As we brought truckloads of spent flowers and old weeds from the flower farm, I was reminded how much seed was available on certain annuals and perennials. As we clean up every fall, Alex and I rub the seed pods on several plants just to spread the seed around and get some free crops growing early-on in the spring. Consider these.
Foxglove, pictured up top and again right here in pink, has been known for years as a biennial. In recent years some hybrids have been brought onto the market that flower the first year. These flowers are poisonous but oh so beautiful. If you have some already growing or have a friend who has some, a little seed goes a long way. Just sprinkle it on the soil. Nature does the rest.
Cleome is another favorite. It comes in heights from 8" to 6 feet and again, it self seeds nicely. For the amount of seed that is produced annually, only a small per centage germinate but it's always enough to remind you "I really like these!" The shorter varieties work well in containers too!
Verbena bonariensis makes me smile. It is an annual that self seeds here in this portion of Vermont but does not germinate in great numbers. Perhaps this is because I have always planted it close to the river where our soil is not that good. It is known as being invasive in many states even to the point of being prohibited and being placed on invasive/prohibited-to-plant lists. It is a pollinator magnet and butterflies of all sorts spend their winged days on it. It's great in flower arrangements and has a color that catches attention from the distance.
All forms of rudbeckia exist. Goldsturm shown here, is regularly seen in gardens, big and small. After several hard frosts you'll notice many small birds seeking out the seeds and in the process they disperse the ripened seed so some may grow next year. The birds never know what great farmers they are. There is a 6-7-8 foot tall perennial rudbeckia named Herbstsonne that is very nice and also a helianthus named Lemon Queen. Both self seed.
As you clean up your gardens, spread some seed around and see what germinates in next spring's gardens. You may be surprised. I have been!
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where open water will continue into mid December according to the long range weather predictions. Kind of a surprise because on December 11, 2014 we had a foot of heavy wet snow that took out the power and made a mess around here for a week.
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