Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Last Day of Summer 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

38.2° this morning on the mountain above Peacham Pond. Windless and quiet, save for Karl the Wonder Dog stretched out on the floor next to me....... snoring loudly and apparently dreaming too as he occasionally twitches a leg and lets out an indiscernible line of dog-talk. Good dog, Karl, good dog!

As we approach the end of summer a week from today, things have changed a great deal since I took this picture from the daylily display garden. The summer has been dry with many +80° days and too many 90° days for Gail and Alex to tolerate. The adjacent Winooski River is at late October level, and many folks are already lugging water after their water sources have dried up.

The tall hollyhocks in the picture have long since faded and round seed pods have formed but with rather limited seeds because of the extended heat. The daylilies are down to a dozen or so that are late bloomers. Autumn Gold, Autumn Minaret, Autumn Prince, Surprisingly Late, Olallie Mack, Olallie Keith, Ocean Swells, Ovation, Challenger, Butterscotch Harvest, Shocker, Yellow Sights, Sandra Elizabeth, plus another dozen that rebloom depending on weather conditions and sunlight.

I estimate that the flower production this summer was off by 25% because of the drought. Right now we are digging and dividing daylilies for next season and the soil is like powder and falls from the root clumps as I pull them from the ground. We need water badly but don't ever want to see a repeat of five years ago when two spring storms brought ten feet of water flowing over the gardens and then in late August did the same thing again as Tropical Storm Irene came to visit.

Despite the end of summer, it's a great time to get into the gardens with your camera and take a bunch of pictures to help you plan new gardens and give thought to redesigning older ones. Pictures make the task easier, especially when the snow is deep before you begin to think that new or upgraded gardens are a good idea. Save the photos on a smart card or put them in a separate folder on your computer so you can find them easily. All summer long not a day goes by without a gardener wanting to find pictures on their phone to show me and ask questions. I hate to think how long I stand there waiting for them to find the pictures. Use a smart card or computer folder with a name you can remember--it makes sense.

Along with the images, make some notes that will help with the design. Take critical measurements, note the current size of trees and shrubs and distances from your home or out-buildings. I make simple black and white copies on my printer and take them with me back to the gardens when I am taking measurements. Simple notes will be helpful a couple months from now. "Lemony Lace Sambucus--42 inches tall", "remove the Tiger Eye Sumac", "add more Helenium Salsa", "divide Strutters Ball and Bama Music", "68 inches from dwarf spruce to garage rain gutter". The planning process will be a great deal easier when you have reminders & real dimensions versus your best guesses.

So as temperatures decline, give some time to what you learned from your gardens this summer and want to change for next year. It's fun, it's easy. And if you run into a snag, always remember--"We're always here to help you grow your green thumb!"

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where I hear a loon calling...but without receiving an answer.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Writing on Facebook as George Africa and also as a Like Page, Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

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