garden ponderings


Autumn has Definitely Arrived

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Some of these Sugar Maple leaves have been moved to cover beds in the vegetable garden for the winter.  Today’s agenda includes:  to finish moving this pile before expected rain comes tomorrow (unless I get side-tracked. . .).  You can see there are plenty more leaves to come!
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We enjoyed a long hot summer.  Grew delicious melons that rarely mature in the hills where I live – farmers really are gamblers!
Our lack of rain has been sorely felt by the trees.  On the right, above, is a dead cedar tree just next to a thriving one.  To the left is a fir tree slowly dying.  There are too many more like these.  To me, the saddest part is the quantity of very large (over 40 years old) fir trees that are dead and dying.  We will have to pay an accomplished tree faller to cut the dead ones without hurting live trees nearby.
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On a lighter note, I learned something about drying amaranth flowers.
What was I thinking when I lay the fresh flowers in this position to dry?
As you can see, they stay in the same position after drying!
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This drying position should give flowers that will display much nicer!

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While walking in the woods…


I was walking in the woods and saw some things I had not noticed before.
This plant, nestled in moss and fir tree needles, is small now, and I wonder what it will look like when it grows up?  It could be a shrub, a vine or a flower.  It doesn’t look like anything in my cultivated flower garden, so I’m assuming it is a native.  It may be spring before I find out how reliable my mental map of its location turns out, so I can what it looks like as a mature plant.

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Do you see the plant growing out of the middle of this tree stump?  The amount of moss on the stump gives a sign that it was cut a few years ago.  (Live trees here do not have much moss growing on the outer bark.)  The moss breaks down the outer layers of bark, while the stump decomposes slowly.  I followed a vine with my hand, from next to this stump where it started, to the top center of the stump, where it re-rooted in debris that had naturally collected.

Did you know that a fir tree seedling can take root in the stump of a cut tree?  It can take years, but plant detritus can collect on a stump and the conditions for a seedling to grow and mature can be met.  I’ve seen examples of large tree stumps that were moved to downtown Portland, Oregon, and inoculated with seeds.  The baby trees are now over 20 feet tall.  These trees are in front of the Oregon Convention Center, and have plaques that describe how they were made.


While this is well within the range of how mushrooms grow in many places in nature, I have not seen them growing in clumps like this around here.  These were good-sized ‘shrooms, and I notice the outer ones appear to be the oldest.  I’ll try to check in on them and see if new ones are still appearing.
Many of the larger mushrooms that grew so lush and tidy after a few rainstorms, are now in bits and strewn all around.  The local deer are known to nibble on mushrooms, and have spread the remnants all over.  They are not tidy eaters, but then why would they be?


Rose Hips in Fir Tree


A close-up photo is what is needed for the rose hips to show up.  While walking in the woods around the house looking for mushrooms, I was surprised to find this fir tree with a wild rose bush intertwined high in its branches.

It is a little early for Christmas decorations to be going up, but that is exactly what I thought of when I saw these two plants growing together.  There are a number of wild rose bushes growing around here, and I encourage them to stay.  This particular rose bush is growing exceedingly tall, perhaps because (a) it has been left alone for a long time, and (b) it has grown up as the tree has grown and a very long stem has developed.

This is at least a 30-foot tall Douglas Fir tree, about 30 years old.  In the US Douglas Fir trees are synonymous with Christmas trees.  There are many Christmas tree farms in this state, though most are farther north where it rains a bit more.