susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Last Hurrahs

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Leaves on the Sweet Gum tree (above left) are just turning from green to yellow, while the Sugar Maple (on the right) has lost most of its leaves.
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Why would the leaves on one of three Aspen trees still be hanging on, when the other two trees are almost naked?

There are no flowers around the house.  Between the drought and global warming, I should be able to find some plant that will flower later in the season.  Driving today, I did spot nasturtiums in a neighbor’s yard.  Those I know I can grow – and they come with the bonus attribute of being edible besides pretty and late-growing.
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Down in the garden, it is another story.
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Dill (left) and Cilantro (right) flowers are staying handsome.  I think it is the perfect balance between enough sun to keep them happy, but cooler days of less daylight keep both of these plants from ‘going to seed’.
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Copy of DSCN4155 Copy of DSCN4157Cherry tomato and jalapeno flowers are in for disappointment, there is no chance they will grow to maturity before winter sets in.  Just not enough heat-hours left in this season.
Strawberries, also, keep blooming, and their fruit is much quicker to ripen, so I have a chance to harvest more of them – hoorah!

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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.
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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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Delicate Dill

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It has taken a number of attempts to get an acceptable photo of these teeny-tiny dill flowers.  The leaves are feathery delicate and lightly aromatic.

This herb is short-lived, but easily reseeds itself.  In the photo above is a late season seedling that emerged in a bed of turnips.

I have tried to preserve the leaves by freezing, but the results were just passable.  Best used fresh, dill is delicious on a fresh (not frozen) salmon, or try it on other light-flavored fish.


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Autumn Crocus

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Technical name for this beauty is colchicum which is in the lily family
It has no relation to crocus, in the iris family.
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Above, the buds are emerging from the ground in the same hole as their dead leaves did last spring.
There should be 3 to 4 times as many flowers as I see this year, because there were that many leaves a few months ago.  Perhaps this summer was too hot for the bulbs.  I understood these bulbs can take full sun, but apparently, I was mistaken.


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First Freeze

We had our first overnight freeze and a number of plants are now dormant for the winter.  Still, the first official day of winter is not due for over a month.  Leaves of the hydrangea quickly turned a droopy brown, and those of the lilac bushes are on the ground.

But there are also trees whose leaves are not finished with their autumn show.
I present three examples I found around my house:
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First is a dwarf ginko tree, which is barely over a foot (30 mm) tall.  Daylilies keep trying to invade its ‘turf’ from the back and chamomile from the front.  The poor little ginko is so small, it cannot defend itself.
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Next is a Japanese maple that is a fairly new addition to my garden.  While my other Japanese maple tree has shed all of its leaves, this one is still trying to put out new growth.  Some of the leaves are starting to turn orange, and others are sprouting the light green of new growth.  Is this particular tree native to the Himalayas?
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Last is one of the beauties of this area, a Sweet Gum tree, from the maple family.  It grows more vertical than the sugar maple next to it, which has a classic roundish leaf area.  The sugar maple gets its leaves long before the sweet gum in the spring, but the sweet gum hangs onto its leaves longer in the autumn.


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Sugar Maple

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We have a large Sugar Maple tree out front of the house.  It is just beautiful to watch as the leaves slowly change colors.  I’ve been taking pictures nearly every day, as I watch the fallen leaves collect under the tree.  One thing I noticed this year, is that the first leaves to fall are on the south side of the tree.  The north facing leaves change color later and stay on the tree longer.  We have had pleasant fall weather, so the tree has kept its leaves awhile.  If a wind storm or cold snap were to come up, this tree could lose its leaves almost overnight.

There is a resident gray squirrel in this tree, who we have been watching from the kitchen window all summer long.  No way he will sit still for a photograph, it is a wonder he doesn’t run away as soon as he hears the front door open.  I suppose he knows he is safe in the tree, since we cannot climb up there.  Recently, we have seen him climb out on a limb and nibble away at something.  Later, I looked close at the tree, and noticed the seed pods at the far end of the tree limbs, which must have been the objects of his interest.  We saw many gray squirrels when we moved here over thirty years ago, but soon after they disappeared.  In just the last couple of years, these animals have returned.  This is not the first wild / native animal whose population we have observed apparently growing and ebbing in a cycle.


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Japanese Maple on the First Day of Autumn

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Actually, autumn began at 7:30 pm last night, but today is the first day of the new season.  The color change of the leaves is very subtle, as it is just beginning, in this tree.   If you look on the upper left side, you can notice the leaves getting lighter, as they lose the deep red color they had all summer long.

Yes, that is a four foot high (122 cm) deer fence around the tree trunk.  Although the tree appears to be tall enough that the deer cannot decimate its foliage, I will not even attempt to remove the fence until spring.  There is barely enough forage for the deer at this time of year, and I have seen hungry animals stand on their hind feet to eat whatever they can.