Once again, time has gotten away from me. Even though this was one of the longest, drought-stricken gardening seasons I can ever remember, now that fall has arrived, I'm missing summer already. I am writing this late Sunday night, well, ok, early Monday morning, since it's already 1AM. Up until Friday, we had no rain at all for weeks, but now that's changed. Starting this Saturday, we were treated to 3.5 inches of rain as of 6PM Sunday night. I don't think it's done drizzling yet, either.
Though we really needed the rain, this has been a long weekend since all we could do was stare out the window at the work that still needs doing.
Castle Aaargh construction.......all the plants that need removal.......statuary to put in storage......you know what I mean.
But, we needed the rain, so I won't grouse. Much.
We took the weekend off and went to an art fair event which was set up to enable the general public to tour local artists and see them at work in their studios. It was a wonderful change of pace and a very humbling and uplifting experience to see these talented people and their artistic visions in so many mediums from textiles, jewelry, painting, sculpting and stained glass. We had a great time, and what better way to spend a dreary weekend?
Meanwhile, back here on the farm, let's see what's new since my last post. I took these photos last week but since then, the garden has changed immensely. We finally had the dreaded killing frost which put an end to all the flowers for this year.
|Dry River Bed the day before the Hard Frost.|
Here's a look at what's been occupying my time in no particular order, just the way they came out of the camera, on my last stroll around the garden before the killing frost.
|Birch tree and toasted hostas in foreground.|
The drought was hard on everything. I didn't even try to keep up with watering, though I suppose I should have. We'll see what bounces back (or doesn't) next spring.
|Willie the Willow dripping with gold.|
I don't usually get outside with the camera early in the morning due to my nightowl tendencies and many of these pictures are repetitive. I apologize in advance, but the main reason I write this blog is to remember what worked and what didn't, so bear with me. Especially in this post, you are about to see a Lot of Bubblegum and other petunias. If pink distresses you and/or you're not a petunia fan, I am giving you fair warning. There will be Passles of Pictures of Pink Petunias ahead.
|No pink here; the woods across the road.|
Though I do not own the woods across the road from our house, I do own the view. And what a glorious one it was last week. With the rain and the wind, the trees are fairly bare now.
|Hard hats are required for standing under these trees. Nuts are hard on noggins.|
Our black walnut trees bore a surprising amount of nuts this year, but I don't think they're any good. The squirrels have been leaving them on the ground for the most part when normally they'd be hauling them out of the tree before they hit the dirt. I imagine drought conditions make for poor tasting walnuts, too. I was never a connoisseur of black walnuts, and have you ever tried cracking them? A Vise-Grip is a handy tool to own for that chore.
|Another sad hosta up against a granite rock hoping for rain.|
And here's the Quarry Pond. Lovely, just lovely, isn't it? Yep, that's right, the pond went down to the lowest level we have ever had in the ten year span of its existence. The fish suffered mightily, even before the water all but disappeared. Carl dug as much of a hole as he could in the muck of the water that was left in the back and the fish hung out in the 7' wide puddle for over a week. We had wild turkey flocks coming in for a drink every day since there was no other water to be had. All the waterholes in the woods had dried up. I counted 23 turkeys in the puddle last week, but didn't get a picture of them because they are so wary. For some reason, they won't drink out of our Pan Fountain the way the rest of the wild birds do.
Predators have been a big, big problem this fall. Herons were eating fish and frogs during the day and at night raccoons came in. Raccoons had already raided the pond when the water was much higher earlier this summer and killed our twelve year old koi, Goldie. She had been the first fish we had from way back when we had our small rubber pond and had grown very large. I imagine she was easy to catch, poor thing. After finding her fish scales scattered all over the shore, we put up a chicken wire corral so the fish could go to the middle and be protected from the herons by day and the coons by night. I had no idea we had such a raccoon infestation until one night I went out after dark with a powerful flashlight and was amazed to see no less than five raccoons around the chicken wire fence trying to figure out how to get in. They weren't successful, I'm happy to report. And, as of Sunday, the water level has risen quite a bit, plus the coming week looks wet, too. The worst is over, hopefully.
|Picture at an odd angle of the last of the water.|
Yuck, yes, the algae water is all that was left of the pond last week, but the remaining goldfish and frogs were able to find safety in the middle. There were hundreds of raccoon tracks in the mud all the way around it, but they were outsmarted at last. We tied the top of the chicken wire mesh shut, too, because they would have figured out how to climb over it easily. Raccoons are cute, I guess, to some folks, but oh, they can be merciless to their prey. We always try to be home before dark to shut the chicken coop up because between raccoons, opossums and skunks, the hens are prime targets for a Predator Buffet.
|Hard to see, but there are two little buff and white hens near the tree in this picture that became hawk casualties.|
Speaking of chickens, we're down to six hens now, too. Once it freezes, I let the Girls free-range around the gardens instead of being in their big enclosure (in the picture above) and within two days a hawk killed yet another one of the Girls. Carl heard a commotion and saw the feathers all over the lawn, but it was too late. When the hawk spied us coming, he flew up into the locust tree and squawked his frustration at us both. The chicken was apparently too heavy for the hawk to carry so he had no choice but to leave his kill. Well, he could just save his bird breath, we took the poor little hen and buried her. We weren't about to let the hawk have his dinner. The Girls are much warier now, and stick close to the trees for cover. I only let the flock loose in the gardens when I'm working outside, but we had gone in for lunch and the hawk seized his opportunity.
So, anyway.......there's a long shot of the Quarry without a Pond. We've been remodeling this pond for years in our heads since it's dirt-bottomed and depends on ground water levels. Our thoughts are running toward filling it in with soil somewhat, up to the highest level of the water we've ever had, eliminating the pond. We're going to have to move much of the stonework anyway due to the other varmints digging holes everywhere causing rocks to settle. Carl was standing down in the Quarry the other day, feeling a bit defeated. Since the water was so low, it would have been a great time to start work on renovations down there, but there's the pesky problem of Castle Aaargh hanging over his head, too.
|There's some progress. Not much, but some.|
|We hauled in many more pallets to choose rock from. The 'searching for the right rock' part is the most time-consuming.|
We decided to divide and conquer; Aaargh takes priority. Our joint decision was Carl would keep plugging away at stone cutting and I would put the garden to bed for the winter and be on hand for mortaring. The Quarry will still be there when we're bored.
And speaking of bored; no I wasn't really bored, but I decided it was high time to limb up the last of the bigger cedars because the bottom branches were bare of foliage from being in the shade. I didn't realize how much work it was going to be, especially burning all the brush. And, I had another 'Oh My What Have I Done?' moment of panic after the fact, too. I didn't take a 'before' photo, but I can say with certainty this 'after' photo says it all.
|Oooops, Indeed. Now what? Can't glue them back on.|
Well, we'll just have to haul some more rocks in here and extend the tufa wall. And stick a few more hostas in. And maybe a park bench or a planter, or a Ferris Wheel......oh, my, it's a big area now.
|Fuel for bonfires, we burned it all up one night last week.|
While Carl toiled away at stone-cutting, I was cutting wood like a maniac.
|Pass the marshmallows. This is all gone now.|
We had a nice evening sitting around the campfire, just Carl and I, talking about the day. Not too many campfires left this year, I'm afraid. (But then, there's a lot of pine trees to thin in the Back Eight......)
|I'll just move some hostas in.|
|And extend the wall. It'll be ok. (Gulp.)|
I love to prune trees, gee, can you tell?
Ok, enough with the destruction phase, let's get on with the Pepto-Bismol Pink:
I stuck the potted Bubblegum Supertunias up on the Quarry Hill and was so glad I did; they lit up the background beautifully, even from a distance.
I had 'em stashed all over the garden.
There are a few mums here and there in the garden, but they weren't blooming very much, probably due to the dry conditions.
The lawn had just about dried up completely and so have the hostas here. The white pines have dropped their needles now, too, carpeting the garden.
The lane bed needs another weeding before winter, too. The trees are too close together here, but we're going to let them grow and see what happens.
|Petunias and tree grates. And rocks.|
|And the other side of the driveway with Pudding.|
Oh, Pudding is a dog......not a dessert.
But she's just the sweetest little dog.
Hold your hats, more Pink on the way:
|Tired planters filled with my seedling Tidal Waves and Avalanches.|
|Over on the Pachyberm, more pink.|
|Over the bridge into the backyard|
|I've never seen a petunia that can compare to Bubblegum.|
|Even grew well in semi-shade from cuttings. Amazing plant.|
|Yep, they stick out, alright. I miss 'em already.|
|The waterfall rocks.|
No pink here, just rocks and sumac.
Ok, it's really, really late and time for me to go.
Until next time,
|Keep Thinking Pink!|