Monday, October 15, 2012

Last Hurrah for Flowers

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 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. 
Pondless Quarry. 
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!


Sue said...

Those Bubblegum petunias are certainly an eyecatcher. I've been meaning to try them for a couple years---pink is my favorite color. But, believe it or not, I've been unable to find them. All we have around here is the standard Big Box stores....and they don't carry them. But, next spring, the search will continue......

El Gaucho said...

I can't wait to see what kind of Ferris Wheel you're going to put in, sounds like a grand idea! It was a pretty rough summer too for us with so little rain. The one advantage is that there were virtually NO mosquitoes here in North Dakota, which made working outside so much more pleasant.

The garden looks great, even if it is still very dry. I'm hoping for a continued wet Fall for you to try to replenish some of that ground water and get the shrubs and trees settled in for winter.

Junebug said...

I think your garden still looks spectacular even with the drought!! I have Bubblegum petunias on my list for next year's garden.. They sure are showy!

Isn't Pudding the cutest!! Just makes you want to snuggle that doggie!

We got rain this weekend also after 83 dry days. Yes, we needed it but I'm still wanting sunny Fall days..

Have a great start to a new week! Hugs!!

Beth said...

Hi Karen, Love that next to the last photo - oranges and yellows and reds of a fall garden. I also love the touches of pink from Supertunia Vista bubblegum. We used those in 2011, but chose Surfinia this year; I think the bubblegum are a much better, showier performer and that's on my list for next year. Have a good week, Karen.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ I was thinking about you and Carl, wondering what you're up to. Your place is beautiful no matter what time of year, or whether or not the pond is filled. I love those superpetunias. They are wonderful.

Castle Aaargh is a neat ongoing project. One of these days you'll have it finished and another project in the works.

Sitting around a campfire talking together sounds great to me.

Enjoy your fall ~ Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Pamela Gordon said...

I'm sorry you had such a dry summer. Your gardens still look pretty awesome and even the bubblegum petunias did well. The castle is starting to look beautiful and makes a nice spot for dining. I hope you get lots of rain/snow this winter to replenish the pond etc. Blessings, Pamela

HolleyGarden said...

I love the pink, and I especially love the view that you own! I am shocked at how low the water is there. Sad. I hope you get rain soon. I am also surprised that you are thinking of filling in the pond. Although, you are smart to stick to one project at a time. I can't imagine doing both Castle Aaargh and the pond projects at the same time. Well, I can't imagine ME doing either one, but you know what I mean! Pudding is adorable!

Rosemary said...

Karen I have put Bubblegum on my list for next spring I love it. You and Carl made me tired just reading of all you have been doing let alone staying up til 1AM and you even blog that late mine would be garble......It has been a hard summer so hot and dry tho I think your gardens look amazing .. rain has arrived here too and I am not going to whine..... so needed. Glad you were able to fend off the racoons....
Take care......

Karen said...

Hi Sue, How odd it is the Bubblegum Supertunias aren't available in your area yet. I wish they were available as seed, but they aren't because of the patent/license/whatever legal thing involved. Since I've grown these petunias, nothing else compares. I'm spoiled now, sigh. I heard there are some new colors coming out next year, so we'll see how that goes.

El Gaucho, ya know, I was rethinking my decision; maybe a Merry-Go-Round would fit the area better than a Ferris Wheel due to the height restrictions. Having some amusement rides around here other than the lawn mowers would be a fantastic change of pace. And YES I forgot to mention the Lack of Mosquitoes, you are so right about that being the only perk of the dry, dry summer. See, there's always some good in every situation.

Karen said...

Junebug, 83 days without, that's a long dry spell! I know what you mean about the rain in the fall, too. Usually we'd have more rain in September than in October and even though we need it, I find myself sighing a lot and staring out the window glumly. And you're right about Pudding, I sometimes can't help but scoop her up and cuddle her. She's an old sweetheart.

Beth, thanks for the information on the Surfinia petunias; I was wondering how they stacked up against Vista Bubblegum. Can't wait to see the new colors next year. (Seems so far away!)

FlowerLady, oh, yes, I've missed writing and visiting blogs so much and not a day goes by I don't think of you and DH and your lovely gardens and ongoing projects. We both long for the day Aaargh is done, and can see it being a studio/gathering place/getaway. Carl's thinking of putting some sort of small stove in there for the winter, too, but that's a long way off yet. Sometimes we think the dream will never come to fruition, but I have to remember the process of getting there is fun, too.

Hello Pamela, the pond has come back up a quite a bit thanks to the rain this past weekend and more is predicted for later on today. It's nice to see water again, at least for the fish. My, it was getting to be very, very dry. I was starting to wonder if we were going to dry up and blow away there for a bit. So good to hear from you!

Karen said...

Hi HolleyGarden, I know--filling in a pond seems criminal, doesn't it, but we're kinda out of options and patience with the silly thing. We're leaning toward a pondless waterfall...have you ever seen one? You get the aesthetics of a waterfall and none of the dangers and hassles of a pond. But, we stifled ourselves and stuck with Aaargh construction, having another iron in the fire is the last thing we need right now, ha. We're scatterbrained enough around here. ;-)

Hi Rosemary, I'm glad to hear you're getting some much-needed rain, too. It certainly improves my mood exponentially as we were wondering how we were going to water everything going into winter; trees included. And I know, why am I blogging late at night again! I need every wink of that 'beauty' sleep, LOL. I can't tell you how many times I edited this last post due to Garble-age; I kept dozing off in the middle of a sentence with my fingers on the keyboard that night.

It's been great to hear from everyone!

Anonymous said...

Hello my dear friend, despite the hard summer drought, your garden is still beautiful. I really love those pink Bubblegum Petunias they are stunning. It’s such a shame the pesky Racoons got your Fish hum…. wonder what racoon stew tastes like on second thoughts no! Scrub that thought let the Hawk have the Racoons.

Castle Aaargh is coming on a treat I can see it’s growing. Keep at it Carl you can do it.
The Art Fair sound very interesting did you buy anything? I am going to a Craft fair this Saturday coming. I really really need to get out and do some damage limitation out in the garden I have some plants to move but if I’m not quick it will be too late ( It already really). Have a good week. Keep on walking with a big smile every mile.
Love and ((Hugs))

Indie said...

Wow, your poor pond and critters! I'm glad you're finally getting some rain! Your garden still does look beautiful though, with the sumac and the rocks. And the trees really don't look that bad limbed up!

Those are some impressive petunias! You've almost convinced me to grow some.. maybe another picture of them?

Karen said...

Hello Sue-- You know, I too was wondering what raccoon stew tastes like, ha! They make us so mad. You're right, the hawk can have 'em.

We didn't buy anything at the art fair, but it was very interesting to see the bronze sculptors at work and all the talented oil painters and jewelry makers. We've been asked to become part of the fair with our stained glass. We decided to go ahead and have our 'studio' (hopefully Aaargh will be done by then!) be on the tour in 2014. I guess people are interested in the process of making a stained glass lamp from start to finish, and they asked if we would be willing to do a demo. Sounds like fun, but it's a long way off, lots can happen between then and now.

I love the big smile every mile; some days I find myself grimacing, lol. But I always think of you, dear lady!

Karen said...

Indie, Oh, don't encourage me to post MORE pictures of that petunia, you know I could! I have oodles of 'em.

It's raining steadily out there right now; over the weekend we had just over 3.5 inches so hopefully the pond will rise if we have a little more precipitation. And you know, the limbed up cedars might just turn out ok, right?

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Those petunias sure do pop with color! They are so gorgeous! Never enough pink in the garden:)

On a sadder note, wouldn't you know the coon got our oldest fish too. a butterfly koi named "angel". Our first back when we had a molded pond prior to the lined we have now. She was about 15. She was the most tame and probably came up because she thought it was one of the dogs getting a drink. SO mad and sad and frustrated. I found some bird nettting in the garage and covered the pond with it weighting it down with rocks which were angled so they could be pushed by them.
I've had hawks eyeing my parakeets in the outside aviary this year. Thank goodness they can't get them! and of course, I planted veggie seeds instead of transplants this year due to the lack of money. Wouldn't you know out of all the seeds I planted only one squash came up. It was getting to a good size and full of blooms when a gopher came and dined on the roots. I give! My backyard yard used to be a haven of clamness, now I hate to even go out and see what has gotten what.

Your poor hens! You know I understand the cirlce of life and all but when it comes to our pets..well, that's a line they better now cross.

My sister has hens and the raccoons there even got to them pulling them through the chicken wire! She said it was aweful to go out and find bits of them still in the wire! She puts them in at night now. She also has a huge pond and lost a bunch of her fish to herons too. So far I've been lucky in that department. The wet grasslands refuge isn't too far from us but they tend to hang out there. With the wter levels so low the fish are ripe for the pickens. Maybe I need to leave a map for the coons.

Well, just meant to pop in and say hi, but looks like I just about wrote the post I had planned for today!! LOL

Hang in there!

Shirley said...

Karen, our last hurrah has come and gone and your gardens still look terrific. While we contemplate how long to put off the raking, the poplars are still in full leaf, we dread the upcoming forecast of below freezing temperatures for the upcoming week.

I'm glad to hear the snow is holding off for you so you can enjoy your immense and very beautiful grounds. I love to read your updates and look forward to seeing what you do with planters for the upcoming seasons and holidays. Take care!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

You have a beautiful place, even when not everything is blooming.

Puddles does look pretty sweet.