Friday, October 28, 2011

First Frost

Well, it wasn't a typical first frost with a sugary coating on the grass in the morning.  It snowed.  Actually it rained here all yesterday and it snowed slushy heavy snow just a few miles away.

This morning everything was coated in ice.  The deck was very slippery and when I went to check the rain gauge outside, it had frozen solid, with 3/4 of an inch of solid ice in the tube, and I broke the plastic connection trying to empty it out.

back in August
The coleus at the back of the Birch Garden was a slimy black mess, so I took it all out today.  I wanted to do more outside, but the ground was so COLD and it wasn't all that pleasant out despite nice sunshine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some Yellow, Some Green, A Little Wine Red

Cloudy, a little rain, some brief sun.  In the 50s.  Rain expected tomorrow.

Another update on fall color: the river birches have turned a lovely yellow, except for the one that is at the front of the berm.  It's still totally green.  
One yellow, one green!  Just a few feet apart.
I think it is due to moisture levels.  The one on the right, which grew so awesomely from an Arborday twig, is at the edge of the berm in a low spot where water puddles.  It has the most rapid growth and lushest form, and I think it colors later because of the extra moisture.  Just guessing.

River Birch in Meadow's Edge

The yellowroot this year is a subtle wine red.  Not as bronzy or copper colored as in previous years.
Wine red in the sun

A softer muted color in shade

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bright and Windy

Bright and windy today.  Cool, in the 50s.

The black gum is coloring, but it's not bright red yet!

Same thing for the stewartia and the dogwood and the sourwood --- all are getting dark, brownish almost, and will likely get deep red next week.

But we are expecting rain, even some light snow in the next days, and I fear the trees will drop leaves before any real color develops.  And if they do color up, it will be too cloudy and dark to take good pictures!  At least today was blue sky and beautiful.

The witch hazels have not shown any color change at all.  Last year the hamamelis vernalis was turning deep gold at this time.

I need to do something about the blueberries.  They look awful each year and I finally have to face the fact they are not doing well under the overhanging amsonias.  Too shaded, too wet from overhead.  Fall color never develops (the new little blueberry planted in the Birch Garden is a nice red color now.)
These blueberries always look awful

Next spring I will dig up the four Northblues and put them in the strip that borders the new gravel garden, where they should have more space and more sun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Color Update as of 10/22

Tom's birthday.  He's 31 today!!

Cold today, in the high 50s and cloudy, but nice enough for working in the yard.

Some colors are out, many trees have dropped completely, but most in the yard want to turn and just haven't yet.  No color yet:

The sourwood and the dogwood are both darkening but not red.  In past years in early to mid October they were brilliant --- this year on the 22nd there is no color at all.

look at this from October 14 2009.  Not this year!
The older black gums have also darkened and today had a few bright leaves at the edges, but no red color.

The yellowroot is darkening, turning a little bronzy, but it is still subtle.  Amsonias are now a little golden, they will get much yellower.

No color at all on the witch hazels, they are completely green.  The new rhus aromatic sumacs are getting some yellowy orange color, but not the bright red I expected.

The doublefile viburnum has been half green and half red for a week or more now.  Odd.

The back hill maples are showing nice color.
maples on the hill, the doublefile viburnum in front
volunteer aok in the meadow
one of the sassafras trees on the back hill
The long blooming Lady in Red salvias are giving some of the best red color even now.

And Immortality iris looks like crystalline sugar.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Soaking Wet

Very rainy day, with heavy downpours most of the day.

The sourwood still has not turned color at all!  And the black gums are not yet colored.  Last year at this time they were bright red!

Yesterday I removed the sod around the bluestone steps that lead to the new gravel garden, and transplanted some of the thymus serpyllum there.  It will soften all the edges,the stepping stones as well as the edges of the gravel.

A view from yesterday:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Crocuses

Breezy and sunny and cool, in the 60s.

I ripped out some more of the daylilies that were in the back of Meadow's Edge.  These were wrapped right around the birch tree's roots, and almost impossible to dig out.  The garden is fuller now, and there really is no room for the big strappy daylilies there.

I moved as many of the drumstick alliums as I could from the top of the driveway to a spot along the edge of the new gravel garden.  We'll see if they survive.

And I moved the thimbleweed anemone from next to the bird bath into Meadow's Edge.  It was too big for the patio wall by the birdbath.

Autumn crocuses are up, tiny white ones.  There were too many hidden under the amsonia, so I moved several into the patch of kinnikinnik.  I love the clear white crocuses coming up through the thick, glossy green groundcover.

The itea is getting its deep red color on.

The spicebush on the back of the spruce berm colored up beautifully.  It is a clear, striking yellow.  But the rain knocked off most of the leaves before I could really enjoy it.

The Sheffield Pink mums are full and lush and covered with tiny bees.  I like the soft apricot color with the blue tint of the Dusty Miller --- try to do this again next year.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Gravel Garden

We got almost 3 inches of rain over the past two days!  The transplanted hydrangeas that were so droopy and fried looking are positively lush and dark green now.  Wow.

The new gravel garden looks great.  Here is what the space looked like before:

And here is what it looks like now:

Friday, October 14, 2011

No Pictures Yet

The Manns came earlier this week and installed the gravel garden along the west walk, finishing in the evening.  It has been cloudy and rainy since then, so I have no pictures yet.

But I absolutley love it.  The look, the shape, the way it blends with the borders.  The Sheffield Pink mums are blooming and they look so soft and natural flanking the small boulders. 

I put two Adirondack chairs in the gravel, and moved the old tree stump from Meadow's Edge (where it was getting overtaken by plants) next to a chair.  The strawberry jars with nasturtiums and some Dusty Miller in another pot . . .  so nice.

For spillers along the edge of the far border, I transplanted some of the Mara Des Bois strawberries.  They were being overshaded by the enlarging amsonia that towered over them in Northern Exposure.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Went Looking For Fall

Another warm day, in the 80s and sunny.  

We drove up to the Albany area looking for fall color, and saw some, but nothing really dramatic.  We stopped at the Hancock Shaker Village near Pittsfield, and that was a nice tour.

Back here at home the only real color so far is the new black gum out in the meadow (the other established black gums have not turned any color yet).

The sumacs on the hill are coloring.

And the new pagoda dogwood, which looks for all the world like Raggedy Ann.

Summery Day

A record breaker yesterday, in the 80s a fine summery day.

I went to Elaine's for lunch and then we toured Lee May's unusual garden in East Haddam.  He's a real treat, friendly and eager to talk about his garden.  The space itself is odd, but intriguing.

Elaine's yard is looking good.  I particularly like this shot with the dense dark arborvitae contrasting with the fall leaves in the distance.

Her shed in the distance --- we ate peaches from a tree behind the shed and had a lovely day on her deck.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


A spectacular warm sunny day.  It got into the low 80s today, but felt fresh and nice.

I got all the allium bulbs planted.  Gladiator and Mt. Everest were huge.  I put them, as well as Stratos, in little groupings on either side of the birdbath in front of the patio wall.

I planted Graceful in a small patch next to the Zenobias and black eyed Susan.  These were tiny grape sized bulbs.

I also put in 30 snowdrops under the Japanese maple in front, but that's barely enough!

The light was so pretty in the back yard late in the afternoon.  The Lady in Red salvias took off late in the summer and are now a billowy mass.

The Forest Pansy redbud has lost all its purple color and the leaves are completely green now.  It must color up only in the spring?

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Hate Transplanting

Another beautiful cool day, with lots of sunshine.  60s in the daytime, but it was 35 degrees when I woke up.  We had to put the heat on for the first time.

I FINALLY moved the 'Blue Ice' amsonia from under the double file viburnum.  It is low and smallish, but it was impinging on the lower branches of the viburnum.

I always liked the soft yellow fall color of the amsonia nestled underneath the viburnum when it was deep maroon, but it was time to move it.  Here is the combo as of October 25, 2010:

It was a bear to dig up!  The amsonia. even though a small plant, has a deep woody root system as well as an extensive fibrous root system.  I trampled everything in front, I compacted all the earth, I couldn't get behind it as the double file has low branches to the ground.  I finally gave up and decided not to transplant, just to chop off all the foliage, kill the thing, and get it out.

I did get it all out, through some pretty ugly wrestling and chopping,  I got the Japanese pruning saw out and sawed away at the roots.  Here is the space now, with enough room for the doublefile to fill in on the lower right now.  The color is weird right now --- the viburnum is turning a funny brown on only a few branches at a time.

How I hate transplanting.  I would rather plant up little things from pots, so much easier than trying to save / move / transplant a shrub.

But I did replant the decimated stubs of the root masses that I wrestled out of the earth.  I put one amsonia by the patio wall, and the other in the new extension of the bed in front of Meadow's Edge.  They are pretty beat up, with all leaves chopped off, but they may have enough root system to grow back next spring.

Boy, I hate transplanting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Day of Digging Daylilies

Beautiful day today, very cool, in the 60s and breezy.  Sunny.  Last night the low temperature got down to 37 degrees.

The hydrangeas that I transplanted to the new driveway garden look awful, all wilted and limp as hydrangeas get when they are under stress.  I hope I didn't kill them.  They are well watered, but it has been very sunny and quite breezy, so that stresses them.

I spent all day digging up daylilies.  Just cutting down all the overgrown foliage was difficult, then I dug up as many as I could for Gail to take.  There are multiple clumps in each bucket, so about two dozen daylilies in all, and some can be divided further when she plants them.

I kept just three clumps of the frangrant yellow ones in front of the paperbark maple.

I cleared away most that were crowded under the doublefile viburnum, but there are still three there between the hemlock and viburnum, and they'll get overtaken so they'll have to come out in a year.

I ended up leaving most of the daylilies in Meadow's Edge.  Too hard to get them out right now with everything else so overgrown.  But I cut them back and the garden looks neater.

I'll leave a few under the maple, and then take out more next spring.  They just are not the right plant to weave in and out in a curve through the garden.  Too big, too messy, and they don't do well crowded in with other plants.

For the same effect of a mound of cascading strappy foliage, I really like Carex 'Ice Dancer' much better.  I'll get more of that going throughout the garden.  The carex has no bloom, but the daylilies do not bloom well in early summer when the deer get them, then bloom kind of sporadically in later summer. 

The white stripes on the carex leaves looks bright in shade:

And not as bright in full sun:

Now I just have to get all those buckets of daylilies down to Gail, or have her come up and get them!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

After the Rain

Sun today after so much rain.  It was cool, in the 60s and windy, and everything sparkled in the sun.

I got so much done outside, although the ground was soggy.  I weeded everywhere (so easy in the wet) and clipped down the tired perennials in the Birch Garden.  

I planted the three new lobelias in Meadow's Edge.  Then I planted up the new driveway garden:

I put in 8 new small plugs of rhus armoatica, to spread and fill in.  I moved the 'Golden Peep' dwarf forsythia that was languishing under the redbud by the guest room window. 

Then I moved the 'Tardiva' hydrangeas from the west side to this garden, lined up to make a hedge going up the driveway.  I hate transplanting --- would rather plant small container plants!  Digging up these hydrangeas was easy enough, but they are big, I didn't get much dirt around the rootball, and it is a struggle.  I hope they will be ok.

I also transplanted some white wood asters from the meadow, as well as a purple aster.

The idea of this strip will be a woodland kind of look: a broad swath of low sumac groundcover shrubs, the witch hazels and hydrangeas, and scatterings of asters.  It's a start.