Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 29 -- Again

Another October 29 disaster. Again.

Last year we were hit with the destructive October snowstorm that felled trees, altered my garden and landscape and left us without power for a week.

This year, on exactly the same date, October 29, Superstorm Sandy roared through and devastated NYC and NJ, and parts of the Connecticut shore.
NASA Goddard photo
But we are okay up here. We never lost power. Phil and Becky were staying with us and got delayed going home. They rebooked a flight and got out Tuesday the 30th. All was safe and well for us, but the damage to other parts of the northeast was incredible.

The only garden impacts here were that the autumn leaves all blew down and the perennials that were still standing are flattened.  The pretty Sheffield mums and aromatic asters are smushed and need to be cut down.

One of the new red oak saplings I planted at the edge of the meadow on the east side was uprooted, but I straightened it and packed the earth around the mini rootball back down. Despite winds in the 40s and gusts up to 62, there really was little damage.

It really looks like fall now, skies are still gray from the the lingering massive storm, and leaves are down.  But what a difference from last October 29!
A year ago
This year

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn Has Peaked

Fall colors reached their peak in the past few days and now some trees and shrubs are starting to look bare. It's been cool and gloomy, in the 50s with just a few spots of sunny skies for days.

Eye surgery went well, and all is clearer now.  But my glasses need to be changed so sharpness and focus will still be off until I can get a new prescription (in a few weeks!!)

The yellowroot looks great this year, very coppery gold.


The itea has been scarlet for weeks now, and seems to become a clearer garnet color the later it gets. And although the birches aren't the twinkly yellow I expected, it is nice to see rich golden color this year for the first time.

The Gro Low fragrant sumac plants that were planted two years ago are coloring beautifully this fall.  The younger plants don't show the fall color, but the older ones do.

And the Raydon's Favorite asters!  Wow.

The maples in the yard are coloring, and the fothergillas -- seems early for both, which typically turn in November.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sassafras Spectacle

Beautiful day today, high 60s, mostly sunny, only a light breeze. Tom's 32nd birthday today!

Aren't the sassafras trees incredible right now?

These two have gotten so big, so suddenly. There are a few other smaller saplings, and the one tiered sassafras that I think is stressed has lost all its leaves already.  These two large trees are really coming into their own.  My sassafras grove.

And the witch hazel out on the back hill is a yellow beacon.

Sheffield mums and Raydon's Favorite aromatic asters:

I spent this beautiful day cleaning up the geraniums.  I cut them all back.

Must remember to shear them earlier in the summer so by the time fall comes I don't have just bare stems.  Their fall color really is the best attribute, but this year I lost it with too much open bare areas.

And I moved some of the persicaria out from under the lespedeza to distribute it better.

Then I put deer guards around the trees I could reach on the back hill.  I still can't really get to some of them through the tangle of tall weeds.  Where there had been previous antler rub damage to the bark of one maple, water sprouts have popped out all over the wound.

Enough with the chores. This is the season of mums!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's On Now

We got an inch and a half of steady hard rain on Friday, and now Sunday, it is breezy and sunny and cool.

Here is what is on for fall right now.

The black gum in front is bright orangey copper.  It had only an inkling of color when we left for Syracuse for the weekend Friday, in the rain.  Came home Sunday to this.

The black gum in back by the dry creekbed is a deeper reddish brown, almost wine color. It too colored up just in the last day.

The flowering dogwood always looks rich and vivid.  It colored over the weekend.

Amsonia hubrichtii is not as neon yellow as in other years, but still a decent, clear gold.


For the first time ever, there are leaves on the white birches, and over the past day they have turned golden. Not the twinkling clear yellow I have seen on wild birch trees, but it is so nice to have any color on these trees.  The fungal spraying worked to keep them from defoliating this season.

The newest Clethra 'Ruby Spice', just planted this year, has lovely color now, but 'Hummingbird' never got its nice yellow color this year.  It looks like a heap of brown rubble.  This one, on the right of the berm, never has very good form.

Gooseneck loosestrife, in pots behind the yellowroot, turned coppery this weekend. And the yellowroot itself is a muted copper color.


So much changed so quickly this weekend! But there is more to come.  The maples in the yard are only just now coloring up. and will turn vivd red in a few weeks.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Drive By Garden

Cold and sunny today, temps in the 50s, but with no wind at all, it was really pleasant working in the garden.  It was in the 30s this morning, but no frost.

I am not happy with the Drive By Garden, and ended up moving the doublefile viburnum exactly 18 inches over.  Really.
I know everything needs to fill in here, but it's not arranged the way I wanted.

A couple years ago I did that with the one in Meadow's Edge too, and it set it back a year, but to no ill effect after that.  This one moved a little easier --- it's still just a small shrub from a rooted cutting that Cyndy gave me.

In the space it occupied I want to put in a taller tree (hmm, what to plant??) that will offer more screening of the house next door, and more definition to the back of this garden.

I also dug up one of the aromatic sumacs that was crowded under the birch tree.  There were two there, and really only room for one.  It came out pretty roughly, all the roots chopped and all the dirt fell away. I moved it to the Drive By Garden, but I may have done it in.

I took out one of the sumacs, they were getting crowded under
the junipers to the right
The river birches have turned bright yellow, very beautiful, although the one on the right of the berm is later to color, since it gets more moisture.

All of the transplanted blueberries are a beautiful vivid red now. It helped to move them to the more open spot in front of Meadow's Edge.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can't Get Enough

I just cannot get enough of the little sourwood now.  When I look out the bathroom window, there it is glowing red. Wow.


Unbelievable. And I was so concerned this spring when I moved it, but it seems to be the best thing I ever did for this tree.

A look down the walk toward the big floppy miscanthus grass:

I spent yesterday cleaning the bittersweet off the trees on the back hill.  Got stung by a yellowjacket on the top of my hand (right through the glove) and it hurts a lot, even a day later.

I used to know each and every inch of the back hill and each sapling out there, but now it has grown so and is a jungle.  I used to get out there and cut back emerging bittersweet off saplings my height.  Now it's an operation to get at giant vines strangling large trunks and climbing into trees way over my head.

I thought in the first years that I could keep at the vines and cut them back over and over to have some control.  I didn't think I could eliminate all the invasive growth, but with diligence and frequent chopping, and painting the cut stems with Vinex, I could keep it from overtaking.

Well, that's not happening.  It's way worse than ever, despite my early efforts.  Way worse.

There is nothing I can do but pull off the largest vines that are choking the trees and growing into the bark.  It's something, but it's not control.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Results of the Freeze

Half an inch of rain last night, after several days of cloudy gloom.  Today dawned bright and gusty, in the 40s, but finally sunny. It is so windy, the iron pyramid with the Alba Luxurians clematis on it has been completely blown over twice. I hope it didn't uproot the plant!

Saturday's foray into 29 degree temperatures took out the tender plants, and the annuals, so I cleaned them up. But it ended the foliage show on a lot of woody plants too.

It was cold enough to turn the hydrangeas black (the serrata 'Bluebird' and the little 'Preziosa' that I have moved and replanted so many times.) Those are both piles of brown leaves now. The 'Tardiva' panicle hydrangeas came through fine.

The bottlebrush buckeyes are toast --- their leaves all browned and crisped!  No brilliant yellow color to see this year, and I was looking forward to that, as the hedge has filled in and gotten so big.

The 'Forest Pansy' redbud's leaves have also turned brown. Not the look I was going for in front of the spectacular maple just now starting to color, and the twinkling yellow river birch.

The paper birches have held their leaves all fall this year, thanks to the spraying for leaf spot fungus this summer.  But they have yet to turn yellow.  Will they?

The poor katsura tree that had been mauled by deer, stripped by snowstorms, and split open at the base and did not look like it would survive, had been coming back this fall with all the rain.  The huge bark wound had formed a callus and at least the back of the trunk was closing up. Now, with the freeze, it has blackened.

The Rose of Sharon has now lost all its blooms, and parts of it have turned brown and dry from the freeze.

The bush clover, lespedeza, is a pile of fine brown leaves, all dessicated now. It still has the arching branches and fountainy shape, but no color any more.


I waited too long this summer to shear back the geraniums by the walk. When I finally did it, I was left with a lot of bare stems, and now the fall color, which is really rich, is sparse and the whole sweep of foliage is icky. These can be a beautiful low drift of deep red color in most falls --- note to self: trim them back earlier in the year.

Other fall sights are looking okay.

The amsonia hubrichtii is turning yellow, but not as intense as in other years.  It may still color up more in late October.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hard Frost

It was 29 degrees this morning and frost had nipped everything pretty hard last night.

The nasturtiums are all wilted and coated in frost.  The funny thing is that the gravel garden smells like strong pepper!  Normally you only taste the sharp tang of nasturtium leaves when you eat a few.  But the whole area has a pungent strong smell after the frost.

I could smell the basil on the deck too, just walking by.  It is wilted now.  And the beautiful pink zinnias by the birdbath are all brown.

The canna doesn't look too bad yet, but it got zapped I am sure.

Time for some clean up, some cutting back and some moving of pots.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Morning Light

Finally, some sun. Today dawned sunny and cold.

I love to lie in bed, barely awake, and watch the sweetbay magnolia outside the bedroom window light up as the sun rises over the treeline and suddenly bathes it in gold.  At this time in October, it starts about 7:10 and within five minutes, the glossy leaves are shining in yellow sunlight.

On the back hill, the persimmon is lit up too. There it is, finally looking tree-like, rising up out of the weeds and shining.

This is the tiny sapling I brought home on the plane from Kentucky, and planted in 2007. Now, in its 5th year, it looks like a real tree.

The Alba Luxurians clematis is in just the right spot to be lit by a slanted ray of morning light each day (well, each sunny day, and there have been so few.) It just looks like a big wedding bouquet!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Very Wet October

After such a hot dry June and July, we got rain in August, and some in September.  Now in October it has been nothing but rainy and foggy and damp.  So wet.

All of a sudden the trees that were set back by last October's snow, then held back by a hot dry midsummer, have put on amazing growth. The lawn is impossible to mow, so thick and overgrown. Everything is filling out everywhere.

I really notice the paperbark maple all of a sudden.

The black gum out by the meadow startled me with its sudden doubling of size, and the river birches are shooting up, and the sourwood has even grown.  But this paperbark maple, seen as you come up the driveway, is the one that is startling me now.

For so long it was an awkward shape, not much to look at.  I did some pruning, the storm did some pruning, but still it just blended into the other small bushes and shrubs around. Now it suddenly has a nice form and a presence.


The Sheffield Pink mums want to bloom, they really do.  But we need some sun!

This is unrelated to anything, but I like this detail of the Hakone grass, the 'Aurea' Japanese Forest Grass. Nice, huh?

Sunshine, where are you?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Cold One

It was 39 degrees this morning when I woke up.

The heat is on for the first time this season.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Minor Changes

Warm and humid today, in the upper 70s. A brief interlude between showers and fog from the last several days, with more coming tomorrow.

I finished edging the garden in front of Meadow's Edge and I planted the blueberry that had been in a container on the patio all summer.  I love the low, tidy shape and beautiful fall color of this vaccinium. It is 'Northcountry' (the others are 'Northblue').

In the container it produced almost no fruit this year. Maybe in the ground, nearer the others it will produce next year.

I do like the way it now anchors the front curve of this strip, in front and below the rosemary.

I moved the Jackmanii clematis out of its pot on the patio as well, and planted it inside the iron tower.  There are no live stems or buds.  Hmmm.  But the root ball was huge and quite heavy.  We'll see if it comes back in spring, but I have doubts.  Both of the other clematis vines are reblooming now, full and lush after being cut all the way back in summer.


I dug out (ripped up is more like it) a couple little trailers of the amsonia Blue Ice that were growing under the doublefile viburnum, and put them in the bare mulch in front of the four blueberries.  Now that I have edged the garden wider, there was empty space, and since there is a nice low amsonia on one side, I hope these additions will fill out and balance the other side under the blueberries.

Amsonia is the worst to dig up, even little tiny pieces like these.

Rabbits ate all the turtlehead seedlings that I had added in front of the larger stand in Meadow's Edge, and the ones I added to the east side of the deck. All gone, although they have not touched the mature large stand.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Drippy, Drippy

More rain.

In this gloom, Jim finally got a good picture of the crystalline white iris 'Immortality', dripping wet.  You need really low light to get any detail in this bloom.

This is pretty cool -- the spicebush is turning clear yellow, hiding at the back of the spruce berm.  Even in the drippy dark light, it glows.

The ground is squishy wet, and droplets cling to all the plants.

The Autumn Joy sedum is a rich rosy red now.

Albury Purple St. Johnswort always holds even the merest drops of water, and glistens when there is heavy rain.

The New Jersey Tea shrubs are blooming again, with miniature white lilac-shaped flowers.  There are only three or four little cones on the shrub, so it's hardly noticeable, but up close, dripping wet, it's cute.