Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Graupel, Black Rot, Sumac, Monkshood


Well, we got our first snow of the season last week (October 24, 2013). It started off with graupel, which is a term the weathermen in this area have been using for quite some time now so it's become a word in our vocabulary as well. And they didn't make it up either. Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster of graupel. And last night we got our first frost of the season. We've been lucky that it's held off this late. We've been known to get frost in early September.

Black Rot and Anthracnose on Pumpkins and Squash

The pumpkin pictured above was from a few years ago. . . don't know what happened that year, but it never made it to Halloween to be carved. It just kinda got really soft and mushy, then disintegrated.  You can see where it is kinda collapsing on itself. It might have been a year that maybe we got a lot of rain and the pumpkins rotted, or we might have even gotten an early frost. I think this was a year that there was a significant tomato blight in our area as well and I remember reading something that the tomato and pumpkin blight were related. Affected pumpkins might show black spots while they are still on the vine before they are picked. Here is some additional information on Black Rot and Anthracnose on pumpkins and squash.

Flowering Kale

This is a picture of a window box that I photographed while I was visiting some nurseries in Western New York about a month ago. The nursery was "going out of business" so I stopped in to see if there was anything I had to have. Well, I had to take a picture of this beautiful fall window box. I love the flowering kale and it goes so well with the coleus! I tried planting kale a few times but either the rabbits or deer ate it.  Will have to try it again-

Want to see some gorgeous pictures of flowering kale? Click on this link: Flowering kale images then scroll down on the page.


This is sumac. Every time I see one of these bushes I think of it as being poison sumac. But this is not poison sumac. I now know this is the non-poisonous version because of the flowerheads.
Non-poisonous sumac flowerheads

In this picture the dark red fuzzy flower head contains the seeds of the non-poisonous sumac. The poisonous sumac does not produce these seeds heads, but they have white berries on it in the fall. Sumac usually grows in swampy areas.

If you contract poison sumac the rash is very similar to poison ivy. The rash from these plants are actually an allergic reaction to the oil (urushiol) in the plant. The oil is in all parts of the plant: berries, stems, leaves, flowers and roots. Not all people are allergic to it. And some people are very sensitive to it and may contract it from gardening tools that have come in contact with it as well as from pets that have wandered through it. I've gotten poison ivy several times from my cats in the past. Here is an overview of poison sumac and poison ivy with its symptoms Poison Ivy/Poison Sumac.

Can you guess what that large harry vine is?
You'll never guess---I didn't! POISON IVY
A very large and old vine.

Poison Ivy leaves in summer
Poison Ivy leaves in the fall

Poison Ivy berries

Link to more information on identifying Poison Sumac: Poison sumac identification and information

Monkshood (Aconitum)

I really like the monkshood because it is deer resistant, but for me it blooms really late in the season. Mine didn't start flowering until the second week in October. There are different species of this plant, some of which are of a shorter variety and bloom earlier. They also come in various shades of purple, white, pink and bi-color.

This is another one of our beautiful plants that are poisonous. All parts of the plants are poisonous. Some people recommend that you wear gloves when handling the plant, and to keep children and pets away from the plant also. Personally, I've never had a problem with it. I don't think you would want to use these flowers in an arrangement and put them on your kitchen or dining room table though.

The plant got its name because the flowers look like little hoods.

More Fall Blooms

Dahlia and Mums

"Happy Single Flame" Dahlia

Well, it's a good thing I got pictures of these last week, because today after getting our heavy frost last night, it was time to dig the dahlias up. The mums are still doing ok though. And you don't need to trim the mums back until next spring.

Cedar Waxwings

Yesterday I spotted a flock of Cedar Waxwings in one of our trees on their way south for the winter. There were several immature ones with the flock and the parents were feeding them.

Cedar Waxwing and immature Cedar waxwing on upper branch

Cedar Waxwing

Green Tomatoes. Do you have lots of green tomatoes left in your garden? Here is an article if you want an idea how to ripen them:

Additional fall tasks before the snow starts to pile up: drain and put away all hoses, dig up and store from freezing any remaining tender perennial bulbs: canna, dahlias, gladiolas, tuberous begonias, elephant's ear, and calla lilies.  Store liquid fertilizers and pesticides in an area that doesn't freeze.

If you have one of the new varieties of knock-out roses you do not have to prune them. They are self cleaning.

Happy Halloween!

Inlet Common School, Inlet, NY

Want to hear some haunting barred owl sounds??? Click on this link, scroll down and then under "Sounds"select "Various Hoots": Barred Owl Sounds

The first time we heard this owl we were camping in the Adirondacks, in a tent, in a semi-wilderness area that was reached only by boat. Shortly after we went to bed we were awakened by this owl and he was directly overhead when he started hooting and calling to other owls down the lake. Needless to say I didn't get any sleep that night.


  1. Happy Halloween to you too Sue. Being from a similar area, we have so much Sumac and I am always weeding them from the garden. Once they root, the root is deep an hard to pull out. Also I am very familiar with that thick vine of the ivy. I have it right behind my property growing up trees like you have shown. It is also another constant problem in the garden.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I'm pretty lucky that we don't have too much sumac on our property, but there is a lot of it around here. I didn't realize that the roots went deep on the sumac. The poison ivy has been really invasive here and its been hard to keep up with it. I've also gotten the poison ivy rash from firewood (probably from all those vines on the trees). I read somewhere a little while back that they think that global warming is contributing to the spread of poison ivy. I don't have all the details on it yet though. Maybe I'll have to look into it.

  2. I read the same thing on the poison ivy, but I cannot remember the source. What it is actually doing according to the article, is it is increasing the potency of the oils. This in turn helps the spread since herbicides are becoming less effective and less is culled. BTW, your comment on getting a new camera. The birdbath photos were taken with a small Nikon Coolpix P510. It is always not dependent on the camera for an interesting shot. The morning light played a big part in the images. The shots you take are very nice. No need for an update as far as I can see.

    1. Thanks for your information on the poison ivy. I didn't realize that part of the problem is from the diminished effectiveness of the herbicides. And thank you for the compliment on my photos. I appreciate that.