Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thoughts of a Garden Blogger

Ok. So this week do I select my subject from some photos or do I peruse some of my gardening magazines/books and write about a topic from those articles. I'm trying to keep my blog interesting without repetition in my articles, but sometimes there is a lot of overlap such as planting times, zone hardiness, reliable perennials, flowers for sun/shade, etc. And I do have more fall photos, but I don't want to get carried away and just post fall photos for several weeks either.

There is still a few beautiful trees with their fall foliage to be found, but now a lot of bare trees and trees with brown, dry, crinkly leaves left on them are mostly dominating the landscape.

It's so easy to get distracted when I'm writing an article. I might have to look something up on the internet and then something else piques my interest and I go off on a tangent researching that. I'm easily distracted. Especially when I'm sitting here at the computer and Facebook is running in the background ... so I check Facebook and there are some news headlines I have to read, or comment on a friend's post or picture.

Or if I'm going through photos to upload for my blog post, I come across photos of the grandkids so I have to look at all them. Then I start doing a little editing on the photos. . . and so the story goes.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I'm a procrastinator. My husband, Ted, can attest to that. Actually all my family can. But sometimes good things and ideas can happen and come to me while I'm procrastinating.

Now for some garden thoughts. . .

Re-blooming daylily: Happy Returns
Label Your New Perennials. If you planted some new plants this year you might want to label them. That way when they come up in the spring you won't pull them up as weeds. A friend of mine gave me some labels once. Well, they weren't really plant labels. They were vinyl mini blinds. She had taken some old mini blinds apart and cut them up into pieces about 5" long. You can write on them with a good Sharpie marker. I write on both ends of the label and that way if the top writing wears off you still have the bottom writing (maybe). Not 100% guaranteed that you will be able to read it, but it should last for at least a year. Unless someone (grandkids)or something (squirrels) gets in there and pulls them up. I like to use the labels on my irises, daylilies, and hostas, too. That way if I dig them up to separate them, I can share with friends and give them the name of the plant as well.

This goldenrod was the only flower blooming in the field across the road from us and the pollinators were flocked to it.

Planting Chart. Another thing you might decide to do is to make a little planting chart. This might sound like a lot of work, but I found it useful when those garden tags got lost or pulled up. It doesn't have to be an exact science, but it's good to know where things are especially if they are not in bloom. When you have several varieties of perennials like irises, hostas, and daylilies it's good to know where they are. Remember though that when/if you transplant an item you have to change that item on your chart as well.

Lists. I actually created a database on the computer and listed in there the perennials, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, etc. and where I planted them and the place I purchased them. I found this helpful because after purchasing several plants during the year at different places you can forget where you bought them. Then when you find that several items from one nursery didn't make it the next season, you can shop elsewhere. Lists aren't really necessary, but it helps me because if I'm ordering plants I can look at my list and see which ones I already have. This way I'm not ordering duplicates of the same plant. This helps when you have a high number of the same variety of plants like daylilies and irises. I probably have over 50 varieties each of daylilies and irises.

Was waiting all season to get a photo of a Monarch! Got this one October 2, 2014, in the Adirondack Mountains in N.Y.

On another list I like to write items down  that I would like to do next spring/summer. Such as which perennials need to be transplanted, or divided, or dug up entirely and discarded. I remember reading a garden note that said an old calender can be used as a "garden planner". You can write notes on there when your various plants are in bloom, when you started your seeds, when your plants bloomed, the best time to divide or transplant them, what looked good, and what had diseases/problems.

Mums. Or Chrysanthemums. No wonder they shortened the word to "Mums". Who can spell chrysanthemums. This is the time of year that you see all the beautiful mums in full bloom in colors of yellow, orange, pink, purple and reds. If you purchased some in decorative pots and they are on display now is the time to plant them in the ground. They should/might survive the winter if you get them planted now (before it snows). But don't cut them back. Wait until spring and then cut down the old growth. I usually trim mine back after I see new growth on them in the spring. But actually the best time to plant mums is in the spring. Then their roots have all season to get established before the cold weather. Plant them in a sunny, and well drained area. They need at least three hours of direct sunlight.

To get your mums to bush out (so they don't get tall and flop over), early in the season when the plants are about six inches tall, you can start pinching (or cutting) back the tips of the plant. Pinch off or cut back about one inch on each stem. This will force the stems to produce side branches which in turn will produce more flowers. If you don't want to do this by individually "pinching" the tips take a pair of scissors and clip them back about an inch all the way around the plant. When the plant is about a foot tall, pinch back all the tips again. You can continue pinching the plant back in this manner until about the middle of July then your plant will start to produce flower buds. When the plant dies back in the fall you can mulch it with shredded leaves.

"All those golden autumn days the sky was full of wings. Wings beating low over the blue water of Silver Lake, wings beating high in the blue air far above it. . .bearing them all away to the green fields in the South."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ted's first chainsaw sculpture! 

Happy Halloween!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Beauty of Fall

The Beauty of Fall is but a fleeting moment- today there are deep golds, blazing reds, bright yellows, and copper colors. Amazing contrasts, and deep shades of warm colors. But tomorrow it can all be gone with a strong wind, heavy rains, or a frost. Only to leave us with the bare branches and some brown leaves hanging on until another windy day when they're whisked away. Enjoy the fall now because you know it won't last. I guess I was right when I wrote in my September 25, 2014 blog issue that I thought it would be a great fall with lots of color because of all the rain we had this past season. It certainly has been a beautiful fall!

It's that time of year again. Time for the fall clean up. I've been cutting back my perennials that have finished blooming. Some of them even have some green left on them like the peonies. I wished I started my clean-up sooner because now I'm trying to weed these gardens as I cut back the perennials, but the falling leaves are blocking my view of the weeds. I'd rake off my perennial beds, but the leaves aren't all down yet meaning I'd have to do that chore twice. Actually, in reality, I'll be lucky if I get that done once. Because once the weather turns cold (like below 50F) I usually hibernate. I don't like working outside in the cold, damp weather.

Fall color of Variegated Solomon's Seal
I had some fall photos in this blog post, but then I wasn't really satisfied with them so I deleted most of them and added more current ones of our yard and surrounding areas. Sometimes the fall photos can be pretty drab so I decided to add what is visually appealing to me at the moment. Some of these pictures were taken this morning (10/15/2014). And while I was finishing up it started to rain. Got a few just in time.

I loved the color of these Solomon's Seal in the picture above. I usually don't cut them back. They will die back in the ivy and the remnants won't even be noticeable next spring once the ivy starts its new growth.

Redbud tree
I noticed over the last few months that several trees did not leaf out very well this year. I think it has been the strain put on them due to our weather the last few years. This past winter we had ice damage in areas north of here that damaged several trees, and in addition to that problem we also incurred a long winter and late spring. And to add to those conditions, the last few years have been significantly dry, almost drought conditions.

Hostas and Sundrops

When trees are stressed like this over several years they tend to decline and eventually they might die. I had two ornamental trees, a weeping cherry and a red bud that never flowered this year. They leafed out very well and appear to be ok so I'm hoping that next year they will re-bloom. Maybe it was due to the late spring. Also, one of my iris beds didn't have a single bloom in it. I think it must all be weather related.

When we first moved to our house here in Mexico, N.Y., I noticed that the pine trees were turning brown. I thought they were dying. I had no idea that pine trees lose their innermost needles in the fall (that comes from my years of living in a city and not having a pine tree in our yard).

Fall is a good time to plant new trees and shrubs. The weather can be cooler and most of the time there is sufficient rain to water your new transplants. If you decide to plant trees or shrubs this time of year be sure to plant them early enough in the fall so that the roots get established. Newly transplants should get at least 1 inch of water per week. Some may dry out faster than others and may need to be watered every day. It's hard to judge how much you need to water your trees because it's easy to either over water or under water them. And either of those conditions will kill your trees. Water your transplants right up until the ground freezes and even after the trees or shrubs lose their leaves. Your new trees, especially evergreen trees, should be well watered in the fall to prevent desiccation. Desiccation is very extreme dryness. It can occur from evaporation through the pine needles of the tree during the winter winds. Desiccation happens when the amount of water taken up from the roots to the needles/leaves exceeds the amount of water the roots are taking in, and if the ground is frozen the roots will not be able to take up any water.

You can apply mulch around your trees or new transplants after the ground freezes to protect them from frost heaves which would push your new plantings out of the ground.

A few more things to remember are to protect the young tree trunks against damage from animals such as mice, rabbits and deer. Also do not pile mulch up high to the trunk. Leave at least a one or two inch space from the trunk. If mulch is piled high and close to the tree trunk it can attract insects and rodents. Another problem with mulch piled high against a tree trunk is that it can cause conditions that contribute to rot in the trunk.

Garden Tip: Do you have any green tomatoes left in  your garden? Here's a trick  you might want to try to have them last a few weeks longer for you. My father did this and it actually does work. You harvest your green tomatoes before you get a frost. Try to harvest the oldest tomatoes because the very immature ones might not work. Then you wrap them individually in newspaper or tissue paper and store them in a cardboard box or paper bag in a cool place. A basement is best, but keep them away from your furnace. Then check them every few days and they will start ripening up. Usually the top layers will ripen first. Sometimes though quite a few will ripen at the same time. The cooler the place they are stored in, the longer it will take for them to ripen. Try it and let me know if it works for you. At least you should be able to get a couple of more weeks out of them rather than having them rot on the vine due to frost and cold temperature. I researched this online to see if this was valid and here is a link I found 2 Ways to have Fresh Tomatoes this Winter

I like to do a lot of clean-up in the fall. I feel that the more I can accomplish in the fall the less I will have to do in the spring. There is usually plenty to do in the spring: weeding, mulching, fertilizing, planting, etc. One garden blogger wrote in a post last week that she likes to leave her garden in the fall look the way she wants to find it in the spring. So discard your annuals, cut back most of your perennials (there are exceptions to this Fall Pruning), clean bird feeders and birdbaths, take cuttings now of some of your plants you would like to overwinter to plant outside next spring. Cuttings are easier to handle than large pots and usually transplant better, too. Put away (or discard) flower pots and containers. I have a bad habit of saving too many of those plastic pots from the nurseries. I save some so I can transplant and share perennials with friends. Also store your garden ornaments, plant stakes, tomato cages and peony hoops.

If you have perennials that you wanted to transplant to another area of your garden, it's still not too late to do that. As long as the perennial has about six weeks before a heavy frost you should be ok. If you have stuff in pots that never got planted either plant it or toss it (I should take some of my own advice. I still have stuff that needs to be planted.) Or if you are really desperate you can dig a hole in the ground and put the pot right in the ground with your plant in it and dig it up and plant it next spring. Fall is also a time to plant garlic, rhubarb, and spring bulbs. If you would like some color in spring plant daffodils. I actually prefer the tulips, but deer and rabbits love tulips but not daffodils. Also, tulips usually only last a few years and then they die out. Crocuses are also a nice spring bulb to plant now.

Dig up tender bulbs and corms like dahlias, canna, and calla lilies. Store them in a cool, dry place that doesn't freeze.

And the leaves. If you don't have time to rake them up, just mow them up with your lawn mower. They'll break down and it will be fine.

Clean up the vegetable garden and discard leftover vegetables. You don't want to attract mice or moles.

A last rose from one of my miniatures.
Bring in your houseplants that enjoyed the fresh air outside over summer. Check them over for insects that want to spend the winter on them indoors. Transplant your houseplants now, outside, while the weather is still fairly nice. It is less messy than doing it in your house in the winter.

White-Crowned Sparrow

You know that winter is just around the corner when the Junkos have arrived from the north to spend their winter here, and the White-Crowned Sparrows are passing through to their winter destinations which are south of New York State.

Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves.
~Humbert Wolfe, P.L.M.: Peoples, Landfalls, Mountains, 1936

This photo and the next photo is from Harrisville, N.Y.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Fall Photo Journal of the Adirondack Mountains 2014

I remember it well. The first time we went to the Adirondack Mountains in the Fall was in 1970. I remember it because that was the year our daughter was born, and it was also the year my husband, Ted, got out of the military and started working for the New York Telephone Company (three name changes later - NYNEX, Bell Atlantic) and currently Verizon.

My husband started working for the phone company in March of that year so he wasn't eligible for vacation until the first week of October, so that's when we decided to head up to the Adirondacks. It wasn't too far away. Actually from Syracuse it's only about a 2+ hour drive depending on which area of the Mountains you would like to visit.

Fourth Lake 

That year in 1970, we headed up to Lake Placid first for a couple of days and then to Old Forge for a few days. We took the drive up Whiteface Mountain, and I climbed my first mountain in Old Forge: Bald Mountain (click on that link to see photos of it). That was quite a hike for me. At a few points on the (old) trail up the mountain they had a railing that was secured to the rocks to help you get a good footing on the rocks. My husband carried our daughter (10 months old) on his back in a carrier. When we got to the top of the mountain there were two women quite a bit older than me and they had skirts on and 3 inch heels! I could not believe it. Here I was struggling and they were hopping around the big rocks with heels on. At the top of the mountain there was a fire ranger station and from the top of the ranger station the view was magnificent! The fall colors were all a-glow and just incredible. The ranger station is still there (but I haven't been up the mountain in quite awhile).

Fifth Lake
I have not climbed any of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks, but I have climbed Snowy Mountain (the highest I climbed at 3,899 feet). Snowy is a 3.8 mile hike one way and we did it in one day. I also climbed Wakely Mountain, as well as Ampersand, Chimney, Baldface Mountains and several other trails.

This first visit to the Adirondacks started our life-long love of the Adirondacks for us. Just about every year we would spend some or all of our vacation time up there. Either the summer, the fall, or both. We went hiking, swimming, water-skiing, boating, fishing, and snow skiing there (not all at the same time though).

Inlet, NY

We spent several summer vacations camping on the Islands of Indian Lake State Park in the Adirondacks. The camping sites at this State Park are only reached by boat. So we had to pack our tent, sleeping bags, food, dishes, pots & pans, clothes, etc. in the boat and head out to our campsite. We were lucky in that most of the times when we were packing up or unpacking the weather was usually pretty good so you didn't have to worry about your gear getting wet (especially your sleeping bags and clothes). These campsites are referred to as primitive camping. Meaning you have a picnic table, fireplace/pit and outhouse (otherwise known as a pit toilet or privy). When you checked in at the campground office they provided you with a roll of toilet paper and a plastic garbage bag. (As I write this I find it pretty funny now when I look back on it. Actually, I can't believe you have to pay to go camping like this. hahaha)

The first time we went camping in the Adirondacks at Indian Lake, we set up, did a little fishing and then the rains started. It rained for about two days straight. So then we packed up and headed home to dry everything out. Well, it didn't discourage us because we were back up there the following year. Only then, each time we went camping in the Adirondacks, we expected rain. So we packed raincoats and umbrellas. When it rained that's when we usually headed to Speculator to go shopping. But as soon as the sun came out it was time to head back to camp and go swimming or water skiing. We would spend many a night playing card games like Uno, by the light of a bright Coleman lantern.

Seventh Lake

When camping like this in a wilderness area you have to be mindful of the wild animals like raccoons and bears. We had to secure our food and garbage at our campsite. Ted usually hung our garbage from a rope in a tree, and we stored our food in a camp kitchen that Ted made for this style of camping.

Seventh Lake

Another area in the Adirondacks that were popular with us was the Moose River Wilderness area. This is a dirt road that extends from Inlet, NY to Indian Lake. The dirt road is several miles long (40 miles +) and in some places extremely rough. You can camp in this area and hike, canoe or kayak, snowmobile, horseback ride (your own horses) and hunt. Here is a link to the Moose River Wilderness area.

Road in Moose River Wilderness area

The Adirondack Park  covers more than 6 million acres and is the largest park in the lower 48 States. There are over 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 1,200 miles of rivers. Approximately 43% of the land in the Adirondack Park is owned by the State, and 57% is privately owned. The area is heavily heavily regulated by the Adirondack Park Agency.

Moss Lake off of Big Moose Road north of Eagle Bay (can you see the people walking around the lake?)

We continue our visits to the Adirondacks each year. Sometimes we just go for a drive up there for lunch and enjoy the views.

For additional information on the Adirondack Mountains:  Wikipedia Adirondack Mountains and Visit Adirondacks; and a link to Hiking Moss Lake.

Hope you are able to visit some of your areas that offer views of the changing seasons. Each place is unique in its seasonal changes and they all bring us a view of magnificent glory! You have only to look for it -

Thanks for visiting! 
Hope you enjoyed your Fall Foliage Tour!
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