Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fleeting Fall Foliage

Hurricane Sandy whipped through the northeast last night stripping hundreds of thousands of people of their homes and/or belongings.  In CT we have now experienced three storms in just 14 months that have caused catastrophic damage to property.  Storms of a magnitude and scope like we have never experienced.  Mother Nature can certainly be a real bitch when she wants to be, that's for sure.  My heartfelt sympathies go out to everyone who found themselves on the wrong side of Sandy.

In advance of the storm, I made a point to do a walk around and grab a few shots of fall color in the garden.  As I suspected, Sandy hastened the demise of foliage season.  What you see here is now a distant memory.

Beautiful fall color of the Sourwood (Oxydendron arboreum)

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake')

Amsonia hubrichtii

Enkianthus campanulatus

Physocarpus opulifolius 'Summer Wine'

Neighbor's maple

Acer palmatum 'Kinran'



Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Dunn Gardens

As I sit here waiting to see if my garden and/or my home will be annihilated by the latest weather threat, dubbed Frankenstorm by the over hyped media, I can't help but think back to those bountiful garden days of July and my trip to the Portland and Seattle areas.  Ahhhh, summertime and the livin' is easy!  If you missed the previous installments of this trip they can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

Believe it or not I still have plenty of material from that adventure that has yet to be chronicled.  As is usual with the our annual IU gatherings, not much down time is factored into the schedule.  So many gardens to see, so little time...

Today we visit (or revisit) The Dunn Gardens, formerly a private compound in the heart of the Seattle suburbs.  Like some notable residences and grounds of wealthy people, the property has since been placed into a preservation trust.  Tours of the garden are guided and require a reservation so this isn't one for the spontaneous garden visitor.  If you are in the area and have the time, I do recommend a look-see.

I have to admit, as much as I admire estate gardens and feel preserving them is worth the time and effort, from a garden visiting standpoint, I much prefer well planted mixed gardens chock full of creative and unusual plant combinations and personal touches by the gardener. 

Our guided group tour started on the patio of the welcome center.  Lush container plantings accented the space which overlooked a large lawn and perennial border.

Perennial border from the patio at the Dunn Gardens in Seattle

The tour of the grounds took us through lots of old growth trees and shrubs.  Members of the Dunn family still live in private residences on the property.  My favorite was this cozy cottage surrounded by exuberant but well tended gardens.

The tour ended on another patio at the welcome center.  As you might imagine, it was the patio areas that were right up my alley. 

At one point in the tour we were joined by this charming and extremely photogenic cat.  He followed the group through the gardens then entertained us with his antics on the patio.  In a way he (she?) reminded me of my own esteemed garden cat, the Twerpinator who also knows a thing or two about working a crowd.

For all of you who are in the path of Hurricane Sandy, be safe!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Nod From Studio G

Last week I was contacted by Erin Lang who writes a Before and After column at Studio G, a garden design and inspiration site.  Erin had been alerted to my patio transformation by Laurrie of My Weeds Are Very Sorry and wanted my permission to feature it in her column.  Here is the link to Erin's article at Studio G.

Laurrie's blog was the first CT blog I discovered and now follow religiously and enjoy tremendously.  I'm fairly new to the blogging world and have been so impressed by the legions of knowledgeable and talented people out there who generously share rich glimpses of their worlds, 

Thank you Erin (and Laurrie)!



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Cleanup Begins

Here in central CT we were gifted with absolutely perfect fall weather this weekend.  After spending the previous week wallowing in self pity over losing the majority of my garden to an early frost, I built a bridge, got over it and was ready to get down to business and let the fall cleanup begin.  You know what "they" say-"make hay while the sun shines".  Good advice.  Who knows what the weather will be like for the upcoming weekends or what alternative activities may develop to distract me?

My garden helper, the Twerpinator agrees.

Leaf removal is a huge part of fall cleanup here.  Sometimes the weekends don't cooperate and I have to take days off from work to get it done.  A couple of years ago three of my neighbors banded together and removed many old trees but the neighborhood is still well shaded. Fortunately the town collects leaves at the curb and I take full advantage. For some reason though, the first pickup this year isn't until the week of November 12th so for now leaves are on the back burner.

Compost manufacturing has never been a strength.  Usually I toss the majority of fall garden waste in with the curb leaves and let the town do the work.  With the extra time this year I decided to chop up most of my container garden waste, add a few bucket loads of pine needles from the driveway, and toss in the bags of grass clippings and leaves from the final mowing of the rear lawns.  Here's what I've got so far,  With any luck, in my one compost bin I may be able to fit about 1% of my leaves and additional garden waste.

So with leaf pressure off, I decided to focus on cleaning and storing my containers.  Usuallly I clean out the plants after they get frosted (anywhere from late October through mid November) then run around like a nut in December hauling all the pottery to the garage or shed before winter sets in.  Not this year.  At the close of business Sunday night, I had 95% of my pots cleaned out and tucked away in the garage.  In all my years of gardening I have never been so far along with fall pot cleanup.  Not ever!

One of my biggest challenges used to be moving heavy pots around the garden.  A few years ago I modified the strap on an appliance dolly so I could use it to grip pots just long enough to get them tipped back and balanced on the rails.  With the exception of a couple of odd balls, I can now move everything I need to move by myself.

Much to the cat's dismay, carnage corner in the garage is now cleaned up and ready for pot storage.

My new favorite toy.  Argh, argh, argh!

A few odds and ends waiting to be prepared to spend winter somewhere in the house.

My succulent collection all cleaned up and ready to be moved into the house.  I'm still thinking I should send them all to live with Denise.

Semi annual car washing was also on the agenda.  I like a clean car, really I do, but I don't often have one.  Maybe next spring I'll get to the inside.  Or in the spirit of election year job creation maybe I'll just pay somebody else to do it.

By the end of the weekend things were looking up for the garden.  Not so much for me.  Normally I wouldn't classify myself as a klutz but somehow I managed to slice a finger open with pruning shears, twist and bruise my wrist in a closing gate, and take multiple slams to the shins and an ankle from various weapons of garden destruction.  Be careful out there!

As much as I like a tidy garden, I don't relish fall cleanup.  So is gardening in colder zones.  After spending months and months creating and nurturing it all, in just the equivalent of a couple of weeks you tear everything down and throw it away.

No one will be clamoring to enjoy a glass of wine on these chairs for a while.

Where did everything go?

The "rear lawn" mowed for what will probably be the last time this season.

The back lawn freshly mowed for what may be the last time.

Despite the early progress, I still have much to do.  Cannas and dahlias have to be dug, dried and stored.  Plants need to be moved and new acquisitions planted.  Next weekend I'll start cutting back the perennials and moving leaves to the curb.  One thing I won't be doing though is moving pots because I'm DONE, DONE, DONE with that nonsense!  Come December I'll be sipping wine under twinkling lights while toasting that early frost.

East garden-yikes!

Sunday dinner-a reward for all the hard work.

Happy Fall!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Walkabout

After spending a good part of the morning and a better part of the afternoon hacking, cleaning, and hauling empty containers out of the garden, I felt like I needed to escape.  The day was unseasonably mild with temps in the low 70s F.  Fall clean up in my garden is a long, labor intensive process that I don't relish.  Call it procrastinating but a long walk was calling my name.

My town is rich in history and boasts a relatively large historic district centered around a downtown area.  I don't live within walking distance to this part of town but I often drive, park and walk in that area.  Lately I've been a slacker on the walking front.  My usual five mile walks take over an hour and there just aren't enough hours and/or daylight in most days.

My first stop was the cove.  By the look of the parking lot, I wasn't the only one out enjoying the warm weather.  Boats: launch them if you've got them-what a perfect day to get out and cruise the river!

In keeping with the Halloween season, many merchants in the down town area participate in "Scarecrows on Main Street". 

There appears to be no shortage of creativity lurking around town.

My walking route also loops around a large town green.  Many old historic homes line both sides of the green but the most notable is the Silas Robbins House Bed and Breakfast.  In December of 1996, this gorgeous home, then a private residence was almost completely destroyed by fire.  For many years it sat as a burned out hulk until the current owners purchased and meticulously restored it.  Kudos to them.

A few other notable sights along Main Street...a reminder that I need to get back to yoga classes.

Soon the ice cream joint will be closed for the season.  They usually close the weekend clocks get turned back and reopen right around my favorite day of the year in March when we finally get to spring ahead.

Despite the loss of a few hours of potential garden work, it was good to get out for a long hoof.  Thanks for tagging along.