Monday, October 20, 2014

Wild Arbutus Protected

Recent beady snow in the air has changed our focus.  Garden work must wait while our attention shifts to tasks that must be finished before freeze up and snowfall.  Several days have been devoted to repairing the gravel driveway.  Washouts and ruts are being filled so that the snow plow has a reasonable flat surface to clear.  This naturally occurring arbutus group also needed help.

Growing at the edge of the gravel bank seems like a poor choice.  Bulldozed more than one half a century ago, this ground has had that time period to revert to a natural state.  Uneven ground filled with large and small stones would not seem to promote the growth of this difficult wildflower.  Some years we enjoy the sweet early flowers here while at other times we can find no trace of the plant.  This past early spring, I found rabbit pellets in great quantity where the arbutus grows.  As an evergreen plant, arbutus is one of the few sources of fresh food at that time of year.

Snow melt revealed no visible trace of arbutus plants here.  Arbutus delays new leaf and stem growth until after the business of flowering is complete.  These plants had no flowers but still they remained dormant until the time was right for new leaves and stems to grow.  Left with only a scrap of crown and an intact root system, these plants began to show new growth.  Their recovery seems to be a miracle of sorts.

The combination of a field stone wall and a wire cage should keep the foragers at bay.  Nestled in a depression, the cage cannot be pushed aside by a woodchuck's snout.  Hopefully the rabbit will not be able to find wiggle room sufficient to slip under the wire.  We will visit this site frequently to see if our precautions meet the challenge.

New leaf growth was the single job done here this year.  No flower buds were set.  Another full normal growing season will be required before any flowers appear on these plants.  That is a long time to wait for flowers but wait we will.

For now, this job is finished.  Fallen leaves were spread to cover most signs of recent work.  The stones were left exposed but moss and lichens will soon hide them.  An old heavily used rusty wire cage almost goes unnoticed.  The stones were carefully set and they should remain in place for many years.  The wire cage will rust away leaving a shallow stone well to puzzle those who follow me on this land.  If they are persistent, they may find an occasional arbutus plant in bloom.   

One note on the unusual clothing in use.  Many years of time spent working in sunlight has left sun damaged skin.  A Solumbra helmet liner and a long sleeved  shirt protect almost all of the skin but create a strange visual appearance.  We have not way of knowing what passersby  think when the see the wild man strangely dressed working among his posies.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It Will Be A Cold Day!

With all this talk about our frosts and freezes you might think that the garden was history.  It's true some of the plants like this butterfly  weed have gone to seed.  Other more tender plants have blackened and died.  But a walk through the garden shows that plants do not give up so easily.

These Debutante Mums have been frosted and even frozen several times and they still look fantastic.  How wonderful it would be if all the hardy mums you read about were as tough as this beauty!

Catchfly is a plant that self seeds abundantly and has to be weeded out in the spring.  It must be the warm days that have it blooming again now.  Of course the hummingbirds that love it so much early in the summer have headed South weeks ago.

This is the first pink bud on the Emperor of China chrysanthemums. This plant gives late blooming a whole new meaning.  Frequently the flowers appear after the cold has changed the leaves to a dark burgundy.  So far the leaves are still green.  It's nice to have these flowers to look for after most of the others have given in to the weather.

Perhaps this pink gladiola flower is not a perfect specimen, but it was the most  surprising and exciting flower I found in the garden. It may not be hardy, but it is stubborn. These are not expected to withstand cold weather. Others in the same bed have gone limp and mushy.  A few days have passed since I took these pictures.   Perhaps a day or two later, some of the fragrant gladioli plants sent up flower stalks.  They looked kind of sickly and were kind of pale grey-green.  I cut them and brought them into the warm house.

Here they are today.  I don't know if these flowers will bloom , but their attempt is beautiful.  We are having a few days of warm windy and rainy weather.  Ed is stubborn too.  He stayed out there this morning doing his garden thing in the light rain.  When it seemed like the rain was serious, he put away his tools and came inside.  Later if the rain stops he will likely return  outside.  It will be a cold day when he gives up on the garden!  When the plants have gone dormant, he still has his stones.