Friday, October 29, 2010

a golden glow

The Great Lakes States have been buffeted by high winds all week. It seems the weather system was centered over Minnesota. Maybe it’s revenge for the movie Fargo. I admit I found it a laugh riot. I’ve always liked Bemidji in that Northern Minnesota, middle of nowhere, 10 months of winter, 2 months of poor sledding kind of way. Once again I’m wandering. None the less, it has been windy.

The wind brought some funny surprises. The leaves that all those happy families raked to the curb last week-end are back where they started, in the yard. So while Pat and I are emptying 60 containers this weekend, the leaf blower brigades will be hard at work.

The hostas have turned a golden color. Some are still hanging on, but it’s the end of the line for our hosta till next year. The fading hosta made it easier for me to dig up ligularia to give away. Ligularia seeds itself so well that we have a couple dozen plants to give away.

While the weather lasts, the yard is really bright and pretty.

Monday, October 25, 2010

the last of the flowers

During our weekend garden work I found a bunch of pleasant surprises. The biggest was a hosta that was still flowering. Right in the middle of the hosta, fast turning gold, was this little gem. The anemone seems to be saying that summer's not over.

We cut these day lilies down over a month ago. Maybe I should cut them back earlier next year to see if more get a second bloom.

This candy corn flower is still going strong in the back yard. It sits right at the edge of the shade line.
These impatiens are facing north under our dappled willow. All summer long they seemed to barely hang on. In the last couple of weeks these guys took off.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

new bed

Today was the perfect Fall day. Temps were in the high 60’s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. And as usual, the air was filled with the whirr of leaf blowers. Husbands and wives were bonding through leaf blowing. Chipper faced children where giddy with excitement, doing their part in hauling leaves to the curb. Well, that’s how Norman Rockwell would have painted it.

I spent Friday afternoon clearing pumpkin vines from the flower beds. The flower bed was in remarkable shape. All the flowers that got bulldozed by the pumpkins survived. I’ll tell you that I was very surprised by how good the bed survived. The grass was beat up, but it’s just grass. A quick re-edging of the bed and the bed looked good as new. We still had 2 days to get in trouble.

Pat noticed that the beds were farther apart than she thought. There was 16 feet between the beds from knee to knee. Well, we still had a yard or so of sweet peet, a space calling for something and lots of time because we don’t partake in leaf blowing. New bed, we both said at the same time. How long could it take?

About an hour was all it took.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

mow 'em, don't blow 'em

I can tell its fall because on Saturday and Sunday mornings I am woken up at what seems to be the crack of dawn by the sound of leaf blowers. Call me cheap or misguided regarding what proper lawn care equipment is, but I just don’t see the need for a leaf blower. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is something cool about the really big backpack models. What 10 year old wouldn’t want one? Putting it on instantly transforms you into your favorite super hero ridding the world of some evil.

So all day during the weekend the whirring sound of leaf blowers resonates throughout our subdivision. Suburban men (it always seems to be men; are women immune from the need?) unwind electric chords or get the 2 cycle gas out and perform what almost seems to be a religious rite. I don’t get it. Why not just mow the leaves into the grass? But no, leaves are blown into big piles by the curb where the wind blows them back into the yard before the city gets around to collecting them. Leaf blowing seems as futile as gluing leaves back on to the trees.

Mow the leaves. It is good for your lawn. If you rake, pile the leaves in a compost pile. I invite everyone to boycott blowing leaves to the curb. The time you save can be used on useful tasks like putting in a new flower bed or my favorite, taking a nap in the sun sitting on a lawn chair.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

pumpkin give-a-way

It’s time to take the yard back. Most of the pumpkins are ready to pick.

We invited the neighborhood kids to pick pumpkins. All we have left is 7 green pumpkins, and miles of vines. I think we gave away 20 some pumpkins so far. Pat and I pulled the vines that did not have any pumpkins. That was a trick, trying to find an end and following it to the beginning. There is now a huge pile of pumpkin vines in the compost pile.

Everyone went home happy.

Does every gardener have something under a tarp in the yard? This is my just in case supply of sweet peet. I'll need it to repare the damage the pumpkin vines caused.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

look ma!

Little Johnny came running into the house yelling. “Ma, Ma, you gotta come outside, you gotta come outside.” Little Johnny and his mom went outside. “Look” said Little Johnny pointing skyward. “What’s that” little Johnny said in wonderment. His mother replied, “Why Little Johnny, that’s the sun.”

It’s autumn and we don’t get to see the sun all that often. By the time winter shows up we’ll have forgotten what it looks like. It has something to do with being on the wrong side of Lake Erie. Or is it the right side, I can’t keep it straight. When we lived in the land of the Illini, we saw the sun in the cold months. That was because we lived on the right side of Lake Michigan. Or was it the wrong side of the lake. I get that confused also. It’s only been 6 days since we last saw the sun, but to a day lily that’s almost generational. Since the sun is out, we need to get outside and weed, harvest pumpkins and get some Vitamin D.

Monday, October 4, 2010

hunting for exotic pumpkins

After a long weekend in Chicago, Pat and I thought what better way to unwind than looking for pumpkins. I know we have a whole bunch of pumpkins in the front yard, so you might wonder are we nuts or what? I prefer to think it’s the “or what.” We didn’t go hunting for your ordinary run of the mill pumpkin. We went looking for exotics. We found the golden fleece of pumpkins (I know the metaphor's kind of lame, but it’s the best I could think of). Just south of Peninsula, Ohio, is Szalay’s sweet corn farm. It’s in the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, right next to the canal tow path. There are dozens of farm stands between our house and this place, but this is the place to go. Szalay’s is a farm stand extraordinaire. We went for pumpkins, but there were plenty of vegetables, local honey, breads, fruit, and best of all, hot apple cider.

When you pull into the parking lot two giant spiders greet you in front of the corn maze. There were little kids deciding whether to laugh or cry about the giant spiders. I will leave the corn maze to brave souls because of all the "children of the corn" movies. Back to the pumpkins and gourds: my eyes were bigger than my wallet. I wanted a couple of everything.

I'm thinking that if we leave all these winter over in the flower beds, we might, just might, be able to grow our own next summer.