September Notes 2018

To any respectable garden club, my garden would look like a disaster. The sneezeweed, milkweed and mountain mint are turning brown and flopping. Dying elderberries are looking dead. The glaring white morning glory flowers of rambling bindweed are an embarrassing symbol of unruliness. The pollinator magnet, white snakeroot stands tall but tattered like an old flag. The pole beans are slithering down the pole and the turnip greens are white and withered from a large, handsome family of harlequin bugs.

Turnips are not doing too good but notice that purslane!

How could I have been so dumb as to plant turnips when after planting them heavily for the past four or so years (mostly because rabbits and now deer don’t seem to like them), harlequin bugs and other aphid friends have been multiplying in droves. So, the pantry will be a little light this year.

This may not look like much but just imagine hearing a cricket chorus.

But, early in the damp wood smell of morning, before the hot sun bakes downtown just across the street, I find my garden somewhat magical. The serenade of a thousand crickets soon joined by the locusts almost drowns out the hum of rush hour. The birds are mostly silent, preparing for winter or a long flight to somewhere warmer but sometimes they come down to the dying elderberry and makeshift bird baths. A flock made up of one or a few of each of the usuals; robins, starlings, catbirds, blue jays, house sparrows, grackles, wrens, cardinals and now maybe a titmouse, nuthatch, chickadee or even a warbler. A squirrel scampers along the top of the fence, mouth black from eating walnuts. How do they crack them? I managed to get a few figs from my fig tree before they’ve discovered them. Here and there a hawk drops down for a meal angering a family of crows.

I haven’t done everything wrong. At least this year I didn’t make my bean poles so high I needed a ladder to pick the beans. The fishing line deer fence didn’t exactly keep out the deer, but it deterred them enough that I got a sizable amount of green beans. Peppers are finally coming and an amazing amount of cherry tomatoes from one extremely healthy, gangly plant.

This is my attempt at food photography. Notice the nimblewill happily growing through the chair.

Next year I promise to dedicate more attention to growing, foraging and preparing food from my garden, something I’ve kind of been neglecting.

And while many things are about done, others are just getting started such as the not so local but so beautiful New England asters. Like the sneezeweed which also aren’t of a local ecotype, I’ll deadhead them at the end of their bloom.

There are probably around 50 or more plants in the milkweed family. There are always at least two monarchs flying around at any given time. I’ve found a few caterpillars about a quarter inch long but so far I haven’t seen any larger than that. Why is this?

Of all the milkweed available for this monarch, it decides to hang out on the rabbit fence.

I know the year is still a ways from being over, but I feel like it’s coming to an end which is kind of sad but also somewhat of a relief. Of course in gardening, it’s never over. There are always plans to be made, lessons to learn and things to get done but sometimes you just have to stop for a second and savor the moment.

Blue winged wasp,  bumble bee and honey bee enjoying stiff goldenrod, another non local plant I will deadhead at the end of bloom.
Pokeweed in all its glory. It’s so profuse I can’t help but get berry stained every time I walk by.
Pure wonderful wildness.
I’m absolutely smitten with this volunteer white vervain as are these teensy tiny bees.
Catbird enjoying a morning bath. It won’t be long before they head to some far off southern destination.