Posts Tagged ‘asters’

Seriously.  People grumble about weather in the 40s and this is happening down the block:


I should be grateful at least evening looks about right:


There were bees out today.  I’m happy for them being able to get a last snack or two, but really.  BEES?

Fine.  Click through to some hysterical Torch Songs in which the word ‘Me’ has been replaced by “Bees”.

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Asters of the Universe


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I just harvested my first golden raspberries this weekend [they did not last long enough for pictures; Word and I devoured them right promptly], and there’s been some speculation about whether or not these are anything like the cloudberries my grandmother talked about gathering as a child in Norway. That’s not a question I can ask her anytime soon, and I have no absolute convictions about whether the departed can look across the veil to see what we’re up to here. BrightCloudEdgeBut if they could, I would hope that the Meadow looked welcoming; that they’d look past the overgrown hedges and be understanding about the incredible amount of rain that’s been making mowing impossible. HighSummerFlowersLook over this way: I’ve edged most of the perennial beds with bricks.  Look over there: the daylilies have started and the monarda is looking fine.  We’d like a patio over here, with space for a grill or firepit.  Maybe put a little pond over in this section, with a motorized spring to keep the bugs under control, and ceramic koi on clever little sticks… BrickEdgedBedsDragonflies dart here. Hummingbirds and hawkmoths know to stop by.  In the winter, the hop-pop birdies scratch around for all the aster seeds.  This year’s asters haven’t started yet, but I can see the buds starting to set…. These are the signals I send, to say ‘One of our kind lives here.’ ‘Times have changed, but not so much.”  “Hello!  I remember!” This is how I leave the light on, just in case….

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Or squelches.  Squelching is what’s going on here.  For those of you still dealing with layers of Crystaline Aqueous Insulation, mud is surely in your future….

Here in Zone “7b-having Like Zone 6”, we have mud, crocuses, and the beginning swells of daffodil blossoms. Pussywillows!

And, if you’re paying attention, the kinds of chaff you don’t leave around for the insects to crawl out of:

CleanoutIrisBedsNowIf you’ve grown iris for any number of years, you know the damage iris borers can do.  Here’s something to help thwart the next generation of those horrible things:  remove all the dead leaves and DO NOT put them in your compost pile.

My aster and goldenrod stalks will remain where they are a little while longer, but I’ve pruned the grapes and hope to get a little time to thin the old raspberry canes this weekend.  We’ll see.

Wishing you all fair weather and dry basements….

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Gardening books and magazines would — and perhaps they still do — make suggestions about leaving the stalks of certain plants alone in the fall, so as to provide “winter interest” during the stark months after the last autumn flowers have gone to seed. IcedAsterStalksI like an interesting winter [we can debate elsewhere if there has been too much of anything this time around; I suspect my friends in Boston and Florida all have strong opinions], but I also think the birds like having appropriate forage, and if seedlings strike from any of my perennials, those are bound to be interesting as well.  There are some new gardens to cultivate in my family, and plant-critters strong enough to seed themselves are exactly the kind I want to share.

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OakLeavesAutumnI think of my grandmother at this time of year; it’s a busy time for gardeners, and I do think of her when I’m gardening — but it’s the season when she took her leave of us.

When I was little, this would be the time of year she’d be collecting long pine needles or salt hay to put around her roses, and checking on the last root vegetables to be harvested for the year.  We’d all rake leaves [or chase the leaves as my grandfather used the leaf-blower], and then we’d help collect the output of the leaf shredder/mulcher to put in the compost heap by the raspberry cage.

I don’t have enough leaves to justify a shredder, although I guess if the Oak and the Yellowwood really get going in the next few years…

Here, all the asters but the white ones have gone to seed in the front meadow garden, and the goldenrod blossoms have faded to amber fluff.  The first frost should be by shortly [although much later than my preference would decree; I’d like to get those bulbs in the ground, now that they’re here!]. The zheeeee! of goldfinches still occassionally zips above me as I work the ground, but more frequently I see small brown stripéd birds who skirl down into the shrubbery or peck among the stalks of plants looking for whatever has fallen that day.

I am ankle-deep in the trench I am digging, bending over frequently to remove stones from beneath my shovel. I hear somebird complaining, and look up.

Oh.  Song sparrow.  I whistle-cheep at it, adapted from the calls I’ve heard from pet cockatiels.  It flies a little closer, into a thicket of tall ornamental grass that I have tied up like a sheaf of wheat, and after a few moments I can see it nibbling seeds.  I go back to digging.  Every so often the sparrow sings.

From the corner of my eye, I see a pinwheel of short, pointed wings ,with black and white bars.  Four wings, two birds —  one a bit closer than the other.

It gets closer, for reasons I don’t understand, and I realize it’s a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.  Insects are what it wants, not seeds.  I guess there must be some still around, because it seemed to pluck something from an stem and then flit even closer. You! What are you? What? What?

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Kinglets were (I think) the last of the birds I got to talk with my grandmother about — one showed up around her birthday one year, and she couldn’t remember ever seeing one in the wild, either.  I think of them as spring birds, although it turns out that we live in their winter range, so maybe they’re around more than I’ve noticed.

My grandmother would have wanted to hear about that. One of these days I’ll get around to reading more of her garden journals, which may be as close to conversation as we can get right now.

Two little Kinglets. Such small things. And yet such dear things: birds, bits of conversation, echoed garden chores, responses to seasonal cycles that come round and around, even if the people change.


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