Monday, October 18, 2010

Learned by Squirrels.

I spent some time this weekend sitting on the front steps. I like to watch the sun move across the sky. Throughout the day, the temperature and sunlight varies. By mid-afternoon, it was warm and comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. The squirrels were busy chattering. Acorns are falling by the handful. Those that don't split on the concrete driveway are sometimes smashed to cancel the germination process. I don't need more oak trees. There will be many to pull in the spring.

While chattering, the squirrels are stocking their larders for the winter ahead. They've been busy for weeks, burying things in the mulch around the house. They dig in the potager beds where it's soft. They spend all their free time scanning the skies for predators. The birds are their early warning system when the owls return.

I need to be more like the squirrels. Idle chatter is nice sometimes, but there are things that need to be said. Squirrels are more social than some people. They look out for each other. They do it not because it's expected, but because they want to protect their own kind. I also need to spend some time stocking my larder. That woodpile isn't getting any smaller yet. The chainsaw needs a tune-up. The grass needs to be mowed once more. I've avoided a fire in the basement even as the nighttime temperatures drop into the low 40s. Two fires have been built in the fireplace upstairs. Nothing beats a good dinner and an evening by the fire. Well, almost nothing.

I hope to have a mess of fresh squash for next weekend.

Maybe I'll buy some small red potatoes and pick fresh rosemary from the driveway border. I'm happy with the way this area came out. Next year, black eyed susans, lorpetalum, a Muskogee crape myrtle, agapanthus, and pineapple sage will provide changing color through the seasons. I wonder if the rosemary will ever bloom?

Lacking sufficient moisture this summer, the upright growing elephant ears have not reached their full potential. I ignored them this spring. I figured the cold winter had killed most of them. Around June, they started popping up. I didn't water them thinking they were doing okay without. I really let the garden go this summer. I wanted to weed out the things that needed too much attention. Letting nature take care of those things for me made it less stressful. I'm glad they survived. Hilda gave me these. I think about her every time I pass them.

Salvias performed well all summer. Grown from cuttings this spring, a few of the Mystic Spires are still blooming. The purple/blue is crisp and clean. I like blue in the garden. The spring should be lovely. I've found gobs of larkspur and nigella seedlings. Orange cosmos and Lady in Red Salvia provide needed contrast to the deep blues. They came from scattered seeds too. The cycles continue unabated.

Helianthus and grasses just work.

I was worried about my brugs this summer. I did water a couple of them several times. I hope I get to see this show. Next weekend is the full moon. If they are on schedule, I'll linger in the yard just a few more minutes when I get home from work.

Betty's zinnia seeds have grown into blooming plants too. I've got a light pinkish purple one and this red. Red is one of my favorite colors in the garden.

Echinacea purpurea is still blooming in spots. Most of the seedheads were destroyed by finches in early summer. I collected a few from the new varieties of coneflowers I picked up on clearance. I'll wintersow those in December. I'm limiting myself to 50 containers. That should be plenty of seedlings to fill the bare spots left by the summer. I'm learning to tone it down a bit.

I just love the swamp sunflower, Helianthus augustifola. I've seen it growing along the highways here. I see other varieties of yellow blooming plants mixed in here and there. I might stop soon to see if any seeds are ready. I need to move these in a few weeks. They spread underground and they've taken over the corner. It's almost dangerous backing out of the driveway. I pay more attention to the flowers than I do any traffic that might be coming.

It's just loaded with blooms. They're causing the plants to bend over.

It's up to 63 degrees already. I've been told it's going to be a cold winter because of the way the corn grew this summer. I'm feeling it in my bones. My scar itches this morning.


L. D. said...

Fall is also heading your way, but your flowers are still giving great color. The yellow squash tastes so good. Fall does make you want to sit and watch more the things going on around in the yard.

Randy Emmitt said...


Think back to last fall did you get a lot of acorns? If so you won't have many this year. If not then expect them by the buckets. Most of our acorns go on a two year cycle. Enjoyed your post!

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Yeah Randy, I'm starting to realize that. Last year, we had a wet spring. I figured most of the pollen got washed away. We didn't get many acorns at all, except on the white oaks in the back yard. But this year, and 2008 were bumper crops. The squirrels love it.

Linda said...

A real sense of preparing for winter in your post. Despite that, your garden is still going strong - very little sign of tattered blooms.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

This was a nice, easy going post. I feel you downsizing your gardens, making them less stressful. It's what I am working on too.

You still have a lot of beauty surrounding you there. I just love your swamp sunflowers. Do they take a lot of water?

It is neat to walk around our gardens and think of others who have shared with us from their gardens. My gardenias from you are still growing strong. Thanks again.

Enjoy your fall weather.


Daricia said...

tom, that zinnia shot is lovely. how will you eat your squash? cooked any way at all it's one of my favorite vegetables, but around here no one will eat it unless it's sliced thin and baked with a ton of parmesan cheese and black pepper on top.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Linda, there are lots of tattered blooms, I just don't show them. ;)

FL, they don't take much water at all. A few rain showers over the past couple months are all they've had. The ones in damp soil are shorter. These are 12' tall and at the tipping point because of the weight. Next year, I'll cut them nearly to the ground in July. They should bloom at about 6' instead of 12'.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Probably battered and pan fried. I don't care for mushy squash. I like the texture of a crunchy fried slice.

Audrey said...

Your garden is so interesting. That red zinnia is an eye catcher for sure and the swamp sunflowers are really showing off, just stunning.

I love fried squash, so humble but truly delicious! I missed out on squash this year somehow it got mosaic virus. I've never had a problem with this before and don't know much about it. Oh well, I've got hope for next years squash. The garden is always a lesson in hope and looking forward, makes me happy.