Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fall Colors

Wednesday, October 2, 2008

I've been away from Vermont Gardens for well over a week but only because I have been in the gardens working until the sun falls over Plainfield and the dew has become noticeable on the brim of my baseball cap. Days grow shorter now and despite a desire to keep working, I can't get excited about working by flood lamp to finish up the work. I have been logging long days and lots of miles at my regular job so I have to be reasonable at the nursery.

Despite the rain this summer, we had a great first season. The fall foliage has been spectacular and even after last night's inch of hard falling rain, the trees are holding tight to some nice color. When I returned from work today I cut wood for an hour and then asked Gail to come help pull cosmos and zinnias. To our surprise, the rain and warm temperatures for two days encouraged yet another flush of zinnias to bloom and the flowers were big, bright and flawless.

We pulled up all the cosmos as they had been nailed a week ago by a frost. Most were planted in a low spot at the bottom of the field and the frost settled in there quickly. We had planted these a bit heavier than usual so the plats were almost 4 feet tall and each stem was quite thick. They required a few bumps on the ground to free the clumps of dirt and then one by one they were tossed into the truck body.

The zinnias were a shame to leave tonight as frost is a possibility and there are thousands left. Gail picked huge bouquets for friends but we left behind some flower friends that may not be looking so good tomorrow. As a reminder to what you missed this year, here are a few shots.

But besides the foliage and the zinnias providing color, a different part of nature provided an attention getter which caught our eye today. The caterpillars that become swallow tail butterflies were obvious on the dill weed today. The late afternoon coolness slowed them to a standstill but that made careful observation that much easier. It was good to see three healthy caterpillars and a fourth (not so good) that was being devoured by a brown stink bug.

I am not keen on these bugs ever since I tossed one into my mouth with a handful of potato chips one day. I have read of a new, larger version called the brown marmorated stink bug
and although I haven't seen any reports of them in Vermont yet, I expect they are here based on an incredible smell that is obvious as I mow the field sitting on a 30 h.p. tractor. At any rate I can see no goodness in any of these as anything that eats butterflies at any stage in their life cycle is not my friend.

If you get a chance tomorrow or this weekend, get out and enjoy the foliage and the fall smells (except stink bugs and flattened skunks!) and sounds. Owl's Head in Groton State Forest remains open until Columbus Day so if you're in the area, climb the steps and enjoy the views. Cameras and a good field guide to birds are encouraged!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Karl the Wonder Dog is snoring next to the wood stove that feels so-o-o-o good after working through the evening hours.

George Africa,
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

1 comment:

lynn'sgarden said...

Beautiful pictures, as usual,'re endless list of chores (and endless energy) amaze me! After all the frost damage clean up, do you have time to relax by the fire and snore like Karl, the Wonder Dog? Looking forward to more beautiful foliage pics of your mountain.