Fall arrived last week and the garden is showing the effects although there has been no frost here yet. Leaves are yellowing, the dried stalks which held the once glorious daylily blooms stand ignored and the Dutchman's Pipe is running rampant in the long border. In western RI frost has come as early as the first week of September but it usually waits until mid to late September. Last week was warm and wet and this week, the humidity levels and temperature remain higher than normal for this time of year. The asters are coloring up and the sedum is darkening to a burnished mahogany which provides a sturdy framework for the Russian sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia, weaving through and around the blooms. The frogs are sitting on the edge of the pool today and the seven son flower petals are falling to the ground. Amidst all this late bloom, the Hydrangea m. 'Endless Summer' is sending up one new flower which looks pristine, fresh and so very youthful. It is a striking contrast to the fall hues descending on the garden. I can't say that I have gardened much in the past month. Someone needs to have a good talk with the Head Gardener here as her motivation seems to have been in decline this past month. Early fall is the best time for moving spring and summer flowering perennials, cleaning up beds and debris from a not so recent storm and adding some sharp edging to bring the beds in clear relief once the snow falls. Motivational talks begin now so that when the clear, cool air of fall finally shows up, the garden chores will resume in ernest. Do you suffer from late summer/early fall lethargy? Do you have any inspiring words to motivate this gardener?
Everyone seems to love hummingbirds except other hummingbirds. The porch in Maine is about an eight hour drive from Ledge & Gardens. It has three hummingbird feeders. Upon arrival the feeders were cleaned and filled with nectar for the birds which will shortly be traveling south.
Porch sitting is a vacation necessity if you happen to have a porch and this one provides a beautiful view of Lake Seboomook in addition to the antics of the hummingbirds.
One has to wonder why hummingbird feeders often have multiple perches for sipping nectar. Six females were observed feeding and fighting during the week. At one point for just a brief, shining moment I did catch three hummingbirds sitting and sipping. The shutter speed was fast which was a necessity for capturing this event.
Most of the time there was much squawking and tweeting. Hummingbird's calls sound to me like a miniature Flipper. that clever, movie star porpoise. They are frenetic little birds, dipping and diving to avoid and chase the others away from the feeders. They do crash into each other now and again and the sound of those quickly beating wings colliding is a bit unnerving. None of them ever fell to the earth. They each seemed to pick a tree in which to perch. They sit and wait, barely visible due to their small size. When ready they zip straight to the feeder and, hopefully, get a sip or two before being chased away. Such a lot of wasted effort when there are often five feeding holes on each of the three glass feeders. Their very nature keeps them at war with one another. Enjoy this short video of their belligerent behavior.
I realize that this is not a timely report but last Sunday's hurricane Irene pulled down power lines, phone lines and the internet which has yet to be restored to Ledge & Gardens. I know the crews are working frantically and since we sustained no permanent damage it is just a reminder how tied we are to the comforts of life in the 21st century. Cell phones do not work in my area either...hard to believe that is true in the densely populated southern New England area. No worries, the EM and I packed up the dogs and headed up to the wilds of Maine. Seboomook Lake is near the more popular Moosehead Lake. I first featured the camp here in a previous post. It is an eight hour drive but at this remote camp there is a generator, gas stove and refrigerator and, believe it or not, a satellite connection. It is not everyone's dream to be so remote but if you have to live off the grid, you are prepared. Not so at home where flush toilets do not flush and showers don't shower without power. The major damage in the yard and gardens was to the tomato crop. I planted lots of heirloom tomatoes, 36 plants which were over six feet tall and still growing. The cages were bending under the burden even without the storm. Now they are lying on the ground. I picked a huge amount of tomatoes just before the storm. Many of them have 'catfacing' on the bottoms. I have learned that 'catfacing' occurs from one of two conditions and usually on the beefsteak type tomatoes. The first condition would be herbicide damage which is not an option for these since they are organic and no herbicides were used at L & G anywhere near tomatoes. The other situation which causes 'catfacing' is cool temperatures occuring at the time of pollination. We had cool temperatures well into July this year. The tomatoes still taste great, they just look a bit funky. I packed many of them for the trip to Maine since canning them was out of the question with no power. I am wondering if I can consume all that I brought with me. Perhaps I will tire of the taste of tomatoes fresh from the garden...almost fresh. Do you evey get tired of garden tomatoes? Stay tuned for the next installment of L & G 'On the Road'. I will be featuring the big tomato crop up here at camp.