I am working at making a commitment to walking five days per week. Cooper, the 2 year old lab, needs more exercise than he is getting. He is not alone. Tucker, the Job Supervisor, is 14 and after a short romp around the yard, he is ready for a nap. Well, so am I but I need to get walking. I am very lucky. I have rural and scenic roads on which to walk. Currently, Cooper and I are walking two miles but we do hope to double that distance as we get a bit fitter and faster. There is much to see along the mile stretch and back and if one looks closely, there is always something new along the way. There is also a lot of old. The road is bounded by stone walls which once enclosed the open rocky fields. The fields may have held cows or sheep or been used as hay fields to supply necessary fodder for the animals in winter. Now the fields are filled with oak and white pine but the walls remain. We pass old houses on our walk. The first was built in 1797. The road takes us past two ponds. The first sits right across from this old house. I call it Charlie's house but Charlie is gone after having lived here over 40 years. The next pond is one in which I swam as a child. Those days are long gone but the pond remains and now I enjoy just walking past. We turn off the gravel road and pass the rather large, right on the road, Tyler House which was a general store and post office in the 1800's.It is hard to imagine there may have been a bustling business here at one time. A lovely woman named Lila lived and grew up here. Years ago, she told me that, on hot summer nights, she would sleep outside on the upper porch. Lila is also gone and several other owners have enjoyed this house. Further along the route the road rises and turns and on the right is this beautiful barn. The barn has three levels which all can be accessed from a ground level since it is built into the side of the hill. My nephew had his wedding in this barn. It was beautiful. The house in the front is traditional and, again, old. I don't know the original building date but it has this field opposite with a quarried stone retaining wall. The return trip reveals a red barn keeping an eye on the swimming pond. I do remember it contained a sleigh many years ago. We walk, literally, over the river/stream and through the woods returning home via the back path which has escaped the heavy load of snow. It wraps up to the back of the house where Cooper can have free reign. The ground is still warm although cooling quickly with sudden cold temperatures. The shorter, colder days are difficult motivators for walking. I do find that I always feel better after though. Thank you for taking this mornings walk with me. Not everyone has such lucky views. I am grateful for them.
The above terra cotta container has been put away for the winter and the beautiful torenia is now a plant of the past. I took this picture on August 6th which was the day I planted a few late crops in the vegetable garden. A rabbit feasted on the swiss chard and the beets but the lacinato kale and the wasabi lettuce were left alone and I have been harvesting them for the past month. August is a tired month. If it has been a dry season, the garden can look tired and the gardener is certainly tired but it does pay to sow seeds and keep them watered and weeded so that the bleak month of November has a few more charms. I have not grown lacinato kale before but in addition to being quite nutritious it is a beautiful plant. The foliage is crenelated and such a dark green it almost looks blue. It shrugs off a heavy frost and stands sturdily through hurricanes and snow storms. Well, light snow anyway. I have been adding it to soups and stews as well as shirred eggs. Kale has experienced a rise in popularity of late. It is easy to grow and extends the harvesting season well into late fall. I may even put a row cover over it so I can pick greens in December. It is available at many farmer's markets due to its resilient nature but supermarkets are also carrying this Italian favorite. I will plant it again and would even consider adding it to a container for texture and color. Have you grown this leafy vegetable? If not, you might consider giving it a place in your garden.
I know, purpleicious is a made up word but violaceous just does not work for the description of the color of Oakleaf hydrangea leaves at this time of year. And while the leaves do look oak like they really remind me of grape leaves but perhaps that is just because of the infusion of grape color which is so welcome as dormancy descends on the garden. The landscape has turned brown with a few exceptions. Those include the late hanging leaves, the shock of blue green kale in the vegetable garden and the green grass. For a gardener intent on perfect combinations, late fall has to rely on evergreens and shrubs with stubborn leaves. I am enjoying the thick, aubergine colored leaves on this hydrangea. Planted in combination with the Euonymous fortunei 'Variegatus' in the foreground, this shrub only looks better. This combination is a backbone planting in the back shrub border and since it is in a bit more shade than is suitable for a flowering shrub, there are only a few blossoms on the hydrangea during the summer. No matter, this shrub which is native to Georgia, Florida and Missouri, comes into its own in the fall and I would plant it just for the unique fall foliage. An easy plant to grow. it has yet to endure any pest problems. This oakleaf hydrangea has been in the garden a good five years and is now four feet tall and a bit wider. Plant it where it has room to spread although there are new cultivars on the market which are smaller and narrower if your garden space is at a premium. This hydrangea forms flower buds on the previous year's growth so prune only right after flowering and well before bud set in late summer. The walk through the garden is a bit more hurried these days as temperatures drop and the first snow is already behind us. I must remember to put on an extra layer and slow down a bit to make sure I don't miss these last colorful leaves of the season. What plant in your garden has gotten your attention recently?
I know I will be forgiven for not posting exactly on Bloom Day. I have the best excuse. It was Mom's Birthday which many of you many know since I did mention it on Facebook. Mom is 89 this year. She still golfs and she golfs well but that is only one of her talents. I will not embarrass her by listing them all here but she is one of the best blooms in my life and my five siblings and her eleven grandchildren and four great grandchildren will most certainly agree with that. As for the garden, indoors the Christmas cactus is blooming. Outdoors, the pickings are slim. I found one lone, leftover phlox bloom which is not impressive but for the 18 F temperature it survived. I also found a dandelion in the lawn. Lucky me. I could have greens for dinner. HA! Thanks to Carol of May Dreams for hosting Bloom Day. At least I can visit some gardens which do have blooms this time of year.