The weather has been nothing short of spectacular — blue sky, golden sun, perfect temperatures. The angle of the light is changing for sure; fall has arrived. Rumors of frost come in from Carolina (“down in the valley”) and from the banks of the Saugatucket in Wakefield –enough frost to scrape off the car windshield. But not here on Kingston Hill. Although the colors are fading a bit and the green leaves are dusty looking, full autumn foliage has not arrived. Just a bit of yellow on the Sassafras and red on the Tupelo. Flowers are still blooming in the garden. Enjoy it while it lasts.
I went out in the garden Saturday and became intrigued with
everything the cucumber tendrils wrapping themselves around the wire fence. The cucumber plants were slow to take off this year, but now they seem to be growing about a foot a day.
The tendrils obviously curl, but when I looked closely they seemed to be curling in two different directions. To make a long story short, here is a link to a great little video about the movement of plants in general and the “curliness ” of the cucumber tendrils in particular:
Go ahead and call me a plant geek, but I love this stuff.
Being a gardener, I can’t help but talk about the weather. Here in Kingston, it has been an unusually warm and dry spring so far, after an unusually warm and dry winter. I worry about the springtime ephemeral plants, which like moisture…after all, we have “mud season” in New England, somewhere in between winter and spring. But not this year. I am happy to see the Fawn Lily (Erythronium) blooming, and sad to say the Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia) doesn’t look like it will flower this year.
Mother’s Day is the yearly highlight of the Ericaceous Garden, however, the display is already beginning, so I would suggest a visit soon! There is beauty and color at every turn. The Royal Azalea (Rhododendron schlippenbachii) is in full bloom, and Koreanspice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) is sweetly fragrant throughout the White Garden.
“March brings breezes loud and shrill, to stir the dancing daffodil”. Sara Coleridge, 1802-1852.
Though it’s now April, that’s a perfect description of the weather we’ve been having. The daffodils and more are in bloom…I turned my back for a minute and spring has begun….
“April brings the primrose sweet, scatters daisies at our feet” Well, not so much here in New England, although it must have been so in the Lake District of “Old” England where Sara Coleridge was born and raised. Here, the ‘April White’ Rhododendron is blooming in a very timely manner, along with Pieris, Hazels, and an early flowering Cherry, ‘Snow Fountains’.
Slowly but surely the greenhouses are all being updated. New (safety) glass went in this summer. Over the past few years, the old mechanical vent controls have been mostly replaced with computer controls. There’s no doubt these are an improvement. Finding the delicate balance of temperature, moisture, and light can be tricky especially with tiny seedlings. The new controllers are able to use current weather data as well as the temperature/humidity data from sensors in the greenhouse to control opening/closing vents and “curtains”. They’re saving energy too, by opening and closing at accurate temperatures, and by using smaller and lighter motors. The only thing I will miss about the old equipment is how much more interesting it is to photograph….
It seems like it never really got started — no ice on the ponds, a single snowstorm which melted away 24 hours later, no “arctic blast” to make you really love your woodstove and a cup of hot chocolate. Well then, If I can’t have winter I’ll just look forward to spring. The light was lovely this morning with mild temperatures and a sparkle of last night’s raindrops.
What’s left in the October garden? The weather has been so mild that many plants are still lingering in the slanted autumn light. Japanese Anemones look beautiful in the main garden. The white ones, ‘Honorine Jobert’ stand up proudly and make themselves seen. The pink ones, ‘Queen Charlotte’, lie down as soon as they bloom, tangling themselves among the skeletons of the Sedums and Rudbeckias, tempting me to rip them out despite the beautiful pearly pink color and abundant flowers. Speaking of Sedums, they seemed to go by quickly in the wet grey week we had, along with my favorite aster, the bright ‘Alma Potschke’ in the main garden. The Actaea along the Kinney wall is still standing, the seed pods as eye-catching as the fuzzy white flowers.
Annuals are still alive and well here on Kingston Hill, although the temperature really dropped the first week of October. Teri of Hidden Field Farm in Wakefield reported a killing frost the night of October 6, but we’ve been lucky. Or maybe not lucky — it feels a little like limbo. Do I pull out the tomatoes in the All-America Selections garden, which are still flowering and fruiting but look ugly and half dead? (I did.) What about the ‘Holy Mole’ peppers, and the Celosia ‘Fresh Look Gold’ ? (I left both –the peppers look healthy and productive, and the Celosia looks….interesting.) A hard frost is definitive, leaving no questions about what should be done.
Other bright spots of color: the Calendula near the front of the Kathy Mallon Outreach Center, the Dahlias of course, the Callicarpa with stunning bright purple berries near the fire lane. The Nepeta in the main garden, an occasional Rudbeckia. And the Rose Garden is full of pink, red, white, and yellow roses… A wedding there on October 9th caught a beautiful perfect blue sky day among the late roses.
The weather forecast is not for cold but for rain, which might spare the annuals but be the end of the perennial flowers. Of course it’s inevitable that they will all be gone soon, but what a gorgeous “Indian Summer” it’s been.