Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Autumn Walk on PEI

The weather this past weekend was impeccable.  Truly outstanding.  Sun shining, warm temperatures, it was a weekend meant to be spent out of doors.

We took a walk along the Breadalbane Nature Trail on Saturday.  Following the Dunk river for six and a half kilometers through the woods, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.

The peak of the fall colour has passed at this point.  There are more leaves on the ground than in the trees.

But there was still plenty to see, and nothing more fun than kicking up piles of leaves underfoot as we walked.

We spotted squirrels, blue jays, and partridge along the way.  But perhaps the most interesting was this tree.

That's beaver damage.  The chips all around the base, the proximity to the river and the shape of the cut are all indicators.  Not to mention the teeth marks.

Can you see the grooves in the wood from the individual teeth?  I was surprised at the size of the tree this animal was trying to take down.  It must have taken some time to carve out that chunk of wood.  And it will likely get the prize too with a little help from mother nature.  With this much wood taken out  of the tree base insects and fungus will move in, add a little wind and this tree won't be standing much longer.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Murphy's Law

The minute I talk about flowers blooming and how great it is that we haven't had frost yet....

Bingo.  I woke up this morning and we had a serious case of frost.  Every tree, shrub and flower was completely encased in a shroud of crystals.  I was almost late for work but I couldn't resist taking a few photos before I left the house.

I'm not sure if any of the flowers will survive such a beating.  It was dark already when I got home this evening so I'll need to take a weekend walk and check if any survived.

I expect less hardy individuals like the rudbeckia above, and the mountain bluet will be done.  Most certainly the dahlias will need to be dug out this weekend after such a blast.  But I'm not so sure about the sea holly and agastache.

These little flowers are so tough, I have a feeling it may take more than a single frost to knock them down.

Although the flowers are beautiful coated in their spiky white coats what I really like looking at is the leaves.

The bergenia leaves already had a red glow to them from the cold temperatures which made them quite pretty but a shimmering coat of ice is spectacular.  Lamb's ears, hardy geraniums, ornamental grass and juniper also caught my eye this morning.  Each leaf edged in diamond and sparkling in the early morning light.

This time of year is so spectacular with all the blazing colours in the trees, it seems hard to top, but somehow mother nature did.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Chill in the Air

The temperatures have been dropping regularly to a chilly 2 degrees celsius overnight as of late.  We have had a touch of frost too, most noticeably this morning when I could see a hard shine to the black mulch in the flower bed.

The cool air hasn't deterred the flowers though.  Although the dahlias did not like our dry summer they are making up for lost time now with the excess rainfall.

When I look out the window to the flower garden a purple haze of Sea Holly greets my eye.

We have had rain and sun in equal measure lately causing the Limelight hydrangeas to continue putting out blooms full tilt.

It feels like half my garden, from hardy geraniums, hydrangeas, agastache to Mountain Bluet are fully intent on putting out a riot of colour until mother nature forces them to acknowledge the change of season.

Even if the flowers can't, the trees can tell time.

My little red oak tells me fall is not just begun but almost half way over.   Time to get out and collect some leaves.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Garden Gladiolus

One of my favourite flowers when I was a child was Gladiolus.  Tall spires of ruffled flowers in all the colours of the rainbow.  They are about as outrageous a flower as I can think of.  All frills and ruffles and shocking bright colours.

I considered putting some of these flowers in my garden last year but declined.  I have lost my interest in overly bright flowers over the years and thought they might be overwhelming in my garden.  I have been trying to aim for a muted colour in the flower garden with tones of purple, pink and blue. 

But this year a funny thing happened.  Gladiolus came looking for me.  It started when an exchange of seeds became a gift of bulbs.  

My world of gladiolus started to expand.  Jennifer @ Three Dogs in a Garden introduced me to Orchid Gladiolus (Gladiolus acidanthera).  This is not a gladiola like any I have ever seen.  Delicate white blooms with maroon centers arched over blades of grass like foliage.

In late August these delicate blooms nodded gentle heads in the breeze.

I was smitten.

That was not the last of it though.  Purchasing a few last perennials for the flower bed in late July I was gifted with free bulbs at the nursery. 

Glamini Gladiola 'Christopher'
I can't say no to free plants.

So home I came with bags of corms, in brilliant shades of pink and chartreuse.  Since it was so late in the year they did not bloom as early as they normally would.  These Laguna glamini gladiolas are only just now gracing my flower bed.

Laguna Gladiolas
Glamini gladiolas are completely new to me too.  They are a dwarf variety of gladiolas, bred to be shorter than regular glads so they can be grown in pots and not as prone to tipping in high winds.

The smaller stems were the perfect size for bouquets
Where the orchid gladiolas are all grace and poise, the glaminis are just as outrageous as their larger cousins.  The foliage is stiff and swordlike, the spikes tall and the flowers are a sight to behold.  Despite my thoughts on overly bright blooms, I was swayed.  Has there ever been a flower that I could turn away?

The gladiolas will stay and the garden will be full of bursts of bright colour.  Not designed as I originally anticipated but lovely just the same.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Change of Seasons

It's dark when I leave in the morning and close to dark when I arrive home in the evenings now.

The rain has been continuous for weeks, turning the lawn bright green and bringing a flush of fall mushrooms.

In the last week the temperatures have become quite cold though and we have had fires to warm the house and take the chill out of the air.

In the garden the asters have already lost their lustre and are closing up shop for the season.  We spent time last weekend pulling the last of the vegetables out of the garden.  Tomatoes, beans, peppers, zucchini were all pulled from the vines and brought indoors.

Green tomatoes brought indoors to ripen
Frost hasn't struck yet but it has been oh so close on more than a few nights.  I have been busy continuing to clean out vegetable beds.  Pulling plants and weeds, adding lime and compost to the beds and finally adding a protective layer of straw for the winter.

The straw will keep the cats out of the beds and keep the soil from blowing away in the winter wind.

All around us leaves have begun to turn colour and drift to the ground.  And off in the distance calls can be heard.  Searching the internet I finally discovered the source.

We have been hearing the second set of calls in the above video.  At first we thought it was children in the distance but it quickly became clear the sound was not human.  Perhaps there will be pups in the back field next year?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gardening OOPS

When I came home from vacation in August I realized something was amiss.  In all honesty I think I knew before then but denial is a wonderful thing.  After a spell away though there was no denying it, I immediately thought - oh GOOPS.

Thank you Joene for adding a new word to my vocabulary.

On the first of every month Joene shares with the blogging world a Gardening Oops (aka GOOPS).  Moments in the garden where something didn't quite work out the way it was planned.  It's a way to inform other gardeners and share a bit of your misery.

Back in the spring I discovered that my new flower bed had a low spot that collected water.  Rather than try and fix this problem I decided to work with it.  Building up the bed on either side and allowing water to flow right into this area.

The area left of the old stump sits slightly lower than the rest of the bed. 
Then I planted with water loving shrubs and perennials.  Goatsbeard, Siberian Iris, Ligularia and a Red Osier Dogwood.

These bare stems were red in spring leading me to
believe this was a Red Osier Dogwood
Dogwoods are common here, growing in ditches and fields.  Rather than purchase a plant at a nursery I decided it would be quite easy to relocate one.  So I found a likely specimen, dug it up and brought it home.

I have been quite pleased with the result.  Despite a dry summer this plant took to the spot like glue and has been growing a mile a minute over the past 3 months.  I was so excited by how well it was doing that I completely disregarded the fact that dogwoods don't grow in an upright vase shape, or that their leaves are slim and silvery.

Crowded by flowers the shape is hard to see
but it is distinctly tall and vaselike
It wasn't until I had gone away and come home again with a fresh set of eyes that I finally understood the mistake I had made.  OOPS.  This was no dogwood, it's a willow.  I guess the moral of the story is know what you're digging out of the ditch before you put it in your garden.

I have nothing against willows and this one is not without its charms.  The shape is lovely and the long whippy branches wave beautifully in the wind.  However, there are over a hundred varieties of willow native to North America and I have no clue which one this is.  Or how large it will eventually grow.  When this shrub was planted in spring it was approximately one foot tall.  Now, after one season, this plant is standing at close to 5 feet tall.  My fear is it will become a massive shrub, quickly taking out any perennials in its path.

These rudbeckia are tough but I'm betting the willow is tougher.
Other issues have developed as well.  Crowded conditions in its present location are causing rust spots.   As well,  I suspect aphids have made a home here as swarms of wasps cover this plant most days.  I believe the wasps are sipping the honeydew created by the aphids as the wasps can be found drunkenly lolling around on the ground beneath the shrub.

Wandering dazed in the mulch under the willow
So now I'm faced with a choice.  Do I leave this shrub, knowing it will likely grow much larger?  I can always move a few perennials and prune the willow to try and keep it manageable.  Or, do I find it a new home and go looking for the dogwood I had originally planned on?