Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, Vermont
While visiting cousins in Vermont I made a stop at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont. As a retired librarian I always stop in to visit libraries along the way. The Fletcher Free Library was founded in 1873 by Mrs. Mary L. Fletcher and her daughter, beginning with $20,000. Half was to be spent on books and half for an endowment. What a wise woman Mrs. Fletcher was to know that a library would need that ongoing support. Originally the library was housed in the City Hall. By 1901 it was outgrowing it space, but that year Andrew Carnegie gave $50,000 and a new library was built and opened in 1904.
Fletcher Free Library
Of course time does not stand still for any building. The Carnegie building needed work – and saving by the community. In 1974 it was added to the register of Historic Places, and necessary restoration work was made to the foundation and building. But time continues to march on. A new addition was dedicated in 1981.
Fletcher Free Library
The new addition is very beautiful with three stories full of books, CDs DVDs, magazines, audio books, museum passes, and garden tools! All can be checked out. Or you can work on the computers in this serene space.
Fletcher Free Library, Children’s Room
The original Carnegie building now houses the Children’s Room. In addition there is a Local History room and collection. I like the mermaid flying over the circulation desk. I think it is an apt symbol for the invitation to come and swim in the worlds of story, history, philosophy and with instruction how to do almost anything.
Fletcher Free Library book van
The library even has a cool van to bring books and programs to children where they are.
I enjoyed visiting the Fletcher Free Library very much, and could have settled down with a good book for the afternoon, but time marches on. Cousins were waiting. Besides, I knew I could visit my own Heath Free Public Library when I got home. In fact, I knew Interlibrary Loan books were waiting for me.
Lawn Bed – put to bed
The weather has been kind to those of us who procrastinate and go about fall clean up in the garden with a little less energy than we once had. Right now I am buckling down and in the midst of working through my to-do list.
I got an early start in the vegetable garden in late September. I pulled out finished squash and bean plants and put all that biomass in the compost bin. All the empty beds in the Potager and the Early Garden right in front of the house were weeded, and I dug in finished, or nearly finished, compost. I am in the process of refreshing my paths with cardboard and wood chips.
Sometimes we have to evaluate the plants in our gardens. There are many reasons for deciding to remove a plant. Perhaps it didn’t do well because conditions were not quite right. Perhaps it didn’t live up to the fantasy one had when choosing it. Perhaps one simply doesn’t like it anymore. I got rid of the bright pink Alma Potchke aster last year. It has a funny name and is very pretty, but she just no longer appealed. I think the pink turtlehead (Chelone) is doomed this year. The deer like it too much and I’d rather have flashier flowers.
The plants that have to leave my garden will go to the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale in May. I am digging them up and keeping them in a vegetable bed in the Potager.
Other plants that will end up in a vegetable bed for the winter are those that need dividing. This year I am dividing three different astilbes, a white, a pink and a graceful pink ostrich astilbe, as well as Mardi Gras helenium, Echinacea and Japanese anemone. One division will stay in the garden and the other divisions will go into the Plant Sale, or to a friend.
Perennials need to be divided periodically to keep the garden in scale, and sometimes for their own health. Those divisions also allow us to be generous and that is a very good feeling.
It is time to cut back those perennials that have finished blooming. This will make things neater and easier on the gardener in the spring when there is so much to do. Of course, if you have plants with interesting seed heads that will attract the birds that spend the winter you will want to leave them.
Last year I did not cut back the daylilies in the fall, but I will not repeat that mistake. Cutting back plants reveals weeds that are hiding beneath the foliage. Hidden weeds, and weeds that are all too obvious should be pulled out. Fall weeding seems easier to me than spring weeding. The weeds don’t seem to have as good a hold on the earth in the fall as they do in the spring.
Honey Badger Garden Gloves
I was given a new glove to try out. The Honey Badger garden glove has three hard plastic claws on the fingers of one hand. As long as the soil is not packed hard, these claws have proved very efficient at helping me get underneath the roots of weeds when I am cleaning out the flower beds. Somehow I seem to work best in the garden on my knees, and directly with my hands whenever possible.
I am not done with weeding and dividing, but the peonies have all been cut back and weeded. I have one Lawn Bed section that has been cut back, weeded, and divided. I topped the soil off with some old cleanings from the henhouse (no more hens) and then sprinkled some old wood chips on top of that. The bed isn’t terribly photogenic but to my eyes it looks neater and ready for a floriferous spring.
Since I have been using my finished compost I have room in the bins to make new compost. I can use the foliage of cut back plants and frosted vegetables, but I am cautious about the weeds I include. No galinsoga or weeds with roots that I think will love spending the winter in delicious compost.
Leaves blow right off our hill but I did help a neighbor bag up some leaves and took them for my compost pile. Leaves are a valuable resource and I take all I can use.
My spade and garden forks are still in daily use, as are my hand tools including the pruners. Soon it will be time to clean them carefully. Actually, it is good to clean tools, especially clippers and pruners, after every use, and I try very hard to make this a routine. I keep a rag near my tool trug as a reminder.
Finally, you might make some notes. I try to do this all season long, partly because I am apt to be forgetful about plant names. I keep a little garden journal, with weather notes for (almost) every day, and notes about what I have done that day. Notes about activities help remind me of the general progress of the season. When I buy, or otherwise acquire, new plants I put in as much of the proper name as I can. This makes it easier to recommend them, or avoid them in future.
How far have you gotten with your fall clean up? According to my Farmer’s Almanac the rest of October will be mild. We can procrastinate a little more, but not too much.
Not everything is cut back. It is nice to have a few blooms! I think the flowers above are Sheffield Daisies. Maybe.
Between the Rows October 18, 2014
Honey Badger Garden Gloves
Recently I was sent a pair of Honey Badger Garden Gloves to try out. These gloves are made by a small company in Atlanta, Georgia. Before they sent them they asked if I preferred to have the ‘claws’ on the right hand or the left hand. I chose to have them on the right hand, my dominant hand.
This offer came fairly late in the season but I still had a whole long peony bed to clean out. I had cut back most of the peonies and had launched myself into getting out all the weeds hidden by the peony foliage.
Honey Badger Garden Glove
Before I got my hands into the soil, I did scratch around with my Korean hand hoe to loosen up the soil – and the weeds. Then I began digging around the weeds with my claws so that I could pull them out with the roots intact.
Honey Badger Garden Glove
Once I get my claws around the root I can pull up the whole weed clump. I am a gardener who spends a lot of time on her knees, and I use my hands a lot. It was a big day for me when I finally realized I really could use gloves efficiently and stop walking around with dirty, broken nails. The construction of the glove protects the fingertips and nails inside the claw tip. You get some leverage, and a lot of protection. Even without the claw, the gloves are made of slightly heavier material than I am used to, but they are flexible and rated for 200 hours of wear. I have not used them for that long yet. I do know that the first place my gloves ware out is at the finger tip. The claws are made of ABS plastic – just like LEGOs.
These gloves are available online and cost $24.95 for claws on one hand, but you can request claws on both hands for $29.95. Plus shipping. The claws also come in different colors, gray like mine, gray & blue, green, or green & blue.
UMass Garden Calendar 2015
The UMass Extension Garden Calendar for 2015 is now available. This excellent, and beautiful, calendar contains excellent information about garden chores throughout the year. Reminders of when to plant, when to mulch, when to prune, when to fertilize and much more. On some days you will get information about which plants attract pollinators, definitions of words like ‘layering,” and transplanting advice.
I appreciate the fact that the low gloss paper takes my own notes very easily.
The opening pages this year give full information about how and when to fertilize flowering plants, what kinds of fertilizers are available – and how you should get a soil test to properly determine what fertilizers your plants really need.
UMass Extension Garden calendar for 2015.
In addition to all this good advice, there is a gorgeous photograph of a seasonal plant for every month. I was particularly taken with the Gold Heart Bleeding Heart, which I happen to know lights up a shady garden spot with its bright golden foliage and pink blossoms.
To order send $12 payable to UMass, to Garden Calendar, c/o Five Maples, 78 River Road South, Putney, VT 05346. If you order before November 1 Shipping is Free. After November 1 add $3.50 for the first calendar and $2.00 for each additional calendar. Think of all the gardeners in your life you could make happy with this beautiful and useful calendar.
Pat – The Garlic Queen
It is not widely known but I was crowned the Garlic Queen at the Heath Fair this year. It is only right that I was crowned by Rol Hesselbart, who gave me my first garlic cloves to use for planting. Hesselbart has been growing garlic and and saving the best bulbs to use as seed for many years. The bulbs he gave me were easily twice as big as the garlic you usually buy at the supermarket.
It was hardneck garlic, Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon, that won me the queen-ship. This is the species that is best suited to the northeast climate where the winter is cold and spring cool and damp. Within this species there are many varieties that will give you a subtle variety of flavor. My variety is German, but other varieties include German Red, Purple Glazer, Siberian garlic and others. The Filaree Farm website will give you a good idea of how many varieties are available.
The hardneck is the remnant of the scape, the curly stem that will ultimately produce a seedhead, that looks a lot like a chive blossom. Scapes can be harvested when they are young and used just as you would garlic in your cooking. This year I sliced my scapes into half inch pieces and froze them. This just about doubles my harvest. I use a few scape pieces just as I would a diced garlic clove.
Softneck garlic, Allium sativum var. sativum, is the type of garlic that can be braided and it does have a longer shelf life which means it is the type you usually find in supermarkets. I have not grown this type yet, but my Garlic Crown was made with softneck garlic and I will use those cloves as seed this year, and have a softneck and a hardneck harvest next July.
Garlic is very easy to grow. It will grow in almost any soil, but it prefers a fertile soil rich in organic matter. Planting in good soil is how you grow healthy large bulbs that you can save and use for your own seed. They like sun but can tolerate a little bit of shade.
I wait until the end of October to plant. The clove will start sending out roots, and the soil will stay warm enough to sustain that slow root growth even when the air gets cold. I don’t really want it to send out any green growth. Still, if it should send up shoots that will be killed by winter weather, the plant will send out new growth in the spring.
I plant in a wide row and make three furrows about three or four inches deep and about six to eight inches apart. I take my garlic bulb and break it into cloves. Plant each clove, pointy side up and cover with two or three inches of soil. Then mulch well with six or eight inches of leaves and/or straw.
Preparing garlic scapes for the freezer
In the spring green shoots will grow up through the mulch. When the weather is warmer many people remove the mulch but I left about half of mine on, as a weed deterrent. Early in June the scapes will begin to appear. It is good to cut the scapes out, whether you use them for cooking or not, because they use up energy that should go into making nice fat garlic bulbs.
In mid to late July the foliage will start to yellow. When a few of the lower leaves yellow, but the higher foliage is still green, it is time to dig up the garlic. And I do mean dig it up. Don’t pull it the way you can onions which are nearly out of the ground when they are ready for harvest. Make sure you allow for the size of the bulbs when you begin using your shovel. I have cut into bulbs when I underestimated where they were underground.
Make sure you do not allow all the foliage to yellow. If the bulb is overripe the skin will split and the cloves will be loose in the soil. You may lose some of the cloves, and they will not store for very long.
I believe this is controversial, but I do give my newly dug bulbs a shower with the hose, washing off the loose dirt. I am careful not to damage the papery skins. Once washed and dried in the sun, I bring them indoors, out of direct sun, to cure, with their roots and stems, for four to eight weeks. Once they are cured, in a space with good air circulation, I cut off the stems and roots. I use my garden pruner for this job.
It is very important to leave the stems and roots on throughout the curing period .
Having said that, of course, I use the not-completely-cured garlic whenever I need it in the kitchen. Actually, you can even dig up a garlic bulb before it is mature in the spring. This is called green or spring garlic and has a lighter flavor. Some cooks love to use it for its more subtle flavor.
Garlic should be stored in a cool dry space. I have a mostly unheated guest room so I box up the cured garlic and keep it there.
It feels good to have a bed or two of garlic neatly planted and mulched in the fall. I feel I’ve already made a good start in the spring when I see that neat bed with little green shoots coming through the mulch.
I haven’t explored the world of garlic very much so far, but I’ve been talking to people who are passionate about the differences in flavor, so I have a new reason to grow some different varieties next year. For the moment I have all I can handle.
The larger garlic bulb properly had the scape removed early in the season. The smaller bulb did not.
Between the Rows October 11, 2014
View from the bedroom window September 2, 2014
August was relatively cool this year, so it should have been no surprise that on September 2 it was 80 degrees and humid. The roofers came to put on a new roof – and were slowed down by a shower in the middle of the afternoon.
September 21, 201As
As the month progressed it became cool again. There was two inches of torrential rain on September 6 – and the new roof is not leaking! Our granddaughter Tricia’s wedding was held at Look Park in Northampton on Friday, September 12. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm. Then cooler weather again with a light frost on September 18. Some plants were nipped, but no serious damage. There does not appear to be much change, but the phlox is nearly gone by and you can see the green seeping out of the foliage in the woodlands.
September 29, 2014
Fewer flowers are blooming in the Lawn Beds, but color is rising all around us in the woods.
Thomas Affleck rose
Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day arrives this October after two hard freezes. The trees are richly adorned adding most of the garden color at this time of the year. The roses are very nearly done, but Thomas Affleck, right near the door, has nearly a dozen blossoms left. In the rest of the garden there are a few scattered rugosa blossoms, and The Fairy is still making a bit of magic.
This is the second year for Sedum ‘Neon.” I will have to do some dividing. The Fairy is right behind her, as well as a snapdragon and a foxglove blooming at this odd time of year.
“Starlet’ is a very hardy quilled mum that I keep moving around the garden.
The Sheffield daisies are just beginning to bloom! At least I have been calling these Sheffield daisies all year before they came into bloom, and now I am thinking they are some other very vigorous chrysanthemum. I have one clump of ‘mums’ not yet blooming. Maybe that is the Sheffie clump.
This low growing and very spready aster is definitely ‘Woods Blue.’ I just found the label while weeding today.
I am coming to realize that the Montauk daisy has quite a short bloom period. Maybe it doesn’t deserve to be so front and center.
A flower that does deserve to be more front and center is the Autumn Crocus. It is invisible in August when it should be transplants. Out of sight. Out of mind. Maybe next August.
The ‘Limelight’ hydrangea has had a good year and is doing better than ‘Pinky Winky’ planted at the same time, and the native oakleaf hydrangea. The enormous ‘Mothlight’ is also still blooming.
I am going to have to do something about this honeysuckle. She has grown enough this first full year and deserves to be arranged so she is more easily admired.
This annual potted Cuphea has given me a lot of pleasure this summer. Endless bloom.
I plant these nasturtiums on the slope between the Daylily Bank and a bed of the Early garden right in front of the house. Such a cheerful flowers.
Love Lies Bleeding
And finally, in a knocked down tangle is Love Lies Bleeding. A right bloody mess. I expected long drooping tails of blossoms, but this looks like ropes of chenille balls.
What is blooming in your garden this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day? Check Carol at May Dreams Gardens, our welcoming host.
Berries for the Birds – High Bush cranberries
Many of us plant berry bushes, but do you specifically plant berries for the birds? Feeding the birds is a enjoyable activity, but because I have always had cats I have planted high bush cranberries, holly, and cotoneaster instead of putting up bird feeders. However, my first reason for planting these shrubs that produce autumnal berries is because they are beautiful. In addition to the plants I have deliberately put in my landscape I am lucky to have elderberries and grapes already in place.
In the fall many birds are migrating. When we had Stu Watson from the Audubon Society visit our woods and fields to help us make them more bird friendly, he told us that 70 to 90 bird species breed and nest in our area. Many other bird species pass through in the spring and in the fall. Audubon wants to keep common birds common, and providing, food, shelter and water will help do that. I realized there was a very good reason to plant berries for the birds.
I like thinking that our land provides safe and supportive space for birds, even if their needs were not uppermost in my mind when I did my first plantings.
One of the first ornamental shrubs I planted was the highbush cranberry, Viburnam trilobum. I was not thinking of the pretty berries it produces in particular, but only of the flat lacey spring flowers made up of fertile and sterile flowerets. That shrub has now reached a height of about 12 feet or more, and a pretty considerable spread. Right now it is laden with clusters of beautiful red berries. They are not cranberries at all, but they are edible though my husband might ask me if they are palatable. We don’t actually have any interest in eating them ourselves. They are very sour, but the birds like them especially in the spring when protein rich tree pollen is available as a side dish to help metabolize the berries.
My highbush cranberry also supports a wild Concord grapevine. This vine was here when we bought our house and we hack it back when we have time, but we will never conquer it. Still, these grapes are another source of food. People who are growing grapes for their own consumption have to find ways to protect them from the birds.
The mountain ash, Sorbus americana is native to the United States and is a popular landscape tree. It can reach a height of 30 feet. It produces white flowers in the spring and bears brilliant red-orange berries in the fall. It also has good fall color with foliage turning shades of gold, orange, and even a dark red/maroon. The berries attract thrushes and waxwings.
Another tree that is said to attract cardinals, finches, robins, blue jays, and waxwings in particular is the mulberry. Mulberries are also edible and many people eat them out of hand or make jam. The birds just gobble them up. The one downside to mulberries is that the juice can really stain, which means that they should not be planted near walkways or anywhere people might congregate. No tea parties under the mulberry.
Mulberries have also been called ‘protector trees’ because birds like the berries so much that they gorge themselves on the mulberries and leave cherries and other crops alone. The native red mulberries, Morus rubra, are hardier than the black variety.
Callicarpa dichotomy or Beautyberry
One of the most showstopping shrubs is Callicarpa dichotoma, or beautyberry. This is a small shrub that will grow between two and four feet with about an equal spread. There are small pink flowers in the summer, but in the fall it produces clusters of berries in the most amazing shade of purple. When I first saw this shrub growing on the Bridge of Flowers I thought they must be artificial. The birds have no such thoughts and find them delicious.
Beautyberry is deciduous and hardy to zone 5. It likes full sun but can tolerate part shade. I cannot grow this in Heath, and I think even if I lived in Greenfield I might find a fairly sheltered spot for it. It is a carefree plant with no serious diseases.
I don’t know if I was the last person to know how to pronounce cotoneaster (co-toe-knee-aster NOT cotton-easter) but even before I could pronounce it I knew it was a good groundcover. While I was learning how to pronounce it I also learned that I had one variety (name lost) that produced coral-red flowers in the spring looking very much like ornamental quince flowers. I also learned that birds love the red berries that appear in the fall.
I planted two different cotoneasters too near each other. That is what happens when you are too eager to cover ground. They now grow into each other which fortunately is not unattractive. One hugs the ground and one is a bit more mounding. Both have tiny lustrous dark green leaves. They are undemanding, but in my garden they did take a couple of years to really start spreading. I may be showing my impatience again.
Cotoneasters can grow in full sun or part shade. It is important that the soil be well drained. Established plants can tolerate drought. Happily for me, neither deer nor rabbits show any interest, allowing the birds to make full use of the little red autumn berries.
I also planted Blue Prince and Blue Princess holly bushes. Hollies need male and female plants to fruit. It is not yet Christmas but my Blue Princess is having a productive year. Lots of beautiful berries. The birds like them, but they will leave some for my holiday decorations.
Between the Rows October 4, 2014
Returning from a few days away I was happy to see that the asters are still blooming.
These sunny quilled mums don’t look like the cold and the rain bothered them at all.
The Montauk daisies have started to bloom!
Sheffies – Sheffield daisies
Do think I can now say that the Sheffies, my late blooming Sheffield daisies, are finally blooming? I leave it up to you.
What do you think of when you think of the flowers of autumn? Chrysanthemums immediately to mind, if only because in September every supermarket dresses itself with ranks of potted mums. These mums are colorful, although a bit straitlaced in their pots, and may blind us to the many other flowers of autumn. However, there are many other fall bloomers.
One of my favorite autumn bloomers is the Japanese anemone. I have a large clump of the old pink variety Robusstisma. It begins blooming in late summer and continues till a hard frost. Like Robustissima, the standard white Honorine Joubert has a classic cup shape with a golden center. It is 36 inches tall and new flowers keep appearing over a long season. Both are hardy to zone 4, but there are newer cultivars.
Bluestone Perennials and WaysideGardens offer newer varieties as well as these old favorites. Max Vogel is a more ruffled pink with a brilliant gold center. Margarette is a deeper pink double variety that is only 24 inches tall. Whirlwind is a tall white double with petals that do look ruffled by the breezes. These newer varieties are listed as hardy to zone 5.
Japanese anemones are listed as rabbit and deer resistant, but I have to report with some chagrin that the deer have munched on my Robustissima, both before and after blooming.
Boltonia closeup in September
Boltonia is another fall bloomer that isn’t mentioned very often, but this hardy plant, sometimes called a false aster, will bloom for a month. At four feet or more and covered with snowy white flowers just one plant puts out a tremendous show until after hard frost. Snowbank is the white variety, but there is also Boltonia Pink which is slightly shorter with pink petals around the golden center. Both are hardy to zone 4 and both tolerate a wet site.
Rudbeckia Goldsturm is a classic black eyed susan. This flower is hardy to zone 3, and not susceptible to any disease. It is also quite drought tolerant. It will bloom from July until well into September.
At four feet tall with unusual narrow rolled petals Rudbeckia subtomentosa Henry Eilers is a striking cultivar that will certainly attract attention.
Black eyed susans are such popular flowers and such late bloomers that it is no surprise that the hybridizers have glammed her up. Rudbeckia hirta Cappucino is 18 inches tall and the large double blossoms are in shades of golden red. Rudbeckia hirta Cherry Brandy will not bloom quite as late in the fall, but the deep red-maroon color is a whole new vision of the black eyed susan. All the rudbeckias make good cut flowers, as do the Japanese anemones and boltonia.
Good front of the border plants are garlic chives and salvias. I have various kinds of chives, and had forgotten that I had planted a new garlic chive clump in the North Lawn Bed. Garlic chives bloom in late summer and through the fall. The blossoms are white, not the purple of the familiar spring blooming chives. The purpose of my new clump was ornamental, a touch of white against a dark fountain juniper, but they can be snipped all season long for use in the kitchen. The flavor is more garlicky than oniony, and more gentle that garlic cloves.
There are so many salvias, and all so beautiful and useful. Culinary sage is a salvia and while it doesn’t have flowers at this season, the gray-green foliage is a very handsome element in any garden.
Of course there are many other colors of annual salvias like Lighthouse Purple, white and blue Sea Breeze and Red Hot Mama. Seduced by the peachy flowers in June I planted a perennial salvia listed as Autumn Sage Heatwave Glow. It still has a few flowers thought it is badly crowded by a trumpet vine, parsley and some enormous horseradish leaves. I don’t know whether it will survive the winter (hardy to zone 6, minus 10 degrees) but this year’s flowers were worth it.
Of course there are other fall bloomers including a world of chrysanthemums, asters and dahlias and other annuals. Just take a walk over the Bridge of Flowers and see how many plants are blooming this late in the season.
A final note. Many people are not familiar with Ratibida columnifera Red Midget, otherwise called Red Mexican Hat. I only became aware of this native prairie plant recently, about the same time I learned about the ‘bat faced’ cuphea which I have enjoyed so much this summer. Ratibida is hardy to zone 3. It is only about 15 inches tall and its small blossoms are comprised of reflexed red petals around a prominent cone. This seed cone will be very attractive to birds after the petals have fallen in the fall. Ratibida will not bloom as late into the fall as the other plants I have mentioned but they are so interesting and unusual I wanted to mention them. There is also Ratibida Yellow. Look for them in my garden next year. ###
Between the Rows September 20, 2014