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Cleaning Up the Garden and Writing Up Lists

Cleaning up the leaves

Slowly, slowly, the leaves and fallen and now it is time to get serious about cleaning up the leaves.  We have two river birches and many large shrubs, but they are not the only ones responsible for all  the leaves in our garden. The garden to the south sends us many leaves from three large oaks.

Clearing more leaves – these are on the north side of our garden.

The house to the north has an enormous maple and we have not really begun to clean up these leaves. Now is the time  to get serious. We have been putting leaves in our three leaf bins including a Smart Pot compost sak till they are full. We have put leaves under some of the shrubs. We have also brought bags and bags of leaves to the town dump where leaves can be left for mulching later. I have heard that Martin’s Compost Farm also accepts bags of leaves and will use them to make their compost. Leaves are a rich product for gardeners.

Leaf bins and regular compost bins that also hold some leaves

Blighted Chinese chestnut tree leaves

The large Chinese chestnut to the west, separating our western neighbors has been shedding their  leaves since early in the fall. All the Chinese chestnuts in our neighborhood have been suffering from a blight. By collecting these leaves and having them picked up in trash bags we think the tree is getting a little healthier. We hope so.

The strolling paths have been raked and the planting beds will benefit.

We leave many leaves to rest on the planting beds. Why get rid of leaves if they can benefit the soil? I think they are especially beneficial underneath large shrubs, and where groundcovers will simply come up through the rotten leaves in the spring.

Marker for Coral peony

This is the  time of year when many plants can be moved. Two of my peonies were too close together; moving the Coral peony was given  a clear space in front of the redbud tree.

Crocosmia fronds are no longer visible

This photo will remind me this is where the crocosmia grow in the spring. Their shoots are modest and I inevitably forget what it is that I planted here.

Clethra, Boltonia and Russian Sage

There isn’t much to see here, which is the problem. The Clethra, also known as summersweet is a visible shrub all winter, but the tall Boltonia and beautiful Russian sage disappear. Will I remember what is in these spaces, or do I have to find memory aids?  This post in one of my aide-memoires, but I have also made maps.

These maps  are helpful for locating plants in the spring. They are especially helpful in  the spring when I am trying to remember which plants are big enough, or too big for their location, and that I should consider digging up for the Greenfield Garden Club Plant Sale in the spring.

To go along with the maps, I make a list of suggestions about plants to move, or plants  to remove altogether.

I wonder how YOU keep track of your garden plantings, and what you need to remember about ideas for spring. Please leave comments and suggestions.

The Fame of Hard Cider Making in Western Massachusetts

An array of West County Ciders

The brilliant colors we have enjoyed this fall have been glorious, but with all the rain and wind, snow and frost, the landscape is quieter. Field Maloney was out in the orchard on October 30, picking the last of the apples for West County Cider.  Maloney is of the school that requires cider be made from fully ripe apples.

Field Maloney is the son of Terry and Judith Maloney who arrived in Franklin County from California back in 1972. They cleared land on their Colrain property for apple trees. As Californians they drank different California wines, and sometimes made their own wine. There were no grapes that made good wine here in this corner of Massachusetts, but they knew about the tradition of making apple cider. People made cider for themselves, and “some old timers made hard cider,” Field said.

Field said this area is perfect for making cider. Unlike the apple trees on the west coast that need lots of irrigation “the apple trees that grow on the hillsides here do more work, which makes them more flavorful. It builds character.” The Maloneys saw that they could resurrect old traditions, and use some of the techniques of making wine apply to the techniques of making cider. They made cider for themselves and their friends for a number of years.

Field said that the family was always trying to make the land sustainable. He remembered the years when his mother sold Catamount Carrots. They continued looking for a way to make the land self-supporting. In 1984 they decided to make a cidery at their home on Catamount hill. They planted more land into apples; they were going into business.

Field said “When we were making wine in our cellar my father had a big microscope that he could use to watch and monitor the process of fermentation. Add yeast to fresh juice and the yeast gets a sugar feeding frenzy, reproducing until a critical mass reached, sugars are transformed into alcohol, CO2. The alcohol is a preservative and prevents other biological competitors. Father was always learning about fermentation. Smell will tell he’d say. A happy yeast is what you want.

“We don’t add sugars into our fermentations, only the sugars in the apple. My father was punching above his weight.  He said we were a niche market without a niche. Liquor stores were not selling ciders in those early days.

“When we started trying to sell cider my mother went around Boston’s liquor stores getting them to try the ciders.” And the cider business did begin to change. Field said they were making cider in the cellar; his father said “Cider grew up and left the house.”

Field has been involved with cider making right from the start. There were school vacations, and he took a year off from college to clear a field and plant an orchard. After his father died in 2010, Field returned to Catamount Hill to help his mother run the business. “Before my father died he saw the cider boom. He could see that his dream was coming true.”

In 2014 Judith and Field bought more land for planting apples and an old apple storage building on Peckville Road with space for a tasting room. Their ciders can be bought there seasonally, but they can also be found at many local liquor stores. The array of different varieties gives a hint of the different apples used. Judith explained, “Redfield is a special apple. It has a red flesh and lots of tannins. About 20 years ago we gave 1000 Redfield whips to Pine Hill and Apex so we could use those apples for cider.”

Now Judith has retired although she often helps in the tasting room. In addition, Elijah Rottenberg, Field’s childhood friend and neighbor on Catamount Hill is now a partner. “He is a quiet backbone,” Field said.

In 1994 Paul Correnty had written a book entitled The Art of Cidermaking with Greenfield native Charlie Olchowski’s images. They wanted to give the book some splash so they turned to Terry and Judith Maloney. Judith said Olchowski was and is central to the group that they helped organize creating special events around cider. Each year there are many volunteers ready to help on the weekend. There is also a committee who plan out the classes and events such as the Cider Salon. That was the beginning of Cider Days which then involved other cider makers and orchards, offering cider and apple tastings, lectures, workshops and lots of time for cider makers to talk and share information. Nowadays cider makers come from all over the country to attend the talks, and talk to each other. There is always information, as well as stories to tell. Field said that there is a story that when George Washington was in Massachusetts he declared Massachusetts cider the best he had ever tasted.  Olchowski said these events are not only about how-to, they are about building community.

Franklin Cider Days events will be very different this year, but 16 cider venues will be open every weekend through November.

The Maloney tap room and bottle shop at 208 Peckville Road in Shelburne will be open every Thursday through Sunday in November. The Covid rules forbid cider tastings if food is not served, but on the traditional weekend of November 7-8 ciders, and pretzels from Rise Above will be ready for tasting. In addition, visitors can enjoy the new hiking trails and picnic grounds that provide a glorious three state view.

Greenfield Recorder  Saturday, November 7, 2020

Colors of Autumn – Shifting Over the Garden

Yellow twig dogwood in golden glory

The autumn colors of the yellow twig dogwood are very different from summer colors. Now the foliage is golden yellow, brilliant when the sun is shining on it. Though it is named “yellow TWIG” I have  always found the yellow twigs to me are more chartreuse or lime when the winter sun is shining on it, but now the autumn colors of the foliage are definitely yellow and gold. We love this shrub because the shrub loves water and doesn’t mind the seasonal flood.

Itea virginica “Henry’s Garnet”

If your husband’s name is Henry it is required that your garden include Itea virginica “Henry’s Garnet.” Fortunately “Henry’s Garnet” is a beautiful shrub, green in spring and summer with tiny fragrant white flowers borne in cylindrical, drooping racemes (3-6″ long) which cover the shrub with bloom in late spring to early summer. The autumn colors of the foliage turn to shades of plummy red and purple.

Itea virginica “Henry’s Garnet” closeup

The autumnal sun shining on this shrub is subtle but beautiful.  I have to say  that in addition to the pleasure of having “Henry” in the garden, there is also the pleasure in knowing that this shrub loves water and is listed as a good rain garden plant. It certainly thrives happily in our very wet garden.

Fothergilla “Mount Airy”

Fothergilla is named after Dr. John Fothergill (1712-1780), English physician and botanist, and “Mount Airy” is named after the Mt. Airy Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio where Michael Dirr discovered the hybrid form. My “Mount Airy” has grown to almost five feet tall. White bottlebrush flowers (2-3 inches long) have  a honey scented fragrance when the flowers bloom April to May.

Fothergilla “Mount Airy” closeup

The foliage turns tender shades of yellow, orange and red-purple in fall. This is a wonderful shrub in every season.

I sigh when I think of the coming of Winter, a season of grays and white. But I just realized that with the arrival of hellebores and crocuses in early March I can rejoice in nine seasons of color in the garden.

Trees, Leaves, Water and Magic – Compost

Autumn leaves of every sort on the lawn and into the South Border

If you have trees you will have leaves in the fall. When you start raking it can look like an endless job, with very little payback.  Not  true. The truth is that if you have a garden and trees you can have soil enriching compost. I harvest lots of leaves every fall.

Maple tree on the north side of our garden

We have lovely neighbors  on both sides of our garden and  they both have trees. Our Northern neighbor has a beautiful giant maple right next to our property line. Lovely shade in the summer. Our Southern neighbor has three giant oak trees her husband planted more than 40 years ago. All these trees give us leaves and seeds that have spent the season supplying birds, and all manner of pollinators. We have  our own trees from the river birches that we planted in 2015, and a Chinese chestnut tree on the west border of our garden. We also have many shrubs that shed their leaves as well.

Sycamore on the tree strip and a Lilac Tree on our lawn opposite the sycamore

In front of the house we have a Sycamore tree that is 51 inches in diameter and about 90 feet tall, statistics just given to us by the town Tree Committee. The sycamore not only sheds its leaves, it also drops spiky balls that hold the seeds. The tiny hairs on the seed balls can irritate skin and can cause some respiratory distress. My husband always wears a special  mask when he is raking around the sycamore.

The Lilac Tree, is  a real tree, Syringa reticulata. It does have  unique white blossoms that give us a delicious fragrance  perfuming the air in early June. Unless you are a neighbor you will not know where that perfume is  coming from.

Horse chestnut tree leaves

I’m not sure who owns the  horse chestnut tree, but were certainly do get a lot of its leaves, as well as chestnuts that keep the squirrels very busy and happy. Unfortunately, there is some kind of blight that discolors and dries the leaves long before shedding season. That blight can continue to harm the tree if the leaves area  composted. We rake up as many leaves as we can. We are not done yet this fall. We put those leaves in garbage bags and leave them out with our trash to be burned or destroyed. They do not go into  our compost bin.

Compost bins

This little collection of compost bins has different purposes. The two plastic bins handle our kitchen scraps with leaves added. One bin is always being filled while the other bin has usable compost. Both bins get stirred up periodically  to make the composting process move along.

That big black bag is a Smart Pots product and we load it with  leaves every year or  two. That Compost Sak and the handmade wire compost bin do cold composting.  The leaves in the wire bins break down more quickly  than  you might imagine. We can keep adding leaves for quite a while. Usually we can use the composted leaves from the wire bin  the following fall, if you stir  them us periodically.  In fact an aerater tool does exist and it would really move the process along.

Leaves behind the hugel, filling a trench created by the hugel

We also  dump leaves in back of  the hugel. https://mgsoc.info/2019/01/hugelkultur-what/.  Our yard is very wet. We created the hugel to raise the wettest part to make  it usable for plants but we (unfortunately) left a kind of trench behind  the hugel. Our new project if filling that trench  with leaves and small branches.

Large compost pile

This is the large compost pile which began very early this year. There are some branches underneath the dead plants and leaves. I have the hope that there will be some aeration  that will help the pile turn into compost a little more quickly. This pile will take at least two years before be can spread the compost.

Our raspberry patch

We have three short rows of raspberries that got totally  out of hand because of poor pruning. I just performed  the proper pruning – and the raspberry harvest in 2021 should be more easily harvested. These bushes were planted two years ago in  this spot because they were more tolerant of wet soil. The blueberries we had originally planted did not thrive there at all.

Pruned raspberries

The raspberries are now pruned for a happier harvest in 2021. Some of the leaves and old canes are left on the ground. We make compost wherever we can, and the plantings seem  to approved.

We are not done raking all our leaves yet, but we are already looking forward to the rains, and snow that will feed the composting process. Next fall there will be new compost.

 

Farewell from the Columnist of Between the Rows Corner

Pat at the computer

As I write this morning (Saturday, October 17) I am in my so-called office enjoying the view of my garden from the western window, and the lush asparagus fern hanging in the sunny southern window. In this part of the week I am usually trying to make sense of any notes I have written, or finding a whole new topic. Time is running out and I have a deadline.

However, today I have a topic but having trouble imagining how I will express it. Today I am writing my Farewell column. In May I wrote a column, actually three columns, giving some form to the 40 years I had been writing for the Recorder. Even as I celebrated my 40th anniversary, I was thinking that it was getting more difficult to find a topic and get it written before the weekly deadline. Even so, it was spring and there was so much to do in my garden, so many people who invited me to their gardens, so many pleasures to enjoy that I put the idea of retirement away.

Now it is fall. Gardens are being put to sleep. Trees are getting tired and leaves are falling, more energetically every day. It is time for me to retire from this column, but I want to say few words of thank you – and tell you what comes next for me.

The Recorder did have a garden column before I made my proposal to Bob Dolan. It was written by the wonderful Henry Mitchell who wrote delightful garden columns, and did substantial news reporting, for the Washington Post. I should tell you that I have and treasure Mitchell’s wonderful book The Essential Earthman, a collection of his columns. The problem I saw was that Washington, D.C. had a very different climate and it would be helpful to have a local column that could give local advice.

So I begin my thank yous with Bob Dolan. I confessed that I didn’t know a lot about gardening, but I would turn to people who did have skills. Dolan gave me that chance. Over these forty and a half years I have had several editors from Denny Wilkins who started teaching me the newspaper business with his big red pen, Rob Riggan, Adam Orth and now the multi-talented Andy Castillo. A special thank you to Paul Franz who took the beautiful face shot of me.

Pat among the hydrangias

Although I may complain about what will I write next, the truth is that many suggestions fly right into my lap. I thank all the readers who have sent me happy notes and made suggestions for new columns. I thank the readers who stopped me on the street, to say they enjoyed my latest column, asked questions and made suggestions. I thank all those who have invited me to their gardens and shared their ideas, their mistakes, and their innovations. There are a lot of mistakes in the garden, which means there is also a lot of laughter in the garden.

I have been a longtime member of the Greenfield Garden Club, and for some years a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee. Working with the other members of these organizations has been an education I have treasured. It is very stimulating and exciting to work with people who really know what they are doing. I thank them all.

Having talked about ideas, and the people who gave me those ideas, we get down to the job of actually writing. First I liked to read. I was an early and enthusiastic reader, and then I started liking to write. I liked writing reports and essays from elementary school through college. I wrote letters. My Between the Rows column gave me a way to continue doing something I enjoyed, made me pay attention to grammar, spelling, form, and allowed me to be myself. It also gave me a Personna. Sometimes people would be talking to me and then they would ask, are you the person who writes that garden column? What pleasure!

Newspapers are important. We need the news, and the thoughts and insights that others give us. Columns are important. They keep us up on what is new, and what needs to be attended to. It is an honor to have been a part of the columnist tradition, but it is time to retire.

However you are not done with me yet. After talking to Joan Livingston and my editor Andy Castillo about retiring, they invited me to continue at the Recorder as a freelancer. I am looking forward to this position which will allow me to write articles from time to time when I have an interesting topic. Watch for me.

In the meantime, I invite you to visit my commonweeder garden blog. It contains more than ten years of Recorder columns and other adventures in the garden. Just go to www.commonweeder.com and you’ll find columns and other writings.###

Between the Rows  October 27, 2020

Wildflower Wednesday – October 28, 2020 – Winterberries and More

Winterberries, Ilex verticillata

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is clearly not a wildflower. It is a native plant that is known as a swamp plant which means it is very happy in our garden. It does not need full sun which is another blessing. The thing to remember is  that winterberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). Only fertilized female flowers will produce the attractive red berries that are the signature of the species. The white spring blossoms are very  tiny and do not make a splash the way the berries do.

To make sure you get the berries you will need a male winterberry, and the nurseries all know that. Fortunately you do not need a male winterberries for every female. The male has enough energy of pollen to serve 10 females  as long as they are within reasonable space of each other. I have three female winterberries and one male. My neighbor is very happy that my male also serves her single female.

Sheffield daisies, sheffies     Chrysanthemum ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’

I can’t tell if Chrysanthemum (aka Dendranthema) ‘Sheffield Pink’ is a native, but it qualifies as an antique variety. It blooms very late, which makes it particularly welcome. It is quite sprawly, at least in my garden, but it does not bloom until mid-September in my western Massachusetts garden, and it is the single perennial now growing in my garden. The asters, and boltonia have closed up leaving only a few zinnias and cosmos. And an occasional rose.

It is that time of year when I am really about ready to call it a day – except I still have a very few daffodil bulbs to get in the ground. I couldn’t quite decide where to plant these – and then the rains come. But I will get them in the ground and I  will be ready for spring!

Pleasure and Value of Street Trees – Helped by the Tree Committee

Greenfield Tree Committee at Work

Saturday, October 3rd was an exciting day for tree lovers. Word had gone out from the Greenfield Tree Committee inviting people to join the tree planting party at Lunt Field starting at 8:30 a.m. My husband and I dawdled over our Saturday breakfast and then got in the car with bucket and spades. We arrived at 10 a.m. and realized that most of the work was done.  How could this happen?

When I spoke to Mary Chicoine after the event she explained that because of Covid-19, the Tree Committee realized they needed a bigger, airier space for the annual community tree planting. Usually they would go door to door in a neighborhood asking people if they would like to participate in the tree planting, but that was not possible this year. She also pointed out that existing trees on the Lunt site are old trees and it was a benefit to add new young trees.

“The Department of Public Works was a huge help this year,” Chicoine said. “We couldn’t have worked so quickly without them. They brought equipment that took bites out of the soil where the new trees would be planted. That made the digging and planting much easier. Mike Duclos of the DPW also works with the town Minor Leagues and he was happy to be able to help site the trees so they wouldn’t interfere with the sightlines while games were going on.”

Sean Pollock and his daughter Maple, finishing up the tree planting

I spoke with Sean Pollock who planted a tree with his young daughter Maple. They live right across the street from Lunt Field and Maple picked a tree that they could watch grow. Pollock told me that Maple and her older sister Ruby had visions of climbing that tree as they both grew up. During the week Pollock works for Terracorps, a non-profit that, among other things, is involved with conserving land and trees. It looks like his daughters are already at work caring for their tree.

Tara  Kurland  and Seth Mellen of Greenfield along with Shiloh and Adah dug in to do their part at Lunt Field.

Nancy Hazard is another person who has been working with the Tree Committee for years. She has organized neighborhood tree plantings. I have watched the growth of newly planted trees on Davis and Birch Streets and other neighborhoods as well as at the Energy Park. She is one of several volunteers who plant and weed, and care for the plantings there. That group emphasizes the importance of native plants that will support birds and pollinators.

John Bottomley, Nancy Hazard and Mary Chicoine planting trees in Energy Park in 2018

Last week Hazard stopped by my house to dig up some black-eyed susans (natives) for her gardens. As we chatted she said I really should talk to Desiree Narango, who is a post doctoral at UMass.

I reached Narango and was fascinated by her interdisciplinary work.  She looks at land that is altered by people in farmland, urban forests and residential yards. She said her ultimate goal “is to find data-driven conservation solutions for land managers to help preserve biodiversity in a rapidly changing world.”

Chickadee with green caterpillar

When we chose plants for our new Greenfield garden, we were very aware of the need for native plants that would support pollinators, bees and many other insects. I confess I did not give too much thought to the needs of birds. We have many squirrels in our yard and I was not going to set up bird feeders. Narango pointed out that birds only eat seeds at a certain season, but birds really need insects and caterpillars all year. In the spring when birds are mating and hatching fledglings, they need high protein and calories. The spring diet will include insects, spiders, and caterpillars. Narango does a lot of research with chickadees, our State Bird.

Narango said an important reason for having native trees and shrubs in the garden is to support all the birds who are flying south for the winter. They need sufficient food to give them the strength for that long flight. She also said that Massachusetts is right in that flight path.

In our garden we planted river birches, red-twig and yellow-twig dogwoods, and elderberries to support birds, but we did not think the benefit was very important. Narango has changed our view. We also have two large Viburnam trilobum.  We call them highbush cranberries so you get an idea of the benefit they supply. Narango said viburnams were ‘an awesome tri-fecta’ of support. Viburnams  supply flowers in the spring for the pollinators, caterpillars for the butterflies, as well as insects and berries for fall and winter food for the birds.

We chose the native trees and shrubs that we did because we knew they provided benefits for wild creatures, although our knowledge was not very deep. Other trees with benefits were given to us. Our southern neighbor has three huge oak trees in her garden. Oak trees supply many benefits like nesting sites, acorns, food, including caterpillars and bugs for birds, pollen and nectar for bees.

Our northern neighbor has a large maple that shades a section of our garden. This tree provides the same benefits as the oaks.

A huge American sycamore lives in front of our house on the tree belt. Prickery balls filled with seeds hang from high branches in the fall. Several songbirds like juncos and finches eat those seeds.

I have a lot to learn about trees, and the reasons they are important to the creatures in our world, and the health of our environment. I am eager to continue learning.

Between the Rows  October 20, 2020

Our Last Roses of Summer – Still Blooming for a While

Griffith Buck Folksinger rose, with Thomas Affleck in the background.

My flower gardening did not seriously begin until we moved to Heath and I began with roses. That might seem odd, but as we prepared to leave Manhattan in November of 1979 I read Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katherine S. White, who was married to E.B. White, one of my favorite authors. The first chapter is titled A Romp in the Catalogues. The artistic image that went along with that chapter is “Roses of Yesterday and Today – Old fashioned – Rare – Unusual.” Will Tillotson’s Roses live in Watsonville, California, and though dubious about the different weather in California and Heath I sent for the catalog.

There was something about our final gray days among the towers of New York and the descriptions of roses like this:

“Old Blush. China (1795) 4-5 feet, spreading. Not only the ‘Last Rose of Summer’ as immortalized by the Poet Moore, but also the first and in between, for this China rose literally never stops. A semi-double ‘fluttering assemblage of pink petals’ giving an impression of airiness and gaiety.” Another book I bought has photographs of glamorous roses with names like Leda (the girl who was ravished by Zeus in Yeat’s poem); Ispahan as in Iran; and Camaieux with its candy cane stripes of pink, white and red. I was ready for roses.

Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, a very sturdy rose

I spent our first winter at the End of the Road looking through the Roses of Yesterday and Today catalog and made our first purchase, the Cuisse de Nymph or Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, a tender shade of pink. We planted it right by the front door in May. This was a mistake but it took us a while to figure that out. How long would it take you to understand that a rose bush sitting right under the roof line is going to suffer as ice melts, and melts several times a winter in Heath. Oh, well! The Passionate Nymph showed her durability as she lived and bloomed next to the front door for 35 years.

Over those years we planted a Rose Walk, with roses on both sides of a path that led to our orchard, plums and apples. One summer day our Heath Gourmet Club was meeting at our house. We gave a tour of a very short Rose Walk and one of the gourmets suggested that we give a tour of the Rose Walk every year. And so we did. The Rose Walk got longer and longer as we added modern Griffith Buck roses, David Austin roses and Farmgirl roses, dug from friend’s gardens. The final Rose Walk party in 2015 was a rainy day, the first time ever for this event, but rose lovers were undeterred.

Thomas Affleck rose

Thomas Affleck rose, bred at the Antique Rose Emporium

The spring we bought our Greenfield house we immediately started planting roses. First we planted two new-to-us Kordes roses, Zaide, a big pink rose, and a creamy white Lion’s Fairy Tale. We also planted the familiar-to-us Thomas Affleck rose, a seven foot tall shrub with large deep pink roses that blooms well into October; and the Griffith Buck slightly golden Folksinger.

We also planted two tall and familiar roses against some fencing along the North Border, Fantin-Latour and Alchemist. This was a mistake. There was not much sun under our neighbor’s beautiful and enormous maple tree. I had not taken that tree into consideration. Last year we pruned down those two rose bushes and planted them in front of our new wood fence that ran between the South Border and the Herb Bed. They did not look promising, but they are growing. The Alchemist did give us golden yellow blooms, but while producing foliage Fantin-Latour is still thinking about whether to bloom or not. To make sure there was something else against that fence we added the pink Brother Cadfael rose. I love Brother Cadfael books, and the beautiful roses did bloom.

Brother Cadfael rose

Brother Cadfael rose, David Austin rose

During the winter I considered this L-shape of a rose garden. We needed to add more. More catalog reading. More choices.

I did make choices. Gruss an Aachen is a polyantha in shades of pink and peach, and we believe not very tall, so we have planted it between the Alchemist and Fantin-Latour. It did give us two blossoms this summer. Patience is the gardener’s creed.

Most of the Herb Bed is gone and now replaced by the Buck roses Quietness and Carefree Beauty. Even though this year’s dry summer has been difficult for all our plants, both gave us a few blooms. According to the David Austin catalog the Lady of Shallot is an orange-gold rose that would certainly be a jolt between the very pink Carefree Beauty and very quiet and pale Quietness, but our Lady is currently blooming in pale pastel.

Our Rose Walk addition is new and I am sure that the colors will change and deepen as the plants gather more energy.

It will not take long to stroll down our new Rose Walk, but when we have looked our fill we can stroll past the river birches, the red twig dogwood, the bee balm and the raspberry patch, and sit under the umbrella and enjoy the richness of our garden. We bought a house and a lawn. Now we have a house, a Rose Walk, and surrounding beauty. ###

Between the Rows October  13, 2020

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – October 15, 2020

Alma Potchke, aster, bowing low and weary after heavy rains

On this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, a number of flowers like the Alma Potchke aster are beaten down by 24 hours of rain, often heavy rains. Even so we are enjoying Alma Potchke and other flowers and celebrating that much needed rain.

Red winterberries, are beautiful and attractive to many birds.

Golden winterberries, equally appealing to birds

I love the winterberries because they provide so much lasting color as other plants fade away and prepare  for their winter sleep.

The Fire Light hydrangea, gets deeper red color every day.

The other two hydrangeas, Lime Light and Angel’s Blush are also blooming – and will  continue to give us a little color until winter.

Sheffield daisies, otherwise known as Sheffies

Sheffies are a wonderful plant. While in bud they just lie around until you they will never bloom – and yet as  October begins they finally wake up and bloom for at least a month, when nothing else is blooming in my garden.

Brother Cadfael rose

We planted the Brother Cadfael rose this spring. With such a dry summer it has grown slowly, even with watering, but we get a special bloom as an autumnal gift.

Griffith Buck Folksinger rose, with Thomas Affleck in the background.

I can only get a few of  these roses in a single photo, but there are a number of Folksingers and the virile Thomas Affleck blooming.   Other roses that have a few blooms are The Fairy, Knockout Red, and Purple Rain. I treasure them all, but the season is nearly done.

Zinnias!

And finally, zinnias in bloom and quite rowdy. How lucky we are.

I thank Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for giving us all the chance to show off our gardens and share the fun we all have. https://www.maydreamsgardens.com/

Keith Gamage in His Garden of Curves with Welcome to Wildlife

Notice the curves around the gazebo, as well as tree and shrub beds

Keith Gamage, fireman and gardener, gave me the inspiration I needed to finish the plan for our new garden in Greenfield. We had only lived in town for a year. While we did have some ideas about what we wanted, my husband and I hadn’t fully figured out how to arrange things. Gamage’s garden on the Greenfield Garden Club’s 2016 Garden Tour solved our problem.

Gamage has a house and garden very similar in size to the house and garden we have. The house is to one side of the lot, and the garden begins right at the sidewalk, or street, in Gamage’s case. When I first stood in front of Gamage’s  garden I took my time to understand what I was looking at. There were trees and shrubs. There were hostas. There were different curving beds, marked and surrounded by stones. There was even a small pond where frogs sometimes lived.

In 1994, Gamage moved into the house surrounded by lawn with just a couple of trees. He had never gardened but he started looking at plant catalogs and thought he would do “a little gardening.” That was the beginning. Over the years he has developed certain passions. Early on he visited John O’Briens Nursery in Granby, Connecticut.  “He has lots of hostas and I like the hosta names.  Since then I’ve planted 360 different varieties of hostas, big and small, solid colors, stripes.  Once I was clearing up space and I found a big patch of roots under a rock. I took the roots home and planted them to see what it was – hostas!” Clearly, hostas are very strong plants.

He also has nine Japanese maples arranged in different sites around the house. They come in a variety of sizes and forms, but he loves them all.

What particularly appealed to me were the curving paths through the garden.  I rarely knew what was coming next. Gamage said, “I watched Paul James, the TV Garden Guy on HGTV, and he said there were no straight lines in nature. That’s why I have curving planting beds and paths.”

Curves and a Japanese maple from a different angle

As we walked along the path he told me that he had to take down a shagbark hickory tree, but that he kept a tall sumac, pruned high, because robins eat the berries in the winter. We passed a couple of evergreens and Gamage said that robins ate berries on those trees as well. His viburnams, sometimes called highbush cranberries, are very tall, but he prunes them high to make is possible to walk along the path. The red fall berries are for the birds. He has planted several Amelanchier, serviceberry trees, because the berries really appeal to cedar waxwings. And I know there are few things more exciting that watching a flock of cedar waxwings land in a serviceberry.

Gamage  also grows flowering shrubs and plants, like the beautiful Rose of Sharon, that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

He told me he does move plants from time to time, but he is always thinking about the wildlife in his garden. He wanted a pond for the birds and after he built it he found he also gained a few frogs from time to time. That is one of the things I like about gardens, there are always extra delights and surprises.

Gamage has built places to sit and admire the gardens, and have picnic meals with friends. There is a circular gazebo at the very back of the garden, a picnic table, and he built a wooden patio attached to the back of the house. Then, because there are no straight lines in nature he planted a curving plant bed attached to the patio.

Whenever I talk to gardeners we almost always talk about our soil. My soil is wet and claylike. Gamage said his soil is also very clay-like. When doing new plantings he digs out the clay soil and fills the holes with good soil from Martin’s Farm. He also makes use of all his leaves by using them as mulch which becomes compost over time.

We all need tool sheds. Gamage has built a little shed in the corner of his lot, next to his compost pile. “I built my shed and put goofy things on it.  Also the habitat sign welcoming birds.”

Gamage found and set this Stone in the soil because it resembles a shark fin.

Gamage does have other interests. He loves stones and keeps his eye open for interesting stones that will decorate the garden.   He chooses them for their shapes, their coloring or some special quality. Some beautiful stones are mossy. He pointed out one stone that seemed to show a profile, and another was placed in and out of the ground to look like a shark fin.

Since his retirement three years ago, he has another interest – riding his motorcycle.  Even so the garden remains beautiful and inspirational.

Keith Gamage on his motorcycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All photos were by Keith Gamage, who has many skills)

Between the Rows   October 6, 2020