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Archive for October 22nd, 2009

Hurricane  “Rick”, which was circulating around the eastern Pacific near Mexico has powered a weather system that finally arrived in the Ozarks during the early hours of the morning.   So it has been raining steadily all morning.   Good thing Jim managed to get all the lawn mowing finished yesterday.

We are not used to having to do all this mowing.   Usually, things get dry and hot in July and the grass pretty much quits growing until late September, when things will cool off and get damp enough that the cool season grasses put on a bit of growth.   But this year, we got rain all through the summer, which was a blessing for the shrubs, trees, and perennial gardens, but not so much of one for the lawn mowing person.  The chore has remained a steady entry on the “to do” list all summer.   Now, with this lovely rain falling and still no truly cold temperatures, it looks like we may be mowing the lawn clear into November.

This is not really a bad thing, because as the leaf drop happens we will be picking up grass clippings that contain NO SEEDS mixed thoroughly with beaten up leaves, which makes for truly wonderful compost.   I can use all the compost I can make around this place.

I had it in mind to participate in the “Autumn  Color Project” which I discovered mention of in a marvellous post by Nan Ondra over at  Gardening Gone Wild. The colors around here are just coming into their prime, and now it is raining on all that glory.  Brilliantly colored leaves are being dashed to the ground by the combination of stiff breezes and heavy downpours, and then cemented into twisted masses by the drizzle in between showers.

Aside from the light conditions being iffy, what with the heavy clouds and gusty winds tossing things about, it was also raining steadily, and I knew that if I went outside to try to capture some of the wild beauty out there, I would be risking my rather expensive digital camera’s health.   This is not a water resistant model, I’m afraid.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer.   The rain garden had water in it, the view out my kitchen window was enticing.

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I stood there, looking at the fiery bunch of Little Bluestem grass in the corner of the Petite Prairie.   Why do they call it Blue stem, anyway, was that botanist color blind or am I missing something?    Anyway, I was quite beguiled by the view, and it didn’t seem to be raining that hard, so I dragged Ruby out from in front of the stove where she was toasting her bones, and we went out for a walkabout.

The first place I went was out by the pond, where I have a pair of Japanese maples that our friend in Wisconsin gave me at least a decade ago.   They were planted out there before I realized that the pond was really a wild garden, which was after it became inundated with mint, mulberries, grapes, and all the other things the little birdies plant for me every year.

The one in the front of the following photo was a Waterfall maple, which was grafted onto a hardy root stock of some unspecified Acer palmatum.   The Waterfall fell during the ice storm, and what has arisen from the root stock is quite pleasing, especially when paired with the other maple that sits at the edge of the pond.  In between them is the pond edge, which hosts a thick mat of yellow flags, cat tails, and reeds of various sorts.

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I walked around in front of the pond and was absolutely beguiled by the scarlet maple, she danced in the rainy wind, and I thought of Salome and her dance of the seven veils.

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Get up close and personal with the base of this tree, and she reveals her dress to be an amazing neon color, especially when her garments are drenched in rain.

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After I had soaked in that color for long enough, I ventured around behind the pond into the wild bird garden.   There I discovered a wild currant bush, all subtle pastels against the gnarled vines of the raccoon grape.

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The bittersweet vine and the blackberries had  painted themselves up for the harvest celebration, but my favorite sight was the forsythia.   She has outdone herself today, and after I saw this I checked the other bushes on the place and discovered that the whole clan has donned an extremely festive outfit:

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I just love the fact that these ladies have had such a good summer water and nutrient wise that they decided they could add a fall bloom to their usual spring bloom and provide me with this absolutely stunning color combination.

But they aren’t the only players at that game.   In the stroll garden, the American cranberry has her own version of scarlet, yellow and green.

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Another group joining that palette is the group of volunteer (weeds, actually) maple sprouts that are inhabiting the hole that was supposed to be the foundation of my greenhouse in the unspecified future.

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Now this is why I really love balloon flowers (Platycodon).   Not only do they provide me with their beguiling blue mandalas almost all summer, but in the fall they choose a really flashy color to paint themselves.

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I proceeded over to the Rain Garden, remembering that it had had a little puddle of water accumulated in it when I first looked out at it from the back bedroom before I got sucked outside by the view from the kitchen.    Well, the water had already drained, but there was something really wonderful to try to capture anyway.   This sort of counts as Fall Color, due to the rock rose that is blooming in the lower left corner.   The foliage to the right is the fall growth of some grape hyacinth bulbs I tucked in there.  But really this is a bragging photo of some wonderful fossils we have found in the area over the years.   How many spiral snail shell fossils can you find in this picture?  There are actually three.

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As I was trying to get the light and the view right on the above picture, my attention was grabbed by the sedums in the Rock Garden.   I really have a stunning collection, thanks to several of my friends.   Not only did they bloom in “more than oriental splendor” (apologies to Kipling for ripping this phrase off from the Just So Stories) during the spring, but I have varieties that bloom early in the fall and then more that are blooming right up until they get killed by the hard freezes of early winter.

Right now, today, this is what is happening in the sedum collection.   In the upper left of this picture is Sedum “Autumn joy,”  which bloomed last month and has already gone to seed.   Across the bottom of the photo are Sedum sieboldii “October Daphne”, Sedum “Autumn fire”, and Sedum xenox (PPAF).

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Thank you Linda.  And Marlene.  And Jocelyn.

I headed back to the warm inside, as it was beginning to rain more heavily again.   As I came around the corner, I saw a view that has been begging to be photographed for several days.   The hostas along the back of the house have turned themselves into a wonderful yellow mass.   I have not gotten around to photographing them yet because, . . . well,  . . . here.   Have a look.

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Yeah, those are the slip forms from the the wall construction project.   Behind them are buckets of small rocks that I refuse to cart back out to the rock pile because we are just going to use them in the rather near future when we begin working on the second phase of the slip form construction project, which is the wood fired oven/barbecue station installation planned for between the strawberry beds and the pergola.  That is also why the forms are still there, not to mention the fact that the cement mixer is still in evidence in the woodshed (if you know where to look you can spot it in that picture).

I suppose I could have moved those forms yesterday, but yesterday I spent all day in Springfield attending a seminar on Deep Tissue Massage Techniques in order to complete my continuing education requirement for my license to practice massage.   And today when I stopped to take that shot, I was not really interested in moving the stuff because it was pouring down rain by that time.   By tomorrow much of the explosion of yellow hosta will have been pounded into the ground and will no longer look so photogenic.  So it was “Now or never” if I wanted to include that shot in the project files.

Then, when I got through downloading the images stored on the camera, I discovered the trial balloon shots of the freezer I made for “Abundant Harvest.” Actually, they didn’t turn out that bad.

The jelly roll pan is full of frozen blanched chard stems, in front of it is the five pounds of black beans.   Just to the left of the black beans you can see a bit of red.   That’s the top of the pile of pints of roasted tomatoes.   Above the tray the bins hold frozen peaches and bags of frozen berries (blue berries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries).   The basket hanging there has all sorts of herbs and spices and dried peppers in it.   What you can’t see, which is under the tray of chard, are the bins that contain the gallon bags of vegetables we harvested this summer:  green beans, peas, chard greens, brocolli, roasted zucchini, roasted egg plant, carrots, onions, asparagus and probably some other stuff that slips my mind at present.

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Well, I’m going to have a massage client arriving in the very near future, so I’d best wrap this up.

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