Fall

So here I am, finally forced to use the new block editor for WordPress. I don’t like it. Everything is adrift in a sea of white and I can’t fix how the photos and captions are displayed. There is no desire in me to be a web designer, I just want to post a couple pictures and write a few comments and since I’m struggling with that I’ll just assume it’s too smart for me.

Feather reed grass along the street. Things are looking autumnal.

I just want to complain. I don’t like it. I want menus and boxes and structure, not symbols and icons and dots that I somehow have to know to click on… or double click on… or whatever alt hold and click combo I’m supposed to just know or remember or whatever.

The front border from the other side. I’m quite pleased, but this is all the beginning of the end, as things color up, dry up, and die off…

Why the heck does everything need to be in stupid blocks!? I don’t like it. I just want it to be intuitive and let me write and I can throw in a picture whenever I want. Now I have to add a stupid photo block and then start a paragraph block and then go on to the next block. I seriously had less trouble editing html code than I do with this cloud of one size fits all.

chrysopsis Heterotheca villosa ruth baumgardner
Heterotheca(aka Chrysopsis) villosa ‘Ruth Baumgardner’. Still glowing brightly from the end of the front border.

I’ll stop now. I don’t like it. Maybe what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, but that’s not exactly the kind of win-win scenario I strive for either so… on to the fall garden. It’s here. It’s winding down. Still colorful, but fading fast. All the smarter plants are packing it in for the winter they know is coming, but the foolish tropicals are still carrying on like there’s always a tomorrow.

dahlia happy single flame
Dahlia happy single flame. This one always seems at its best during the last weeks of fall.

The tropicals were saved at the last minute by some rain and an almost-but-not quite-frost. The rain was just in time, but late September would have been tragically early for a frost date. Only a few things were touched though so I’ll count my blessings, especially since others North and South of us were not as lucky.

white cactus dahlia
The last big hurrah for dahlias and the red rose ‘Black Forest’ isn’t doing too bad either.

I’m enjoying the final flowers, but I’m afraid sometimes the impression is that everything is an overflowing wonder of color and interest in this garden. Angles and cropping make a big difference. The photo above vs the photo below shows how the full clump of big white dahlias looks much thinner and poorly staked from a different angle.

autumn dahlia garden
Things look a lot gappier from the back. Honestly everything is too close to the path and a mess, but at this time of year who really cares? I’m just enjoying the color.

The lack of big tropicals in the tropical border this year bothered me for a little bit, but I’m not going to miss all the canna root digging and elephant ear lugging that normally happens in October. It still looks fake-tropical lush with grasses and pokeweed, but my big plant of happiness is the non-tropical ‘Michigan hardy’ cardoon seedling which will hopefully prove to be more hardy than previous seedlings. It’s become a monster and I wonder if I’ll ever hope that winter takes this one out like it has all my others.

hardy cardoon
This is another really nice camera angle. All year I hated how this combo worked (or didn’t work), but here at just the right angle the cardoon is nestled in perfectly between grasses, pokeweed and dahlias.

I reeeeaaaallly like the cardoon although again it’s one of those spiny, pokey, too-big, weedy looking, things that takes up all the room that a peony could shine in, but… let’s just move on. The potager still looks respectable even if a few too many ‘Hopi Red Dye’ amaranthus were allowed to grow in all the wrong places.

the potager pergola
Parts of the potager are still neat and weed free. Let’s hope I can keep this up for a second year!

We’re still picking a few things such as eggplant and tomatoes but for me the chrysanthemums and gourds are so much more entertaining. Now that fall transplanting season is upon us it will take resolve of steel to keep from filling all the beds with tulips and transplants of everything which would likely do better in more cultivated soil.

diy pergola
The raised beds are nice, but my favorite spot is the pergola. Already I’m wondering what to do with the four corners next year!

A bed or two of phlox, multiple beds filled with tulips, a few for chrysanthemums, maybe just a few coleus here and there 🙂

hardy chrysanthemums
Last year annual salvia dominated, this year the dry weather stunted the salvia seedlings and left an opening for mums and verbena.

Just is case you’re wondering how my feelings towards the new editor are going… I don’t like it…. but what I do like are colchicums. And just typing the word immediately lowered my blood pressure a bit and made the three days I’ve been screwing around with this post seem just a little less wasted.

colchicum flowers
The last of the colchicum with a leaner sister of the big lusty cardoon that’s growing in the tropical bed. I think this is mostly ‘Nancy Lindsay’ and maybe ‘Lilac Wonder’?

I really try to avoid showing the same plant again and again, but the dry, cool weather has the colchicums lasting and lasting. So here again is my group of C. speciosum giganteum group.

colchicum speciosum gigantea group
Colchicum giganteum still looking good after two weeks.

And although my friend Cathy grows this one much better than I do, Colchicum autumnale album plenum is slowly spreading into a small clump that will hopefully some day become a small drift of white.

colchicum autumnale album plenum
Colchicum autumnale album plenum

And one more. C. speciosum ‘Atrorubens’ came up pale but has now darkened down to a rich color which bleeds onto the stem almost to the ground.

colchicum speciosum atrorubens
Colchicum speciosum ‘Atrorubens’

Oh and one other announcement. After about ten years of holding onto an old shower door, two years of thinking I should use it for a coldframe, and four weekends of staring and planning and considering, the coldframe is finally done. “What took so long?” you ask… well I don’t know. I’ve just been lazy.

diy coldframe
It took forever for me to figure out how to use the hoarded door, wood scraps, and salvaged pink marble to build… but once the last screw was in it took me about 15 minutes to fill it with plants.

In case you’re wondering, the door slides flat in order to cover the plants, it’s just folded up right now to enjoy the sun and breezes of autumn… and since I look at it multiple times a day, I might as well leave it open anyway. I like it. I’m happy it’s done, and with that albatross off my neck I’m free to do more fun-erer things until the next simple project weighs me down.

homegrown gourd harvest
As soon as I finished basking in the glow of a project done, and congratulated myself one last time, it was time to harvest the gourds. An excellent haul me thinks!

I noticed the pink marble of the coldframe isn’t quite as pink as it could be and what’s the sense of a marble coldframe if everyone doesn’t realize it’s marble? I worry that garden tours will pass by and think it’s just fieldstone or any old stone block or something, and that could be embarrassing… especially after they’ve experienced the fancy that is our potager. Perhaps this weekend’s to-do list will have to start with some powerwashing. I’m sure in the grand scheme of gardening tasks which I neglect, powerwashing the blocks under a crusty little coldframe is the most effective use of my gardening energies. On a side note, it’s obvious why I could never do this professionally.

new england aster alma
“Alma Potschke” New England aster along the runoff path for the gutters. I should call it the ‘rain garden’, that has a nicer ring to it.

Honestly there are so many more important things to do, such as replanting a couple hundred daffodils or bringing in dozens of potted plants or doing all the other fall prep, but I suspect I’ll start the weekend off with powerwashing. Ok, full honesty means that I also looked at the birch trees and decided they should be whiter and cleaner as well. If you never see another photo with the birch trees in it you’ll know how that went.

Hope your weekend turns out more productive, but even if it’s not have a great one! -btw I think I survived the new editor…

23 comments on “Fall

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Thanks for the laughs, Frank, much needed and appreciated with all the madness that is going on in the world these days.
    Your garden is looking wonderful, despite all the bad things you say about it, at least the photos are fabulous from what I can see. Autumn has been kind to your garden. Sad it doesn’t last a bit longer. We’ve had a nice warm spell at least.
    You’ll like this post from a buddy of mine: https://hinterlands.me/2020/10/07/in-which-instructions-are-provided-for-using-dear-old-classic-editor-so-that-the-terror-of-block-editor-may-be-avoided/
    Have a great weekend whatever you do. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Well look at that, it works! I was so happy to see my classic editor again 🙂
      I’m going to see if I can edit this post and spiff it up a bit so the format makes me happy again… but I think I’ll try and stick with the block editor a bit and see if I can figure out why it’s better. So far I don’t know, I suspect it’s geared more towards the bells and whistles crowd.
      Autumn has been a nice ride so far, but it sure helped when that early frost stayed away from here. The cool nights are really pulling out the brightest colors but I hate those last weeks when everything officially shuts down.

  2. Deborah Banks says:

    Your posts generally make me realize how non-verbal I have become with FB. I keep looking for the “Like” key after each paragraph or two of your post.

    I love your self-deprecating humor, which I’m sure is intended to distract us (or is it your wife) from realizing what an enormous amount of work you put into your garden. Everything looks great! My fall color shots at this point are mostly of distant trees or shrubs with only a few close-ups, as most of my beds look pretty burned out from the drought and the frosts.

    Did you cut ‘Alma Potschke’ back earlier in the year or am I looking at the wrong photo? Mine is over 3′ tall and much more gangly than yours.

    You will be happy to know I finished planting all the daffs you so kindly sent me. Now for the two Van Engelen boxes and then I’ll be done with bulbs!

    • bittster says:

      Isn’t it scary? I also look for ‘like’ buttons when I’m reading through things! Maybe it’s time to spend a few days with a book 🙂
      Sorry to hear things are looking tired up there. A real early freeze followed by a warm stretch may be a nice ‘Indian summer’ to some people, but this gardener hates all that nice weather when all you can do is look around at frozen things waiting for winter. At least when it gets cold I feel like we’re moving on!
      I did cut Alma back in early summer. For a long time I thought it was unethical to stop a plant from being the blowsy, gangly mess which it was destined to be but then after trying it… I am now a fan.
      Heh heh, I’ve got so many bulbs to attend to. I’d say I haven’t even started, but the sad truth is I already planted a bunch and it still looks like I haven’t touched a shovel. November has a way of getting me in gear… something about the misery of planting in cold, damp weather seems just right.

  3. Pauline says:

    I feel your pain with your computer, I’m just the same when anything changes!
    Your garden is still looking wonderful, so much colour and texture, you must be so pleased with it, I wish mine looked half as good!

    • bittster says:

      I think I survived the format change. Hopefully it’s easier from now on.
      Stop it. Your garden is always filled with treasures and I’m always envious of the woodland and how effortless your hydrangeas grow!

  4. Paddy Tobin says:

    The garden is looking wonderful and, despite your protestations, you have managed very well with the page editor. Practice makes perfect!

    I like the colchicums very much and am inclined to grow a few more of them

  5. Always a delight to read your posts. You are so entertaining.
    I’m surprised it’s been this long to come face to face with block editor. It’s been around for a year or so, and like all things, we older folks will adjust. It just takes us longer, but it isn’t so bad. Don’t let it stop you from writing your delightful posts.

    • bittster says:

      Let me tell you, for the first time since I started this was when I finally thought blogging might not be worth it! But then I considered the interactions I would miss and not having that monthly record and I pushed through and survived.
      but… I tried Eliza’s hack and it works, yet I think I’m going to keep trying with the new. Like you said, we adapt, just a little more slowly 🙂

  6. Your garden is looking absolutely gorgeous. Love that big cardoon and the red Dahlia with all the yellow nearby and the dark foliage. My garden is pretty tragic at the moment from too little rain for too many weeks. I am always annoyed by some little glitch with Typepad, but your comments about WordPress and Lori’s and Lisa about Blogger made me realize I have it better than I had thought. I have a friend who was a graphic designer working with financial institutions in the early days of computers, ATMs etc. He found it impossible to convince folks that the rest of us don’t want bells and whistles and continual updates. We just want it to be easy to use and visually understandable. Those techie nerds will never stop messing with us!

    • bittster says:

      This is when having a sun garden can pay off. Assuming it doesn’t fry completely in the summer, or end up filled with clematis, lilies, and peonies, there are more options for October than there are for a shade garden. I think… Maybe I’m forgetting about Japanese anemones and toad lilies, they absolutely hate it here so I don’t think of them much!
      I think I’ll end up ok with the format change. It’s annoying when I don’t see the point of the change but as long as I can still “type words, post pictures’, then it fills my needs. Take that Techie nerds!

  7. Well done, Frank. A very good read.

  8. clarksonclan says:

    Good grief. I think some of these photos are my favorites you’ve ever posted. I see so many stunning mixes of bloom colors and shapes. That red and yellow Dahlia may be the prettiest I’ve seen, and looks like a perfect compliment to the myriad of yellow fall colors we get.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! These last few days of autumn are always such an explosion of color, plus over the years I’ve tried to add things with fall in mind, since it’s usually such a downer seeing everything shut down.
      Even before the yellow and red dahlia blooms, the dark foliage is a nice contrast in the border.

      • clarksonclan says:

        Do you add things kind of “squeezed between” summer perennials, or do you create whole spaces for each plant in the beds just for fall color? I’d love to have this type of beautiful fall interest and also not reduce the summer color. I have some areas saved for fall, but I’m finding that my two main asters and mums aren’t in bloom until mid-october. They are just now starting. I added NE Aster last year and it’s blooming earlier now, which is welcome. I tried Clara Curtis last year, hearing she blooms early, but only one barely survived winter and it’s now about 6″ tall. I’m going to pot it up for the garage to be sure it survives this winter. (Their trials last winter are more about me than them!)

      • bittster says:

        Haha, well actually nearly everything I plant is “squeezed between” something else so I’m not being helpful with that one, but I do try to have plenty of long blooming things and interesting foliage color scattered throughout. Just about every year I rip stuff out that I’m tired of or that became too big and usually it’s annuals that fill the space until new perennials fill in. Also I let later things overgrow the early stuff. Somewhere under it all are iris and lunaria and lamium and other spring bloomers.
        I don’t like as many chrysanthemums and asters as you might think. Many of the NE asters and cushion mums don’t seem to flower all that long so I focus on the ones that do. I guess I just plant as much as I can and see what happens!! (free plants from friends and lots of seeds make that easier to afford)

  9. johnvic8 says:

    I have avoided using the new editor since it arrived once I realized to start a post, save it, and selected the ancient editor when reopening. Why make it hard? Some would call it progress, but I guess I’m too old to see that as progress.
    Great garden you have, and I much appreciate your sharing it with me.

  10. Your garden continues to look fabulous. Speaking for myself, I hate the new WP editor.

  11. willisjw says:

    I see that you have already gotten feedback on avoiding the block editor. I had the same reaction the first time I used it and then immediately switched back. Very nice looking cold frame — I’m sure you are going to enjoy it a lot.

  12. Another informative, inspiring, and very funny posting, Frank. I am so in awe of your potager. Somewhere you mentioned visiting my garden, but I’m afraid you would be disappointed when you compare mine with yours. You would be most welcome, however, and I would like to visit yours. Next summer? ….
    BTW — I hate the changes to Blogger and was thinking of changing to WordPress. Not so sure now P. x

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