More Fall

Who would have thought but this autumn continues to be a somewhat pleasant experience (pandemics notwithstanding), and we are enjoying a fairly warm October.  Warmth in October is nice.  People like warm fall days.  I on the other hand wouldn’t mind a little more cold.

autumn gourds

A hanging baskets was emptied to provide a spot for some of the gourd harvest.

Dried leaves and dead stalks, with pollen and fluff and dust blowing all over are not doing my sinuses any favors so my latest excuse for sleepy laziness is my allergies.  Even with a congested head and squinty eyes though, out in the garden is where I’d like to be and in spite of it all I did manage to get a few things done.  First of all I power washed.  When I told my mom how I’d power washed the birch trees, at first she couldn’t make sense of what I was saying, so I explained how they were looking a little dingy and algae-coated  and in need of a wash but that didn’t help.  ” I think I could have thought of better things to do” was her response, so I told her I washed the car afterwards and left out how I first cleaned the stone sides of the new coldframe and then we moved on to other topics.

whitespire birch

I apologize to every weekend warrior who will now feel the need to power wash their birch clumps, but they do look much nicer.

That took a lot out of me so I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting around enjoying the glow of the fall foliage.

autumn foliage

From the right angle I can enjoy the fall color without seeing the dozens of potted plants which still need to come in…

The next few days didn’t see much more in the way of questionable productivity.  I’ve been obsessing about chrysanthemums after all, and how can you think of overwintering potted porch plants when there are mums in full autumnal splendor!?

hardy chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum bed is now officially in full bloom.  Two beds would be nicer, but even one looks quite extravagant.

I don’t care about mums in May, but fortunately this year I still managed to plant these out and even added in a few seedlings which survived my springtime neglect.

hardy chrysanthemums

This pink seedling will be nice if it proves hardy.  Unfortunately the rest of this year’s crop is kinda boring.

The seedlings are fun, but the staking and fussing that went into caring for my last surviving football mum has really paid off.  All I do is stare at it and wish I had more.

hardy chrysanthemums

The amazing orange blooms of ‘Cheerleader’ tower over the others.

‘Cheerleader’ is about 3 or four feet tall even after an early spring pinching.  She requires strong wooden stakes and I even went as far as to disbud a few stems to see if the main flower would turn out nicer.  I think they did.  Hopefully next year I can repeat this.

chrysanthemum cheerleader

I did manage to cut a few for the house, but most are being enjoyed in situ.

While I contemplate a new career in raising fancy show chrysanthemums, and consider a roadtrip down to the Longwood chrysanthemum show (which goes until Nov 22),  I do want to point out a small project I did manage to finish up this week.  It’s a new raised bed, one made out of cement blocks and hopefully one which outlasts the wooden ones.

cinder block raised bed diy

Concrete blocks on end, the whole thing held together with metal strapping.  

Honestly I should have just stuck with the wooden theme, but I had an idea and that idea might be worth a try if it meant not having to replace every last bed in a dozen years.  In the meantime I just hope no one looks too closely at my credit card receipts and questions just how much was spent  on a 1/2″ steel strapping kit.  Let’s run a quick distraction with some nice photos of wonderful fall bulbs.

bessera elegans

A surprise flower on the non hardy Bessera elegans.  It’s just one more potful which has to still come in for the winter.

Just the fact the Bessera is alive is amazing and that it’s still sending up a bloom or two after flowering earlier in the summer is also a shock since I had given them up for dead months ago.  Actually it wasn’t so much giving up than it was throwing them into the furnace room back in the fall of 2018 and then just being too lazy to pull them out the next spring.  So they sat.  Bone dry.  For six months.  Then ten…. then twelve… then sixteen… Finally a year and a half later I went back there looking for emergency potting soil and found the pot.  I was shocked (and a little annoyed, since I really needed more potting soil) to find a pot full of perfectly healthy corms, no worse than the day I put them back there.  Out onto the sidewalk they went, and one April shower later they were all sprouting.

galanthus bursanus

A very elegant autumn blooming snowdrop (Galanthus bursanus). You can probably guess just how often I check on this newest pet.

The bessera is a summer bulb, but autumn snowdrops represent a new season, and by that I mean winter.  I love seeing them coming up and from now until next March it’s snowdrop season.  Sure it slows down a bit in January, but for the last few years that slowdown is only a few days and not the usual months long lockdown of cold and ice that we used to endure.  I guess a global climate disaster can have a bright side if you look hard enough.

galanthus peshmenii

Galanthus peshmenii? I believe not, if only because the “are you sure?” backup peshmenii I bought is living up to its reputation and slowly fading away while this one gets better each year.

Did I mention how much I paid for the latest snowdrops?  Of course not, and I won’t.  By now I know better than to put things like snowdrops on anything which produces a receipt.  Explaining away a 1/2″ steel strapping kit produces a bored look but when I try to justify the excitement over an expensive little bulb, all I get is that judgemental eye roll.

Have a great weekend, and for those who are curious I followed some tips for finding a backdoor to the old WordPress editor, and it’s made my blogging life tolerable once again.

28 comments on “More Fall

  1. March Picker says:

    It’s great to see you’re back at it with your snowdrops, Frank! To me, October seems a most unlikely month for them, followed closely by August, then July… ha! I’m amazed there are such things as fall blooming snowdrops. Your success with those football mums is to be admired. Those are so tough to grow. Lovely!

    • bittster says:

      It started with a few snowdrops, then I wanted bigger, earlier, fancier.. then the season wasn’t long enough and I heard about fall bloomers! It’s so easy to get carried away with these things 😉
      I won’t tell you how many of the football mums were a failure. They really do need a tiny bit of attention in order to look decent.

  2. Pauline says:

    I’m impressed with so much, your gourds, your clean birch trees, your “mums” and your snowdrops. I do clean my own birch trees but do it by hand and usually the water runs up my arm and I end up soaking wet! So much colour from your “mum” bed must make you very happy!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I will take that as quite a compliment coming from you 🙂
      For some reason I have always hated that feeling of water running down my arms, or getting splashed, or those stray hose sprays… I saw the soapy sponge with a bucket suggestion, but the idea of ending up soaking wet, ugh. This was far less artistic but it did let me keep my distance!

  3. Some splurges are certainly worth it if they bring joy. And anything that blooms through winter is a “joy” by my standards and worth every penny.
    Wish I could take a trip to Longwood Gardens to see the mum display. It’s been over 30 years since I left Maryland and was able to get there easily. But the beauty of their gardens has left a very lasting impression.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, I agree these little splurges are worth it. I’m glad I can manage it every now and then!
      I made plans this week for a Longwood visit next week. The weather is supposed to be excellent and the chrysanthemums should still be perfect. I hope to see a few camellias as well 🙂

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    I love your mum bed, Frank. Your efforts with the orange football indeed paid off. Looks nice with the daisy mum in front of it. You had a nice gourd harvest, adding to the fall appeal as your colors change around the garden. This autumn seems to be a good one for foliage. I’m starting to appreciate the smaller shrubs and perennials almost more than the flashy maples, which pass all too quickly. Japanese maples, though, take up the slack and are amazing right now.
    Not sure that I’d agree that you are lazy… a lazy person doesn’t build new beds and power washes trees! Amazing!
    Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts… I hope the cold that is gripping the Midwest doesn’t come our way!

    • bittster says:

      I guess this reply is so long in coming I can safely say we did avoid most of the coldest weather, and it was actually quite warm lately! But of course now that it’s almost mid November I can almost say I want a little cold (or at least cooler) weather. Sweatshirt weather at least 😉
      We are seeing the very last of the fall colors. Most of the shrubs are going fast, and it’s just the last perennials which are left. For the first time ever my amsonia is a nice yellow. I was starting to think it didn’t have it in him, but there it is. Must be the long stretch of fall without a brutal freeze, and now I’m thinking I don’t really need that cold weather to rush in after all!

  5. rusty duck says:

    A few tips, for what it’s worth, to avoid the eye rolling. (And in comes from recent experience given my £34 seed order tonight.) 1. I confess only to the amount excluding delivery, given that I have no control over that. 2. I do mention the discount I got for shopping with the same company before. 3. And I’m very sure to mention that I used the card that earns the airline travel miles. That always goes down well.
    Swooning over the Bessera here. On the next list.

    • bittster says:

      Your advice is much appreciated! Using the card with the travel miles is an excellent idea, thriftiness combined with the distraction of vacation planning is win win 🙂
      Just keep the Bessera completely dry over the winter, it will mold in a minute if the damp gets in.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The boxwoods around the Mums look so neat and tidy. When did you last trim them? The metal strapping also looks neat and tidy. Will you leave the metal on there to rust? So many people are using rusty things in their garden. Those Cheerleader Mums are whoppers and so pretty. Almost makes me want to grow some. Those little gourds are in a very advantageous height. It makes them so easy to admire there. A good idea. The sinuses are morbid this year. Must have been the drought that kept all the crud in the air. Bah… I am so looking forward to these cooler and wetter days ahead. Cheers

    • bittster says:

      Since it’s been three weeks since you posted I’m sure you forgot your questions, but 🙂 sorry!
      I last trimmed the boxwood in early August I think? Any earlier and it needs trimming again in the fall, any later and the end get burnt by the winter cold. The metal straps on the new bed will eventually rust, I’m guessing I have at least 20 years before it’s a concern, and then can wait it out for another 10 until it doesn’t matter lol
      We finally got a few cooler days and my sinuses are thrilled! Either that or I haven’t been outside as much, either way it’s a relief. I may have to go in and have them looked at again. All they do is suggest surgery and I’m not willing to go there. When I commented that it sounds like they’re just punching holes through a few spots and hoping for the best, the doctor agreed, and all I could think of is some archeologist some day looking at my skull and commenting on the evidence of primitive sinus surgery. Surely there must be a better option!

  7. Cathy says:

    Oh how I wish I had a birch I could rush out and wash now – time well spent! And your chrysanths are wonderful. Isn’t it interesting how plant fashions change? I think they were definitely ‘out’ for a while. I used to disbud them for a living back in the 80s (yes – really – although that’s not all I did). Now I’m falling for them again. Your idea for a dedicated bed is good – it’s hard to place them in a garden which is probably why they fell out of favour! Great new veg beds – so impressed!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Cathy! The chrysanthemums don’t always mix well in the perennial borders so the beds give me a spot to play around and make my mistakes. For years I’ve been saying I’ll give them the time they need, this is as close as I’ve ever come. Maybe next year I’ll add fertilization and more serious staking and see where that brings me 🙂

  8. Jane Strong says:

    So much in this post appeals to me:
    The gourds in the hanging basket are gor(d)geous.
    I like a bit of cold myself.
    The shining white of the trunks of the birches(?) adds to and enhances the glow of the fall foliage that is planted where you can enjoy it.
    I love chrysanths but definitely not in May. The color and feel is all wrong.
    I have Cheerleader, too, Yours are looking good, mine not so. Anemic this year.
    Bessera is a flower I have not met before. Lovely.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Jane! I agree with the no mums in may policy (chrysanthemums only of course). I did have a few which would begin to flower in July and even that is way too early, so they have since “disappeared” from the garden.
      I’ve had ‘Cheerleader’ int he garden for a few years already and honestly I can’t even remember if it flowered those other years. It absolutely needs staking and a little care since I’m pretty sure what happened is it flopped onto the lawn and then I was too lazy to mow around…
      Enjoy the cooler weather!

  9. Everything looks gorgeous in your garden. Those big mums might work for a Packers game. And snowdrops! But i am glad we don’t have any white Birches as I might seriously want to try washing them. we did power wash our stone steps this year. Look good and less slippery. We are freezing here and had our first dusting of snow on the weekend. Temps are supposed to get into the 40s starting tomorrow so I will bring in the last pots, cage all the precious new trees and shrubs that aren’t already caged and then go inside and consider how soon I can start ordering for next year.

    • bittster says:

      So how did you make out? I’d feel so much better if your to-do list wasn’t completely done, but I suspect it is and now you’re just waiting for pod picking up season. Here I’m still a few weeks away from tree and shrub caging, and just a week or two from mulching around the spots where the earliest bloomers will show. At least I got moving yesterday, which is far better than spending the day ignoring everything which needs to be done!
      Now if only the dahlias and cannas were dug.

  10. Paula says:

    Hmmmm…so what plan is in store for the new raised bed? 🧐

  11. hb says:

    You’ve spent your Autumn constructively. The Mums are gorgeous. Tempts me to try some, though my attempts got so covered with scale and aphids…never mind.

    The block raised bed looks excellent. I’m thinking about blocks myself because wood does not last at all here–the sunlight hammers it, besides being one more fire hazard in our increasingly fire-prone region.

    And of course the foliage colors!

    • bittster says:

      You would laugh if I told you just how little work I’ve done since 🙂
      The biggest problem here is the freeze thaw throwing everything out of whack. I wouldn’t mind a little mortar holding things together, but without a foot or two deep foundation it would already start to fall apart within a year. But… wood doesn’t last long here either.

  12. Oh, my word — fall in your garden is just stunning, Frank! Those chrysanthemums are amazing. I chuckled at the powerwashing and wondered if your Mom reads your blog. P. x

    • bittster says:

      I’ve mentioned the blog to mom a few times, but I don’t thing she caught on that it’s online or that I keep up with it. Having family members ignore the blog probably saved me from a few awkward moments though, so I’m just fine with that!
      There’s a stiff wind this morning and the leaves are all down. Welcome to stick season 🙂

  13. Cathy says:

    Wow, your Chrysanths are amazing! All that colour! I prefer the smaller flowered ones, and that white one is definitely my cup of tea. I have planted three in my garden after seeing your post about the show you visited… 😃 (I have also dared to plant some Phlox, although they are destined to get mildew, but yours always look so good I threw caution to the wind!)
    Lovely autumn colour around your house. I hope it lasted a while and that your snowdrop season is progressing well!

    • bittster says:

      I wish I could share a few mums with you. I was just looking out the window at a nice white which has aged to pink and I’m almost positive it’s been looking good for over a month already!
      I wouldn’t share phlox though, only if you insisted. They look so awesome when well grown, but it’s so rare that I manage to grow them well, and most of the time they look like they’re ready to flip a coin on wether to die or not.
      A strong wind and some rain have really moved the fall colors along. There’s still a little to see here and there, but I think we are settling in for winter now…

      • Cathy says:

        Same here. Lots of leaves are down already and it has been wet. Not complaining though as the trees desperately needed a good soaking!

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