Archive for September, 2010

Apples! Ready or not, here they come

oakleaf hydrangea fall color

Autumn leaf time coming right up. This is Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) demonstrating a quarter of its 4-season appeal.

It was warm when we got to the Hudson Valley the other day. Then it got warmer, and warmer, topping out yesterday – I hope! –  at about eighty-five. “ September is the new August,” said Bill, with more than a little justification.

Lespedeza thunbergii in bloom

August/September-blooming Lespedeza thunbergii, in full regalia in front of the barn.

But there’s more to seasons than temperature, and (so far) the Earth’s orbit hasn’t changed. The solstice is behind us and apples are ripening, whether we like it or not.

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Obama’s Apple Bowl – and The Apples All Around Us

apples: winesap top, stayman botom, pink lady right

Dear Mr. President, how about these? (Clockwise from top: Winesap, Pink Lady, Stayman

The President’s office has had the requisite makeover, pictures in the NY Post, story in the NY Times, reviews galore all over the net. Expect I’m not alone in agreeing with just about all of them, including both the snarky –  it looks like a business hotel; the rug is a tad obvious – and the sympathetic: it looks restrained and comfortable and anyway he can’t do anything too stylish when there’s a recession on.

He also can’t do anything even remotely interesting or he’ll just exacerbate the out-of-touch-with-regular-folks problem. But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to know is “what kind of apples are in that bowl of same gracing (if that’s the word) the jazzy new coffee table?”

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Cimicifuga, Actaea, Snakeroot, Bugbane – No matter what you call it, I love it

Yesterday afternoon’s garden work was all in tight focus: harvesting the endless beans, sorting as I went; thinning and transplanting young beets and greens; deadheading hardy annuals. Yet hour after hour scarcely looking up, I could still hear  the size of the garden, soft  buzzing nearby, bright chirping around the feeder,  territorial shouts all over – hummingbirds have really big lungs.

I could smell it, too. No matter where I was, no matter what was under my nose, there was the perfume of late summer’s fragrance factory, Cimicifuga racemosa (or Actaea racemosa, if you want to be au courant), aka black snakeroot, bugbane, black cohosh and fairy candles.

actaea (cimicifuga) racemosa

The clump of black snakeroot is down beyond the lower garden, nestled against the apple tree hedge/edge, but the fragrance is so intense it floats a very long way.

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Getting the Best Tomato Harvest – Vigilance Required

It’s been a great tomato year so far, especially after 2009.  We are well into tomato roasting, tomato drying, catsup-making and BLT’s. But it’s never too late for nature to pipe up and say don’t count your chickens.

Two cases in point: Hurricanes and Hornworms.

tomatoes, mixed varieties

Most of these tomatoes would still be on the vine if heavy rains weren’t on the radar. The very green ones are almost ready, btw. They will still be green when ripe, just slightly yellower

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