Sunday, November 23, 2014

More Winter Ready Than Yesterday

Two issues demanded attention today with the sharp moderation in outside temperatures.  We usually head into winter with sixty gallons of road sand stored in two garbage pails in the basement.  One pail was only half full and that needed fixing.  Sifting cold wet sand is a rather unpleasant chore but just being able to work outside made the task almost pleasant.   While working at the gravel bank I did get to see two Great Blue Herons fly close by below the tree line.  They must have just taken flight from the nearby river.  One announced my presence with a honk as they flew towards the pines near the house.

Recent high winds had dropped a branch onto the lane near the arbutus wall.  I had moved it to the side but more wind rolled it back into the lane.  Today seemed like the time to move all of the fallen branches there to the brush pile at the gravel bank.  Continued attention here will at the very least make it so that I can mow down the goldenrod and the pricker bushes.  With a stone bench and arbutus plants already in place, this might be a good location for more of a wild flower garden.

Anytime that I pass by the transplanted arbutus plants, they get a close look.  Much to my surprise, I found a new seedling growing very close to one of the transplants.  There is no way to know if this plant is growing from seed dropped in the past or from this year's seed.  I placed no seed in this spot but ants could have dropped it here either this year or in the past.  The seeds I did plant have shown no growth to date.  It may be that they must pass through a cold period before sprouting.  In any event, it was a major thrill to find a new arbutus plant growing here.  My goal is to help establish naturally increasing plantings of this native treasure.

Chrysanthemums are another difficult plant that I insist on trying to grow here.  Our winters are harsher by one climate zone than these plants prefer.  This slip of a mail order plant required two growing seasons to make a decent showing and we would like to aid its return next year.

We intentionally left the dead growth in place until today.  Secured to the ground, it was where we needed it.  Cutting it back revealed a encouraging amount of new growth.

Placing the cut stems over the original plant creates an airy but protected spot for the new growth.  If our coming snow cover is more or less continuous and low temperatures are not extreme, we should have enough new plants for several impressive plantings.

Weather forecasts predict a return to unseasonably cold temperatures.  We may have one more day to continue work on next year's garden.  If rain spoils our fun, we can recall seeing both a new arbutus plant and the possible promise of many beautiful chrysanthemums.

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