“If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year’s beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener’s calendar. This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect. People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.”
– Vita Sackville-West
The crews cutting up the huge oak tree that fell on our neighbor’s house over the weekend kindly let us have a load of wood chips for our garden. The pile is plenty big and we are happily sharing with other neighbors, but it was so nice to cover our garden walkways and surround our garden boxes with the last of the old oak. A fitting tribute to a great old tree that we will miss.
Saturday’s big wind storm is over but the clean-up will take time. In our town, there were four or five trees that blew down, and the biggest and most devastating one was right across the street. So after witnessing the tree falling and calling 911 on Saturday afternoon, we have watched in fascination as the help arrived and started to deal with the aftermath of that 100 year-old-oak falling onto our neighbor’s house.
Three days after the tree fell, the crews are still working to clean up the tree debris. The crews that worked on both Sunday and Monday to cut the tree off the house and remove the huge pieces of trunk were truly amazing to watch at work! My photos will speak for themselves.
Today the tree is gone except for the broken stump. The wires are back up and the neighbor’s house secured. A small clean-up crew from the tree company is back today clearing the last of the debris from the yard and picking up the cut up pieces of trunk that weren’t moved yesterday. Pretty soon it will all be back to “normal,” except for a huge bare and open space that wasn’t there before. And then the house repair/restoration project will start, and that will be another fascinating process to watch. Who needs cable tv when there’s a lot more entertainment and interest right outside our window?
The last 24 hours in our town and especially in our neighborhood have been momentous. A huge storm front driven by a typhoon way out in the Pacific Ocean took aim at the Pacific Northwest and brought devastating winds that hit our town yesterday. A tornado came onshore in Manzanita, Oregon, and did considerable damage there. In our town, 60 miles inland from the coast, numerous trees were blown down, including a 100+ year old Oak across the street. I happened to be standing at the window when it went down and watched in horror as it fell on our neighbor’s house. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the damage is considerable.
We are humbled by Fall’s fury, and nervous about the 100-year-old oaks that tower above our house and our neighbor’s houses in this area. They are all old trees, nearing the end of their life cycle, and can be very dangerous as I witnessed yesterday. Although this area was originally a white oak savannah, these trees that make us nervous were planted by the next door neighbor a hundred years ago. Five of the ten big oaks surrounding that house are hanging over our property line and our house. We already had one very dangerous oak taken down when we first moved here a few years ago. (You can read about that tree here.) Needless to say, we will be having the other 5 carefully evaluated for safety within the next few days/weeks.
This summer I watched a free online gardening class by Stacey Murphy of BK Farmyards. She’s a wonderful teacher and gardener, and I took copious notes as I watched her 4 video lessons. I learned a lot! She opens up these classes every so often, and they are well worth waiting for! She also has a number of very helpful mini-lessons on YouTube. Check them out here.
One thing she discussed in her lessons was that planting in the right place is crucial to your success in growing vegetables and herbs. She suggested drawing a site map (bird’s eye view) of your garden site, and then “observing shadows” so that you can actually see how much sun and shade hits your growing area throughout the year. Her suggestion was to take photos of your garden 4 times a year — on the solstice and equinox days. Take the photos every three hours and then record the shadows on your site drawing using a different colored pencil for each time of year. At the end of the year, you will know exactly what the lighting conditions are of your chosen garden site, and then can choose the vegetables that would grow best in that amount of light. It’s a wonderful idea and an excellent way to help choose your garden site or get to know your existing garden.
So I started this learning process by taking photos of our garden at the Autumnal Equinox a few weeks ago. I used the panorama setting on my phone, and took the photos over 2 days because I wasn’t home all day on the equinox. I will do the same thing in December, and then March and June next year. It should be very interesting to see the actual amount of sunlight on our garden versus what I THINK is the amount of sunlight there. And you can probably tell from the photos below that the reason the last of my tomatoes are having a hard time ripening is because there’s not enough sunlight and warmth left for them!
I’ve complained all summer long about the squirrels that own our yard and frequent our vegetable garden. I’ve blamed them for all the missing baby pumpkins, for picking my precious tomatoes and eating half before sauntering off to do something else, and for digging up pansies and other flowers for some unknown reason. I’ve even chased them and thrown a rock or two their direction. But the other night, as we were returning home, we pulled into our driveway and spotted another critter in our garden! A skunk has also been raiding our garden at night! No wonder we didn’t get ANY pumpkins or squash this year. These critters have feasted all summer long, day and night! (I assure you, though, that I won’t chase the skunk or throw any rocks at it.)
I love Pinterest for garden inspiration and collecting ideas, but another favorite source of inspiration for me are the gardens I visit — botanical gardens, demonstration gardens, neighbors’ gardens! Last Fall, the hubby and I spent time going through the Master Gardener’s Learning Garden at the Jenkins Estate in Beaverton, Oregon. It was our first autumn visit to that small but delightful garden, and I fell in love with one plant that was in full bloom on that sunny afternoon. It was a huge clump of Lemon Queen Sunflowers. The bees also loved that plant! It was covered with them! So I decided I had to have some Lemon Queens in my garden for this year, so I sent away for one live plant and when it arrived, I planted it in a tub that I could see from the kitchen window and waited throughout the winter to see if it would do anything. Indeed it did! That one plant has been a delight for all of the summer. It has bloomed and bloomed, and continues blooming today! A huge clump of them would be wonderful, so next spring I will plant more of them. The bees will be very happy.