Monday, September 20, 2010

September Garden Walkabout Part Two

We walked about in the north and middle gardens in my first 'September Garden Walkabout' post last Wednesday. If you missed it, you can catch up here. The Joe-Pye Weed and Hydrangeas were the stars even though their blooms are faded. 

Sedum flowers are still feeding beloved butterflies and bees. These two Monarchs are not feeding yet, they emerged in the morning but are not in a hurry to fly away. It has been a cool day. I took them out into the afternoon sunlight to encourage them along. After over a half hour of hanging out with them, I decided to place them in an apple tree to rest overnight. I will rise before the birds to stand guard, as the chill of the morning will leave them helpless. Butterflies can only fly, when the temperatures are above 50/60 degrees or so. Here in Western Massachusetts the temperatures are going into the 40's at night. 

The late afternoon sun casts shadow and light play along Walnut and Carey Hill and leaves the middle garden rather dull. So here is a true confession photo . . . the whole muddle of my middle garden . . . some call a meadow. No structure or design . . . these plantings simply began as cutting gardens. Now I add mostly native plants and shrubs and plan to build a pergola soon. A few choice pots and sculptures would greatly add to the interest of this part of the gardens. Edging is essential but this gardener has barely worked these gardens this summer. New natives were planted this spring and watered through the drought and that is about it. We are looking north east in this photograph. Native Black Cherry and two twin Oaks are the taller trees. A clustering of Linden topiary, Hawthorn, Smoke Bush and Japanese Maple stand along the edge of the garden. A row of Peonies is just to the right . . .  they will be cleaned up once all the Monarchs have flown away. More than once my weeding at this time of year has torn a chrysalis from a plant it had safely been fastened to. October and November can be great gardening months.

Turning more to the east . . . the peonies are now to the left of us. A very old Apple fills the space and is offering a bounty of gifts this year. Yearly pruning is keeping the branches from bending over to the ground. There are many apples on the grass and in my cold storage. The over turned watering can is quite appropriate, for how the gardener has participated this year. I place the Monarchs in the branches just in front of us. 

Now turning a bit more southeast looking down the hillside towards two other Apple trees, which act a bit like a gateway before a Gray Birch clump and the Blueberry field. Growing along the stone steps are grasses, Lilac topiaries, Stellata Magnolia, Daylilies, Iris, Artemisia and Hydrangea. Early spring begins with a parade of Iris reticulata running down along the edge of the flower border.

When I turn to the side, this is the view of the second terrace garden. Lilac topiaries, Miscanthus grasses and other Lilacs grow here. They are all doing amazing well considering the drought. 

Strolling into the terrace garden . . .  in the following early morning light . . .  and looking back, we are in what was once my herb garden. Orris Iris and Marjoram are planted beneath these grasses. Hundreds of lavender plants edged the plantings years back . . . those have all since died and I keep meaning to replace them. A Magnolia soulangeana is seen just beyond the grasses.

Looking up towards one of the three giant Rock Maples (Sugar Maples) . . . home to the wild Honeybees. 

Standing here we can see shrubberies of Honeysuckle and Lilacs. The Honeysuckles are filled with tiny red berries. 

Stepping underneath the canopies reveals the interesting bark. 

Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder' is breaking through the crusty soil stretching into the morning light.

Now we are walking back down towards the third terrace or lower garden. Passing a Stellata Magnolia and Apple tree. 

This bonsai like Apple grows atop an outcropping of rock at the end of this garden. 

It seems to be happy with all the pruning over the last two years. Its apples are delicious and a bit tart. 

Framed between the Stellata, Hydrangea and Weeping Cherry sits a comfy floating place in the lower garden. 

The lower garden is framed by four apples and the Weeping Cherry. My oldest Apple offers sweeter and larger apples. I mentioned earlier I had to get up with the birds this day to protect the Monarchs that are hanging from the Apple tree. I will harvest these perfectly plump red gifts, while keeping an eye on the Monarchs who cling to small branches nearby. 

There are many apples hanging low enough to pick without a ladder.

The Monarchs made it through the cool night and hang defenseless from hungry birds, squirrels or any other predators. I do not want these treasured gifts to become hanging fruits for any critters. 

My basket fills up with scrumptious apples of an unknown kind. I have seven varieties of apples and I do not know any of their names. I was lucky to inherit the trees and have worked hard for years keeping them pruned. I would like to learn organic practices to have a larger crop. Other than add a bit of composted manure around the base I do nothing more than prune. The tiny worms do not take up too much of the apple and many apples are perfect this year. If any of you know this variety, I would love to know. 

The fruit is soaking up the rays of light and warmth.

I find myself ambling over towards the Monarchs often to ward off other prying eyes . . . not that this Black-throated Green Warbler would bother them but a Chickadee might and the gang of Blue Jays most  certainly would. 

This little warbler is just a curious creature. He may be wary of the Monarchs patterns and colors . . . warning of the toxic milkweed running within it's veins. Alas, many birds have learned how to eat certain parts of the butterfly and discard the rest.

As I finish picking, the sun begins to fill the Apple tree and the Monarch's soak up the light and warmth too. I know they will be safe now for they are exercising their tiny muscles by opening and closing their wings. 

I take my heavy load of apples up the hill and look forward to a cup of tea. These Monarchs will soon begin their journey south towards Mexico. Every day more Monarchs are emerging. I now only have three chrysalises left. What a magical ritual raising Monarchs is. These glimpses end our walkabout for today. There is still the Blueberry field and the south field which is filled with asters . . . but that will be another walk . . . another day. 

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