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. 


Barbarapc said...

What a wonderful ramble around the garden. So nice to have so much space & apples! The organic apple growers here encorage the swallows by putting up boxes for them - apparently they enjoy feasting on the beasts who attack the apples. I'd found lots of little monarch eggs/egg casings on my milkweed and bits of eaten plant - alas no further evidence of the life-cycle. Will keep looking! Monarchs flying in twos - it's been very cool here - hopefully they'll get out of Dodge and south tomorrow when the weather warms again.

Steve Silk said...

Thanks for the tour. Luminous photos! Fall looks like prime time at Flower Hill Farm.

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Carol, I so much enjoyed this September walk through your beautiful garden! And I loved the way you wove the monarch story through this post. Wishing you a happy autumn! Pam x

Bernie said...

Enjoyed every moment of the September stroll around your garden ... it feels like I've just had a weekend break at some tranquil beautiful B&B in the countryside!

catmint said...

Hi Carol, what a huge and wonderful garden. I absolutely love the way you are so caring and protective of butterflies. I love all the photos but especially the one of the trees with the interesting bark. Do you know what trees they are? cheers, catmint

Edith Hope said...

Dearest Carol, Your garden certainly has the mellowness of autumn and the bounty of so much fruit from your orchard trees. It is, perhaps, a relief for you that the season is drawing to a close since it is such a lot to maintain when one is not in full health. However, as you say, so much grows and continues to thrive in spite of harsh weather and the absence of the gardener.....there is always next year, I tell myself often.

I agree with your thought about introducing more structure to your middle garden and can see the perfect opportunity there for introducing some sculptural forms which would focus the eye and draw one on into the garden for further discovery. I shall be interested to see what you decide.

Cyndy said...

Beautiful fall at the farm! I call dibs on that hammock by the weeping cherry for a sunny afternoon snooze :)

Ever Green Tree said...

Enjoyed taking this stroll with u around your place Carol. What a bounty of natural beauty u have around in the farm.Whoa! n the Farm fresh Apples look Crunchy Delicious!
Thx for sharing.

joey said...

As we ramble through your photogenic autumn Paradise, you weave a wonderful tale, Carol. Like the butterflies, Flower Hill Farm is so lovely, I hate to leave.

easygardener said...

Thanks for the walk around your garden - very relaxing.
My Colchicums have just started to flower too. They always seem to appear without warning. A beautiful surprise at this time of year.

Skeeter said...

Thank you for the wonderful stroll around your piece of heaven! Your care of the Monarchs is so special and greatly appreciated by this butterfly lover :-) The apples look yummy and I bet they make wonderful pies, YUM...

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

Hi Carol. My lands you have a lot of apples on your trees.Nothing better than a crunchy apple to bite into. The Warbler is such a pretty bird and your pictures of the Monarchs are just gorgeous.

Carol said...

Thank you all for walking along with me and for your kind words. Catmint the trunks are from the Honeysuckle shrub shown in the photo right before we walk beneath them ... they are so neat. We do prune for the shape. They have lovely pale pink flowers honeybees love. I am trying to find the full name for you. It is not the invasive H. bush. Carol

Noelle said...

Hello Carol,

I love your autumn garden and how the September light reflects off of your plants. Trees full of apples just shout "fall is here" to me :-)

Lisa Ueda said...

I'm happy to have walked thru with you. I have a feeling my favorite spot would soon be the hammock :)

sweetbay said...

What a crop of apples you have! Beautiful pictures of the warbler.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Looks lovely over there.

You have a serious apple haul. Do you get hornets over there. I have to a little careful when picking up windfall here as inevitably hornets are about.

I can't believe the sun's moved south of the equator, where did the year go? maybe I'll fly south a la the monarchs.

fairegarden said...

It is wonderful to continue the walkabout with you, Carol. I love seeing it all, and where you might see muddle, I see the greatest beauty. A natural scene in all of fall's glory, complete with Monarchs and apples. Most excellent! :-)

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