A turtle made of found objects soldered together by a friend; my cracked pot of hens & chicks seemed the perfect thing to slip into the wheel to complete his shell. See the orange pyracantha berries--already!--in sprays behind him?
I love autumn; it's my favorite season of the year, from the rich smells of decaying, earthy leaves and acrid, smoky bonfires to the glorious last blazes of color in the garden. Once the calendar hits August, I usually start thinking fall. I look forward to pulling out sweaters for brisk walks, plan for a visit down to the local apple orchard, and vigorously rid the house of summer's whirlwind mess the way that most people do spring cleaning months earlier.
But this year... well this year, I'm just not ready yet for fall! Maybe that's because I've been so busy (I made only 19 posts in all of 2009 so far? Yikes!) or maybe it has more to do with the fact that summer seems to have forgotten us this year. Either way, the signs of an impending autumn are undeniable... and I'm not particularly happy about finding a lot of them in my garden this weekend.
A ladybug by the same friend, made out of an old pipe cap and some other spare parts. I am seeing less ladybugs, and many more grasshoppers and other "late summer" bugs, in the garden these days.
For one thing, the 'Matrona' sedum that I love in every other stage but bloom... is blooming. I know that many people have asked in the comments about why I don't keep it from blooming, or replace it with something else. Two reasons: 1) I love the dried flowerheads. 2) The bees love the blooms!
I tried to count the bees on one of my two 'Matrona' plants today, and I was up in the 30s before I lost track of the number!
My summer-flowering sedums, like 'Fuldaglut,' 'Red Dragon,' and 'Voodoo' are all spent. Some are coloring up nicely, and still look full, but the ones that get a bit of shade--like the one below--start to look scraggly at this time of the year:
A couple of sedums are still in bud, though. Here's a variegated (unnamed, bought at a plant sale, but probably sedum alboroseum) one that prefers a bit of shade:
And here's the sedum that I showed in my bloom day post, still nestled up against the warm brown of the nearby rock:
By the way, if I ever do get rid of 'Matrona' it will be to replace them with more of this wonderful sedum that I bought last year from Plant Delights as 'Hab Gray' sedum telephium:
Sedum telephium (bought as 'Hab Gray') with a 'Sky Pencil' Japanese holly, red cabbage and blue fescue in the background
I'm kind of convinced that I have something different, though, because Tony Avent's notes on 'Hab Gray' say that you can expect "clusters of pink flowers"... and these are more of a yellow flower. That's perfect for me, so I'm not complaining! Also notice in the photo above how the flower buds continue all the way down the stems--very nice.
And as if that wasn't quite enough, check this out:
Awww... it's a little baby! In fact, I have at least 6 of these little guys sprouting up within 3-4 feet of my 'Hab Gray,' and that's fine with me. I'll be transplanting a few of them to various spots around the Lock Garden next spring, assuming they overwinter okay. (They're so little, and none of them will hurt anything where they are now, that I'm leaving them alone until spring.)
Speaking of the Lock Garden, I finally got it weeded, mulched and cleaned up. That's another sign that autumn is just around the corner--I always save this area for last, since very few edibles are grown here and the plants that do reside in "the locks" are tough cookies. Some areas are filling in very nicely already:
Sedum sieboldii, 'Metallica Crispa' ajuga, silene, 3 kinds of thyme, a self-seeded blue fescue and some random baptisia foliage in the lock garden.
A close-up of the sedum, silene, ajuga, and thyme--which is the beautiful 'Clear Gold' from Mulberry Creek--meshing together underneath one of the metal industrial shelves that serve as "bridges."
A few of the plants, like this lavender thyme, were a little too happy and needed to be cut wayyyy back. You can probably tell by the way his branches are draped that I chopped about half of the plant out toward the bottom of the lock:
Cutting back thyme (and other herbs) is always an enjoyable job, but this garden will need some "real" work within the next year, though. Where the clumpier sedums reside, the sides of the locks have caved in a bit, burying some of the stone that I culled (with permission) from work) to line the lock. Their roots aren't vigorous enough to hold the soil in place the way the roots of the thyme and creeping sedums do:
And I still have some framing and pebbling (technical term... ;) to do under the shelves that are either fully or partly resting on the ground. Here's one of the frames--made from cedar, and filled in with pebbles and a small sedum album that I love and let wander a bit--that I built last year:
That frame is a simple one, so the 2-3 identical ones that I need to make for the land part of the pathway should be easy. The shelves that partly hover above the ground will not be so easy. I will have to artfully construct two separate boxes--one for each end--for shelves like these:
Two of the "bridges" over locks in the Lock Garden that will need box ends to support them. The bridge in the foreground is over the sedum/silene/thyme/ajuga combo shown above. That's part of my asparagus bed (which is beneath a small 'Himrod White' grape arbor) falling onto the pathway on the left, and self-seeded blue fescues on the right. The second bridge goes over two different types of blue-leaf sedums.
I imagine that I will either need to shore up the end of the frame that abuts the plants in the lock with stone (or maybe a full plank of cedar?) before I can pebble them, to make sure that the pebbles stay where I want. It will definitely be an engineering job, but once the frames and pebbles are in place they will stay there for a long time... only the blue shelves get lifted off of the frames and stored in the garage for the winter.
I'm trying not to panic just thinking about how much I still want to get done in the garden this year--not to mention the need to finish my fence painting, too! And I don't have very much time.... after all, autumn appears to be just around the corner. :(