Thursday, October 26

Perfect Fall Day

After reading about the "Perfect Fall Days" that so many other garden bloggers have enjoyed recently... I finally got one myself! It's around 50 degrees with just a little wind and lots of sunshine here today. The sky is a bright pale blue befitting autumn in Ohio, and the crisp earthiness of fallen leaves scents the air.

I couldn't take advantage of the glorious weather quite as much as I wanted, though. I have lasagna beds to put down and mulch to sling, but I sprained my ankle Monday playing in an upper intermediate volleyball league. (Coming down from a block and discovering your teammate's foot underneath yours is never a good thing.) I'm usually not very good about taking care of my injuries--stubborn, and all that--but I also had spring bulbs to plant in the front beds, so that helped keep me from getting into too much trouble.

I planted about 25 small frittilaries, most of them around 'Bressingham Ruby' bergenias and 'Purple Knockout' salvia lyratas to help them show up in the spring. 36 'White Emporer' tulips, 18 'Princess Irene' and 'Avignon' orange tulips, and 8 double black 'Hero' tulips rounded out my planting.

The black tulips were hard to site, as I wanted them to have light-colored foliage around them as foils. However, I found that the golden sages, golden oreganos, and variegated lemon thymes were almost too close to the edges of the beds to help much. The white tulips were a little easier to place. They are early tulips and I used about half of them around the area that the crambe maritima (sea kale) takes up in the front bed. The crambe is slow to show up in the spring, so by the time it pushes its dark, alien-like sprouts up and out of the ground the White Emporers will be dying back.

My garden assistant merely supervised while I worked, as bulb planting is a little beyond her abilities. She used to dig some when she was a puppy--and I set aside a special area for that at the old house to keep both of us happy--but at the ripe old age of 5-1/2 she seems to think that getting dirt under her fingernails is beneath her.

Coco is very good, however, at a variety of gardening tasks. She chases pests (squirrels and chipmunks) out of the yard regularly. She prunes, but only selectively and with questionable aesthetics... for example, she seems to think that lemongrass looks best at 6-8 inches in height.

Where she really, um, helps me out is in the harvesting. During our first two years together, she picked and ate the first few ripe tomatoes out of the veggie garden--wasn't that nice of her, to let me know they were ready to eat? My ex-husband laughed in the spring of year 3 when I announced that she was banned from the back yard until further notice while my first 'Early Girl' finished ripening. I really don't mind when she eats tomatoes out of the garden, I just prefer that the "head gardener" gets the first one!

It was especially nice to be able to spend the afternoon in the yard, and with the dog, because I'll be away from both for the next four days. I'm going to New Jersey to meet my boyfriend's extended family and see the town where he grew up. No time to see Old Roses' favorite public gardens at Rutgers while I'm in NJ, or even take a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens that Xris showed off earlier this summer at Flatbush Gardener when their corpse flower bloomed--sadly, it will be too short of a trip.

I am going to bring my digital camera, though, and might have something interesting to blog when I return. Brian wants to show me one of his favorite spots in the nearby Allamuchy State Forest if my ankle feels good enough to allow me to walk there... and you never know what beauty you might find in a state nicknamed The Garden State!


Idaho Gardener said...

Dear Black Swamp girl,

Thanks for the kind words you sent to me. I love your photos today and especially like that Coco, garden supervisor/assistant. And don't you think those leatherleaf/oakleaf hydrangeas are the BEST this time of year!


growingagardenindavis said...

Zelda, my dog, also likes to pick tomatoes. However, she never eats them...just buries them. Anytime I find a little dug up spot I know what is under of my tomatoes...
Hope you have a nice trip!

Annie in Austin said...

Have fun in New Jersey, Kim - trips back to see where someone grew up are so special - and even more revealing than baby photos! Hope you're okay for that walk in the woods, too.


Rusty in Miami said...

I have a garden assistant too her name is Rosie. Gardening a lot more fun with a good assistant.

OldRoses said...

Be sure to let me know when you are making a more extended trip to NJ so I can arrange a personal tour of Rutgers Gardens for you!

Nickie said...

HAhaha! I have a tomato picker as well. Mine picks strawberries as well. And cucumbers. Oh heck, I think she eats anything she can sink her teeth into.

Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Sorry you couldn't make it to Brooklyn this trip. :-(

My cat, Spot, supervises my gardening. A dog would be better company!

Anonymous said...

Hi Black Swamp Girl!
It is the Head-Hatter here! You are more then welcome to tour the Rutgers Gardens anytime (and all the other bloggers as well!)Just let us know when you are in the area... and let me know how you like Allamuchy State Park... I have camped there - it is spectacular this time of year with the autumn foliage. Beware -that there is BEAR country!!! And, the Director of the Rutgers Gardens lives up there in that area! Small world, huh? It is about an hr to an hour and 1/2 drive to the gardens
Hope you found the garden in the Garden State! It is still here!!!
--- the Head-Hattter ---

Unknown said...

Idaho Gardnener, thanks! I DO love the oakleaf hydrangeas in the fall--that's one of the main reasons I've been drooling over them. :)

Leslie, OUCH! I think that would be worse than eating them somehow, lol.

Annie, you're so right--and it definitely was enlightening. I'm not sure how ready for the walk my ankle was, but I did it anyway.

Rusty, very true. Even a "bad garden assistant" is rather endearing if it's four-legged and fuzzy. *grin*

GGG... cucumbers?!?! Egads. Mine does strawberries, too--and green beans!--but hasn't gone for the cukes yet. Maybe next year.

Xris, it probably will not happen until the spring, but I'm sure I'll be back your way--and maybe for a longer trip this time. Your cat's name is Spot?! I love that! :)

Head Hatter Thank You for the offer! We definitely want to go to Rutgers Gardens on the next trip. After noticing all of the gorgeous (and huge!) rhodies in the woods on the way, I decided that I had to see your Rhododendron and Azalea Garden in the spring.

I was mistaken about our hiking destination... Allamuchy will be visited at some later date, but Schooley's Mountain Park is much closer to where my boyfriend grew up and the ledge where he spent a lot of time thinking during his teenage years (after a brisk hike) is located there:'s_Mountain

Funny that the Rutgers Garden Director lives close to his hometown... and funny, too, that after seeing some of the nearby city names I was reminded of a few people I went to college with in Ohio from those cities--two of whom he knew! It really is a small world. :)

Kati said...

I really enjoyed reading about everyone's various garden assistants. Misty and Molly seemed to be quite lazy in comparison, preferring to lie around snoring in the sun on the hay-mulched pathways -- unless a squirrel came by. Then the chase took the most direct path--no matter what beds they dashed through!
Hope your ankle is better and that your trip is loads of fun.
Thanks also for your kind words re my loss of Molly. Her death was so sudden I find it's still so painful to talk about it. Knowing so many people care has helped a great deal!

Jessica Harwood said...

Hope the trip went time I hope you get to enjoy the gardens in Broklyn. Definitely worth the trip!

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