Sunday, August 30

Signs that Autumn is Just Around the Corner: Critters, Sedums & Locks

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:

Sedum alboroseum (I think) nestled in with horehound at the base of sorghastrum nutens 'Sioux Blue'

And here's the sedum that I showed in my bloom day post, still nestled up against the warm brown of the nearby rock:

Sedum cauticola 'Lidakense'

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:

'Maybe Hab Gray' (as I think of it) sprouting up amongst the cutback stalks of drumstick allium

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. :(


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Good to hear and see that you and your garden are enjoying the year Kim. Fall is a busy time of year when the "panic" of that chore list not being checked off starts to loom. Days are getting shorter. Love all of your sedums. You have such nice foilage combos. Your friend is quite talented in making insects with spare parts.


G' Mornin' Kim. I have had you on my blog roll for some time but, sadly, I read only sporadically. As a result of that I missed the post where you explain your "lock" garden. It is certainly beautiful but why the name, Lock?

I have been working on my new gardens this year. Last year when we moved to this house, there was nothing at all planted anywhere on the lot. So, I've had plenty to entertain me. It's been wonderful.

Your photos are excellent and your gardens must be amazing. The pieces I see certainly are.

Thank you for your blog.

Gail said...

Hey Kim, You may have only posted 19 times but each one is chock full of goodies to think about. You use sedums deliciously. I've admired the shelves since you first posted about the Lock Garden~~It's a wonderful idea, but the blue of the shelves makes it stellar. The crinkly ajuga is a keeper and looks perfect with the sedum, silene and thyme.

One would think I would love spring best, since so many of the native plants in my garden bloom beautifully then; but, autumn's crispy cool days after a hot muggy summer and those wonderful earthy scents make it my favorite time of year, too.


growingagardenindavis said...

The Lock Garden has really turned out wonderfully...I love what you've created. And I'm not ready for fall either...but I never am!

Layanee said...

I too love the smell of fall. Your garden looks so neat and tidy and that sedum will be on my list.

kris at Blithewold said...

I'm not ready for fall either but it seems to be coming anyway... (sigh) And it looks like you're time has been very well spent in the garden. It's fun to see to see the Lock Garden growing!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

What a coincidence, I also just posted about the signs of fall. Must be this cold front that swept in. I can relate to your feeling of near panic. I just realized that I have to stain my compost area screen. Now why didn't I do it during the summer?
I love your new garden sculptures. They're wonderfully imaginative. Your "Hab Gray" Sedum is really different, I've never seen one with buds along the stems.

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

I feel a bit like that story about the grasshopper and the ant. I should have been industrious all summer (like the ant) and I wouldn't need to panic now that fall is here, and I haven't finished everything on my todo list. (I blame the rainy weather we have had). Hopefully, we will have an long Indian summer and we will both finish our tasks.

Carol Michel said...

Just 19 posts this year? We do miss you! How about joining me in this Meme that I just tagged you for? It can be post number 20!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Unknown said...

Greenbow Lisa, that's exactly right--my "panic" button is definitely sounding! And yes, he is quite talented. I shouldn't even tell you that he whipped up a 2' tall giraffe and a little 6" mouse in about half an hour, using just the thoughts in his head and what he had lying around the garage... you'll be as jealous as I am, I bet!

Coneflower, oooh... the FUN you must be having with that new garden and clean slate! I can't wait to check back in on you and see what you've been up to. :)

The "Lock Garden" features a few different... dry ponds, I guess? But in miniature... dug out to various depths. Since the little dugout areas are graduated from deepest to shallowest, they remind me of locks that a ship would go through to change elevation... and the name stuck in my head. The blue shelves go over the locks as bridges, and there are blue and purple-leaf plants crawling across the bottoms and sides of the locks to give kind of a watery look. It's fun, I think. :)

Gail, thank you... and yes, the blue of the shelves really does make the lock garden pop! Autumn is my favorite season of the year as well, by the way. I'm just not ready for it yet this year!

Leslie, thank you. Do you get much of a feeling of "fall" there in Davis like you did when you lived here in NE Ohio? The seasons are very pronounced here... maybe not so much there, though?

Blithewold Kris, I am echoing your heavy sigh. (And I'll confess, there are parts of the garden that sorely show my neglect! I just haven't included them... lol.)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, I did email PDN to point them to my photo of it online and ask what was going on... apparently, 'Hab Gray' looks this way in colder climates! Tony saw some in Michigan that were behaving similarly this summer, apparently. Either way, I'll gladly take it--and I'm glad that the blooms are not pink!

Deborah, I am definitely a grasshopper this year! Indian summer would be wonderful, wouldn't it? We haven't seemed to have much of the regular kind of summer here, either... seems as though we both deserve an Indian summer, at least. :)

Carol, I know... this has not been my most prolific year! Even when I do have things to blog about, I don't seem to get around to it... maybe this meme is exactly what I need as an excuse!

A wildlife gardener said...

All the plants you have shown will do well in drought conditions :)

Love the ingenious sculptures your friends have made :)

Global warming has a lot to answer for...some have had drought, we've had 6 weeks of monsoon rains with chilly temperatures instead of summer...and we live in a temperate, not tropical, climate...

Long time no see...Come and see my pretty butterflies who stayed long enough between the showers for me to video them :)

chuck b. said...

I felt the light change a little bit today toward more autumnal type of light. Sigh... I like fall when it's happening, but I hate the idea of waiting for it to come. I'd rather have some more summer!

Pam said...

Your idea of a lock garden is interesting - it'll be fun to see how it develops! (And thanks for the description in response to a prior commentor!). Whenever I images of your garden I'm always envious of the intimate spaces you have - and your plant combinations are just gorgeous - even as the summer ends.

Autumn is my favorite season too. We've had a few unusually cool days for September - and it makes me anxious for October and beautiful sky days. The light is wonderful.

Unknown said...

I love some parts of autumn, but...the shorter days affect me and warn me of what is to come. Still, looking at your garden makes me happy that we're into late summer here, and there's so much beauty to be enjoyed.

Kerri said...

I'm totally identifying with the first sentence of your last paragraph...trying not to panic! I'm digging, moving, planting and tidying...and it feel like I'm moving at a snail's pace. There's still so much to do!
You have such a great collection of sedums. I love the all stages (yes, I love pink! :). I had it in my sedum dish garden for just one year, but it didn't winter over, sad to say.
Isn't it fun to find "babies"? :)
I just found a baby dark leaved heuchera.
Your critters are cute and your friend is very creative.
Happy Autumn, Kim! May it be long and warm!

MrBrownThumb said...

Your metal turtle is so cool. Must be nice to have such a creative friend.

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