Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Look Back at October

The month of carnival of all the year,
When Nature lets the wild earth go its way
And spend whole seasons on a single day.

~Helen Fiske Hunt Jackson, "October"

October is an unexpected and unpredictable month to me.  The cold, frosty nights are expected -  though not necessarily the good several degrees below freezing that the temperatures always seem to dip.  Like usual, we play the October Games, where we try to see if we can get through the month without turning on the heaters.  (We finally lost when outside temps hit 26°F/-3°C.)  And, like usual, we know that first frost is coming but are still somehow always startled when it does happen.

However it is not the cold snaps but the pleasantly warm days in between that really throws me off.  After such low temperatures, I never expect to be able to work out in the garden in shorts and short sleeves or to see the bumblebees out and foraging just shortly thereafter.  But those unexpected warm spells are appreciated.

bee on 'Miss Molly' Butterfly bush
In October, the veggie garden winds down.  With the bad drought we've had, it's been an underwhelming season.  I harvest the last of the green beans and pick the baby turnips, and the greenhouse gives me the ending tomatoes and (finally ripe!) spicy hot peppers.  The veggie garden beds are prepared for next spring, and garlic is planted - hopefully to do better this next year.  But the main event that I look forward to every October happens right outside the veggie garden: the blooming of my Willowleaf Sunflower.

I was rather worried that, like many other plants this year, it wouldn't do as well due to the drought.  However, this is one tough prairie plant, and this year it was bigger and better than ever.   No other plant in my garden gives quite this riotous level of October blooms.

In the flower beds, the striking Beautyberry also makes its presence known as other plants fade.  It's hard to not love a shrub with such an unusual color of berries!

I normally also look forward to the blooming of the Montauk daisies, but this year my plants were nibbled down to nubs by either the deer, Peter Cottontail, or naughty Norman the groundhog.   Thankfully they left the Asters and the lovely 'Sheffield' Mums.

'Sheffield' Mums
Many of the annuals and other flowers start dying off in October, so I always appreciate the few that soldier on through the cold.

'The Fairy' Rose
I can hardly believe it is already November.  It's time to put the garden to bed and time to get all those bulbs that carry the promise of spring into the ground.

frosted Sedum blooms

Winter is coming...

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