Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Report From the Field

The following communiqué from the field arrived November 1.  There are no photographs accompanying this for the obvious reason: there was nothing left to photograph but devastation. 


Earlier today, a Catskills homeowner reported that deer had taste-tested a stand of heuchera in his native woodland garden.  Curious, we sent out an investigator who reported back that they had not only nibbled the heuchera, but the native anemone & cimicifuga, all never before touched at this savvy master gardener's woodland niche.  Clearly an unprecedented attack.

Further widespread devastation was later found down the road, where dozens of peonies had lost their leaves prematurely.  Upon closer inspection, each and every peony leaf on the three-acre garden plot had been eaten after standing untouched for nearly half a century. In addition, old growth lilac, azalea, clethra, viburnum, sweet autumn clematis, rosa rugosa, virginia sweetspire, hydrangeas (oak leaf, climbing, paniculata and mycrophylla) -- all previously untouched -- CHOMPED!  Every plant in the perennial beds -- phlox, sneezeweed, daisies, heliopsis, baptisia, buddleia -- CHOMPED!  Not a single leaf spared.

The only plants untouched were the fern stands and the rhododendrons, leading our experts to the conclusion that the deer population was in widespread panic. While rhododendron is commonly nibbled in late winter when there is little else and the deer are naturally desperate, their clear avoidance of this shrub and widespread unprecedented attack on everything else leads us to conclude that unnaturally high anxiety levels led them to eat everything available in the first line of attack.  Experts assume that the anxiety attack was triggered by the sudden snowstorm occurring in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  “The poor dears just don't know what the heck to expect next.”

No mammals were taken into custody and any and all resentments have been discharged by reasons of insanity.

Needless to say, local garden helpers spent the following days deer- spraying the b'jesis out of both properties. Every one is now officially out of Liquid Fence ™ and waiting for the stores to re-stock.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Closing Out October

Remember the anonymous gardener who cried “Hooray! The first frost.  The dahlias are dead at last.”

The end of October brought much more than the first frost this year; we were walloped with snow that tallied power failures, road and rail closings, and county-wide states of emergencies.  I was in Rhinebeck for the weekend, tucked up safe and warm in a village house within walking distance of everything, including storm damage.
Hedge under snow load
I was also able to visit Phantom Gardener, a local nursery, to see what was available at the end of the season.  If you have the strength for it, now is the time to pick up plants too large to be held over easily.  At Phantom Gardener there were marvelous hydrangeas and quite large Sugar maples, all at half- price.  I contented myself with a dozen paperwhites for forcing and a bag of potting soil.  More on the technique for this next week. 
End of season at the Phantom Gardener


Mulch clematis vines with rotted manure.
Check rose climbers for insecure ties
Rake gardens clear of all debris.  
Prepare beds for next spring by tilling the soil lightly.

The last gasp

You may still find a few interesting offerings for sale this time of year. 
To boost your inventory of house plants look for oxalis.  O. rengnelii sprouts from underground corms.  White flowers grow in clouds several times during the year, accompanied by green, clover-shaped leaves.  When they become leggy, cut them down to soil level, and they will start all over again.