Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Monday, October 23, 2006
Learning New Words
Bushhog. This is a verb the same way that Xerox is a verb. While many of us suburbanistas know a lot about Xeroxing, some of us are very ignorant when it comes to Bushhogging. I must have had a totally blank look on my face when our builder told us that his landscaper would like to do Bushhogging for us. Not knowing exactly what I was agreeing to, I said "sure", and then came home and looked it up on the Internet. So we met with the landscaper last weekend, and he is indeed going to Bushhog the front part of our lot. This is the part without trees, the place I had in mind for a vegetable garden, and I'm sure it really does need Bushhogging before I can dig it up to plant sweet corn. Apparently, it doesn't need much Bushhogging though, because he's doing it for his minimum price. So much to learn....I hope we're educatable.
Update October 23: We have been Bushhogged.
I tried to post the above last week starting on Thursday and giving up on Friday. Blogger was uncooperative. In the meantime, the Bushhogging happened.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Holy Cow! The Milky Way!
Just saw something over the weekend that I'd never seen before - the Milky Way. Friday night was very clear, the clearest night we've had so far at the new house. After dinner, I wondered how many more stars were visible than in the suburbs. Quite a lot, as it turned out! At first I couldn't find any familiar constellations because there were too many stars, but directly overhead was a luminous streak. I guessed right away what it was. Eventually I picked out the tail of Cygnus and all of Cassiopeia. Because of all the trees, we only get to view a slice of the sky, but this picture neatly illustrates the slice we saw (of course we didn't see nearly that much detail).
I wrote the previous post in the dark, and didn't know that we had already had our first frost. There was frost on the roof, mailbox, cars - but no visible damage to any plants. Much later (today), I noticed the coleuses (is that the plural of coleus?) had been nipped, but not killed. Everything else looked fine. I still have a nice crop of green tomatoes so let's hope for a good long Indian Summer.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I just stepped out to get the newspapers and stepped back in right quick. It's COLD out there. Of course, the weather people have been warning of this for days, but we had such a nice sunny pleasant time this week that I thought surely they must be wrong.
If I paid attention to the the birds instead of the weather people, I would have gotten the same message. Wednesday, I saw the first yellow-rumped warbler and the first ruby-crowned kinglet of the season. Thursday morning, I saw my first dark-eyed junco. Thursday evening, I surprised a group of sparrows foraging in some shrubs.
The leaves in the backyard are just starting to turn (except for the ashes, which are already looking sparse).
But I still trust words (stupid, I know), so I just checked the latest weather service forecast. Loudoun County has a freeze warning for tonight, while just over the line here in Fairfax County, we have not even a frost warning. I'm going to gamble with it - the first frost warning almost never comes true - and leave everything outside. I have some Cupheas still in bloom, and I wanted to save those over the winter, but didn't get around to taking cuttings (there's always plenty of time to do it later, right?). The Cuphea ignea, as of yesterday, looked as good as it has all season, and I was hoping a stray late hummingbird might stop by. One of the Cupheas (forgot the species) hasn't even bloomed yet. And I still have some tomatoes ripening. Which reminds me, I picked one yesterday and left it on the trunk of my car - not a good place - so I'm going to go retrieve it right now while I'm thinking about it.
We'll see if my gambling with the weather forecast works out or not....
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Here and There
The last couple of weeks have been hectic here. We finally got the keys to our new house late last Friday afternoon. The very first thing we did was set up some old directors' chairs on the porch and sit and drink tea. No furniture yet. Then we went out to dinner - no fridge yet either. Sunday, I went out to explore the woods and take a few pictures. I have much to learn about my new environment. I noticed red mushrooms, purple mushrooms, and orange mushrooms - colorful, but toxic-looking. I was happy to see lots of sweetgum trees - always wanted one of those and now I have more than one. Also: blackgum, some maples, some pines and cedars, and many oaks. Lots of understory plants that I can't identify yet, and some that I can (greenbrier). An old rusty piece of a car. Hardly any poison ivy! A "stream" runs through the property, but "ditch" might be a more appropriate name for it. And it doesn't really run either. I expected mosquito trouble, but it seems to me there are more at our suburban house. Anyhow, near the "stream" is a large colony of what I think is Lycopodium. Need to do more research. Various ferns live nearby, and I don't have much of a grasp of them either.
Meanwhile, back in suburbia, the construction/destruction continues. The deck is going to be monstrously huge, but maybe we can fill it up with outdoor furniture to keep it from looking like a basketball court. Back in our suburban woods, beyond the mess behind the house, my lone Euonymus americanus fruit has opened up. The first time I saw one in the wild, I immediately wanted it for my garden. It's a straggly shrub, but perfectly fine for an out-of-the-way spot in the woods.
Trying to think of a catch-all ending here, and failing miserably, so I'll just stop typing.