I found this today in a book I was listening to. It pays to read lots. I love this poem!
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
It happened to me yesterday for the first time this season. As I walked through a garden gate, the sweet scent of Sarcococca humilis hit me. And you will notice the scent first because the small white flowers aren't very showy.
If you don't have any Himalayan sweetbox in your garden, definitely consider getting some this season. The sweet scent is amazing in the middle of winter when nothing much is happening.
There is something about frost on plants that gives them extra special looks. And the frost also reminds me that the season is over. It's time to tidy up all garden areas before the holidays and enjoy some downtime. See how many of them you can name.
Examine the picture below. It probably doesn't look like much to you. Just some soccer parents proudly watching their kids play.
What made me smile was how the people moved- instinctively?- under the tree for cover when the skies opened up with rain briefly. That's what we call ecosystem services for which the trees don't charge us anything. They just do it.
Can you name other ecosystem services provided by our trees free of charge? The list is long. Most would go with oxygen, shade, wind force mitigation, beauty, etc. Now you can add rain shelter. But you knew that already.
So why is this worth a blog post? Because during my work in landscape maintenance I encounter many people who openly hate trees. In the fall, trees drop too many leaves or they are allegedly ready to bulldoze houses with their roots. So let's remove them.
"I hate that tree"
That's a direct quote from one strata resident. It was a sunny fall day and there were many big leaf maple (Acer macrophylla) leaves on the ground. I couldn't even think of hate. We collected what we could; remember, you're never responsible for hundred percent of the leaf drop. Anything that drops after your service will be fresh and good to go the following week.
There is so much to learn about trees. Trees and hate in one sentence sounds oxymoronic. Love them and care for them. And if it rains, enjoy their protection.
Since my garlic order arrived on Friday, I got my son out on our humble patio for some garlic planting and clean-ups. You can read about my first-ever garlic planting adventure on my landscape blog; West Coast Landscape Professional.
We had other work to do. Hostas and Rudbeckias required cut-back. We also had winter annuals to plant: pansies and ornamental kale. Sadly, this will probably be the only colour on our patio. That and one Primula that somehow survived the lack of water and acted like a resurrection plant.
This was a great opportunity to get my son trained on snipping with Felco 2s. He did well cleaning up ugly leaves off the kale we were about to plant in our pots. He would later donate a few kale plants to his soccer coach.
One last task was adding left-over soil to the rest of our pots. I can now confidently report that our patio is ready for winter. We'll see what happens to our garlic harvest next summer.
Don't get cute with leaf pick-up. When you use a rake and tarps, make sure all of your raking is towards your tarp. I see it all the time. People rake leaves into beautiful pyramids and THEN bring in a tarp. That's too cute.
For best results, I place my first tarp into the leaf pile and then fill it up. My second tarp is for any remnants. Then I move on. When the pile is huge, you can even kick the leaves in.
The same goes for backpack blowing. Blow your leaves into a decent pile for easy pick-up but don't overdo it. We don't want to blow gorgeous pyramids.
Make sure you use a decent rake. This is a bad time for 8" rake use.
When your trees are still shedding leaves, don't stress. Just pick up what you can. But once the tree is bare then we clean-up around it really well.
I love the fall! The colours are great and the air is cooler. Today I even got to see salmon spawning in a creek. The sunshine was a huge bonus. So try to enjoy the fall.
I love the fall colours in the landscape. Below are some of my favourite landscape trees. We start with red maple (Acer rubrum), then yellow katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), followed by Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) and finishing with Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum).
What are your favourite trees?
It's fall and lawn care is slowly winding down. The actual end of mowing will depend on November temperatures. But we before we stop mowing it's a good idea to apply good winter fertilizer.
Winter lawn fertilizers are formulated to strengthen the roots which should lead to a nice looking lawn next year. We obviously don't want any growth right now.
Fertilizer application is great on rainy days as long as you can keep your spreader dry. Also make sure your spreader is properly calibrated.
Once you're done, don't forget to blow any prills off driveways and sidewalks.
Sometimes your best plans for the day get derailed by events that are beyond your control. Like today, October 11, 2017. I had a truck full of great-looking pansies and ornamental kale but as I got closer to my sites it wasn't looking good. A freak hailstorm had deposited something like 2" of ice on the ground. Not exactly the best conditions for planting.
So all I could do was prepare the beds by pulling all summer annuals and cultivating. Slightly frustrated, it turned out to be a short day. Since I got home well-before school let out, I walked over to pick up my daughter from school and we enjoyed our walk in the sun.
I suspect landscaping in the age of Global Warming will be challenging. This past summer was hot and hazy from forest fires; now we get October hailstorms. I wonder what this winter will bring.
If you have any clean ups left to do in your gardens, I suggest you get to it while you can.
Vas Sladek, B.Sc., CLT
Red Seal Journeyman Landscape Horticulturist and ISA certified arborist