Craig's Fall Letter

Well, Fall is definitely in the air now after almost a week of cool, damp days that were SO needed after our summer drought.

I am always heartened to see how Mother Nature will tell certain plants to start shutting down in a drought, after a flood, and when a season changes.  These next few weeks will be a bit of all these weather conditions combined.

The drought we had this past summer is a stark reminder of how we, as gardeners, need to fill in where Nature sometimes leaves off.  After another wet May, plants were in hyper growth mode in June and early July. Then, as one could see if they were watching, there was a real halt in green growth and a real boom in fruit and flowering.  I have heard more than once that nature knows when to reproduce when the going gets tough.  Wonderful crops of tomatoes and dahlias were revealed this year in comparison to last summer when both crops were almost pathetic.  I guess it helps that this year I planted 19 tomato plants for Paul since "we’ve always never had enough of August tomatoes”. And this year… no complaints!  I slimmed down the selection of dahlias in our garden this year to include only the past performers:  ‘Thomas Edison’, ‘Bishop of Landaff’ and ‘Japanese Bishop’.  All have been spectacular and have supplied many flower arrangements for the house and for lots of worthy friends.

We lost many herbaceous plants, which needed perfect drainage, from the results of our now annual sloppy month of May.  The lack of oxygen and cold soil temperatures was just too much for some of the lavenders, German iris, Artemisias, and hybrid lilies.  Our heavy clay soils around here are really tough to alter enough to prevent over saturation a month at a time, without major subterranean drainage systems (And there aren’t any under our herbaceous borders here!).  Then, go figure, our established Delphinium were, yet again, just gorgeous this year. Always a challenge…always a journey.

As the first hint of foliage starts changing color, and with the buzz of cicadas and kamikaze yellow jackets everywhere, I really take more time to stroll whenever I can in the garden to appreciate the finite time left before the first frost.  This has been a bumper crop year for the peaches and apples in our orchard, and coincidentally, the same year we cut all the leaders out of the fruit trees to start the old style of orchard tree pruning.  No more ladders needed for us tall folk.  

This crazy Covid-19 year has revealed a lot of reflection and regenerated interest in ours’ and our clients’ homes and gardens.  Our extended family of staff and family have been blessed to not have any terrible incidents associated with Covid infections, so far, and we have all learned how to work in a different way, and sometimes from home!  Being very fortunate to be considered an essential business, we have been able to keep all of our staff not only employed, but very busy, and we have hired a few additional folks as well to respond to the needs of our clients old and new.

May your Fall season keep you healthy, safe and outside in your gardens and yards as much as possible.  These cool nights have stimulated many outdoor fireside conversations and grilled meals.  The pool temperature is moving up to keep us outside as long as we can this year. We opened the pool early April during our sheltering at home and have become used to running through the cold to jump into the water… soon to be repeated, hopefully just running not the sheltering, before the snow falls.

Stay active in your gardens this season and plant a few more Spring flowering bulbs than normal in October.  It will help you feel much better about the future in this election year…ugh!

Horticulturally Yours,