By LYNNE IRONS
Honestly, Garrison Keillor just cracks me up. I so look forward to Prairie Home Companion every Saturday night on National Public Radio at 6 p.m. If I have a social event, he does a repeat performance at 1 p.m. on Sundays. This week during the news from Lake Wobegon segment he went on about the wonders and beauty of Indian summer, which as you know is a warm spell after a freeze. He likened it to a last love affair after a first heart attack. He did a many-stanza tribute to Studs Terkel with the “So long it’s been good to know you” refrain.
The days have been just beautiful and I have only built a wood fire a couple of times this fall. Now, granted, I should have a few more times but have yet to gather the wood supply in earnest. I have been doing a bit of pruning. Apparently I do not care about proper timing. I follow the “when the saw is sharp, have at it” rule. For example, I needed to cut several branches from the Kousa dogwoods as the fruit was so pendulous it threatened to break the limbs. I also trimmed shrubs and trees located too near a building or a fence as winter winds whip them about. I hate a fan-shaped scar on the side of the house where even a rose cane will rub.
I am not crazy about those enormous globe boxwoods all buttoned up in their winter jackets. It seems like too much in yearly maintenance. I know they are great in a formal settings but the evergreen effect is less when burlaped from November to March. I wouldn’t plant something that required ladder climbing with staples and big roles of fabric. Admittedly I do burlap hydrangeas in some situations. The deer will eat next year’s bloom buds in a hard winter. Also, the wrapping seems to prevent some late spring frost damage.
It has been a great garden year. Having rain in July and August makes a world of difference. I have been taking apart window boxes and replanting any perennials into the beds. I also dig holes to receive the good soil in the not-too-fertile sections of the garden. I hate to waste the good dirt and will use fresh next season. I rarely pull annuals. I just cut them off at the soil level so as not to disturb neighboring perennials and allow the roots to rot in place. Shake them a bit in hopes of reseeding next spring.
I love the time change. I know I am in a minority but light in the morning makes it easier to get up. When it gets dark by 5 p.m. I am so grateful to come inside and call it a day. Plants and animals do not see the difference and neither would we in a more natural world. I seem to ramble a bit, but November is an odd month for gardening. Is it the end of an old era or the beginning of a new? I controlled myself economically this year and did not order any bulbs. Now I am feeling sad about that and think I’ll give Van Bourgondien a ring and see if there are any sales. It is never too late to put bulbs in the ground as long as one can jackhammer through the tundra. I have done it as late as January. I do not recommend it, but the bulbs did not die. I think they only need six weeks of cold before they emerge in the spring. I am crazy about the drumstick allium which bloom in June and July. They are a real addition to the early summer border. They are relatively inexpensive as well. At least 10 can go into a 12-inch diameter hole.
I have been digging some dahlias for winter storage. They like to experience a freeze after which one can cut them back to about three inches. (In a perfect world they would be labeled according to color and size — as if!) Some were started from seed this spring and have grown some decent-sized tubers.
Kudos to the Obama/Biden campaign. It was a well-fought fight. I thought John McCain was very gracious in his concession speech. Hopefully we can all move on and set our country back on the right track.