It’s been a busy week on the job sites. I’ve been pruning some of the shrubs. The hydrangeas, although they still look wonderful, are in need of some clipping. I’ve cut back those branches which are rubbing on the house. A word to the wise about foundation plantings. Plant them farther from the house to start. Trust me, they will grow and grow.
Foundation plantings are an interesting phenomenon. I think they became popular in the 1950s. Those houses had rather ugly cinderblock foundations which needed to be hidden. Really, the plantings should not be close to one’s house. For starters, they encourage mold and bugs. They often grow over a window, compromising light inside. Worse still, they begin rubbing during wind and can loosen shingles or make unsightly marks.
At any rate, I removed the offending branches this week. Also, I trimmed around the bottoms of all the hydrangeas, which have flopped onto the lawn and ruined the grass. Any dead flower heads should be removed at this time.
Do not forget that many varieties of hydrangeas, such as Nikko Blue or Blue Wave, bloom on old growth, so do not go crazy with your clippers. This past summer’s growth will produce next season’s flowers.
This is not true, though, of Annabelles (the white big-headed ones). They bloom on new growth and can practically be cut to the ground. I usually cut them nice and even, to about eighteen inches.
I took my handsaw to several buddleas. They looked ghastly. Again, they bloom on new growth and should be kept in tight control. Cut out old wood and bring them down to a reasonable height. Take some time and stand back and look at what you are doing. They do not want to be clipped in an even hedge-like fashion. Rather, let the nature of the plant dictate your cuts.
Unless you are really confident, leave lilacs and forsythia until after they bloom in the spring. Once old wood is removed from lilacs new shoots will emerge to replace it. However, they take forever to bloom again. Gardening is all about patience — my least favorite virtue.
Once the perennial beds are cut back for the winter, it’s a good idea to put a nice crisp edge to the bed. It will make a pleasing winter statement and, for heaven’s sake, use a string. No edge is better than a crooked one. Have I mentioned my friend Sharlene’s midwestern word for crooked? Walkerjawed! I love that.
The maples in the Tisbury cemetery are downright spectacular. The view from State Road is wonderful. The fall colors here on the Vineyard are very subtle. I’m sorry to say they are no match for my hometown of Rew, Pa., which sits up in the Appalachian mountains. The variety of trees there and their vibrant yellows, oranges and reds are certainly a match for New Hampshire and Vermont foliage.
My friend Susie Goldman lives above the Allen Farm windmill. It is directly in her view of the Atlantic ocean. When asked about it, she remarked that she loves it and that she is proud to live where people take the innovative risk. After all, she said, the Dutch have lived with their windmills forever and they love them. Susie is a woman of impeccable social conscience.
In my daily travels I have noticed the incredible amount of bittersweet threading up into trees. Its fall color makes it visible. If you make a seasonal arrangement of the attractive berries do not toss it into your compost. It will take root. Rather bag and dispose of it in the rubbish.
I am writing this before the last presidential debate. My only comment about the last one was Mitt Romney’s assurance that we would keep our tax deductions for interest on our savings accounts. Who can he possibly be kidding? What unemployed and/or working poor person even has a savings account. And excuse me, how much interest would be taxable on a measly few hundred dollars anyway.
I read Jim Hightower’s Lowdown. I have to quote from his latest issue.
“During the past several years, a mess of plutocratic myths has been growing like kudzu across our political landscape. This aggressive ideological vine has crept from place to place, incrementally covering over the vital spirit of egalitarianism that defines us as Americans and unites us as a society. Deliberately planted and nurtured by various Koch-like funded front groups, these invasive myths (let’s dare call them lies) have been spread by assorted Ayn-Randian acolytes, advancing the anti-democratic notions that corporations and the wealthy are America’s most able, virtuous and deserving citizens.”