Friday, October 30, 2015

Harvest Festival at Quiet Valley

  'Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods'  
-- William Allingham

At sunrise today the trees beyond the barn were on fire with autumn colors; the fall leaves are stunning this year. A trip to the grocery store, a task I normally hate, becomes a visual delight and makes me feel blessed to have settled in such a beautiful part of the world.

Fall in my neighborhood.

We made several trips to the Lehigh Valley this week for doctors' appointments (one of the necessities of old age.) Each time we emerged from the Lehigh tunnel into our beloved Pocono Mountains I was overwhelmed by their magnificent beauty.

Leaving the Lehigh tunnel and entering the Poconos.

Even before the leaves peaked in color, the trees were beautiful in Quiet Valley. We visited the historical farm there for the 41st annual harvest festival earlier this month.

Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm


Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, just a few miles from our home, is a 19th century Pennsylvania German farm dedicated to the preservation and education of rural farm life. Period-dressed "family" members re-enact the life of the original Pennsylvania German family who lived on the farm from the 1760s to 1913. The theme of this year's harvest festival was 'Green is Our Valley -- Homesteading." In addition to demonstrations and displays dealing with the theme, there were plenty of traditional skills and heritage crafts to see such as spinning, weaving, broom making, scrapple making, apple butter making, basket making, and candle making.


Basket Weaving

I learned about the flax plant. Flax, one of the most important crops to early American farmers and to the economy of our emerging nation, was grown for linseed oil and for making linen. Incidentally, garden flax is a larval food source for the variegated fritillary butterfly.

The humble Flax plant Linum Usitatissimum
Making tow from flax to be turned into twine.

This year, the farm ladies were excited to dye their linen with cochineal, a red dye, that they hadn't used before. To make the fabric colorfast, they treated it with mordant, a mineral that helps dye adhere. They used indigo that they grew themselves to dye wool from the farm. Onion skins and marigolds produced yellow dye and madder root produced colors from orange through peach and red.

Drying newly dyed skeins of wool.
Beautiful colors.

They showcased vegetables and herbs for their home remedies, such as allium (onions and garlic) used to treat wounds, skin infections and insect bites.

We bumped into old friends, Janet and Larry. Janet was carrying a beautiful bouquet of the aromatic herb 'Sweet Annie.' There were herbs, dried flowers and wreaths for sale. I purchased a wreath for my potting shed and posted a picture of it last time.

Sweet Annie Artemisia
Next to the farmhouse we paused to listen to 18th century music.

The 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry re-enactors portrayed the everyday life of soldiers in the 19th century, while the New Jersey Frontier Guard showed French and Indian war soldiers trekking through the farm throughout the event.

We spent several hours at the farm, culminating in the enjoyment of homemade ice cream. As we drove the short distance home through the lovely PA countryside, H.H. and I agreed it was a perfect day.

'Brilliantly tinted foliage dances along outstretched branches ... made all the more gorgeous by glimpses of contrasting green in the grass beneath and roughly textured, lichened bark of adjoining trees.' 
-- Malcom Hillier
Soon after our visit to Quiet Valley we had our first killing frost in the mountains. Fortunately, with plenty of warning, I brought indoors some plants for overwintering, I took cuttings from tender perennials, and I picked the last blooms of the season.

Rescued from the first hard frost.

Where-ever you live in the world, I hope your current season is as beautiful as mine!
Pamela x

Working brick oven at Quiet Valley Farm

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Litterfall on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Litterfall. Plant material that falls to the ground, such as leaves from trees. 

Fall is upon us covering my garden with a layer of litterfall: beautiful orange, red and brown leaves. I like the term 'litterfall' so much more than 'leaf litter' (which evokes kitty litter in my mind.) The sound of leaf blowers will soon disrupt the peace of the neighborhood, but my early morning garden exudes tranquility. I stroll with my camera, finding places to sit for a moment to enjoy the season. The walnut tree's cast-iron bench provides a beautiful view of the changing leaves around the top field.

H.H. found the circular bench, an item he always wanted, on Craig's list. It came with a matching love seat and chairs. I placed the love seat on the front porch to display a basket of mums. I haven't decided where to put the chairs yet.

The sunrise caused a reflection in the storm door glass, so you can't see my pretty fall wreath very clearly. You can better view the autumn wreath on the potting shed door in the kitchen garden. I purchased the wreath at the Quiet Valley Harvest Festival last weekend -- a story for a future blog posting.

All sorts of birds cover the sunflowers in the kitchen garden searching for seeds. I wont cut down the plants while birds continue to enjoy them.

A titmouse searches for sunflower seeds ...
... success!

 So what is blooming in my garden on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day? ...

Nasturtiums in the kitchen garden.
Fading phlox.
Borrage -- one of my favorite blue flowers, beloved by pollinators.

One word describes the morning glories this year: stunning! They continue to bloom as they climb over several arbors.

Morning glory, zinnias, and cleome.

Small lilac-colored blooms cover the butterfly bush in the cottage garden. I've been careful to remove the flowers as soon as they go to seed because buddleia is now on the Invasive Plants Watch List in the state of Pennsylvania. Apparently, birds and wind spread the seeds and the shrub grows along roadsides threatening milkweed. I haven't noticed any on my travels, but I know the importance of prevention.

Buddleia, butterfly bush with numerous blossoms
All my roses give a beautiful farewell to summer.
Bee covered in pollen from Russian Sage, another of my favorite blue flowers.
Snapdragons, roses, and clematis in the Horseshoe Garden.
Hydrangea blooms achieve their final fall color.

I conclude my walk in the Stone Garden where the litterfall is thick and fuschia blooms in the stone pots. I would like to overwinter some of my container plants, so I must do something soon: the weather forecast calls for below freezing temperatures, frost, and maybe even a little of the white stuff this weekend. Brr...

Litterfall is thickest under the maple trees in the Stone Garden.

Gardeners often remove litterfall for aesthetic purposes, but it is an important and functional aspect of ecosystem dynamics, continuing to provide for the surrounding environment. We should not be in a hurry to remove all dead plant material that falls to the ground. I leave all litterfall in the Woodland Walk, for example, and shred and return leaves to flower beds in other parts of the garden. Read about the benefits of fallen leaves here.

The weather man says today was beautiful from coast-to-coast (at last), so I hope my American garden friends enjoyed it. In whatever part of the world you garden, I wish you a happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! I urge you to visit Carol's blog at May Dream's Gardens where she hosts this wonderful meme. I love to see what is blooming all around the world on the 15th of each month, thanks to you, Carol!

Love to all,
Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Autumn in the Cottage Garden

Everything in my garden changed overnight it seems. Yesterday was summer; today is autumn. The leaves of the maple tree turn red and blanket the front lawn. Echinacea flowers disappear, to the joy of twittering goldfinches gorging themselves on the seeds. Brown, rust, and gold overtake green in the cottage garden. The final glory of summer goes on in fuchsias, zinnias, and nasturtiums, but I am acutely aware from the untidy messiness of it all that it's time to clean up and begin preparations for (dare I say?) winter.
No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.
-- Hugh Johnson

Maple trees near the front of the house.
It surely looks like fall!
View of the pond from an upstairs window.

As the pond takes on its new-season look, the fish and frogs remain active, not yet ready for winter's sleep. We close the pond between Halloween and Thanksgiving, so a few more weeks yet.

Lotus leaves with brown seed pod tickling the fish's nose.

 While the leaves turn to gold, little punches of color are evident in cottage garden blooms ...

Phlox 'Bright Eyes' and perennial geranium surrounded by the yellowing leaves of gooseneck loosestrife.
Threadleaf coreopsis with lambs ears.
 The petunias in the window boxes remain true to summer until the first frost.

Three of five window boxes on the tractor shed.

One of our grandchildren, very young, pointed to the tractor shed and said, "Who lives in there?" An understandable mistake since he saw lace curtains at the windows.  I explained it's where Pappy keeps the farm equipment including the old field tractor. I didn't tell him the reason for the curtains: H.H. and I, a bit like the 'Odd Couple,' differ in our idea of tidiness. I don't want visitors to my (usually) orderly garden looking through these windows.

Zinnias, cleome and the seeds of puple cone flower.

Most noticeable in the garden today, zinnias present a riot of color -- my reason for growing them. In the butterfly garden they vie for attention with the exuberant cleome. I use the word 'exuberant' because the flowers remind me of a burst of fireworks.

Cleome and zinnias at the entrance to our farm.
The butterfly garden attracts butterflies still ...
... and bees.

The grape over the pergola is full of fruit. It grew from just one small plant. H.H. added a wild grape that he dug up in the Woodland Walk, but I don't believe it survived. In any event, the wild one doesn't produce fruit. I'm reminded of the many tasks I must perform before the end of this garden season -- including making grape jelly or juice. Unfortunately, by this time of year I am feeling tired, and usually leave the grapes for the birds.

As well as the enormous Concord grape, notice two clematis in bloom.
Walking under the pergola, it smells like Italy.

 In the Woodland Walk the beautiful Virginia creeper punctuates the tree trunks with red, providing more evidence of the changing season.

My mini horse, Dude, peeps around the vibernum that grows in the shade garden.

Finally, the kitchen garden and more zinnias ...

The sunflowers bow down under the weight of their seed-filled heads.

Everything in the garden changed. Now we are under the threat of winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Joaquin, so more changes ahead, and with no gardening for a few days. What changes are you seeing in your garden today?

One of Nature's ironies is that a garden's warmest colors blossom
 as the skies turn gray and cold.

-- author unknown

Enjoy October, dear gardening friends!
Pamela x

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.