Gardener's Grapevine 2012.10.24

Written by David Green.

I love fall, even though the harvesting and dry leaves make my allergies go nuts. The trees and fields being harvested are so beautiful. The downside to such beauty is the barren cold winter months. Winter is so very necessary to our plants in this part of the country. The earth and trees need down time to sleep, renew and regroup.

With our warm winter and early summer last year the trees took a lot of stress. They lost a lot of their fruit due to the freakish weather. Some fruit trees did very well while others had next to nothing or lost most of their fruit early. Apparently, the giant oak tree in front of the Johnson’s next door did not suffer at all. That tree has dropped bushels of acorns. I can hear them pop on the driveway when someone drives over them. This is not so great for Mary as she has to clean them up from everywhere, but the squirrels are in heaven storing the acorns for winter.

Speaking of squirrels, the little buggers are so funny. I cleaned up some dead flowers that had gone to seed and prior to cutting the dead stems and disposing of them, I cut the dried seed heads off and left them in the flower beds. Later, I looked out the window to see squirrels running across the yard with the whole seed head that I had cut off. That had to be a very painful job to carry it up a tree as the coneflower seed heads are like thistles, very pokey.

What do you do with your seeds on the dead plants? Usually I let the dead stalks stay until spring so the birds can eat them when the snow is covering everything else. The only reason I cut the ones I did, is because when I’m in a cleaning up mood I tend to get carried away.

Speaking of cleaning up, don’t be in a huge hurry to clean everything out of your perennial beds. Some plants need a nice cover of leaves and dead vegetation to protect against the cold winter weather. My great grandmother Hila used to have me cover her roses with leaves every fall so they could act as insulation.

Other plants like the iris or hosta do not need such protection. If you are cleaning up your landscaping go ahead and trim the hostas since they have all frosted now and are not reaping any benefit from their leaves any longer.  While you are cleaning up, remember to take a note pad and write down which hostas need to be split in the spring. It is much easier to do the splitting if you write it down in the fall. By the time the hostas are full open, it is too difficult to split them and they will spend the rest of the summer trying to round themselves out again. They like to be round and will put a lot of effort into it.

By splitting the hostas while the leaves are still tightly rolled and small, they are a lot easier to handle. It takes very little for them to reround their shape as you will be splitting them while they are still partially dormant. I have a very grubby notebook in my gardening shed, but each spring it is a job I’m glad I do each fall.

In addition to cleaning up the beds, don’t forget the lawn. If you use chemicals it is time to apply winterizer. I also like to aerate in the fall; it gives the grass somewhere to stretch its roots in the spring.

While it is a lot of work to get everything cleaned up for winter you will be glad you made the effort. When the bleak winter winds blow, you will look out onto a tidy sleeping landscape. Besides, it gives our city workers job security cleaning up those giant piles of yard waste. They do such a great job of keeping everything clean and tidy, and they never complain. Thanks to our great city workers.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
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    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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