By JO ERBSKORN
What a nice weekend this past one turned out to be. Art and I took advantage of the cool weather and started the fall clean-up. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we never did anything in the yard. How long would it take to have our own jungle?
One thing that needed our attention desperately was our apple tree. The branches did not get trimmed last winter so they were long and the apples weighed them down to the ground. This is so stressful on the tree. Ideally, fruit trees should be trimmed in the winter after the tree has gone into a dormant state. I was worried about the tree breaking, so we pruned it. When is goes dormant this winter we will take the top out of it to lighten it up even more. It is a macintosh apple tree and it can produce a lot of very nice fruit. We also have a yellow delicious apple tree that is not quite the producer the macintosh is.
As I age I find myself wanting things simpler and easier to keep up with. I have said before that it is important to know your plants, and if someone is sharing a plant there is often a reason. Some plants just don’t know or care where their place is, such as the lovely sea oat grass.
Picture this: waist high grass with matured oat color and fine little heads on top of the stem that blow in the breeze. Blowing in the wind is what has changed my feelings about the beauty of this plant. The little oat-like head is beautiful, but it is feathery and light, making it easy to repopulate your property. Likely it is blowing into your neighbor’s yard as well. If they establish a bed it will be very hard to remove it.
Picture a simple little garden with sea oats used as an accent here and there. Beautiful? Yes, for about one or two years then sea oats are everywhere—in the roses, in the peonies, coming up in the yard.
If I painted a good enough picture you should be able to envision the way our back gardens looked prior to the weekend. Somewhere in the waving grass were my peonies, roses, feverfew and holly bushes. Now it is nice and tidy and ready for winter. I’m sure a few sea oats will come back next year, but no one needs a yard full.
I have two other invasive plants I wish I’d never laid eyes on. One is liantris and the other morning glories, both of which have been trying to take over for years.
It is getting late enough in the year that my roses are setting hips. An old farmer told me once that if a rosebush sets its hips you should be done pruning it for the year. I think the person who told me that probably only had heritage roses, not the common hybrid kind we have now. That person was my great-grandmother. As a child and even now her words of wisdom make me smile for they usually ring true. It’s amazing the things we impart on our young and what they retain.
I’ve had rose hip tea and it’s quite good. I don’t trim, unless you count the hips. I guess it’s one way I honor the memory of a great lady whom I respect. It is my sincere hope that someone in your life has made that kind of impression.