In late-autumn, when the skies are clear, the sun is shining, and leaves are crunching underfoot, I enjoy taking leisurely walks. Would you like to see what I see when I wander the gardens here? Then you must join me on this sip-and-stroll tour:
The zippity-sip du jour is a classic martini.
How I make this enchanting drink:
Now click your heels three times…
SWOOSH! We are standing at the entrance to the rose garden. As you can see, the boxwood has grown by leaps and bounds since its early-May trimming and shaping.
And the roses that performed so abysmally over the summer? Well, I’m happy to report that several are budding and blooming now. Apparently they required 8 long months to recuperate from the dreadful winter of 2014.
As we head north, we encounter a retaining wall. I built this field-stone fortress around an ancient silver-leaved maple. Beneath the bed’s groundcovering of pachysandra, numerous daffodils are busy making their roots. Rooted bulbs don’t freeze in winter.
Continuing north, a bluestone path that leads to a grove of white pines is completely obscured by maple and oak leaves. My policy is to save and shred the leaves, and use them as mulch. As it decays, the mulch turns into leaf mold — the greatest soil amendment on earth.
We are standing beneath the white pines now, looking west, with a view of the headless Venus de Milo. How Venus lost her head.
On our right is a long hedge of arborvitae. These shrubs were only 5 feet tall when we planted them in 2004. Today they are 14-foot skyscrapers. The “arbs” screen out the swimming pool. They also provide winter shelter and spring nesting quarters for birds.
Making a right past the statue, we bump into the Kitchen Garden. There isn’t much to see here now, except for dead leaves, some zinnias, some alyssum, and some kale. Kale is an amazing plant. It will continue to produce until the first hard frost.
And by the way — have you tried my Brown Rice, Lentil, and Kale soup yet? Here’s the easy recipe.
Within the beds are peonies, baptisia, and daylilies. Their foliage is still mostly green, indicating they are receiving nourishment from the sun through photosynthesis. I won’t cut these perennials to the ground until their foliage withers.
This place, too, is buried beneath a thick layer of leaves. I won’t remove the leaves until spring. They are doing precisely what they should do in a woodland setting, and that is to protect the vegetation beneath.
And here is the pond. It was the home to several goldfish for many years, but they all perished last winter, even though I’d installed a new pond-heater for their comfort. The severe cold caused the heater to burn out. Now the pond is home to frogs.
What’s that you say?
You’re ready for another martini?
Then we should head back to the house. We can make our descent via the Serpentine Garden.
And this purple Nicotiana. Nicotiana, or “flowering tobacco,” emits its glorious perfume not during daylight hours, but from dusk to dawn. It blooms until the first hard frost. You need only plant it once. Thereafter it will reseed itself. And how.
Although the blueberries have lost their vermillion leaves, the two holly shrubs — one male, and one female — are in prime condition. The female has produced an enormous crop of berries. I’ll use some of the berried sprigs for Christmas decorations.
And here is the Herb Garden. A woodchuck entered this gated sanctuary a few weeks ago (here’s the story), and promptly plundered my parsley. Fortunately the beast left my Swiss chard alone. And that’s a good thing, because I used the ruby-stemmed leaves to line a crudites platter for last weekend’s Halloween party. (To see pictures of the party, and to sample the crudites and other appetizers, just visit this spooky post.)
Last but by no means least are the boxwood cuttings that frame the four beds in the herb garden. Actually, at this point they are plants, not “cuttings.” Every stem has rooted, and all are pushing out new growth. If you’d like to produce your own boxwood crop, proceed this way.
I’m so glad you joined me on this brisk walk. Please take a seat in the parlor, while I mix up another round of martoonies. I mean martinis. Then we can have a good long chat. You can discuss anything you’d like. Perhaps you’d like to discuss the current condition of your own garden. Or the current condition of your love life. I’m all ears, baby.
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