Don’t Panic, This is Perfectly Normal

And now a break from our house plant discussion, to mention something else.

Last Friday, when I showed the photo of the Fiddle-leaf Fig, sharp eyed viewers may have noticed something from the window behind the fig. There was something that looked like straw out that window.

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Here it is for those of you that were too busy looking at the fig. Yes, this is my back lawn–under a bed of pine needles.

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Here are some shrubs, under the same bed of those same needles.

What on earth is happening? Are all my pine trees dying?

Well, thankfully not, although you wouldn’t know it from the needle drop. This happens to evergreens, more or less (this year it’s more) every autumn. I suspect the needle drop is heavier because we had a very wet spring, summer and fall; therefore there are more needles to drop.

All evergreens, both broadleaf (hollies, rhododedrons, mahonias and the like) and needled drop a portion of their foliage every autumn. It’s just that in some years, that “drop” is much more pronounced than in others. And if the “drop” is particularly heavy–or if you are new to gardening or new to a particular type of evergreen, this may be new to you. Don’t panic–it’s okay.

If you are concerned that something is NOT normal, by all means, take a branch or small piece (in a sealed plastic bag) in to your nearest garden center or cooperative extension service. They should be able to tell you whether what’s going on is normal for your plant, or if you have an issue that needs addressing.

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But if you have a tree that looks like this, don’t worry–’tis the season!

Transition

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Here in the United States, today is Labor Day–a day that many folks think of as the “end” of the summer season. Students go back to school (if they haven’t already) and the “carefree” attitude that many adopted in July and August seems to evaporate.

As much as I try to hang on to a summery attitude–at least until the official start of autumn on September 23 this year–nature doesn’t always cooperate with me. This is what I am seeing.

The plumes of that “annual” pennisetum in the above photo are already more brown than red. In fact, birds have harvested some of the brown stalks completely, a sure sign of coming autumn.

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And of course, here are the ubiqutous maple “noses” although these are only half formed. These are the seed pods of various maple trees–in this case, my neighbor’s Japanese maple. There were some double podded ones–the ones that gives them the name “noses,” but their color wasn’t nearly so pretty.

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My common milkweed, going to seed.

In my town, we go back to school tomorrow but most of the towns around us went back last week in a heat wave (unlike most of the country, we here in Connecticut do things by town not county. So the next time you think your state government is inefficient, remember that we have 168 of them in the 3rd smallest state! Ugh!)

But back to school is definitely the “end of summer” for a lot of people. So savor today!