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!

Parking Lot Landscaping That’s A Bit Unusual

I am sure that I am not the only one that is fascinated with parking lot and strip mall landscaping. For the most part, there is a lot of sameness to it–Knockout roses and Stella D’Oro daylilies. There’s a reason for that–it works because those are very tough plants.

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I’ve had this photo on my blog before, a few years ago, in the middle of a drought after a very cold winter. At that point, these river birches (betula nigra) looked dead. I am delighted to see that they have recovered but I still find them an odd choice for an island bed in the middle of asphalt because, as a general rule, they are a somewhat thirsty plant.
Nevertheless, they do seem to be thriving.

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This planting is in the same general area. Yes, there are daylilies, but no Stella D’Oros in sight. And the coneflowers are a delight. I walked over for a closer look, expecting them to be devoid of life, but I found several types of bees on them.

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It may be a little hard to see but this flower in the foreground actually has two big bumblebees on it! What I hope that means is that these beds aren’t pesticided to within an inch of their lives. It’s quite refreshing.

So every so often even commercial planting can surprise me–in a good way.

What a Difference A Little Warmth Makes!

April in Connecticut was nasty! It was the 5th or 6th coldest April on record (and our records go back into the late 1800s, so that’s a good bit of weather to compare with!)

We got almost 2″ of rain above average–you won’t ever hear me complaining too much about rain, but when it’s so cold, extra rain is extra ugly.

And we had over 6″ of snow above average. That I will complain about!

But so far the beginning of May is making up for it–or as I always say, we only have two seasons here in this state, winter and July.  We haven’t had much temperate weather–it’s either been below average (or much below) or much above. I presume that’s how averages are made.

Still, when I got back from Oklahoma, I found all this in bloom!

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Azaleas were everywhere ( as were forsythia, but I don’t have those)

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Magnolias similarly were everywhere. I have a star magnolia, but I am a bit concerned that it somehow died over the winter. I see no signs of life–either blossoms or leaves. This is a 30 year old tree. I hate when that happens!

My yellow magnolia is doing fine and will be in bloom shortly.

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Bulbs are popping up in places where I planted them–and where I didn’t. More about that in another post.

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My weeping cherry–which is always later than the magnolia–is spectacular.

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And this funny plant–petasites japonica–is doing quite well because of all the moisture. It will do well as long as it’s moist. If it becomes hot and dry, it will get ratty and I cut it back.

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So I was very pleased to see spring at last on my return.