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429-ii-002The breezy rain in these latter days of April 2009 has taken a toll on our beautiful blooming apple and crab apple trees. The ground under the apple looks like it has just snowed.429-016

The wild flowers—trilliums, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches are fully out and some are beginning to fade. The wild ginger has expanded its territory and I think I see the tips of the Jack in the Pulpits breaking through the mulch under the tupelo/black gum tree.

Redbud & Witch Hazel

Redbud & Witch Hazel

BTW, the leaves have started turning. The chlorophyll factories are shut down—abandoned migrant worker camps—left to the vagaries of wind, rain and cold—elemental Nature. Un-restored by productive occupation the brittle little workbenches are dropping to the ground ready for re-purposing or the tender ministrations of the rake. 

Katsura

Katsura

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

The pleasure I derive from viewing the changing colors of autumn leaves is evidently not as great as it is for many other people. I can see color changes but it just doesn’t seem to carry as much esthetic charge. I’ve always assumed that because of my color deficient vision I was missing the subtleties. Perhaps it is. Maybe it’s just that I prefer the exuberance of spring.

Black Gum

Black Gum

Doral Chenoweth III | Dispatch

Doral Chenoweth III | Dispatch

Last Sunday, from about 3pm to 9pm we were blown witless by dry, swirling winds of 60-75 mph; roughly equivalent to a Category One hurricane—but without the moisture. Greetings from Hurricane Ike!

No rain but just gusty, powerful winds for 6 or 7 hours! No one seems to remember anything like it before.

News reports claimed 286,000 Franklin County residents were without power. Many are still in the dark, including much of my neighborhood. Despite AEP’s best efforts the last remnant may not have their power restored until Sunday, the 21st.

Six hours of the eerie sounds of cracking and crashing tree limbs, power lines snapping and sparking on the ground, electrical transformers blowing out like small bombs and things flying through the air that we are unaccustomed to seeing in flight.

Six hours of anxiety.

DORAL CHENOWETH III | Dispatch

DORAL CHENOWETH III | Dispatch

It was as if France’s famous mistral wind had somehow reached across the ocean. In his novel A Year in Provence Peter Mayle talks about local legends of the mistral inducing madness. Now I have a sense of how that could be.

We were very fortunate—our power stayed on; but many of our neighbors were not so lucky. We had virtually no damage, just a few twigs down. Most of our trees are young and flexible and healthy. Here at Nine Pines, we invest in regular trimming, fertilizing and when necessary anti-bug and anti-disease treatments to keep them in good condition.

In our subdivision dozens of bright orange extension cords lay across streets like tiny speed bumps as neighbors offer neighbors the means to keep their basic vital systems running-freezers, refrigerators, health appliances—even fish tanks. It’s an ill wind indeed that blows no one good.

Part of the shock of this event was the strangeness of it. No flooding, no eight-foot snow drifts, no freezing or super-hot temperatures and yet the county has been paralyzed for nearly a week. Some schools and businesses are still closed.

COURTNEY HERGESHEIMER | Dispatch

COURTNEY HERGESHEIMER | Dispatch

It makes you think.

When we don’t prune in the garden, Nature does it for us through wind, ice, hail, fire, and flood. One way or another, the boughs will be shaped or strengthened. If we don’t prune away the stress and plow under the useless in our lives, pain will do it for us. Make no mistake; I think pain is a wretched gardener. Her cuts stun and sting. But after pruning, and preferably voluntary, we’re able to discern what’s real, what’s important, and what’s essential for our happiness. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

One other side effect—look for a baby boomlet mid-June 2009 with a greater than expected number of the little tykes named Ike or some derivative.

August’s arid weather freed The Proprietor of lawn mowing duties for the last several weeks. Instead, garden maintenance consisted mainly of weeding and moving around sprinklers from bed to bed to help preserve our precious young trees. 

The formerly lush green sea of lawn flowing among the beds here at NPG is now a sea of pale tan thatch punctuated here and there by enough grassy weeds (what else could they be?) that mowing could no longer be delayed. 

The ground was so hard that I couldn’t see the swath I had just mowed. I kept losing track of what ground had been covered except in the areas where the sprinklers had overshot the beds and there the lawn was not only green but 5 inches tall! 

It was sad. As I walked behind the mower, the crunchy brown grass remnants snapped under my tread like a parking lot spread edge to edge with those big ovoid shredded wheat biscuits I used to eat for breakfast. 

At least it’s all the same height now.

August around the Nine Pines Garden is not typically rainy; but this is ridiculous! So far this month we’ve had one day with measurable precip — less than 1/3 of an inch. We’re down more than 2 inches from normal. 

Next chance for rain is said to be coming this Sunday. Four or five times this month we’ve had similar predictions. With high hopes we have looked upward at teasing skies filled with dark clouds and not-so-distant thunder floating by — but nary a drop! Just day after day of these damned pleasant days with warm but not too humid days and cool nights good for sleeping. Almost like Florida except 15 degrees cooler and no afternoon rain. Bitter disappointment! The Proprietor is not holding his breath for this Sunday.

If only Fay could see her way clear to flounce her skirts a little to the north…

Got to get that deduct meter installed.

Here’s a lovely shot from moister days earlier this year taken by the Lady of the Manor.

Salad Days at Nine Pines Garden 2008