purple blazing star

purple blazing star

Let me just say how much I love cool fronts from Canada. Wow, has it ever made it feel like early fall these last few days. Yesterday’s high temperature was 64F (18C)! Bookman and I took a walk after dinner to Lake Nokomis a few blocks from our house and then strolled around the lake. We wore long pants and wind breakers and kept getting sprinkled on. Just as we made it back to our front porch we had a three minute downpour. Talk about good timing.

What a lovely walk we had though in the cool. With all the rain we have had this year the lake is higher than I have ever

marshmallow

marshmallow

seen it and over its banks in a few lower areas. There are two swimming beaches on the lake. The smaller one is completely underwater up to the base of the lifeguard tower which sits up at the top of the beach. The larger beach still has beach but its about half its usual size. It was too cold and windy for swimmers so the ducks were taking advantage and enjoying the swimming platform all to themselves out further from shore. There were a few intrepid fisher folk out too. And a poor man from the Department of Natural Resources sitting under a tarp all by himself next to the boat launch to do boat inspections and educate boaters about zebra mussels, an invasive species that is slowly finding its way into many lakes and rivers and causing general environmental havoc because it has no natural predators here. With only one boat out in the water and not likely to be anymore, the poor guy looked rather bored.

There has been quite a lot of shoreline restoration done around the lake over the years with native plantings that help keep the water clean and attract wild life. Aside from birds and a rabbit, not much was out and about. It was nice to be able to recognize plants that I have growing my own garden though. Plants like wild bergamot, milkweed, black-eyed Susan, coneflowers and asters.

pumpkin

pumpkin

In the veggie garden, the sudden breath of cool air put a halt to the sudden attempt at recovery my tomatoes and bell peppers were making. It also slowed down the zucchini and cucumbers. The pumpkins though have reached the point where nothing is going to stop them. We are in pumpkins take over the garden time. As much as I try to direct their vines where I want them to go, they pay little heed and go where it suits them. But we already have small pumpkins coming on. The largest one is about the size of a softball, the smaller ones about golfball-sized, and the plants are still flowering. I have no idea how many there are. The more the merrier I say. I love pumpkin and can never have too much.

The beans are still going crazy. I picked another big bowl today and there are still more getting ripe and still more flowers. The purple beans seem to all get ripe at the same time, I pick them and then there are no more for about two weeks. The yellow beans just keep going and going with beans in all different stages. It’s really great and we’ll have beans in the freezer well into winter. Good thing we like them!

The frog fountain I got for the garden in lieu of Bookman building me a pond is a really wonderful addition. It draws insects and birds galore. It’s especially fun to look out the window and see a bird splashing in it. When I am outdoors in the garden I love catching the sound of the water falling into the bowl. But I think I got the short end of the stick and should have insisted Bookman make me a pond. A pond would mean we’d have a few fish in it and plants and other than keeping it filled it would require not much work. And if there was work that needed to be done Bookman would be the one to do it since he knows ponds and fish.

The fountain, however, needs to be cleaned pretty much every week. I have to pour out the water and disassemble it. Wash

emperor's wave

emperor’s wave

the pump that gets clogged with algae and grit. Wash the ceramic bowl clean of algae, the occasional dead insect, and bits of plants and grass and seeds. And wash the two rocks clean of slimy algae. Then I have to put it all back together again and fill it up with clean water. It takes as long as half an hour sometimes, fifteen to twenty minutes most of the time. So fountain, my responsibility, lots of work. A pond, Bookman’s responsibility and no work for me. See why I wanted a pond? I wonder if in a year or two I can casually reintroduce the idea to Bookman and get him to bite? On second thought, since I have just written that, I’m guessing not.

Not too many new things coming into bloom this week. The liatris is going strong and looking great. The variety I have blooming right now is purple blazing star, a native to the area. The stonecrop sedum in my front garden is starting to bloom, variety emperor’s wave. It looks great next to the black-eyed Susan that planted itself there. I planted a marshmallow in my small and narrow side garden and it is doing pretty well, well enough to bloom. You can’t really tell from the photo, but the flowers are white with pink middles. They are small and bloom along the upright stalk of the plant. Very pretty.

scarlet runner bean

scarlet runner bean

I had hoped to be able to plant scarlet runner beans at the base of my corn stalks along with pumpkin. The three things together are a traditional growing triad that has long served Native Americans. The three plants are mutually beneficial (beans fix nitrogen for the nutrient hungry corn, corn gives the beans a stalk to grow up, pumpkin shades the ground slowing evaporation and shading out weeds). But we all know by now why I don’t have corn (blasted squirrels!). So I planted scarlet runner beans in random places around my garden, on fences and at the base of this pole that has a wind chime hanging from a hook and an empty bird feeder that I have been too lazy to take down because I also kind of like it since it is wood with a little shingled roof and little perching places that look like twigs. It had seed in it once two winters ago until the greedy little squirrels realized the wood is soft and chewed the feeder holes so big the seed doesn’t stay in it but pours out the side. So the scarlet runner beans are blooming and while the flowers themselves are not big and luscious, their bright red color is really pretty and I’ve decided I like them quite a lot. They will be returning again next year when, I hope, in addition to growing up my little pole, they will also be growing up corn stalks (ever an optimist!).

Bookman and I had hoped to be working more on our garden path in the cool weather today especially since on our walk around the lake yesterday we passed by one of the free wood chip areas and there was a huge pile. Bookman drove over with our buckets about 9 this morning and there was nothing left. Sigh. So we had to resign ourselves to weeding. I think next time we see there is a big pile of wood chips I will station myself there and look menacing while Bookman hurries home to get the car and the buckets. I will use my garden kung-fu to fight off all comers. You’ve been warned so it’s best if you just stay away. I don’t want to hurt anyone but I will if I have to.

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