Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scott Farm Heirloom Apples

Last Friday, when I went down to Dummerston to help go through more stuff of my father's, I visited the Scott farm in Dummerston Center.  I talked to Zeke (Ezekial) Goodband (sp?) about some of the old varieties of apples they specialize in and tried some of his favorites: 'D'Arcy Spice' and 'Orleans Reinette'--I bought a couple 'Esopus Spitzenberg' which is another of his favorites.  I already have a tree of 'Esopus' and I have tried and like that apple which I think may have been Thomas Jefferson's favorite.  These three apples were Zeke's favorite tart apples.  I also bought a few 'Winesap' which is my favorite apple of all, a couple 'Sheepnose' which I've heard of but not ever tried and some 'Calville Blanc d'Hiver' which I have a tree of but have never tasted.

Another apple I am on the look-out for is the 'Reinette Simirenko' which Michael Phillips told us about--it's similar to a 'Granny Smith' but does well in the north (it's a Russian apple, developed in the 19th cenury by Simirenko.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daffodil bed finished

I just this morning planted the last ca.300 daffodils and last 100 tulips.  My daffodil bed is about 90 yds.x 2 yds.  As you look across our hayfield from Urquart Rd, the first swath of daffodils is 250 'April Queen'- if you draw a line from the near left hand corner to a point on the far side about 1/3 of the way down the bed, the 'April Queen' are behind that line.Then parallel to that swath, is a 250 bulb swath of 'King Alfred II' and nest a similar swath of 'Flower Record'.  The rest is solid "Yellow Daffodils for naturalizing"  from van Bourgundien with 2 islands. The first is about 3/5 of the way downhill from the left side --there's a group of 50 'Suada';  then at the right side, near edge, there is a planting of 25 or 50 'Tropic Sunrise' running for about 15 feet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Michael Phillips and Holistic Orcharding

I spent Friday morning at a workshop with Michael Phillips at the Smith College family weekend.  I keep planting more apple trees because I mainly want to see what certain types of apples taste like and I enjoy growing them.  I also like having plenty of apples to eat, bake with and made onto cider ( and I prefer a more tart flavored cider than most).  I find apple trees particularly beautiful as trees and after planting fruit trees in Berwyn, Villanova, Paoli and Bucktown in Penna and then in Tunbridge and West Newbury in Vermont I finally am getting fruit from my trees.

Phillip's main idea seems to me to be trying to grow apples in the sort of situation they would be in naturally.  The edge of a woods is good where is plenty of fungal activity and good sun:  being on a slope with good airflow is good,  so they don't freeze too much in a cold air pocket and so they dry out pretty quickly to save them from fungal attacks.  Mulches with ramial material are good (my understanding is that this is twigs and new growth of woody plants that contains more of the stuff that trees want than conventional mulch- also it can be cheaper).

He is coming to Thetford Center in the spring to give one of the talks in our series of Saturday morning plant lectures and workshops.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October Flowers

It's getting late in the year for flowers and I'm still doing an arrangement every week for the West Newbury Congregational Church.  This Saturday, I'm doing flowers or leaves and berries for the Scottish Country Dance in Fairlee. I've picked a very nice late Allium: 'Ozawa', common witch hazel and beech twigs which should make a good combination for table arrangements. For the bigger bouquets, I'll probably use some Miscathus, European spindle tree berries, and beech or oak foliage (I've noticed that oak gets dull looking fairly soon after picking).  In the last several weeks I've used alot of maple leaves, asters, brown-eyed susans, burning bush, hydrangeas.  However it's getting to be "slim pickings"

I thought I had inadvertantly deleted my last entry so I redid it and now I have 2 almost the same- sorry

October flowers

It's getting late in the season for many flowers and I'm doing flower arrangements for the Scottish Country Dance this Saturday in Fairlee.  I've already picked Allium 'Ozawa', common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and beech leaves which should work nicely for the table arrangements.  I guess I'll use European spindle tree berries (if they are still good), leaves- probably oak or beech and perhaps some Miscanthus.  Lately, I've  been using mostly leaves with the occasional aster and brown-eyed susans (Rudbeckia triloba) and also berries of both bittersweet and especially European spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus)..  I've also used burning bush (Euonymus alatus).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Big Frost

Last night the temperature got down to 16 degrees.  That was the first real killing frost.   I picked my last zucchini the evening before and dug up a few geraniums, a verbena and a fuchsia-- also, I picked the orange cosmos and the calendula.  The latest purple Allium , Ozawa, looks good with the orange so I picked some of those, not really knowing how they like 16 degrees.  

I'm not sure what I;m going to pick for tomorrow's church arrangements: I've been using burning bush, maple foliage, hydrangeas, European Euonymus, asters.  I notice alot of leaves falling off today and the winterberry I had my eye on got eaten by a huge flock of robins.

I hope the beets didn't get hurt but I bet they are fine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

pruning Hydrangeas

We visited a nursery in Newbury, VT on Sunday: the Green Reaper--they had the most beautiful specimens of hydrangeas I've ever seen around here.  The secret is to prune them fairly heavily.  At my house, I have noticed that the ones which I use for cut flowers and therefore cut alot of blossoms, get many, many huge panicles.  Chris Esten, at the Green Reaper, said pruning is swhat gives hers such size.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Daffodil talk

I'm giving a talk on daffodils tomorrow morning at 10:00AM  for the nursery.  There is a charge of ten dollars as we have to rent the Thetford community center.  As I've given other talks on plants and have a yearly "daffodil walk" at my house with tea and something to eat to go with a tour of my plantings (for free), I suspect there will not be that many takers.  Also anyone can come to the nursery anytime for my advice.

As I  have been growing and planting daffodils for more than fifty years, I guess I have some experience but I don't consider myself a daffodil expert.  I just this afternoon learned about the daffodil code used by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and the ADS (American Daffodil Society).  By this system, a daffodil such as 'Ice Follies' would be 2W-Y--it's in division 2 and the perianth segments are white and the corona, yellow.  'Serola' would be 2Y-O: with a yellow perianth and an orange cup.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Daffodil planting

I just got all my Narcissus planted this past weekend.  As I remember,  I bought April Queen, King Alfred II, Tropical Sunset, and Flower Record.  When I ran out of bulbs to fill my prepared area, I ordered more "large yellow daffodils''- a bushel of them.  As usual, I tend to get the cheaper varieties and slightly smaller sized bulbs (which, of course, are less expensive).  I'm giving a talk on Daffodils this Saturday at ten o'clock at the Thetford Center Community Center.