Garden

Harvest Day

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Hey everyone, Mr. CG here once more, reporting again on another year in growing grapes.  For about ten years now, I been cultivating a hobby vineyard but unfortunately I’ve been faced with the difficult conditions felt by most farmers in this business:  bad weather, poor growing conditions, disease and pests. 

For years, I’ve been tending the back hill making sure our 100 vines produced enough quality fruit to make a barrel of wine.  In 2007, we had our first healthy crop, enough to fill one barrel to make about 25 cases (or 300 bottles).   2007 and 2008 were both successful years, winning Gold Medals in the amateur division in the Sonoma/Marin Fair and then the Sonoma County Harvest Fair this year.  In 2009 we lost most of our crop to bad weather and I was forced to buy more fruit to make my barrel.  Using other grapes, there’s no telling yet how that blend will turn out, time will tell.

I’ve been watching the 2010 grapes grow all season.  It was my largest crop by far and the grapes were growing in near perfect shape, size and sugar content all summer long.  It was a spectacular crop and Kate and I were very excited until last week.  Just days before the harvest, birds found holes in our nets, and in the dead of night we were attacked by a family of raccoons.  Together, those varmints managed to feast on several hundred pounds of grapes in the course of a week!

Despite so many ravaged vines, harvest day is always exciting for us, as the remaining healthy fruit is finally clipped off the vines and turned into our cherished Petite Syrah.

 grapes in bin

 

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Fall Color Clippings

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

fall leaves in vase

Happy October friends!  Nature is putting on an incredible show this month, especially around my town.  How about yours? 

Over the weekend, I did a little gardening, plus paid a visit to my local nursery to see what’s available to plant on the porch this autumn season. 

More than ever, I was inspired to bring more new perennials into our garden, even plant a new tree or two.

I just love the autumn colors on display in nature and secretly, I’m wanting some new plants in my yard so that this time of year I can bring more fresh clippings indoors to capture that fresh autumn feel. 

     

Favorite Plantings That Guarantee Autumn Color 

Japanese Maple.  This slow growing ornamental tree has the most delicate leaves; ours turns a deep red during the autumn months.  It grows well in containers too.  We’ve had one for almost ten years in a large pot where it receives partial sun and partial shade.  I love to scatter its leaves on our Thanksgiving table. 

japanese maple duo

    

Coleus.  Shades of green, burgundy, and even black in color, this ornamental perennial prefers partial shade and milder climates outdoors, and also makes a great houseplant.

coleus variety

 

Chrysanthemums.    Decorative as a daisy and cute as a button, these hardy favorites come in all autumn shades.  I’ll be choosing deep burgundy versions this year for my own planters. 

fall mums

  

Sunflowers.  A bloom that crosses the bridge from summer to fall, these cheerful bright annuals bring the remnants of sunshine indoors, even as an autumn chill draws near. 

sunflowers duo

 

Ginkgo Biloba.  We’ve all heard of the pharmaceutical uses and the beneficial effects on memory derived from this tree, but how gorgeous are these intense yellow fan shaped leaves in autumn? 

ginko tree duo

 

Viburnum.  Definitely a favorite of mine, this perennial, which is sometimes called ‘Chinese Snowball’, grows white puffy hydrangea like blooms in spring, and provides gorgeous branches of colorful leaves in fall.  It’s been three weeks and only one change of water, and these stems still look fresh on my mantel. 

viburnum duo

 

Hydrangea.  Here’s another spring to fall perennial that I adore.  These blooms arrive in pale green with a wisp of pink in spring, then weather to shades of raspberry and sage in autumn.  In years past, I’ve dried their stems, then sprinkled them with metallic spray paint for a gorgeous holiday arrangement. 

hydrangea duo

 

Grapevines.  Not just for your typical wine country regions, grapevines offer fruit in summer, changing leaves in fall, and branch clippings in winter for forming wreaths. 

grapevines

 

Chinese Pistache.   This deciduous and drought tolerant tree is native to China (hence the name) and is often planted along streets in suburban areas for its hardiness and also its fall foliage.   

 chinese pistache tree duo

 

Oak.   There are several species of this tree, from red to white oak, that put on a glorious show in fall.  Which ones grow best where you are?

autumn oak via mooseyscountrygarden    

The Great Pumpkin.   The quintessential fall themed squash to plant in your garden.  With all the varieties available, if you have the foresight in summer to plant and the patience to let them roam across you yard, you’ll reap the rewards come October. 

pumpkin duo

 

Your local nursery or garden center will know just what perennials and trees grow well in your hardiness zone.   What’s the one plant or tree in your area or garden that gives you the best fall color? 

 

Image sources: Better Homes & Gardens; Martha Stewart; Southern Living; Country Living; Alaska In Pictures; Costco; Mooseys Country Gardens;

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