Slice of Life

I picked myself a bouquet today.

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What’s that, you’re more interested in the slice of pie in the background? Can’t blame you. It’s been a pie kind of week around here, for sure.

Pumpkin Pie

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine:

16 oz pumpkin puree

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Break up 3 eggs, then lightly beat them into the mixture.

Add 1 cup of milk.

Prepare your pie crust and pour in the pumpkin filling. (Need a crust recipe? Try the one I used with the apple pie. You’ll only need half.)

Cover the edges of the pie with tin foil.

Bake 25 minutes.

Remove the tin foil and bake an additional 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mum’s the Word

Somehow I made it over 40 years without realizing mums were chrysanthemums.

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Never said I was a genius.

Mums can be overdone, but they’re our best bet for color outside of falling leaves in October. I’ve seen some beautiful gardens around town with shades of orange and gold, a perfect complement to what’s happening around them, but I prefer bright color in my own yard for as long as I can have it. Happily mums can fit that bill as well, as they grow in a wide variety of colors.

Divide and Conquer

Now’s the time to divide plants.

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One nice thing about transplanting perennials in the fall is that the plants are about to die back anyway, so even if they have a bit of a shock and their leaves struggle or wither, they’re likely to come back in the spring just fine.

Talk of green thumbs can give the impression that plants are very fragile, but they’re not. I separated huge bunches of daylilies this week. Other than making sure the roots weren’t in the air long enough to dry out, I didn’t give them any special treatment, and was in fact a bit rough with them. I used a nice sharp shovel to cut through the clumps of roots, pulled the plants apart, then into the ground they went.

I don’t have any real design plan for my gardens, so when I separate perennials and move them around I make my best guess as to what might work in a given location. After a few years of doing this things start to come together, maybe not in a way that would end up in any magazines, but in a way I’m happy with. In gardening the fun really is in the process – the digging, the planning, the daydreaming – not only in the end result.

Space Invaders

If you’re looking for a fall-blooming flower and don’t mind if it takes over your space a bit, perennial Ageratum is a good choice.

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It wants to spread and does so via rhizomes, so it’s perfect for filling in a large area quickly. Nondescript throughout the summer, it comes into its own in late September or early October, and will bloom straight through the first frost. The color is quite vibrant, contrasting nicely with russets and oranges of autumn. Right now mine is blooming next to bright pink asters, and I can almost pretend I’m warm.

Warm Wishes

We’re a bit late getting the firewood in this year.

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The just about empty shed was starting to make me feel a bit panicky. A day with the log splitter made a good start, and we’ll finish up this weekend, assuming the weather cooperates. We’re working with some very gnarly wood from a tree that was hundreds of years old. This will be the fourth year it’s kept us warm, and we made two side tables from it as well. I wish it was still standing in its old spot, but I’m glad to know none of it has gone to waste.

Color Me Surprised

Last year at our local garden club’s sale I bought a plant labeled ‘tall red aster’.

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I didn’t know what an aster looked like, but I¬†wanted to add some red to the garden and the price was right. When these started blooming this month it took me a while to put these bright pink flowers together with that tag.

Red or no, they’ve added some nice color to September. They’ve grown about 3 feet tall and are producing a ton of blooms. The foliage is not very attractive, so I’ll be planting something shorter in front to camouflage it a bit. Maybe I’ll find just the thing at next Spring’s plant sale.

Projected Growth

I’m becoming more and more fond of sedums. I’ve added a few this year thanks to a kindly neighbor.

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They’re hardy and dependable, and bring all kinds of texture to the garden. The Autumn Joy sedum is a popular one, for good reason. Throughout the summer its green leaves are interesting enough, and then just as everything around it is beginning to fade, it bursts into bloom. It can be propagated by cuttings or can be divided, and doesn’t take long to grow to a nice size.

I love sedums mixed in and about other plants, but I think a large patch of a variety of them could be really pretty. Hmm, I may have just created another project for myself.

Scientific Method

I wondered about the wonderberry, and now I know.

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Blech.

I wasn’t going to be happy until I had tried them myself, but feel free to take me at my word: this is one strange tasting fruit. Throughout the season I have popped one in my mouth from time to time thinking maybe I just hadn’t caught them at the right stage of ripeness, but at this point I think I’ve spit enough out onto the ground to officially give up. No me gusta.

My understanding is that these are now going to spring up all over my yard, meaning either battle or acceptance. These are the sacrifices we must make for science.