Wassail, traveler, and welcome to The Gable Grey -- a place of retreat, of renewal, and of resistance: a tree-shaded refuge in Dark Times. Now pass the threshold, and rest from journeys! For a cold wind is blowing; and here, if you wish, you may hear tidings of the world without...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dishevelled Dryad Loveliness: Autumn 2010

Been a very dry autumn so far here at the Gable Grey.  No rain since sometime in August, and it's showing.

Spider lily, also called "hurricane lily," cropping up amidst turkey fig.  Our three turkey figs are doing well, though they will probably not produce a fall crop due to the drought.  The spider lilies are appearing with their usual regularity, a happy sign that another scorching summer is behind us and cool weather is at hand.  Their narrow green leaves, which resemble monkey grass, will not appear until after the flowers wilt and are gone; there is a Japanese myth associated with the phenomenon, something about transformed lovers doomed never to meet...

More spider lilies, here among daylilies.  Spider lilies were among my grandmother's favorite flowers.  She lived here in Mississippi for many years. 

Wild aster, normally a spectacular show in early autumn, now looking poorly in the dryness.  This clump returns each year, so I take care not to cut it when the green shoots first begin appearing in the early summer. 

My woodland restoration project.  This corner was just completed last month.  A layer of cardboard to kill the invasive ornamental grass and prevent nuisance privet hedge, poison ivy, and virginia creeper from taking hold too easily; then a couple of inches of mulch from the mower.  Very time consuming, but it will only require a quick go-through with a pair of gloves once a year, during the fall.  The Spanish moss on the bald cypress trees was a gift from my in-laws, who live in Gautier, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  (Note the water oak leaning at a 45 degree angle, along our property line.  A victim of Katrina, it is wedged in a low fork of the huge poplar tree near the center of the picture.  Both trees are still living.)

A less intensive woodland restoration project, on the other side of our (currently dry) creek bed, on the property line.  Here I maintain a clear path, cut back or remove privet hedge, bamboo, saw briar, and chinaberry saplings, leaving a nursery for young trees like beech, water oak, pine, maple, and this nice little holly tree here.  Three giant longleaf pine trees stand guard; their brothers and sisters across the property line were cut down the year after Katrina, to my dismay.  Now there is only a nearly impassable tangle of mimosa, bamboo, and numerous other invasive ornamental species.

Sycamore sapling, obtained from the Extension Service in the spring.  Sycamores are some of my favorite trees. 

More spider lilies, among the chrysanthemums I set out a month ago.  I've had to water the 'mums at least once a week, sometimes twice, to keep them alive until the rains come.  I fear they will come with a vengeance this winter.

One of our three Japanese red maples.  They each added over a foot of growth this year.  None have put on their fall colors yet.

Garden expansion, my winter project.  Adding 128 square feet to our 64 sq. ft. bed; the latter will become a permanent strawberry bed.  The tangle of green in the upper corner is what is left of our two cucumber vines, which grew with a vengeance and provided a welcome supplement to our late summer suppers.  We were also able to give away many of them to family and friends.  What we could not eat or give away, we gave to the chickens, which they eagerly devoured.

Juan(ita) and Co., in their coop for the winter.  Juan has become very tame, and will allow himself to be held with little argument.  No eggs from the girls yet, as they are only about 3 months old.  Their waste has been and will be valuable fertilizer for next year's garden.

Fay Wray, our tortoiseshell, another important source of nutrients for the garden.  While I do not use cat feces as fertilizer (though it is better than nearly any other kind, I've read), their litter is otherwise very useful to that end:  we use only organic pine pellets, which absorb their urine and then turn to something like sawdust.  Very easy to handle, dries quickly, and a great addition to the garden mulch.  This will be Fay's first winter.

Titus Andronicus, yet another source of garden fertilizer, and unofficial Best.Cat.Evar.

Il est magnifique.

Finally, Misha, our Evenstar, who of all of us here at the Gable Grey will most enjoy the next six months.

Wassail, friends.

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Whiles carried o'er the iron road,
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.

-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"