November can bring end of rapture, bloom
Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
Blossom and June and rapture pass away.”
Batten down the hatches. June is long gone and that blossom and rapture could go any day now.
November is considered the last of our autumn months, but it sometimes has the evil habit of morphing overnight into sure-enough winter.
I well remember an opening day quail hunt around Thanksgiving years ago. I was hunting alone. (Well, not alone. My dog Sadie was with me.) I was in the Crutchfield Lane vicinity and it was so cold, following balmy weather a day earlier, that I resorted to building a fire to thaw out my frozen feet. I don’t remember the bag count. My hands were so cold I could hardly pull the trigger.
Then there is the oft related tale (and a true one) among old-timers of an annual “turkey day” (Thanksgiving) football classic between the mighty Grove Blue Devils and Ty Holland’s ferocious Murray High School Tigers.
Fans flocked to Barton Field after a noon repast of turkey and dressing and tater pie to see the game. It was sunny and warm and most people were in short sleeves. By halftime scudding gray clouds appeared on the western horizon and the wind hauled from south to north. Before the game was over snow was falling so thickly the yard markers were obscured. Such is the vagary of November weather.
We (gardeners, that is) had better be prepared. More to the point, we had better have our gardens prepared.
It is satisfying to grow marginally winter hardy plants. Many can fill a niche that no truly hardy plant can. These, when planted out, must be removed from the garden in fall if they are expected to serve more than one year.
I have a dwarf pomegranate that has found a place the past few years in our “red” border, which includes, also, oranges and bright yellows. The pomegranate’s little flowers resemble orange fuschias and start up in mid-summer. They are followed by miniature two-inch-long inedible pomegranates that also are orange. Both fruit and flowers adorn the plant from about September onward until frost.
The plant is hardy to only about 15 or 20 degrees above zero. I like it so much that I plant it, three-gallon pot and all, in the border after danger of frost in spring. When frost stops the blooming in fall, usually about now, I take it up, again pot and all, and remove it to a cold garage that doesn’t, however, often get below freezing. During winter, it goes dormant and loses its leaves, but starts all over again in spring. There are several other marginal things in our garden that get the same treatment.
For others that are somewhat more hardy but still not fully dependable, a heavy mulch will help them live over. I think of cannas, for instance, some of the hardier gladiolas, elephant ears, and calla lilies. I prefer a light, airy mulch for them, pine straw being about the most satisfactory. It doesn’t pack down easily and a foot-thick layer will offer several additional degrees of frost protection over bare ground.
Determining when to apply the mulch presents a quandry. It is best to do it after cold has penetrated to a little depth, but not too deep. When the ground freezes to a half-inch or so, then apply the heavy mulch. Just don’t go off to Gulf Shores or Disney World and forget to do it.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack — Speaking of rapture: A man was hoeing in his vegetable garden when another man appeared, bearing a sign that said “Get ready for the rapture.” The latter said to the former, “Mister, if you heard the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you do?” To which the former replied, “Well, the first thing I would do is finish hoeing out this row of peas.”
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 11.17.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path