Autumn Quiet

“During Prohibition hot claret wine gargle becomes popular “cure” for sore throats.”  ~~ Sonoma County Historical Society

This is the quiet time of year.  Nothing particular is happening in Ray’s Garden.  The bed’s have been cleared of summer’s excess, the persimmons and pomegranates have been harvested.  Now we wait for rain.  It’s a quiet time.

Mostly it’s quiet because The Crush is over for the year.  The wine grape harvest is in and it’s up to the winemakers now. Just a few weeks ago it was anything but quiet.  Trucks and tractors and gondolas clattering up and down the roads twenty-four hours a day in a controlled frenzy to get the precious grapes in at their sugar peak.

Now the vineyards are gold and orange — and bare of grapes.

vines 1

vines 2

Many  of the wineries in our part of the world bear Italian names, but it was a Hungarian, Count Agoston Haraszthy, who is credited with first bringing grape cuttings into our region, back in 1857, and in spite of changes in consumer taste, Prohibition, and Phylloxera-scares grapes have flourished ever since.

leaves 1

Other crops have had their day in our sun:  Wheat was the primary crop here in the years when gold-seekers and entrepreneurs flooded California — until the wheat rust epidemic of the 1890’s pretty well took out wheat completely from California.  Gravenstein Apples still are prized today and pears and prunes once ruled our valleys.  And we never forget that innovative horticulturalist Luther Burbank arrived and set up his experimental gardens in nearby Santa Rosa — giving us, among other things, Shasta Daisies and Santa Rosa Plums.

Today, grapes reign supreme here — and we are entering a time of relative quiet in our vineyards.  Soon the beautiful colors will be stripped from the vines and the fields will rest.

leaves 2

Advertisements

“That Plump Thing with a Navel”

How it all began: Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”. ~~  Fun Facts

combine

When I first began this blog I thought it would be easy enough to find things to write about all year round.  After all, this is California, where bearded iris bloom in January and roses flourish all year round, but I’ve found out that there is almost too much happening at the peak of a season. I appear to prefer the change-over months, the in-between times — the times of beginnings and endings.

The flowers were abundant this summer — maybe too abundant — it proved difficult to focus on any one thing when there were color and pattern everywhere.  I loved spring, when the new plants were set out and enjoyed following the drama when an unusual late frost threatened the new seedlings.  The vegetable garden quickly took most of my attention once I recorded the promise of newly set fruits on the autumn bearing trees (they are coming very close now!).

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.~~ May Sarton 

tomatoes

The tomatoes became the story of the season. They flourished.  They became ridiculous! They threatened to take over the entire vegetable section.  The quickly outgrew their cages and escaped their plots and exploded across the disappearing pathways.  They grew so wildly that it was work to find the actual tomatoes in the center of the plots.

But Autumn is here and the vines are dying back.  Most of the leaves are gone now and the remaining tomatoes glow like fairy lights strung through the naked vines.

cherry

naked

mix

I love the color spread in that last photo.  And speaking of color, these below are the current stars of the garden:

black

Their bottoms are finally turning red, which means they are ready to eat.  They are a sweet-tasting fruit — nice but nothing special in flavor.  Just an ordinary tomato, despite their exotic appearance.

Heaviest tomato. The heaviest tomato on record weighed in at 3.51 kg (7 pounds 12 ounces). A “delicious” variety, it was grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. Gordon sliced the tomato to make sandwiches for 21 family members. ~~ Fun Facts

While this baby  doesn’t begin to compete in actual pounds, it does look more like a small pumpkin than a tomato —

pumpkin

I think we all have a dream of what it would be like not to work and grow heirloom tomatoes, and I do have that dream. It would be lovely. I do love gardening and all of that, but I do love my work. ~~ Helen Mirren 

I’ll end today with my favorite out of this current batch of quotes.  Happy October, all!

Just when you’re beginning to think pretty well of people, you run across somebody who puts sugar on sliced tomatoes. ~~ Will Cuppy 

Green, Green, and More Green

“It’s not easy being green.” ~~ Kermit the Frog

Well, with all apologies to Kermit, it seems it really is pretty easy to be green.  A walk through Ray’s Garden today shows me a seemingly endless variety of shapes and and shades of green.

junipery

I am not the gardener here — I am simply the chronicler of this lovely piece of earth where I am blessed to work.  I can’t tell you the names of most of these plants but I am endlessly fascinated by the colors and especially, the textures.

While not a domestic gardener, I do possess a Peterson’s Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers which is my bible for all wild things green and growing.  It is tattered and worn and scribbled in from being carried around in a backpack for years.  My favorite part is the back end-pages and the charts of leaf shapes.  Such a wonderful litany of Shapes:

Ovate, Delta, Lance, Heart, Kidney, Spatula, Elliptical, Pinnate, Palmate

and Textures:

Mealy, Rasplike, Smooth, Glandular, Hairy

and Arrangements:

Whorled and Basal

henchicks

agapanthus

The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves.~~ J.R.R. Tolkien

lily of nile

anothersedum

greennwhite

tiny ground cover

light thru stripes

(Oh, I do love green …)

sedum2fuzzy

yucca

greennyellow

“ ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed — green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” ~~ Russell PageThe Education Of A Gardener

Seasons Change

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad ~~ Edwin Way Teale

You could be forgiven for believing we are still in high summer around here — for one thing, it’s 100 degrees today!  And there are summer blossoms galore all around the garden…

…but if you look closely you can find signs that change is coming …

So while the work of the garden will still involve a lot of clipping and watering to maintain summer’s blossoms for awhile yet, the clues are there — that it is time to start planning for next year.

Garden time is always right now, next month, next season.  Enjoy the fullness and bounty of summer, while planning the work of fall — and all the while dreaming of the spring to come.