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Your Fall Favorites
October 07, 2013

A well camouflaged Tree Frog on the shed roof.

We have a couple of Gray Tree frogs that hang around this year.

Often they find a spot and stay there the rest of the day.

The weather for much of last week, was no less than grand.

Temperatures in the upper 60's to upper 70's.

Some spots even managed to touch 80 degrees.

The weekend was rainy, however.

That's fine, we need the rain around here as September was a rather dry month.

Last week Wednesday, you would have found me (all by myself) at the beach.

Holland State Park, on the shores of Big and Blue, Lake Michigan.

I arrived about 11:30 AM, and for a spell, I had the whole beach to myself.

Well, maybe 200 or so seagulls were there too.

It was one of those days, when you have to pause and breathe in Creation.

Breathe in and say, 'Thank You'.

It is also a day I wish I did bring a camera with me.

I don't bring cameras to the beach, because beach sand gets into everything.

So blessed was I that day, I was privileged to watch a total of nine Piping Plovers scurry along the shoreline in search of food.

I even got to hear them "Peep, Peep" as they hurried on by.

First four, than a batch of three, and then a single plover scurried by two different times.

Small shore birds about the size of a House sparrow, on stilts.

All heading in the same direction, pausing only to pick up a morsel of food. (insect or tiny invertebrate).

What makes this a special treat............................ The diminutive shore bird is considered Threatened and or, endangered.

They are an endangered species here in Michigan.

Give credit to Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the picture and web page.

I also spotted one last monarch (a late season migrator).

Yes, I did jump in the lake a couple of times.

I had to, it was calling to me.

I did not want to leave.

(Chocolate Eupatorium currently in bloom.)

Are you working on clean up yet?

You know, gardens, flower beds and the like.

There is a list of dos and don'ts.

Especially for the novice gardener or recycle/mulcher.

As you cut back old and growth, or pull up dead and dying plants.

Many new gardeners want to be earth friendly.

Going chemical free, less trash for the landfill, mulching and recycling.

Good for you.


(Isn't there always a but, or however?)

Now listen up.

Any plant that has mildew, fungus, or cooties of some sort, needs to be trashed.

That's right, hauled away.

All of the above, will survive winter.

All of the above will have a head start in next years garden.

You are not doing your gardens (or your neighbors) any favors my leaving this to decay and spread all over.

Not often do compost piles heat up enough to kill off fungus and mildews.

Do everyone a favor and put them in a landfill or the hands of an expert that can heat them up.

Do allow healthy foliage, grass, tree leaves, and garbage to break down in gardens and compost piles.

I'll cover more of that on a later date.

Late season bloomers.

Asters are honeybee magnets.

If you have honeybees around, they will find your Asters.

The warm weather and fall flowers have my yard buzzing.

Even the bumblebees are busy with the Asters.

Bumbles are the most docile bee around.

There are many species of Bumble Bees yet they all seem to have the gentle trait.

As temperatures cool down, remove a fear, impress a
friend, be a hero to a grandchild.


Pet a Bumble.

This picture was taken last week when it was warm and humid.

Active bees, yet docile.

On cool days, when bumble are the only bees out, you can really pet them.

It's just one of those things.

Bumbles wont attack or sting unless the nest is threatened, or the bee itself is threatened or totally harassed (trying to pick her up, etc.).

Speaking of bees...........

This time of year, wasps and hornets are so aggressive.

Experts believe it is due to the size of the nest this time of year, and so many mouths to feed.

Besides the queen, there is an ever increasing number of larvae that need food.

Add shorter days and cooler nights and it seems to drive them.

Who knows, maybe they know there days are numbered now.

For most wasp and hornet nests, the first couple of hard freezes will do them in.

The queens survive and hibernate for winter.

In the deep south, Yellow jacket nests may survive and continue to grow or split.

Use Caution when you are pulling up and digging up in flowerbeds.

Yellow jackets often use old mole, gopher and other tunnels as nests.

Tick them off and you suffer.

Pictured is a Bald faced hornet nest out in the field nearby.

This is the biggest one I've ever seen.

I am guessing it is easily 2 feet long and a good 16 inches across.

Don't ever pick on these guys, they are as mean as mean can be.

And they pack a wallop.

Yes, I was stung once several years ago, the hornet didn't know what hit him.

Like all wasps and hornets, they are repeat stingers.

If you can't wait for cool weather to kill them off naturally, night time attacks are your best offense.

Hardy Mums:

Yes, it is mum season and many are advertised as hardy.

Is Hardy simply part of a name, or are they really hardy for the gardens.

Truth be told, not all mums are hardy, and not all hardy mums will survive Zone 6 and colder winters.

It is a gamble at best.

If you want your mums to over winter, the best chance you have is to follow these simple instructions.

First is obvious, Purchase a strong and healthy plant.

Then you hydrate it well, dig your hole and plant it.

You may plant it a bit deeper if you choose, Mums put out root runner to spread, and there really isn't a plant crown as we know it.

By planting them in the ground as soon as possible, you are giving your plant (as with all fall plantings) a chance to establish a healthy root system.

A healthy root system gives any plant a better chance, and warmer soil is a requirement for root growth.

If you live in a wintery region, this is a must.

All too often, gardeners will allow a mum to bloom on the porch, or remain in the pot and then plant it in November when the ground is cold and roots can't grow.

Once the plant is done blossoming, cut off the dead blooms, but Leave the dead growth to over winter.

Research shows that a mum plant has a 40% increased chance of surviving winter with dead growth left intact (Remove in the spring).

Dead growth acts as an insulator, plus collects wind blown leaves for added insulation.

Adding a mound of mulch or pile of leaves increases your mum's chances.

Clearly mums are non native, but add to many gardens and landscapes.

Mums are part of fall decorations and the colors and different varieties seem to increase every year.

Side Note: Thrips are a common pest on mums.

Take a piece of white paper, tap the flowers and buds over the paper.

If you notice tiny livestock crawling around on the paper, You are wise to leave that plant alone, it will turn brown shortly after you bring it home.

We have a Fall Favorite that drifted in.

Chris Raymond of Portland Oregon:

My very favorite thing about fall is the beautiful colors. I especially love the bounteous shades of yellow, gold, orange, reds, and greens of the Liquidamber styraciflua (Sweet Gum Trees). The leaves are star shaped as as well. Two things make me sad: the loss of the leaves in the fall, and pouting the beautiful colors of egg dye down the drain at Easter.

Thanks Chris.

Gum trees are indeed a crescendo of colors, all on a single tree sometimes.

I am still saddened when the earth looks barren, but God has taught me to appreciate all seasons, and to look forward to spring.

The winner of ArtPrize 2013.......

Ann Loveless of Frankfort, MI.

(Picture credit to ArtPrize 2013.)

The winning art is a four piece work made of textiles

'Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore' is created from materials and threads.

Sewing, patchwork, quilting, etc. went into making this.

What looks like a painting, is indeed made of textiles.

Runners up were Anni Crouter's 'Polar Expressed' and Andy Sacksteder's "Uplifting"

Congratulations to all.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Doesn't it make more sense to believe that our story has an Author than to believe that everything we see and experience is meaningless and without purpose.

Richard Stearns, Author

Philosophers have been debating the existence of a Creator for millennia.

It may take a leap of faith.....

Then again, common sense should say that all art is created.

In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1: 1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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