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Welcome To Autumn
September 19, 2016

How was your summer?

We managed to sneak in one more trip to the beach last Monday.

What a joy that was.

Yolanda played hooky from Hope Network and enjoyed the day with us.

The lake was blue and the water felt good.


Summer is officially over later this week.

I know fall is a favorite season for many of you.

It was a busy summer, yet a gratifying season this year.

The last full week of summer gave us ideal weather conditions (Autumn starts October 22).

The skies were mostly sunny with temperatures in the 80's and down to the low 70's by week's end.

Autumn nights are cool and pleasant for sleeping.

This past summer over all wasn't so bad.

Warmer than average.

What started out as a mild drought for summer, ended up much wetter than average.

August had 300% more rain than a typical August.

Rain was timely and often came in several inches at a time.

We enjoyed a nice soaker this past Saturday.

Everything grew well (no major disease or other issues to contend with).

I'm still picking tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and the occasional zucchini.

There are a few winter squash to harvest in time as well.

Birds were plentiful, butterflies not so much.

(Juvenile Cardinal)

Bumble bees were worth their weight in pollen and then some, which is a good thing with the lack of honey bees.

We had a couple of short but very nice vacations, and of course Karen and I spend a few days at our B&B in Petoskey, MI.

The stay-cations weren't bad either.

I enjoy my evening walks, but need to walk more, as the battle of the bulge is a loosing one.

We still have our hummers hanging around as they are busy gorging.

Please keep your hummers feeders clean and ready, even if you haven't seen a hummingbird for a couple of weeks.

Hummers are preparing for the Migration South.

Besides Goldfinch juveniles and adults molting, I've noticed some recent fledged cardinals begging to be fed, as well as older juveniles molting to adult colors.

You may notice some of your local birds in the middle of a molt.

We still have a Monarch or two passing through, which makes it good to have some nice nectar rich flowers like Asters, Coreopsis, Zinnias and other flat headed flowers still in bloom.

I know butterfly bush isn't native, but it is one of the few non native shrubs I would recommend.

Butterfly bush attracts a wide variety of butterflies and hummingbirds as well.

We live near several ponds and this time of year the sky is full of Canada geese as families practice flight patterns and larger groups begin to form.

Sometimes you can see a mid air bump, as a couple of geese get to close to each other and must correct their wing flaps and quickly get into position.

Mallard ducks zoom around as they continue to strengthen flight muscles as well.

A Great blue heron is a regular visitor to the pond and is quite skiddish.

It doesn't take much to get it air bound.

Belted kingfishers are quite noisy as they hunt and fly around the pond.

Evening walks still bring the meow of catbirds in the brush and woods edge.

Every now and then a killdeer fills the evening air with its familiar call.

Yes, every month and every season has something special and unique to offer.

We only need to open our eyes, ears and nose to the sights, sounds and smells around us.

“Nature is Grand.”

There isn't one living thing on this planet that God didn't create for a reason.

Though I have yet to find out what the reason is for woodchucks :-)

As you grow in developing your wildlife gardens and appreciation for wildlife, you will also grow in appreciation and awareness of most everything around you.

Admire the skills of a spider, instead of being fearful.

(Orb Spider in my yard.)

You may be quick to spot a walking stick on a tree or a frog's head in between some lily-pads or amongst the duckweed.

Others with you will say "Where, I don't see anything."

You will find yourself becoming a steward of our planet and wanting to share your enthusiasm as I try to share with you and others.

Welcome to Autumn.

(winter Squash and container.)

Yes it is hard for me to say that, but I continue to learn.

As you may know, fall isn't my favorite time of year (Spring is).

Here in the North, things begin to die back, and days can be gloomy.

Not to mention daylight hours continue to shrink.

Many of my beloved birds are now gone or will be leaving soon.

If that isn't enough, we have cold and snow to look forward to.

However, I am learning to appreciate every season for what it brings.

Fall does give us migrations, pretty colors, pumpkins, apples, crisp air and more.

The list of Autumn favorites for many of you, goes on and on.

Even if it is short lived.

People with allergies look for relief in the first killing frost.

Yes, plants and pollen are killed off, offering some needed sinus relief.

Autumn is the best time of the year to get some serious yard work done.

In northern latitudes you can start planting and transplanting some of your favorites (though the days are numbered).

As the days grow cooler, there is less stress on plants when they are moved.

Many of your flowers and shrubs are done growing for the season, so disrupting them is less of a challenge on your plants (there going dormant).

While the days are cooler, the soil remains warm and this allows for your plants to get a good root hold and not have to work overtime to produce foliage and flowers.

If you plan on planting or re-planting, mulch around the plant to help keep the soil temperatures at an even temperature.

(Silk and seeds from Butterfly Weed.)

Freeze and thaws throughout winter kills many a plant when not mulched properly.

In more temperate zones, you have plenty of time to play.

Fall also gives us time to plant fall bulbs.

In zones 6 - 3, you want to get your bulbs in as soon as possible (zones 5 and 6 you have through November).

Getting the bulbs in now helps them to put down a good root base for strong blooms.

Plus, fall bulbs need a good 14 to 16 weeks of temperatures 40 degrees or below.

Southern states, the southwest and the Pacific coast can wait to plant bulbs in November and December, but your bulbs still need to cool for at least 14 to 16 weeks for a good bloom.

For some of you, the growing season is over as killing frosts have done your gardens in.

If you have tender spring bulbs like Gladiola, Canna, Dahlia, and others, be sure to dig them up and take care of them.

It is best to let the tops freeze before you cut back and dig.

There is something about a good freeze that slows down the juices when it is time to cut back.

Because your ground doesn't freeze, zones 7 - 11 can leave your spring or tender bulbs in the ground.

Even in my zone 5 garden I have left some bulbs in the ground and they have survived mild winters, but I don't want to risk that every year.

You may want to experiment with some tender bulbs or perennials.

For the past couple of years, I have placed bags of leaves on top of some "Pineapple sage" and "Black and Blue Salvia."

Call me cheap or simply the idea I like to play around some (both).

You may want to experiment with some tender bulbs or perennials.

Both hardy to Zone 7.

Both plants not only survived the winter, but came up bigger and better the following year.

Give it a try if you have some favorites you want to save.

Fall often brings a slow down in our lives.

Take in a color tour.

Get the kids or grand kids and go enjoy some nature, and a pumpkin patch.

As plant life begins to die back or drop its leaves, more wildlife is visible.

Deer herds are growing and on the move.

Wild turkeys can be seen more frequently now.

Many of you send me pictures of wildlife in your yard.

Black bear, turkeys, deer and more.

And don't forget birds and butterflies.

Even toad stools and mushrooms add beauty to the landscape.

Cooler days are a good time to practice petting bumble bees.

Go ahead, give it a try.

The list is almost endless.

There are parks, wildlife preserves and nature centers all around us.

If you have the time, locate a migration fest near you.

Enjoy the harvest.

Maybe go pick some pumpkins or fresh apples.

Smell fall in the air.

Imagine, this is me talking this way.

Do you live in an area where birds congregate?

That could be any where from South California to Florida.

What about Nebraska and the Sandhill crane migration?

(Migrating Cranes.)

I can only imagine what it must be like in Nebraska where up to 500,000 cranes stop.

Sit on the deck or porch and just relax some.

You deserve it don't you?

There are many places I would like to visit in our great continent and fall colors can only add to the beauty.

Yes, for me fall means things are dyeing and a long winter is lurking.


With each passing year, I am learning to appreciate God's wonders and beauty.

Without fall and winter, I wouldn't have Spring to look forward to.

I still don't like the shorter days and I'm not a big fan of Michigan's damp cold weather, but I can't think of any other place I want to live and I'm sure you feel the same way about your home.

With each passing year, I am learning to appreciate God's wonders and beauty.

Without fall and winter, I wouldn't have Spring to look forward to.

I still don't like the shorter days and I'm not a big fan of Michigan's damp cold weather, but I can't think of any other place I want to live and I'm sure you feel the same way about your home.

Having the four seasons is pretty special after all.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

“Love is always open arms. If you close your arms about love you will find that you are left holding only yourself.”

Leo Buscaglia

I haven't used a quote from the late Mr. Buscaglia in some time now.

If you have never read, watched or heard any of his work, I urge you to do so.

One of the many love verses spoken by Jesus in the Bible

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued,

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you –
and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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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