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Late Summer Chit Chat
September 06, 2016

The weather was almost perfect for a long 'Labor Day' Weekend.

Almost full sun and temperatures ranging from the high 70's to the low 80's (degrees F.), and low humidity.

Karen, Yolanda and I made a trip to Lake Michigan on Monday.

Beach time is numbered now.

I have a grub infestation in parts of the lawn.

At the bottom of this letter are a couple pictures of skunk damage in my yard.

I suppose I should thank the skunks for letting me know.

Sometimes I will see little digs here and there, but this is a whole section that has been torn up, and torn up good.

Here is another plant challenge for me.

Texas Star Hibiscus, pictured above.

It may not be the most prolific bloomer for me, however it has managed to bloom for me the past few years.

Maybe I should move it or something.

It's Zone hardy to Z5, so I should be good, Yet we probably don't meet other plant needs like lots of heat.

Most of you know, I am a fan of native grasses.

Pictured: Panicum virgatum "Prairie Fire", an attractive cultivar of our native Switchgrass (Panicum)

A nice grass for your native collection as switchgrass is native from coast to coast

Hardy in zones 5-9, and grows 4 to 5 feet tall (1-1.7m), and drought tolerant.

The picture of my two year old shows attractive crimson colored blades and has most of the summer.

Native grasses are not only attractive, but require less attention (water, etc.) than exotic grasses like Miscanthus and Pennisetum.

Many are also host plants for butterflies.

The start of a new month.

This means it is time to give your feeders a good cleaning and sanitizing.

Don't forget your water sources too.

While you're at it, why not clean out the nest boxes and keep them up as roosting boxes for the colder months ahead.

If you can't take them down, or lack time for a good cleaning. spray them down with rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol works well on killing off cooties, parasites, and insects, and dries fast as to not harm birds.

Enjoy September.

You may consider summer over after Labor Day.

Not me, I still have almost three weeks of official summer left to enjoy.

I won't give up a day without a fight.

Like many of you, I know the warm weather and growing season will come to an end all too abruptly.

I think, I actually embrace each day a little bit more right now.

My friends in the south and along the Pacific coast should still have many weeks of warmer weather and a growing season

This time of year, I begin to look forward to next year's gardens.

You know, this years flops and successes, what to do and not do next spring (Lord willing).

But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the rest of this season.

The length of day is are shrinking rapidly (always a challenge for me), so I must grab more gusto while I can.

No more moping or mailing the season in like I would do in years past.

I choose to enjoy as much as possible, every day the good Lord has given me.

Besides, September can be a busy month for you and me,

Harvest times, Clean up beds, and maybe a few chores that you held off on because of the heat (there are plenty of those around here).

When the weather is agreeable, even some late season beach time and swimming.

Every season has it sown sights, sounds and even smells and that includes late summer.

Actually, I think this holds true for just about every month of the year.

September is no different.

You may get the whiff of Garden phlox or Moon-flower as you walk by.

Brush up against Monarda or Agastache and the aroma fills the air.

To see, smell, and taste a vine ripened tomato or cantaloupe.

The sights and smells of Farmers Markets.

Don't forget county fairs.

Indeed, late summer can fill our senses.

It can be, and is an exciting time of the year.

Late summer is also a busy time of the year in nature.

Especially with insects and birds.

Some species are busy migrating or getting ready for the journey.

Many insect populations are at their peak.

Take your watchful eyes into your gardens and discover a whole different world of insects.

Especially Beneficial and Predatory Insects.

Maybe you can spot a Preying mantis, Assassin bug, Soldier bug, Pirate bug, or one of the many beneficial insects 'Nature' provides.

There are many species of beneficial insects out there doing the work for you.

Minimize the pesticides and allow nature to take care of any infestations you may have

Butterflies are busy nectaring, as are many species of bees.

Monarch butterflies are slowly working their way south.

In northern regions, Canada Geese are busy with flying exercises.

The parent geese have been busy for the past couple of weeks taking their offspring out on flights (mostly in the evening it seems).

Small groups or flocks are beginning to form as they practice flying as one.

Not only are this year's babies learning to fly, they must learn certain techniques to flight.

Adults know the importance of drafting and flying in certain formations.

Juveniles must learn the same, vital lessons.

Migration South Begins.

Now is the time to increase the sugar water content in your feeders if you haven't done so.

I increase the sugar content from four part water to one part sugar, to a three parts water, one part sugar.

Days are growing shorter and the internal time clocks are telling the hummers it is time to fatten up for the long and strenuous Migration South.

Hummers need to pack on some serious weight and fast.

Can you imagine doubling your weight and functioning at peak performance.

That is exactly what these diminutive birds must do.

Pumping up your feeders can help, especially in drought stricken areas where flower gardens and natural sources have taken a beating this year.

Hummers aren't the fragile creature we imagine them to be.

God has prepared them quite well for many tasks and the daily grind.

One of these tasks is knowing when to migrate.

Like Canada geese and so many other species of birds, Hummers don't fly in flocks.

No leader, no formations, simply go when it is time.

Now, this may be a simple task for the migrating veterans, but what about the juveniles?

This year's reproductive successes.

Once again, our Creator has provided a GPS and time table for the rookies to follow.

Not every bird gets it right and ends up where they are supposed to, but most of the successful migrators make it.

Successful is the key or working word, many never make it there or back.

I suppose it is time for me to end this lengthy letter.

Yes, September can be a busy, exciting, and some what sad time.

It is what you choose to make it to be.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

Happiness is often the result of being too busy to be miserable.


Being busy doesn't mean working all of the time.

Being rich isn't simply having money.

You can be busy doing countless good deeds or loving life.

You can be rich beyond imagination, simply by loving others.

Idle hands make one poor, but diligent hands bring riches.

Proverbs 10:4

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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