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Welcome to Autumn
September 22, 2008


Summer is officially gone as we hit the first day of Fall.

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

The last full week of summer gave us ideal weather conditions.

The skies were mostly sunny with temperatures in the low to mid 70's and Saturday topped out at 80 degrees.

Nights are cool for pleasant sleeping conditions.

There were only a few days where the temperatures reached 90 degrees or above, and that helps when the humidity is high.

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

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

I'm still picking tomatoes, even though I lost a few dozen pink and green ones from all the rain.

When tomatoes get to much water to fast, the fruits crack and split. The skins of the fruits can't stretch or grow fast enough to contain the hydrated fruit so the only thing they can do is crack or split to relieve the pressure.

Birds and butterflies were plentiful.

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 some staycation time wasn't bad either.

I enjoy my evening walks with the dogs, but I think I need to increase my walk time or eat less as the battle of the bulge seems to be a loosing one.

Ziggy the poodle pup finally showed some interest in a rabbit this past week.

Until then, he has been quite the pansy and in many ways, he still is.

I've never had a dog where any sound or movement scares it like it does with the Ziglet.

He's a loving pooch, however and that's important.

We still have our two hummers hanging around porking up and entertaining us.

Besides Goldfinches molting, I've noticed some juvenile Northern cardinals changing as well.

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

We still have a few Monarchs 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 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.

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."

Notice the deer run in another part of my play ground below.

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.

You may be quick to spot a walking stick on a tree or a frog's head in between some lily-pads and others around 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.

It is truly amazing how things are when we are in harmony with our natural surroundings and our Creator.

Welcome to Autumn.

Yes it is hard for me to say that, but I am learning.

As you may know, fall isn't my favorite time of year.

(Autumn sage in my Michigan gardens add some color and a favorite for hummingbirds.

A native plant of the southwest United States, Autumn sage is a tender perennial that is treated as an annual here.)

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.

But, 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 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 anytime with planting and transplanting some of your favorites.

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.

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, Dalhea 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.

Plant some mums or hardy pansies.

How about a native aster (left)?

Fall often brings a slow down in our lives.

Take in a color tour.

Get the kids or grandkids and go enjoy some nature.

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.

My nine year old grandson loves it when we go out into the fields.

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.

Take it all in.

Next month we will once again head to a Sandhill crane fest here in Michigan.

It's near Battle Creek, MI.

5,000 to 6,000 Sandhill cranes hang out and it is an awesome sight and a good time for everyone.

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

Fall also means working on your lawn.

Fall feeding is the best time to feed your lawn as it gets ready for winter.

If you need to, herbicides do their best work in the fall as well.

Weeds are getting ready for winter too.

Weeds are growing like crazy now and soaking up carbohydrates and whatever they can to last the winter.

Herbicides are soaked in and the weeds die over winter.

I'm not big on pushing herbicides, but most of our weeds are non native (maybe a future letter here).

Isn't it something, even daylight hours play a roll on plant life as well.

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 cool after all.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your though of the week.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Broult

Isn't this what I've been saying all along?

The little things are all around you and often we take them for granted.

A smile is simple and little, yet it is so HUGE and can mean so much to so many.

Smiles brighten up the world, add value to your life and the lives of others.

Smiles and are positive forces.

Now how can you go wrong with something so little yet so big?

Smile when you meet a friend or even a stranger.

Express gladness that you know that person, or you are glad to meet them.

Smiles are contagious.

What a wonderful way to start and end a day.

Smiles are the first step to a positive day and we all need more pluses in our lives.

Be the wonderful being God intended you to be.

With a huge smile, a hug or high five, have a blessed week.

Until next time,

"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 recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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