Raspberry Time


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Look what greeted me when I got home today! Our first berries of late summer. The raspberries have been coming in rather sparsely this year because we (and when I say we, I mean my wonderful husband) reworked the beds where they were planted. Raspberries spread. We started out with only about 12 -15 plants about four years ago. When my hubby dug them up at the beginning of the planting season this year, we gave away probably close to forty plants. Our neighbors have some and I gave some to a good friend at school.

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The sky several days ago must have been foretelling the raspberries with these colored clouds. That was during the cool snap we had, but next week, just in time for school to start, the weather is supposed to turn hot again, raspberry weather and late season tomatoes and beans. I’ll be picking and eating and freezing what we can’t eat. Raspberries are a sure sign of the end of summer here in Wisconsin, but just around the corner are crisp weather and delicious Honeycrisp apples! For now, I’ll savor the end of summer and the sweet flavor of raspberries!

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Seasonal Changes Afoot

 

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I’ve been procrastinating. I was supposed to publish this post on Wednesday, but here it is Friday, and I’ve only just now begun to write. I apologize to those of you who look forward to my Wisconsin Wednesday posts. The thing is I don’t want fall to arrive, and I think that if I just ignore what I need to do, time will slow down and give me just a little more summer. That wish is only an illusion, however. Fall is coming, and the past two days have given us a taste here in Wisconsin of the change in temperature that is inevitable. The wheel of the seasons is turning.

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The highs for the past two days have not risen above 70 degrees by day, 50s by night, but that isn’t the only change I’ve noticed. The scent of autumn has arrived here in Wisconsin. It’s a distinct and heady mixture of wild grapes, apples, leaf mold, fresh river water and northern air. When it arrives is different every year, but I smelled it a couple of days ago, right before the rain and drop in temperatures. Seasonal changes are occurring  quickly now, almost as if one change signals many others to begin, both in the natural world and also in my own life.
20150819_152434I talked last time about the disappearance of the songbirds. Yesterday I saw something that signaled the end of summer. Cedar Waxwings are flocking now. They arrive this way in early summer, and they leave this way too, usually with the first few cold fronts of autumn, all together like they are setting off on a road trip, gathering their family members for the long trek. Seeing them leave makes me sad, not only because they are one of my favorite birds but also because I know it will be another year before they return. Here they are gathered along the top branches of the dead tree by the river.

The goldenrod is slowly taking over as the star of the show in fields and meadows here along with a few late blooming Joe Pye Weed.

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My gardens are still going strong, but not for much longer now. The Pinky Winky hydrangeas are changing colors, and the purple Liatris are nearly played out now.

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All around us a gathering is taking place. I’m harvesting the bounty of my garden. The oak tree out front is loaded with acorns, the fields are full of corn waiting for harvest.

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On Monday I go back to school, another sign of fall arriving. Schools have already begun football and soccer games. Cross Country is in full swing. Back to school commercials blare from all radios and TV sets, but I’m not yet ready. I’d like another month to enjoy the warmth of summer, another month to enjoy the birds, butterflies, flowers, and fruits of summer without having to think about AP, SLOs, RTI, and UDL, that horrific alphabet soup of “have to.” Can I get an amen out there? I hope to keep up with my blog all year, but I may have to move my Wisconsin Wednesday posts to Friday and have a This Week in Wisconsin instead. We shall see. Thanks for stopping by to see what’s happening in Wiconsin!

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The “Wilds” of Wisconsin

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Although technically we are past the dog days of summer, we are still enjoying warm weather here in Wisconsin. The beautiful warmth is fleeting, but during summer all sorts of plant and animal life thrive. Though many of the songbirds that I adore hearing this time of year have already fled for warmer climes, other animals and plants are just about at their peak. Here is a sampling of what I see around my home or on my walks with Stella. All this beauty is part of the charm of living in Wisconsin–that is, if you like peace and quiet and beautiful scenery!

Grandpa Ott morning glories growing on the trellis right off the patio out back.

Grandpa Ott morning glories growing on the trellis right off the patio out back.

These are my favorite morning glories. They self-sow each year. In fact, I transplanted these from another area of my garden. I never have to replant, and they are beautiful each year with virtually no pests or problems. They are thought to have come originally from Bavaria. I bought several seedlings from Turners Farm Market, and I’ve had them since!

Just down the street, my neighbor Keith has planted his backyard in native prairie flowers and grasses. Each time I walk down our street I’m treated to a new display of flowers and grasses as they bloom and grow. This year these yellow flowers were in bloom next to the lavender bee balm. I think they are called yellow prairie cone flowers.

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Queen Ann’s lace blankets the roadways here this time of year in advance of the goldenrod that bursts forth from fields and ditches.

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Along the way Stella and I pass the river and enjoy the eagles, deer, and sand hill cranes we see along the way. I never want for beauty when I’m here.

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Just another day in Wisconsin.

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Graziano Gardens

 

Graziano Gardens

Last Saturday I was feeling lonely because my hubby was away, my friends were camping or otherwise occupied, and I needed a little inspiration for my house and garden. I’ve also been trying to do something creative other than writing to, as my husband says “keep my saw sharp.” We writers need to use our creative energy in more than one way to keep the creative juices flowing. Since the main character in my book is also a gardener, I thought getting back into gardening would not only be good for my creative spirit and let me feel some of what Faith feels, but it would also be a good way to be active, a real challenge when I sit so much at my desk writing. It is definitely a workout.

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I use to really enjoy gardening, but the past few years I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of work I need to do, and I’ve been lazy and uninspired. We have lived in our house now for nearly ten years, and all our landscaping needs overhauling. After a time, shrubs reach their full height and need radical trimming or removal, perennials need dividing–especially when you neglect doing that year after year, and some overzealous plants reproduce and take over–Siberian irises anyone? That’s where my gardens stand right now. I’d really like to pay someone to come in and redo everything, but who can afford that?

20150801_143255That’s why on Saturday, August 1, I went to visit my friend Shelly Christie, the owner of Graziano Gardens.  That’s us: she’s in pink looking lovely even in the heat! People display their creativity in numerous ways, and I’m glad Shelly lets her creativity shine in the garden. You can see it even in my less than stellar photography. Last Saturday was the first in her new Super Saturdays at Graziano Gardens. I visited to get some inspiration for planting and also to go to the Barn-tique sale–the barn on the property has all kinds of antiques and collectibles to restore and up-cycle into some new treasure for your house or garden. Pinterest anyone?

In addition, I listened to the very knowledgeable Rob Zimmer discuss gardening and designing with native plants. Rob is a columnist for the Appleton Post Crescent and is also known as the Yard MD. I did get some inspiration for next spring, but still have too much to do with what I already need to divide and move to buy anything else, except for two daylilies–there is always room for more daylilies, and Shelly had some beauties. I purchased two called Pardon Me (love the name!) miniatures with cranberry red flowers with green throats. They are re-bloomers too. I can’t wait to get them in the ground. Today, I promise.

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If you need an injection of creative inspiration and haven’t been to Graziano Gardens yet or haven’t been in a while, I urge you to go. The gardens surrounding the garden center will inspire you as will the numerous plants and pots for sale. Shelly and her crew are wonderfully  helpful and friendly! Also mark your calendars for the next two Super Saturdays this fall. The weather will be cooler, perfect for gardening. Here’s the info! I hope to see you there!

Super Saturdays, September 5th & October 3rd

  • Super Specials & Sales
  • Barn-tique Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Linda Otto Peeters of Willow Farm – Wet Felting / Jewelry Making
  • Mum Arrival
  • Fall & Seasonal Decorating Tips
  • WE-SHARE-A-COUNTY Fall Driving Tour

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Wisconsin Wednesdays

During summer I’m amazed by the beauty of Wisconsin, especially the rural areas where I live. It comes fast and furious because there is a finite number of sunlit, warm summer days here up north. All of us appreciate each of them and spend as much time out in the fresh air and sunshine as we can. To showcase that beauty, I’ve decided to do post pictures each Wednesday highlighting some aspect of Wisconsin. I hope you’ll enjoy what I choose to show you. I’ll also use the hashtag #RuralAmerica, so if you want to post your own pictures in the comments or on Twitter, I’d LOVE to see them!

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These are my purple cone flowers or Echinacea purpurea, a perennial flower in the sunflower family. In my garden it is one of the easiest plants to grow, and it also grows in the wild here in the Midwest. Most of these I never even planted. They came up from seed form the original two or three plants, but they look so pretty where they were that I left them there. They have blessed us with numerous blooms that attract lots of honeybees and butterflies.

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Two of our “neighbors” who live within a couple of miles of us raise honeybees, and my cone flowers are a great source of nectar for the bees who pollinate them each summer. I wish you could smell them; I wish I could make a perfume of their scent!

Cone Flower with Honey Bee

Cone Flower with Honey Bee