It's very much fall here in the Eastern Sierras. The mountains have a dusting of snow and the trees in the valley are dropping golden leaves. It's beautiful everywhere you look at this time of the year! The oppressive summer heat has left us-finally! - and we're in the midst of perfect autumn days, with bright blue skies and clear,cool nights. The garden flowers are doing their "fall thing"; some have finished blooming for the season,while others are in their prime. Dahlias and roses are feeding honeybees, while Mexican sunflowers,Yarrow and Scabiosa are frequented by migrating Monarch butterflies. The salvia show is amazing this time of year. There are about 850 species of salvias in the world,and they're found on every continent except for Antarctica. That's a lot of salvias! All are beloved by pollinators,particularly hummingbirds. The Salvia Gregorii is native to the desert southwest and it is an important food source for migrating hummingbirds on their fall journey south. It's a common nursery salvia,and,here in the garden,we have an array of salvia colors blooming everywhere;purple, pink, red, white and even a bi-colored salvia called hot-lips! This is their blooming season and there's lots of pollinator activity in the garden. The song of bees and squabbling hummies in the fall makes for the best garden music!
Earlier in the season,we had lots of hummingbirds fattening up at the feeders,preparing for their journeys. We had as many as 12 hummies at a feeder,with only 6 feeder ports. Often, they would double up with two feeding alternately at each port! And,the ever present honeybees were in there,trying to get their share too! Speaking of feeders,this year I began to use organic sugar for my feeders as sugarcane is often a GMO crop and frequently grown with chemical pesticides. The organic cane sugar isn't bleached so it's darker in color (the amber tint looks nice in a feeder) and it dissolves quickly in water much more so than the "gummy"refined white sugar. I don't eat GMO foods or those sprayed with chemical pesticides,so I feel better not feeding the bees and hummingbirds with them either.
This past month,we've had a treat in the garden. Two Pacific Tree Frogs have been sunning themselves daily in our little "butterfly pond". We knew they were in the garden as we heard them croaking all summer long,but they remained hidden until now. There's nothing cuter than a tree-frog for sure!
The fruit harvest in the garden is now done. I juiced the last of the grapes a week ago. If you've never had FRESH grape juice before (not out of a bottle or can) you're missing out! It is pure nectar!
The vegetables are still producing in the garden;we have leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and squash,and there's baby lettuce under a plastic hoop house that will feed us into winter.The runner beans that bloomed all summer,are now full of long green pods. These will slowly dry on the vine and come about Thanksgiving,we'll harvest them all and sit by the evening fire, shuking beans. It's a good life here in the garden...
See you next month!
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