HELEN LANG: Colours a’changin’

Nights are getting darker earlier and temperatures are dropping

Heavens, here is another month approaching, October this time. Coming home from my brother’s place in Cedar (south of Nanaimo) I was horrified to see all the dead and dying leaves on the Maple trees, but, of course it wasn’t caused by frost, but by the lengthy dry spell we have enjoyed this summer. I hate to think of their thirst, but realize its bound to change soon, and we’ll be cursing the everlasting rain.

It was lovely being up there; the weather was wonderful, the flower garden delightful, full of pink and white petunias, darker pink geraniums, and drifts of bocoppa in all the pots and there are a lot of pots!

Then, of course, there is the ever-changing sea, sometimes smooth as a mirror, and at others full of ruffles, with the occasional splash on the shore, from the waves of a passing boat. As well, for entertainment, there were the birds, and there were as many as seven Towhees at a time, darting about on the patio. This I had encouraged by spreading a lot of bird seed.

Besides the Towhees there were Juncoes, and one morning a black squirrel, which we weren’t pleased to see as squirrels dig up bulbs, and I had just planted 30 mini daffodils (crawling around on my hands and knees to do so). My mind drifted to a shotgun, but with my poor aim I’d be sure to break a window or wound my brother, so that squirrel can thank his lucky stars I didn’t follow up on my nasty thought.

I had left my precious plants in my daughter’s care, hoping she would remember to keep up the watering, which she did, so things looked just fine on my return.

The hibiscus was even wearing one large bloom with three fat buds on other branches. I love that plant!

I had picked all branches holding the cherry tomatoes, and the latter are ripening nicely in the utility room. Their skins are so tough I’m afraid to swallow them, but their innards are truly tasty. The larger tomatoes in there are very slowly ripening, but, hopefully they will make it before spring!

The Phillipino man who drives for my brother has tomatoes planted against a fence, but there is too much shade and they are very green. I suggested he put a tarp over them each evening as nights are getting decidedly cool, and to pick them soon, and try the “brown paper bag with a ripe apple trick”, to hurry things along. He looked at me very doubtfully so I don’t think he is going to do anything, but trust to luck. Nights in the Phillipines are warm, why should it be different in Canada? He’s in for a shock, I’m afraid!

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

 

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