more chores…

The woods this morning have that final stage of fall about them. I can’t explain it it’s just a look everything gets before the final leaves fall. The leaves are more than half down now I think.

However plants are confused due to the continued odd warm days. I have not only found azaleas blooming again right now but some forsythia as well.

Last week I planted five Japanese maples. I chose Acer Palmatum “Crimson Queen” and Acer Palmatum “Bloodgood”. Crimson Queen has a beautiful lace leaf- thread leaf habit and it more sun tolerant than a lot of Japanese Maples. Bloodgood is a long time favorite of mine with deep purple-red leaves, and can also tolerate full sun. However, with the exception of one Crimson Queen, they are now planted in partial sun-shade spots at the edges of our woods. I hope they all do well. I bought them on sale, and for five trees I basically paid what I would have paid in season for one small tree.

Because this weekend was so unusually warm I continued on my fall cleanup quest. I pulled vines off of the slightly decrepit looking shrubs in between one neighboring property and ours.

I hate these in between the properties shrubs. I think they are some sort of spirea but no amount of shaping can make them look decent for long. They were never pruned or maintained properly when first planted before my time many years ago, and the other problem are the invasive vines that come from the property next-door spend all year trying to cover them. So every year a few times a year I just have to stand there and yank the vines off. The vines are some sort of wild raspberry with tons of little tiny thorns. I actually have to try to get more vines off of them if I can this week.

On another side of our property I had to tackle the wild rose and other kinds of wild raspberry vines that grow in the forsythia bushes, which I also hate. Forsythia looks good for about one week to 10 days a year when it’s covered in blooms and then it is just a monumental pain in the ass the rest of the year. I don’t know why forsythia isn’t tagged as an invasive because it is.

I have dug out a lot of the forsythia on this property because essentially it was taking over when we moved in. It had 50 years to do whatever the hell it wanted and it grew over a giant elderberry and all sorts of other things.

There is one small hedge of forsythia at the edge of our property that is probably half mine half my neighbor’s. It does provide a necessary function of being a nice safe place where birds like the cat birds nest every year. But it grows so fast it requires a lot of pruning. So yesterday I gave it its last trim, nothing serious pretty much just evening up super long branches. And I tackled the thorny vines and dog roses that threaten to take over.

I always try to remove as many of the wild dog roses (rosa multiflora) as possible. I used to love watching them grow but because of rosey rosette disease, I remove the bushes when I find them. These wild roses are often a host for the mite that spreads rosey rosette which is a virus. (Read about rosey rosette disease here.)

Late fall in general is a great time to get rid of invasive plants if you know what you’re removing. If you don’t know what you are removing wait until you see leaves the following spring.

The late fall leaf colors are spectacular this year even if it doesn’t completely feel like November yet.

I am not planting anything more this year, and I don’t think I’m moving anything else around. What I needed to move were the beauty berries, and I found two lovely families to adopt the ones which had outgrown the spaces I had for them in my garden. I kept some beauty berries on a slope on the side of my house where they love to grow.

Another great fall leaf color are the leaves of my Franklinia Tree which I had to re-stake. I think next year I may have to cable it in order to make sure it continues to grow as straight as I would like it. Franklinia Tree leaves are both yellow and scarlet in places.

I will leave you with a photo of one of my Japanese Maples. It was the only Japanese Maple on this property when we bought the house. But once we started clearing the invasive vines and shrubs out of the woods as well as cleaning up dead trees, I found a few more saplings in the woods and have purchased more for this garden. Japanese Maples remain one of my all time favorite garden elements.

Happy gardening 🧑‍🌾

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