I love picking through the cool nasturtium leaves before the first frost – this year, the night of November 10, down to 21 degrees. Filling the house with their flowers and spicing up salads with their peppery seed heads that substitute for capers is a ritual of fall here in the hollow.
Nasturtiums, moon vines, Tom Torrance’s castor beans, jalapenos, and zinnias all fell to the freezing temperatures which used to come around mid-October when I first started paying attention to such things. Picked a nice mess of sorrel for Peter Boyer’s Carr’s Hill recipe. They’ve stood up to the cold along with lettuces, arugula, romaine, and parsley.
Roses, – climbing ‘Sombreuille’, ‘Iceberg’, and ‘Penny Lane’ – have had lovely autumn flushes. ‘Penny Lane’ already showing deep crimson hips. Now that the nasturtiums have died down, we can weed the asparagus patch and topdress with stable manure from our kind neighbors who keep horses up the road. Amended the roses last spring with a few five gallon buckets of it and they’ve done well this season. Manure – the old standby of Gertrude Jeykell, William Robinson, Henry Mitchell, and the like.
The blueberries we planted from Mike McConkey’s Edible Landscapes in Afton have settled in well. With the assistance of a knowledgeable nurserywoman, we chose 3 different Rabbit-eye types (‘Powder Blue’, ‘Sunshine Blue’, a dwarf, and ‘Ochlockonee’) which are supposedly adaptable to our increasingly hot and prolonged summers.
We picked up a scant half inch of rain over the last week, but still the creek runs quiet and Albemarle County is running a deficit of groundwater. We’ll hope for some deep snows to renew us come spring.