agrimarket, apple harvest, Autumn, azalea, cercidiphyllium Japonica, crazy Finnish weather, David Austin Roses, Emily Bronte, greenhouse, Hankkija, Heli Virkkunen, Japanese Maple, Katsura, Lohja, patio stone walkway, rhodendron, Rosk N' Roll, September, vanha talo suomi, water feature, woodland garden
Hello again from Vanha Talo Suomi!
September is in fact leaving/leafing soon – just hours left of a wonderful month. Many people adore the Autumn season and the changes that it brings to everything in nature. I don’t know if I am one of those people. I do enjoy the wonderful colors and changes it brings to the general aesthetic and the world around me; but autumn is also a mournful time in some respects and through the years I have always been somewhat saddened to witness the last leaf being blown from a tree branch. Autumn stirs feelings of melancholy for me, and maybe for you?
Of course it isn’t all doom and gloom! There are apples to harvest, fairs and festivals to attend and gatherings of all kinds, as people are drawn back inside and to each other. September has been a bit on the ‘crazy Finnish weather’ side this year. Not much rain, a little at the beginning and some right at the end, just in time to usher out the month. The lack of rain through the month got me a little nervous about how well all our landscape plants were faring, especially in light of entering autumn without some decent hydration. Luckily the well hasn’t run dry! 🙂
As for the autumn color changes, the most predominant Finnish autumn color is from the birch trees which turn a sunny yellow later deepening into many golden tones and finally to brown. Many trees had already starting dropping their leaves by the time I jumped on a big jet-liner recently to the USA. I’m sure there will be a few on the branches when I return to Finland, but realize it will look vastly different upon my return. Of course evergreens exist in nearly every view no matter where you are in Finland, plus there are numerous other deciduous trees and the occasional maple, even red ones with wonderful bright red colors. Those reds really stand out in a field of green and yellow! Don’t just take my word for it! Visit Finland! Can you imagine being in any place more lovely? I can’t. I love Finland!!
In anticipation to the end of our gardening season, Pekka and I doubled-down on tackling yard projects. It seems instead of winding down, our efforts went the other direction and we took on a few new projects despite the fact that most people have called it quits for the season. Pekka’s growing interest in tree specie is wonderful. He created a wonderful plant inventory with names and links for all our items. It will be added here soon or whenever we quit adding new stuff!
These luscious apples seen above on September 5th were just some of the hundreds of apples we harvested this year. Turns out this was a bumper crop for all the apple growers in our region – orchards were pulling double-time trying to keep up with picking, processing and juicing apples. We couldn’t compete with the commercial growers who get priority at the local mill – where we’d hoped we could have out extra apples juiced. No such luck. So, many apple pies latter, and batches of apple sauce, we handed off the remaining quantity to a colleague of Pekka’s. I quit counting but filled these containers many, many times besides the ones that were pitched altogether.
We have several old varieties of apple trees, but getting proper identification requires an expert – which I am not 🙂 Our nice friend Heli Virkkunen told us we can send the apples to a man who can identify them, and we will eventually do that in order to get the correct name/type of these several trees on the property. I can tell you that all taste wonderful and make excellent pies! 🙂 YUM
The weather through the month remained warm and mostly sunny with the evening temperatures only really dipping low until the last week or so – which made for some chilly mornings! But thankfully the daytime temps remained pleasant. Which made it really nice as we began tackling a few planting areas and took advantage of end-of-season discounts at the nurseries!! We’ve added so many new items I’ve lost track. Seriously, we went nuts!
One thing we both agreed on was to upgrade the front of the house with a couple stacks of retaining stones since we were doing the sidewalk anyway. It made a big difference. But before we could start, I needed to lift all the plants in that front garden out so we could raise the level and add a lot more new soil 😦 Pekka built the new trellis for me and I painted it.
It was time-consuming and delicate work lifting all those plants! Yikes, I was really expecting it to be pretty tough to do, but it went pretty easy once I jumped in there and got started. Once out, I then dug around looking for all the tulips and other bulbs in there – which proved to be the most challenging aspect. After the stones were laid in place, we topped off a few loads of additional soil and then I repositioned everything in a better arrangement. Most of the plants didn’t even seem to mind all this upheaval. A couple of the Mustila hydrangea looked pretty sad and wilty even two weeks later, but bounced back and looked to be settled in the last week of September. At least I hope so!
Another area we thought could benefit was our woodland garden area. It had mostly been intact with items that came with the house; Juhannus Roses, Rugosa and other assorted weeds and wildflowers with some items I put in there too. Overall, it was a sad-looking spot once the peak of flowering ended on the roses. Once-flowering roses are not my favorite especially with so many wonderful alternatives producing color and fragrance through the whole summer. Pekka and I agreed we could give this area more justice and enjoy it much more if it was revamped. So that became our next project!
Pekka dug out the Juhannus roses and the rugosa and we saved every one! Moving them to a new location in the back where all of our berry bushes are located. We prepared a new bed on the small incline along the road and fence line and will still be able to enjoy these items, but they will no longer be center-stage.
We opted to clear the whole area and re-do it completely. We kept but moved all the remaining items around which included the purple asters you can in the photo above, as well as phlox, coreospis and rhododendron. Then we added azaleas, rhododendrons, Echinacea, iris as well as some conifers for interest. I think it more closely resembles a true woodland garden now.
Once all the plants were fitted into place, we gathered more mulch from Rosk N Roll – think it was a couple more trips and each load we haul home is 1.5 cubic meters. Theres a couple Japanese maples in the woodland garden as well as a Katsura (Cercidiphyllum Japonicum) I’m without the inventory list so proper names for many of the new additions will have to be added another time 😉
Just after the woodland garden upgrade Pekka trenched the sidewalk in preparation for the sand delivery. He need to get the wiring buried for our lighted walkway!
We ordered lighting from the net and once it arrives the electrician can finish the wiring and we’ll have lights outside finally! yeah!! no more scary scary night walks 🙂
Meanwhile, during all of this activity Pekka concentrated his free time to bringing his water feature idea into reality. He started digging a little at a time, which honestly seemed to be quite an undertaking. I thought he would be better off having his friend dig it with his huge back-ho, but Pekka just kept at it and soon enough there was really a shape emerging.
We saw many small trees and ground covering conifers while on our rounds at the nurseries and bought several knowing we would most likely have to move some around as the final parts of the water feature came into definition. This pond, waterfall and cascades is going to be YUGE! 😀 We made several trips here and there picking up free stone for use in the design, although I think we really need a couple massive items which could only be delivered. We’ll have to see how it progresses. Pekka is still working on it when he needs a distraction from a few of the other projects also underway.
We came to the conclusion that we would benefit from having some sort of greenhouse on the property. For the purposes of getting an earlier start to our vegetable growing, but also to house some of the more delicate items Pekka has started with his interest in Bonsai. So, whether it’s seeds and vegetables, propagating items or trying out more tender varieties, a greenhouse would be really useful. We decided the best location was one that was really under-used on the far side. Plenty of sun exposure but it was located on the opposite side of the barn/shed which has also been the go to place for all the junk and wood piles. Pekka had to clear away large stacks of old wood in order to start anything in this area.
Not sure on the final dimensions this new greenhouse is going to take, but it will include the usual items and be close to a water & electric supply which I think will make it ideal. We have spent quite a lot of time lately in this side of the yard, which up until now was really neglected and just a catch-all for all our junk. Tidying up for the greenhouse, we also decided to clear out the rabble along the fence to make way for some better suited items. We both have some favorites among some conifer specie that we can’t wait to get and plant next spring in this area.
Pekka has informed me that the David Austin rose catalog for 2017 has arrived in the mail and I can take advantage of a 15% discount if I order by November 20th. Not a problem I say!!! 🙂
We will get around to the area those new roses are going another time, but first here’s a look at the clearing near the berry bushes. Note, we laid in that white weed barrier and topped it off was sand pathways which ought to prevent any weeds in the path for good! Just need to re-weed around the bushes themselves to get this area under control at last. The last few summers it’s been impassable to walk out there due to the freaking knee-high weeds. Not ever again!
We can’t do much about those large boulders but make some use of them as part of a landscape design. Luckily planting conifers in that open newly cleared area won’t interfere with sun exposure to the berry bushes, being on the western edge of our property. A bit more tidying up along the fence line to get the weeds knocked down but I think we can handle it! 🙂
Eventually that little wooden shed in the background above will be dismantled and gone, the wood piles chipped and the logs cut and stacked.
Between the water feature, all the side yard projects including the greenhouse, walkway lighting and leveling out the driveway, Pekka is heading out this afternoon to select the granite stones to be delivered for the finishing touches on our driveway entrance. He said he’s also stopping by Hankkija (formerly AgriMarket, formerly Hankkija!) because they have 70% remaining plant stock!! Yes!! that’s my man!!! I forgot to even mention the removal of the final berry bushes and cutting of dumb trees in wrong places!!
I’ve got a couple of weeks left in the states and I’m having a wonderful time visiting my family here. Florida is just as sunny and hot as I remember. 🙂 Hope Michigan stays warm a few more weeks!
Before I left Finland I snapped these shots. Just can’t get enough or say enough good thinsg about these roses and still loaded with buds and flowers, and just look at the size of the skinny walnut tree! Man, it must really like it there – the thing has nearly doubled in size from last year!
Anyway, jet lag has its toll and being up at 3:30 am isn’t as much fun as it once was 😉
Hope your final hours of September are fond and not melancholy – it’s been a great summer. Maybe one of the best in a long time. I love Finland! and I love you Pekka. Miss you! ❤
So long for now – until next time. ❤