The leaves are changing early this year, especially the birches and for the most part the maples. You’ll also notice that trees around rocky outcrops have changed and lost most of their leaves. Acorns were ripe by mid to late August and apples were 2-3 weeks early this year. The nuts and fruits are a bit stunted this season. Annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees flowered early right from the beginning of the season. Lilacs were two weeks early last spring. Midsummer’s flowers were not only early but appear faded looking and have an almost antique look about them.
It’s all about the changes in the weather. Some people call it global warming, more accurately, it’s “global weirding”. June and July were record breaking months and will go down as the driest and warmest months on record. The extreme heat and dryness created a mid growing season hiatus. Toward the end of August it finally started to rain and plants began to grow again just in time for fall flowers.
September is an aster and goldenrod month. Asters begin to bloom in late August and go into October. The bright purple New England aster puts on quite a show this time of year. This bright purple with yellow center flower is native from southern Canada to the Carolinas. This aster grows the tallest and has the brightest color in our region. There are many other native asters ranging in color from white to lavender but the New England aster is the queen. Goldenrod also puts on a big show this time of year. Goldenrod and asters are the big nectar producers in the fall. Bees are busy producing fall honey and the combination of goldenrod and aster gives honey a tangy taste. Most Goldenrod is native to North America. The northeast has 25 species, Europe has 9, and Britain has only one. Some species of goldenrod are fragrant. I’ve seen goldenrod in a white flower and I’ve heard it called silverrod. Goldenrod has herbal qualities. The Latin name for goldenrod, Solidago, means to strengthen. Our fore fathers created a brew from its leaves and flowers. It’s said the brew will brighten one’s mood.
Early settlers used the goldenrod flower as a dye to brighten their clothing. It’s said that by brightening winter clothes lifted their spirits on a dark winter day.
A quick note on fall lawn fertilizer. Phosphorus leaching from fertilizers is one of our most harmful water pollutants. Phosphorus leaching into wells, streams and rivers is adversely affecting water quality. Most lawns in our region have enough phosphorus and do not need any additional applications. To promote a more eco-friendly lawn use an organic lawn treatment and slow release organic fertilizer over synthetic applications. Keep clippings on the lawn and mow the lawn 3 inches or higher.
Pete and the natives.