Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Seasonal Celebrations & Lessons Learned

 Oh Fall, how I welcome thee!

After the humidity and heat that summer brought I am ready to embrace the change of seasons.
I am looking forward to asters, chrysanthemums, acorns, persimmon, goldenrod, sumac, seed pods, apples, pumpkins, and red berries. College football, soup and chili, wearing a jacket and enjoying the vivid fall colors. But my favorite thing of all is Fall planting!

I joining Gardens Eye View for a look forward to Fall.

~ Seasonal Celebrations: Fall ~ 

Early fall color or victim of drought?

Every fall the Master Gardener organization I am affiliated with holds a Fall Garden Expo. Growers from all over the Southeast come to sell plants, many unusual and hard to find. It is a fabulous one stop shopping event of all things garden related from tools & equipment to art. The fabulous group of volunteers that organize and staff the expo put on an outstanding event. I work the two day event every year but make sure to find time to shop because there are always more plants that I can't live without.


Fall is time to celebrate the arrival of the Monarch butterflies! The milkweed is ready and waiting to host the party. They usually stop in my Georgia garden in mid-October on their trip to Mexico but my husband spotted the first one in our garden this week. A few days later we spotted another Monarch, this time a male. I hope to find caterpillars soon. These will become the next generation of butterflies who will continue the migratory journey south.

First monarch sighting of the Fall

Cooler weather means its hiking time. One of my favorite places to go locally is Elachee Nature Center and Science Center. A great place to explore nature along 13 miles of trails through the 1,500 acre nature preserve.


It is a plant and animal sanctuary and always an excellent hands on classroom to make new discoveries.


How will you be celebrating the Fall season? 

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 ~ Lessons Learned: Summer ~ 

Summer is coming to an end but it didn't pass by without Mother Nature departing more knowledge unto the gardener. I am joining Plant Postings for a look at the lessons learned this season.

I discovered that the bees like the bird bath even more than the birds. It is "their" drinking hole and they get very upset whenever I dump the water to clean it out and replenish it with fresh water. They buzz around me objecting profusely. I noticed that quite a few of the the bees would fall into the water from the edge and drown so I added rocks of varying sizes for them to perch on. This seems to have solved the problem.


This summer was my first attempt growing eggplant. The eggplants which were purchased as seedlings in Spring have not performed at all. I was beginning to feel a bit of a failed gardener because it is touted as one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They like fertile soil and lots of sun and they have both. They bloomed several times but the blooms fell off. So I did some research and found that this is caused by either (1) lack of water or (2) lack of pollination. Well, I know it isn't lack of water since we supplement the garden in the summer so it must be the later. So it had me thinking that I have never seen a pollinator visit them. Odd, since there are pollinators zooming around the garden all day long. Well, that is because eggplant, like corn, is wind pollinated. Pollination problems can occur when it is very wet or humid because the pollen becomes very sticky and can't fall down onto the pistil to pollinate the flower. When the weather is hot the pollen will become inactive because the plant thinks it can't handle the stress of fruit along with the hot weather. So the plant aborts the bloom so it won't be so stressed. I am keeping my fingers crossed that some less humid fall weather may help out and the eggplant won't be so stressed (poor thing!) and maybe decide to produce some fruit before winter arrives. Fingers crossed. If we decide to grow eggplant again next year I may have to help it along with some hand pollination.


I have learned that it takes a long time to become a toad. The toads laid eggs in early spring this year. The tadpoles swam and swam and then swam some more in our small pond. I thought they would never grow up. Then one day I started to see the tiniest little toads maybe 1/2" long hopping around in the weeds near the pond. Happy day...I was so thrilled! They are getting a little bigger everyday and we are now starting to see them venture off to other parts of the garden. They are now about 1" long and just one of the cutest things in the garden.


How did your garden fare this summer? Did Mother Nature depart any wisdom to you?

29 comments:

  1. My garden is awful. Worst I've ever seen. Took out a couple beds now also. Heck with this.

    I LOVE your little toad. What fun that had to be to watch their progress in your own yard.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. It has been so much fun to watch the toads. Last week I saw a small rat snake around the pond and my first thought was "you'd better not be eating my baby toads".

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  2. What an informative post, our garden has been a disaster this year after three months without rain it is no surprise really!

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    1. Drought is so devastating. I hope your fall and winter will find some rain for you to make up for the lack of rainfall!

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  3. When we first started beekeeping, we were advised by our mentors to add a 'water feature'. At first I thought, really? Do my bees need a pond? Even though we have two creeks on the property, we were told that if we provided fresh water closer to the hives, the bees would use that instead, and as a bonus, it would keep our bees out of the neighbor's swimming pool ;) They use the water especially on hot days to help cool the hive. The deposit the water in the hive, and fan their wings over it, essentially creating an air conditioned hive. Your rocks in the bird bath are great idea to provide the bees with sure footing...and they probably weigh less than the huge rock fountain we put in!

    I hope your eggplants still manage to produce some for you this season. The only pollinators I see on the flowers here are buzz pollinators, in the form of a couple of native bee species. They also are capable of buzz pollinating the tomatoes as well (which like eggplant are mostly wind pollinated). I wonder if shaking your eggplants in bloom works like it does in tomatoes? I've never tried.

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    1. Claire, thanks for all the very helpful information! Bees are so fascinating and I have so much to learn about them. I am still learning to identify all the different bees in my garden.

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  4. It's been rather dry here. Why is it the weeds in the lawn grow best of all!

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    1. Its so true! Despite drought weeds manage to grow!

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  5. Great posting. Will check my calendar for the MG Garden Expo. Sounds like a good place to be.
    My biggest lesson has to do with learning about water and how to slow it down/ reroute it. Between the gullywashers and the extreme conditions within my garden, I haven't had a lot of successes this year.
    I love the tiny toads, keep seeing the ones about the size of your thumbnail....too cute.

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    1. We do a spring and fall expo. FYI, the dates for next year are April 5-6 and September 27-28. The Spring expo tends to be bigger because the general public still doesn't realize that fall is the better time to plant. There are also different vendors at spring and fall. For example azalea guy only comes in spring since they are blooming then and people want to buy what they can see blooming. It would be great to see you there!

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    2. Sounds good Karin, I would like to come for at least one of these!!

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  6. I was surprised about the water and the bees. I have never seen bees at my fountains or birdbath, but have seen wasps at both. I always wondered if bees visited the water sources. You and Claire cleared that up. Love your toad, and his photo.

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    1. Donna, this is the first year I noticed them at my birdbath and they are there constantly. I love it!

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  7. Wonderful post..it seems that the monarchs are on the move but they expect an even small overwintering population this year than last and it has been in a decline anyway..but thank you for hosting them...Michelle

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    1. Sadly, their habitat seems to be diminishing despite all the publicity and education about them. But, we keep plugging along with the hope that every little effort makes a difference!

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  9. Karin, I want to comment on everything in your post! I, too, can't wait for fall planting. I've been waiting since the end of June when we moved. Most of my transplants from the old garden are still in pots awaiting cooler weather. I've been waiting impatiently for hiking, too. Sometimes I feel that living in the South the important things in my life go on hold in July and August because it's just too darn hot! I saw the first monarch butterfly this week, but didn't make the connection that it could be connected with the fall migration. I love your photo!

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    1. I think in the South we tend to confine ourselves to the indoors in July & August because of the heat whereas in Michigan we would get "cabin fever" during the winter months because of the cold. Is there a happy medium?

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  10. How sweet of you and what a great idea to put rocks along the birdbath to help the bees. I've had bees hanging around the hummingbird feeder, which is not a good thing! I learned something new from your post, too--I didn't realize that Eggplants are wind-pollinated! Thanks for joining in the memes, Karin!

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    1. Bees are attracted to yellow and many times the guards on hummingbird feeders are yellow thus attracting the bees. You can take them off and replace them with red ones which helps.

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  11. I LOVE that you added rocks to your birdbath to help the bees! I could even see their tongues in the picture!! It seems like Mother Nature teaches me something every day. I just have to remind myself to stay open to her lessons.

    This summer I learned to stop worrying about the frog in my pond, even though I haven't seen it in a while. I also learned that a ceramic birdbath in the sun will turn into a hot tub while one placed in open shade will be standing room only.

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    1. You are right! My birdbaths are mostly in the shade. I have one that is in the sun and I hardly ever see anyone there. I hadn't thought about it being like a hot tub. The last place I'd want to be in summer!

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  12. Karin thanks for joining in to the meme...I love that the monarchs come to you in fall....they are still here but soon will leave to join you which makes me happy...I learned so much about my veggies this year with the heat...the eggplant grew fine but the pumpkins were not liking the heat....little toads in the garden make me happy as they are still growing...lots to celebrate and learn about in your garden.

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  13. I love fall planting, too. But I think I'm done with most of my planting for this year. Thanks for the tips on eggplants. My eggplants just starting blossoming a few weeks ago. It might not be a good year for eggplants for me either.

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  14. I noticed the bees in the birdbaths as well...for the first time this year. It was so hot and dry they were most likely there more than in previous years. Great shot of the three there together! An early wish for a wonderful fall!

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  15. Karin, I put a little bowl of water out for the bees with some twigs and pebbles but I didn't realise that it would be better in the shade so I'll move it elsewhere. Love the toad photo!!

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  16. Interesting information about the eggplants. I grew my first last fall, and it did well, so hopefully yours will do fine once cooler weather gets here. Of course, I can't even imagine wearing a jacket right now, even though it will be a happy day once we can! Those little bees are just too cute! And that gives me a great idea for my birdbath. The birds don't use it because of our cats, but if I filled it with pebbles and rocks, the bees and butterflies might!

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  17. I noticed that my Monarchs have left in the past week or so. I guess they are headed toward your garden.
    I hope you enjoy them as much as I did this summer!

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  18. My garden did well this year, but only as a result of dragging around the soaker hose (normally I do almost no supplemental watering) and some shocking water bills. We had lots of orioles, but fewer grosbeaks. Lots of skippers, fewer butterflies. Looking forward to a more normal summer next year.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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