I thought I'd take a moment away from the past to share some of what makes me happy right now, when there's a lot that's not so bright. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, even though it's tinged with that primal fear of cold, dark months to come. There's something about fall that energizes my blood: the crisp, cool tinge in the air; the explosion of leaf color; firing up the woodstove; wearing a warm flannel shirt; canning and collecting and preparing for winter.
So, without further ado, we enter THE PRESENT DAY
. Bragging will ensue, along with a ridiculous number of tree photos.
FOR THE LOVE OF TREES:
DH loves to plant and grow and nurture things, but his favorites are trees. Over the course of 37 years, we've planted thousands of trees encompassing maybe 60 different varieties on our Western Washington property. There was a fairly high attrition rate from underbush competition, deer, mountain beavers and moles, but a lot of them thrived. We take huge joy in walking through the forest we brought to life.
This is our biggest planted tree. It's a Sequoia, planted as a little tyke about 35 years ago. The hat is for scale. The rocks piled around it are waiting to be a wall when we get around to it. Meanwhile, they protect it from stray vehicles because our driveway winds around it. DH says that someday we'll have to move the driveway.
Across the driveway is another Sequoia, planted at the same time. This one grew higher but not as wide. In the background is what we call the Arboretum, because we're pretentious that way.
Here's another view of the Arboretum. This used to be a big field with 2 fir trees in it. We planted every tree in this photo...and the photos above. And the photos below.
Walking further into the photo, you come to the back of the arboretum and a path into the woods. There are a lot of younger trees planted here admidst the original alder.
This is looking across the pond toward the arboretum from a different side. The tall conifer in the middle is another Sequoia, and the gold one is a sugar maple. The dead-looking bushes in front are honeysuckle already in bed for the winter. Bees and flycatchers love them.
Here's a closeup of the above Sequoia with another hat for scale. I can't get over how quickly these trees grow under the right conditions.
Leaves of the sugar maple on the ground. Growing up in the east, I developed a love for brightly-colored fall leaves. We planted a lot of maples so I could have that color here. Alder just don't shine so much in the fall.
This is a huge English walnut tree trying to swallow a juniper. We planted them both, so the juniper's distress is all on us; we just somehow didn't anticipate how big the walnut would become. We've planted hundreds of English and black walnuts, so we'll never lack for protein in the zombie apocalypse (after we eat the squirrels, of course).
The black walnut trees are prettier and the nuts taste fantastic, but they're a real chore to process. The English walnuts provide much more food for the effort. We've also planted hazelnuts, heartnuts, chesnuts and butternuts. The juniper berries are good in sauerkraut.
Here's a butternut we planted. We call it the Squirrel Tree (in reality, they're all squirrel trees) because we built a house and feeder to install in it. A friend had 3 baby squirrels she'd rescued and bottle fed, and she released them into this tree this past summer.
Our mini Aussie spends a lot of time looking up into the Squirrel Tree and others, waiting for a squirrel to fall in his mouth. It actually happened once (in another tree) when 2 squirrels were fighting in the branches far above, and it made a lasting impression.
Here are grapevines with a hazelnut thicket in the background. The concrete "wall" used to be the spillway across our pond. When we replaced it with pipes through the dam, the Cat driver who did the work just dropped it off to the side. It was too heavy for our tractor to lift, so there it lay for a few years. Finally, we dug a deep trench the length of the concrete, dragged it next the trench and tipped it in so it buried itself by about half the width and stood more or less upright. Then we built an open-topped greenhouse around the other 3 sides with some old windows we had and planted grapes. I love weird, repurposed stuff like this, especially if it involves beautiful green vines. Add in the production of something edible (drinkable), and that's my idea of perfect.
Finally, we have The Island. Here's a (partial) photo of the pond in winter. The little messy hump at the head of it is The Island, which is surrounded by water (hence the name). We planted a dogwood and a rhodendron on it years ago and then allowed the salmonberries and canary grass to take over. The tree and bush both died, and we were sad.
DH came up with the idea this summer of cleaning it all off and planting bamboo. He's always wanted timber bamboo (the huge, invasive kind), but I resisted because...invasive. DH pointed out that the island being flooded for 9 months of the year would inhibit its colonization, and so we planted bamboo. Then we needed Pandas but settled for a Buddha. Then we needed a stone wall to raise the island level a bit so Buddha and bamboo wouldn't get their feet wet. Then we needed some ornamental grasses. I really like how it turned out, and it'll look even better when the pond rises again. That should happen very soon, and of course I'll post an updated photo.
I'm not sure what the ducks will think of it, because they like to swim around the island and hide behind it with their babies.