Our currant pop culture recognizes Labor Day as the last weekend of summer. Some schools started in August, but most started this past week. The astronomical end of summer and beginning of fall is still several weeks away (September 22-23), but the meteorological first day of fall is taken as September 1, according to the National Weather Service. That makes it easier to summarize the seasonal differences by quarters of the calendar months.
Fall on Lone Tree Farm is full of color. Red grass ripens in the prairie patches and warm season paddocks. It’s mostly big blue stem, but other native grasses like little blue stem and switch grass also seem to turn red at the ends of leaves and up the stems. And, golden rod lights up the green and brown grass areas…….. and gets blamed for allergies. But, the “interweb” says the main allergy culprit is ragweed that often grows in association with the golden rod. Golden rod is another case of an innocent plant getting labeled as a problem.
Sunflowers are running riot in the ditch near the mailbox and also in some of the waterways. We need to harvest some of the seeds and get them established in our prairie patches to go with the good standing crop of milkweed. Golden rod, sunflowers, and milkweed all add biologic diversity and provide support for pollinators. OR, are they “weeds”?
Thistles are weeds, but they are also monarch food. We do have some monarchs migrating through, but not as many as some of the clusters that we used to see. We’ve got a friend who is raising and releasing monarchs that she collects from milkweeds. Someone commented that she’s saving the world one monarch at a time. Another friend is involved in a program to tag monarchs to document migration patterns. I think that both of these are worthy causes.
Trees are starting to turn color. This is Margaret’s flame-shaped red maple (and her picture, like the monarch on the thistle). Some cottonwoods and box elders are starting to show yellow. However, hackberries and ash are still mostly green. They both seem to last longer in the fall after getting a late start in the spring. Dad used to say that they were “careful” trees that waited to green up until later in the spring when the risk of a killing frost was reduced.
Fall is harvest time. We’re just starting to see these spider webs get set up as bug traps in the short grass. So, that’s one harvest that has begun. There are a few apples on the old tree up at the “Greats’ house”. It’s the last apple tree in the yard and it hasn’t got many more fall seasons left. There are more dead branches than green ones with apples. After the warm days this past week, we’ll check the wild plums down at the Creek. They should also be ready for a fall harvest.