How Do You Know When a Pawpaw Is Ripe?

The pawpaws have been dangling, to the ground in some cases, since the end of September. Back at the end of May, I saw small clouds of the flies that pollinate pawpaws for the first time. They apparently did a grand job, because both trees have had plenty of fruit this fall. The pawpaws on the eastern tree are even larger than usual this fall. I ate the first one September 30—they are weighing in close to a pound and a half.

Big pawpaws on the eastern tree. Photographed on October 11, 2019.

Continue reading “How Do You Know When a Pawpaw Is Ripe?”

Why Leave Seedheads On?

We are now having nights in the mid-30s, so leaves are turning and the seedheads are ripening on the Echinacea and Rudbeckia. Although these plants are swaying right up to the edge of the sidewalk, the goldfinches have been very interested and hungry—and very hard to photograph with a phone. They are nervous little creatures.

This young goldfinch has been stuffing itself on Rudbeckia triloba seeds. Photographed on October 18, 2019.

Young goldfinches need fuel. According to Audubon, goldfinches do overwinter in Michigan, so they will need food in the coming months. They are also vulnerable to our increasingly warm climate. Michigan will be too far south for them in the summer by the time the average annual temperature increases by 3°C, which at current rates could occur by 2080.

The goldfinch photograph is roughly 25% of the area of a larger photograph which was taken fully zoomed, so the focus is not its best—a telephoto lens on a real camera would allow for much better results—but it captures the reason to leave the seedheads on for a while.

Edge Effects in Shade

“Your garden looks like an estate!” That comment really surprised me, but I realized that there is one thing this little yard has that most yards do not: beds with clearly defined edges and swaths of plants that are the same variety. Edges and swaths lead the eye around, and can make your yard seem both larger and calmer. 

Fall is a great time to think about what changes you would like to make to your yard; many plants can be divided and moved around now that the temperatures are cooler. Summer’s damage can be appraised, and gardening mistakes can go discreetly into the compost pile.  Continue reading “Edge Effects in Shade”