Monday, August 27, 2007

It's Fall
I
t may still be August but fall has announced its presence today. We are in the last week of our summer retreat on Fire Island, New York. It's 68 degrees F. with a strong dry wind from the East. We still have some late season blueberries - enough for another batch of muffins or two, but the big buzz around here concerns the ripening of beach plums (Prunus maritima). Beach plum jelly is a major love of the residents of this sand spit. The color of beach plums is intoxicating, ranging from purple to blue to reds, pinks, and green. The jelly is a clear claret color with a subtle taste. This week I will go in search of beach plums to take home for processing into jelly. Ummm. Another way to treat beach plums is to make a chunky freezer sauce for ice cream. Christmas pies with ice cream and beach plum sauce - Wow! I have not made sauce for years. Maybe its time.

Fall is also the time for white tail deer bucks to strut their stuff. We live amongst the deer daily (not the other way around) and they are usually benign. But this weekend I was stopped on my walk by an imposing buck with a well formed rack who had no intention of moving out of the way. I don't recall ever having to question my safety around deer before. There are way too many here and in the fall, they seem to be asserting their dominance.

What has this to do with gardening and landscape history - everything! On Fire Island they have reduced the number of species of native plants dramatically. Ornamental gardening requires fencing or very judicious selection. Grey herbs, cleome, ornamental grasses, caryopteris, vitex, some foxglove, marigolds, and the dreaded bamboo are among the deer reject options. New blueberries and beach plums must be caged until they are tall enough to withstand deer poaching or old enough to have acquired enough local soil acidity.

So fall is blowing in and as I pick beach plums this week I will reflect on the balance of nature and what happens when that balance is disturbed as it is here with deer.

3 comments:

Matt said...

Ahh, very nice picture of the deer. Once the people leave the deer reclaim their territory. You had better get to the berries before the deer eat them all.

Sarah said...

I look forward to picking beach plums on Fire Island with you over the Labor Day weekend!

Susan said...

How do you make Beach Plum Sauce??