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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Juuuust dry enough to mow the lawn this morning, what with Flo giving us the miss, but it was still wet enough that Ol’ Robbo slipped and slid a goodish bit as he made his way back and forth across the back yard slope with his trusty push-mower.  I always carry a short-handled weeding tool around in my back pocket for cleaning out the blade well when it gets clogged with trimmings.  (It’s a rear-mounted bagger but I don’t have the patience to stop every five minutes to empty the thing, so I just mulch the clippings back in. This works fine when the grass is dry, but it’s a pain when wet.)  It occurs to me that one of these days I’m going to slip and fall backwards and probably shank myself in the kidney.  What a way to go that would be.

I noticed today a significant increase in the number of spider webs around – another sure sign that autumn is approaching.  Indeed, I blundered straight into several of them, something I particularly dislike as I would just as soon keep the creepy-crawlies at a distance.

I had been thinking about putting in a couple azaleas this fall, together with attempting a new rhododendron.  The latter move has long had a psychological side for me.  When we first bought Port Swiller Manor, I took a walk around the yard with the seller, going over various points.  (He was a gardener, and I think one of the reasons he was so patient with us was that he knew I would carry on his interests.)  At that time, there was a big rhodi on the north corner of the house.  “That’s the only place where I’ve ever been able to get one to grow,” I remember him saying.

Well, that rhodi did fine until we had a very bad drought a couple years later.  It survived initially, but went into a gradual but steady decline, and eventually died.  I took this loss personally, and felt guilty about it, as if I had somehow let the side down.  And for a long time I was actually scared to try again, especially given the previous owner’s remarks.

Now that I’m older and wiser, however, I realize this is all nonsense. For one thing, there are plenty of rhodis in our neighborhood that do perfectly well, so I can’t see why I can’t have them too.  For another, a number of the old owner’s other projects also came unraveled (I’ve completely done over the foundation plantings out front), making me think that perhaps he just wasn’t all that hot a gardener himself.

So I’m going to try it again, this time along a shaded slope along the southeast side of the house that is just crying out for such a planting.

In fact, if I want to get the thing(s) established this fall, I really ought to be out this weekend or next doing it, but what with the Gels unexpectedly coming home and plans we already have for next week, it just isn’t happening.   So unless I get some indication that we’re going to have another of those long, lingering, warm autumns this year – and the spider webs would suggest otherwise – I now may just let it go until the spring.

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