Many trees in our area of eastern LI have been defoliated by this year’s brood of Gypsy Moth and Eastern Tent caterpillars. Oaks are their favorite, but many ornamental fruit trees are now also bare. This is the second year in what is typically a 2-3 year infestation, followed by a rapid drop in population. A roughly 10-year cycle of major infestation is common in this area of NY/New England.
Despite their almost total defoliation, most mature deciduous trees survive these three-year attacks (not so the conifers in the rare years they are infested). Indeed the oaks typically grow a new set of leaves in July after the May-June defoliation! So we are now witnessing a strange combination of pines and fully leafed maples interspersed with bare oaks, some sporting new leaves. Summer, Fall and a Second Spring all at one time!
When we moved to New Hampshire after retiring, I did not realize how much I would miss my flower garden on Long Island (zone 7a, winter low +5 to 0 deg F). Creating a perennial bed in NH (zone 5a, winter low -15 to -20 deg F) was a challenge! After three summers I was happy to have gathered about 20 perennials hardy enough to survive a NH winter.
But day-lilies, lupin, phlox, daisy, coneflower, coreopsis, salvia, rudbeckia, astilbe, knockout rose and hibiscus braved the strong north-west winds off the lake and the -20deg lows, and put on a brave show of NH color by our third summer!
Now we are back on Long Island, remembering the delights of our half-acre 10 years ago, and hoping to recreate at least a miniature perennial bed in our new small yard! Bleeding Heart, honeysuckle, peony, astilbe, phlox, tea rose, hydrangea, hibiscus loved the long mild growing season.
Take a look and see the difference two climate zones makes! Can you tell which zone is which? (OK, you gardeners know at first glance!). Each is beautiful in its own way. Given time, you can not only survive, but flourish, wherever you are planted…
The East End of the Island, especially the North Fork, is fertile farm land. Once covered with potato farms – a few barns remain – it is now home to small farms and farm stands, pumpkin and strawberry fields, tree and plant nurseries, sod farms and – most important now to the area’s economy – vineyards and wineries. “Wine tours” are big business as buses, limousines, and bikes for hire bring over a million people each year to the 50+ wineries that have been created over the past 40 years (and saved the East End from being built over).
Potato barns still dot the landscape
Tree nurseries provide for the large suburban population to the west
Huge sod farms barely survive the pressures of home building and installation of solar arrays. One still provides turf for Yankee Stadium!
Vines now cover thousands of acres and supply over 50 wineries