Sunset over Long Island Sound, Wading River Creek
Going to the beach after Labor Day in the Northeast is a privilege and/or a gamble. This year, Long Island has had temperatures in the low to mid-70s, with low humidity and a fresh breeze. Not beach weather for most people! The life guards have gone, and swimming is discouraged if not forbidden on many ocean beaches. But wet-suited surfers wait off shore for a good wave; some people still sit on the sand and grab some rays, but more families now walk the beaches than sit on them…
Eliza, Judy, Catherine – New England gardeners – what variety of hydrangea is this? Large leaves with purple edges, pink/white flowers. I have not seen this one before, but have just inherited it from the previous homeowner… I think a sunnier location might yield more blooms.
Mid-July, 85 degrees, Sunday afternoon. What better than a trip to the beach! Long Island offers 50+ miles of Atlantic ocean beaches, and for those who like quieter water, Long Island Sound on the Island’s north shore.
Iron Pier Beach, Northville, Town of Riverhead
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…