This post will be a bit like a jam made in autumn with windfall fruits–a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I’m thinking of windfall fruits because today I went out with a battered old colander and collected the Asian pears that had fallen in today’s rain. These pears are gnarly because we can never quite bring ourselves to spray. Every time I think of spraying, the image of the perfect fruits we might get collides with the image of toads hopping away from our garden. The toads always win. This year I’m going to try to make pear jam, using a book called “Small-Batch Preserving,” by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. The jam is made in the microwave, so it will be an adventure. Asian pears, by the way, are deliciously sweet and incredibly juicy, even when gnarled.
In my eagerness to blog about chocolate-dipped biscotti yesterday, I passed over sedum, which is too bad because they are often the objects of ennui and disrespect. On bad days, they can look a bit like giant broccoli, I admit, but on good days, in bloom, their flower heads can almost look like clusters of jewels, and this seems to be a specially good year for them. And in Cantigny this summer, amidst all the lovely flower beds, a swathe of sedum (I think it was ‘Matrona’) in front of the park headquarters was sensational looking, showing how beautiful bush sedums such as Autumn Joy and Matrona can be when grown in masses.
I have a windowbox full of coleus, and have decided to overwinter the plants. This is not a matter of economics, as the plants came from a six-pack costing $2.99. But they are pretty, and I am getting more and more disinclined to throwing things out. Searching on the web shows two main ways to overwinter coleus. One is to grow it as a houseplant in a sunny window, and I do seem to remember my grandmother growing coleus that way. The other way is to cut the plant back, keep under grow lights, and take cuttings and root them in water in late spring. Since coleus is in the mint family (you can tell by its square stems), this should be doable.
I’m still thinking about our day Friday at Illinois Beach State Park. We’re already talking about going back.