What grows in Flatbush as we edge toward mid-November?
No ailanthus trees, thank God. (The "tree that grows in Brooklyn" is an invasive pest.) And not tomatoes. Not on this vine, anyway...and this was the year I was going to be really good to them. Staking, feeding, the whole bit. Instead I stuck them in the ground and forgot about them--and then the viburnum turned into a shade tree and they lost their sunlight, and the raspberries arched over them and intimidated them. (Time to reposition the "vegetable bed" or get serious about pruning the bullies.) This poor vine actually produced one nice edible fruit last month; the rest, as you see, are corpses. Of which variety, I forget (although it's some heirloom that seemed to matter greatly back in June). Oh, the shame.
The cherry tomatoes, which basically grow themselves, did a lot better. The teeny little grape-cluster ones ("Matt's Sweet 100's"?) did especially well. And as usual, I lacked the heart to yank out the wild volunteers that sprouted from last year's plants, even though they seldom produce anything stellar. I mean, could you look this little shaver in the eye...or the bud union...and tell her not to give it a try in that crack in the cement? (These ripened in the week since I shot the picture, and tasted pretty good.)
The herbs are still raging joyfully. Rosemary (in pot) and lemon balm (wild) are hanging out together, and the catmint is flourishing--not growing to staggering height, because the cats really do roll in it. (Not our cats, they're inside; but the local alley cats pass through the yard and indulge in a little druggie body-rub now and then.)
Several sprawling garden bullies kept pumping out a variety of gorgeous little rubies. Below is one of at least a hundred such clusters on the cranberry bush viburnum, which the Monrovia label claimed was a "native American shrub." This year, it towers over the garage, and everything else. ..and has taken to producing tough-minded offspring via underground runners. Again, hard to get mad at it, when its arborial aspirations have neatly camoflauged the long-broken window in the side of the garage and the compost heap. (And in spring, each cluster begins as a frothy white lacecap!)
And then there are the raspberries. I swore these were the very last bunch (and duly offered them up to the Child, who worships them as I do)...but today there was precisely one left, just hanging perfectly off its little stub; I confess that, alone and puttering in the falling leaves, I blew the ant off it (ants love 'em) and popped it in my mouth. This year, the ever-advancing ragtag army of canes has produced an unprecedented bumper crop; after years of, maybe, a tablespoonful on a good day, we sometimes collected enough for two dessert-servings. Since it was one of my childhood ecstacies to tramp through the woods, braving scratches and poison ivy to pick raspberries at my aunt's country place, it all seems like an impossible luxury.
What else is blooming? Two rosebushes...a flush of late lavender...the sweet alyssum, which releases much more of its odd, melancholy perfume after a few cold nights...the impatiens, still...a few hardy amethyst-lipped "Grandpa Ott" morning glories...some blowsy asters...and, after a long dormancy, the yarrow, all pink and girlish amid russet peony foliage. So much flourishing after so much neglect...thanks, guys.