The other day I noticed that the monkshood flowers were in full bloom. I don’t know of any other flower that is such a bright and pretty blue as they are.

It is a bittersweet feeling when I see the blossoms on that perennial — it means that frost is coming soon and the growing season is going to end.

It also brings good memories of the friend and neighbor that gave those plants to me many years ago. I learned lots of gardening tips from Erven.

I know some gardeners have memory gardens to remember relatives and friends that have been in their lives. I don’t have a dedicated flower bed like that but do have perennials in different flower beds that bring back good memories of those we have lost.

I come from a long line of gardeners/farmers and have managed to keep perennials alive from several of them.

Asian lady beetles

Several years ago we were “blessed” with an influx of multicolored Asian lady beetles, just another pest that was brought to our country from across the ocean.

It seems like they would show up out of nowhere at my place about Sept. 30 every year. I suppose that is about the time that soybeans were being harvested and they were looking for a place to overwinter.

Soybeans are still in the field, but right on schedule they showed up on the east side of my house on Sept. 30 again this year. (Maybe it was because it was the only day we had sunshine in quite a while!)

Fortunately, it seems their population has been decreasing in recent years. I still have my house sprayed every fall to keep them, cluster flies and spiders outside.

Apple harvest

If you have apple trees, you are hopefully enjoying the fruits of your labor about now. For the first time ever I don’t have a single apple this fall — didn’t even have a blossom on my Haralson or Honeycrisp trees this spring. Hope you had better luck.

A familiar question this time of year is: “What is the implication of the freeze warning on the apple crop?” It depends on how cold it gets.

Don’t worry about apples freezing unless the temp drops to the mid-20s. The University of Minnesota Yard and Garden articles gives us a more complete answer. The temperature within an orchard is not consistent.

The “rule of thumb” is about 10% of the fruit on the tree will freeze if the temperature drops to 28 degrees and remains so a few hours. Ninety percent of the apples will freeze if the temperature drops to 25 degrees and remains so for a few hours.

However, the level of sugar in an apple also changes the severity of the event.

The higher the amount of sugar, the lower the temperature has to be before freezing will occur because sugar lowers the freezing point of a solution.

Note that if the fruit freezes on the tree, but is not touched until it thaws, the fruit is fine to harvest.

The University of Minnesota apple farm is close to the Arboretum in Chanhassen. It is a great place to sample and purchase apples.

We have heard a lot about one of the newest introductions “First Kiss.” I don’t know if there are many trees available for purchase yet. I have not tried one but it is supposed to be very juicy, tart and deeply colored.

It ripens in mid- to late August but will store up to five months post harvest. It was introduced in 2017. A big hit at the Minnesota State Fair.

Sweet Tango and Zestar ripen in early September. Sweet Tango has flavor balanced by acidity and inherited the crisp texture of Honeycrisp and juiciness of Zestar. Zestar only stores for 6 to 8 weeks and is very susceptible to apple scab.

Honeycrisp ripens in late September. Best for fresh eating and salads as the flesh is slow to brown. Tree has excellent scab resistance. Fruit stores seven or more months.

It has been said that Honeycrisp apples grown in Minnesota taste much better than those grown in other states, i.e., Washington. Since it was developed in Minnesota, it is best suited for Minnesota.

Late-season apples include Honeygold, Haralson, Frostbite, Regent, SnowSweet, Fireside/Connell Red, Keepsake and Prairie Spy.

The only one of these that I have grown is Haralson. One tree is alternate-year bearing and the other bears every year — EXCEPT this year.

Haralson is excellent for baking and sauce. My two trees were planted in the early 1980s so lots of apples have been produced over the years.