Autumn usually makes me feel semi-depressed. Knowing that the growing season is coming to a close. Leaves change color and drop off, leaving plants and trees with nothing but bare branches. A bitter cold winter is waiting around the corner. The whole perspective of everything coming to an end has never settled well with me. Until I came across a bookmark that was sent to me by the American Horticultural Society this year. A quote on the back of the bookmark said…
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Albert Camus
It’s interesting to look at autumn as a second spring. Leaves that are usually green turn yellow, orange, red, pink and various shades of these colors. Some are multi-hued. My new found perspective on autumn makes me more aware of the leaves’s colors, large and small.
Below are leaves that were found in and around our garden. Quite colorful. I can see why Camus described them as flowers of the second spring.
I woke up this morning to see snow falling outside. The temperature is cold with no wind so the snow stayed on the leaves and on the ground. Lucky that I’ve gotten everything I needed done in the garden before the weather got cold and snow fell. We insulated our beehives only last week, good for us and the honeybees. We also put up a cold frame for the first time this year and getting it in last weekend. We weren’t looking forward to hammering poles into frozen ground! We can now grow winter vegetables like Kale, Swiss chard and Arugula in there. I’m not sure how well this will work but I want to try growing hardier vegetables year round if I can.
Anyway the sight of snow on the ground, trees, leaves and flowers is a reminder of the omnipresence of beauty year ’round.
A little over a week after Hurricane Sandy rolled over our area, a Nor’easter rolled right in and brought us 6″ of snow over night. After the storm cleared, the temperature slowly creeped up to mid 60° F, and then the rain hit today. Not much left of the garden, really. Some leaves are still holding on to the branches, refusing to give up. Our honey bees seemed to enjoy the 60 degree day. They came out en mass, from what I’ve learned, to clean themselves. Some of them even came back to the hive with pollen. I have no idea where they got the pollen from. Our half-spent ‘Heritage’ rose is the only thing blooming in the garden at this time, and the bees fought over it.
I moved my fuzzy pet, a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar, outside so he can hybernate properly. Lesson learned from last year when the Black Swallowtail emerged on our office desk in early winter with nothing much to eat. This time I’m letting the weather direct the metamorphoses process by leaving the caterpillar outside, but I check on him once in a while.
Nothing much to do now aside from feeding the birds, taking care of the tropical plants in the basement, leafing through plant catalogs and planning for the next season.
It’s raining again tonight, actually it has been raining on and off for the past two days. It’s just drizzle now. Luck was on my side yesterday; gave me a chance to take some photographs of fall colors before the rain washes them away. Not much left of the garden, really, just a lot of leaves on the ground and some flowers here and there that push their last bit of energy before going to rest. The whole visual of fall garden gives me a sense of ending. That is what gardening has taught me: a life cycle. I see plants sprout, grow, blossom, fade and die within one season. Then it starts all over again, maybe in a new place, or a new form.
Anyway, I don’t mean to be philosophical here. It is just that gardening makes you keep your feet on the ground, working along side mother nature and enjoying what she gives us.
Even at the end, she still paints a beautiful picture that artists through the centuries have struggled to match.
The bright red of Japanese Maple leaves provide a very beautiful contrast to the bright yellow of western maple leaves in the background. The Tree Swallow family was long gone, but a male Eastern Bluebird came to check this birdhouse for a potential roosting place a week ago. This bench is a great place to sit and watch the sunrise and contemplate the beauty that surrounds us.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is still flowering and the Bumble bees still work on the last drop of its nectar. I will be picking the leaves and drying them for tea before the frost comes.
Salvia ‘Black & Blue’ is still flowering as well. I grew them for the first time this year and have no idea whether they will last the winter so I’ve collected the seeds, just in case. I will try to plant them next to the Pineapple sage next year; the color combination should be great.
We still pick some Roman strawberries, with lovely pink flowers, at this time of year. The fruits are small but very sweet and the plants never stop producing them.
Rose ‘Knockout’ is a continuous bloomer. Once it starts in late spring, it never stops blooming. This one managed to evade the hungry deer so far.
The bright bold colors of Swiss chard are one of a few vegetables left in the garden. Chinese celery, Kale, Scallion, and Parsley are also still standing. Some stray garlic seedlings have sprouted up as well.
Re-blooming Irises have bloomed on cue. Once October comes, they shoot up new flower stems for the second time. They tempted me to up-root the other Irises and plant all re-bloomers, but there are not that many color choices to choose from.
Green all over again. Spring is the season I love most. It’s not too hot, not too cold… and green. I love seeing our garden slowly waking up from a long winter sleep, pushing their leaves and flower buds out. I feel really itchy at this time of year; wanting to clean, trim, mulch and plant new members in the garden. The weather channel helps me determine what I should do, but the plants themselves help me even more. I take my hint from them. It was writ that when seedlings germinate, that is when you start sowing your seed outside. Trust in nature, it works every time.
Nothing much in our garden now, mostly green leaves and some early blooms Woodland Phlox, Bleeding heart, rescued tulips that I mentioned earlier, and the crimson red of Japanese Maples that give a great contrast to the garden. Our garden comes to life with sight, sound and scent every spring.