My Autumn Garden
Past the deck, beyond the fence, the garden has begun it's autumn rituals. The weather has been cool, windy and drippy. The Virginia creeper, covering a patch of back fence, was the first to respond to Autumn's seductive whispers. It's leaves are now a glowing scarlet, and that wonderful color is beginning to be echoed in the burning bushes, the vine maples and the sedum. The dahlias, 8-10 feet tall are holding their breaths, hoping for a reprieve from the frosty nights to come. Never have we had a late summer like this one. Never have we had so many dahlias to cut and enjoy, as there has been no frost to turn them black and end their days of riotous bloom. Each morning I go out to the dahlia bed and cut an armful of blooms to brighten the rooms in the house. This morning I cut the last of the blooms as there is finally a hard frost predicted tonight or tomorrow.
The colors are unusual for this time of year. We normally have to be satisfied with late summer reds, deep yellows and oranges. The baskets of petunias are dying back now and beginning to turn brown, in spite of their usual doses of daily water.
In the vegetable beds, the peas and beans are finished, and the plants have been pulled up, the dirt raked smooth in readiness for winter snows. The cabbage and swiss chard are loving the cooler air and growing ever bigger. We dug several pounds of potatoes out of the cool moist dirt, and the leeks will be left to pick fresh in late autumn or early winter. The mint has had it's own way this year, growing and trying to take over the strawberry bed and then the earth. It took a full afternoon to pull it all out, and a decision was made to limit it to a planter next spring.
The crab apples are heavy on the trees, inviting the birds every day to a feast. They dart busily back and forth, shedding the languor of high summer. The flickers are especially busy, sharpening their beaks on our metal chimney tops, or hunting in the grass.
The hummingbirds are gone now, I wonder where to? And how do they get there? I don't see or hear much of the mourning doves, the July baby quail are as big as their parents now, marching across the grass or taking their daily dust baths. Grey squirrels race everywhere, seeming to be super-charged in their frantic race to be ready for winter. No longer playing with each other, they race up the trees or along the fence, intent upon tasks only they know.
The light has changed too. There is a softer, more mellow glow now. The morning sunrise creeps softly to a warm/cool golden-lit day. I love sitting inside our pergola, surrounded now by wasps and late bees instead of ants. The sunbeams slant in at an angle, warming me only slightly.
Some days there are sprinkles of water from the sky on my face and skin as I go about my garden chores of cutting and trimming back summer's lush overgrowth, preparing my plants for their long winter hibernation.
This garden journal is going to remind me of the year there was no frost in August. No frost until September 25th on the High Desert. The year we almost had a long growing season. The year of the dahlia....and tomatoes, and geraniums. The year of amazement, and payoff in gardening here.
Past the deck, beyond the fence my autumn garden is truly amazing.
*Note Many of these photos are blurry, and for that I apologize. I can only hold my camera with my right hand, and I can't steady it yet with my left. No tripod either. So, bear with me a while longer...thanks!