Well there’s no going back. We are now in the thick of autumn, which means here in Seattle a wet and windy Halloween and out there – in the marketplace, Christmas decorations. Yikes. (I’m still dealing with a copious amount of candy, a rain-drenched lion, and a slimy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle eating a copious amount of candy). Right now though, I am practicing holding onto the space of Harvest that teeters ever so delicately between these two traditionally eclipsing holidays (as much as I love them both!). Harvest season is not only a time of deep gratitude for the fruits of our labor, literal and figurative, but invites us all to find “ground” again. It’s at this time of year that we simplify and streamline with new routine and ritual, marking the close of summer; our need for continued warmth met through the meals we make, bread we bake and break, and projects we create. It is a slight and sometimes sudden beautiful turn inward.
But that doesn’t mean we stay inside.
As much as I love the exuberance of summer, all those exotic annuals we find ourselves desperately craving come April and May (what frost?), I find solace in the simplicity of fall and winter plantings. I can get easily overwhelmed by choices so, when I begin to see those flats of lacy ornamental kale stacked besides autumn fern (dryopteris erythrosaura) and creeping wintergreen (gaultheria procumbens), I feel relieved and ready to return to those enduring plants that stand the test of time. Boxwood, Monterey cypress or cupressus, Ilex “Sky Pencil.” all those rich and leafy heucheras, evergreen mosses and ferns, red, yellow and ‘midwinter fire’ dogwoods… These are often some of the same plants that often” ground” our summer plantings. But in contrast to summer, where they can often be overlooked due to those rambunctious annuals – it’s as our days grow shorter, that these ornamental perennials, trees and shrubs really get a chance to shine.
Autumn is about the elemental, a return to those things and practices that are essential to who we are or who we desire to be. It is, in a way a coming home to what really nourishes us for the long haul.
Gardening for me is one of those things. For this I am grateful.
”Notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of Nature.” – F. Nietzsche