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
Just a little report from the weekend. We had a lovely family outing on Saturday to the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair. It had been a couple of years since I’d gone and boy has it expanded. No longer is it only a soiree where you can meet a few city chickens with names like Harriet, pick up a sack of potatoes (local of course), and oh some useful information on this thing called “composting.” So old news.
It’s hip, folks. Almost too hip. I’m just sayin’. I kind of miss all the dreadlocks. But it was fun nonetheless and helped me get in the Fall spirit. I fancy looking at the gardens the best and of course snacking on all those delicious earthy eats. And watching all those kiddos make flower crowns. If you don’t know anything about Seattle Tilth, you really should check them out. Makes me proud to be a gardener and resident of Seattle.
My highlight though? Sitting under the shade of an apple tree with my boys, noshing on a freshly harvested Macintosh and playing the game: “Hey Andre, just for fun, why don’t you tell me all the things you love about me…”
He is really such a good sport.
There are indeed some stresses of being self-employed. But also many joys. One being: husband works from home so his wife can take a little breaksky from making sure their newborn baby is still breathing and spending oh about an hour to do as she pleases in the garden.
Finger under the nose test. It has waned. Some. Just enough for me to plant these ruby-colored rudbeckias in one of our perennial borders. Rudbeckias. Also known as the quintessential American prairie flower, the Black-Eyed Susan. Call me crazy but do their centers not remind you of a Golden Retriever nose? I am weird.
Anyhow, I am partial to BES not only for their shot of sunny color and garden resilience but they are champs in cut arrangements. Most common variety you might see splashed about your hood is rudbeckia ‘goldsturm.’ Goldsturm being German for “gold storm,” I learned. How apt. I plan on transplanting some of my own goldsturms to our front garden come fall so they might gain a bit more admiration. My hope is that they will complement some burgundy foliage I got going on.
Now if only I could get Justin Townes Earle’s Black-Eyed Suzy song out of my head. Probably not good parenting to be singing a song about a hooker to your newborn. But it is quite a catchy ditty. And a great album to serenade the eve of fall planting and keep you company while staring admiringly at your new tiny farm hand.