Welcome to fall, time of transition and preparation. The weather cools and softens, but there is a hint of the wild winter yet to come. The sun is bright but not baking; the clouds are gray but not ominous. Occasionally, a gust of wind whips up and whisks the leaves off the trees but then dies down quickly. Just a test. In the gardens, flowers and vegetables respond to the change. Some, like the alyssum above, put on a final big show, offering blooms that are bigger and better than anything put forth all summer. Impatiens, roses, lavender, and wild asters also seem to thrive in the cooler weather, surprising us with amazing late-season color. After the long hot, humid summer, fall refreshes and energizes. And it’s a good thing, too, because there’s a lot to do before winter sets in.
Other plants have made their winter preparations early. Yarrow, coneflower, compass plant, columbine, and many others have finished their flowering and readied their seeds. We gather some seeds, leaving most to germinate in the spring.
The vegetable garden has ceased production except for a few peppers and some Swiss chard. This chard is amazing stuff–it’s colorful, tasty, super-nutritious, likes the cooler weather, and grows even better after deer come through and chomp it down to the ground. I like resilience in my garden.
Speaking of color, our young sugar maple, Schroeder, is doing his best to add to the fall palette. He doesn’t quite have the bright scarlet of more mature maples yet, but he still looks stunning. And like the chard, he’s a “deer survivor.” Two years ago, we awoke one morning to find his outer bark just about completely stripped away by a young buck. Quickly closing the barn door, we wrapped some wire fencing around his trunk and hoped for the best. The prognosis didn’t look good. When spring came, I stared intently at his branches almost daily, looking for signs of life in the tightly-closed buds. But I shouldn’t have worried. Schroeder made it through, and in fact, since his deer encounter, seems to be growing bigger and stronger than ever. Even so, each fall he gets his wire scarf, just in case.
Seems a little (just a little!) adversity makes you stronger. Resilience.