Autumn Mourning

– Posted in: Garden chores, Meditations, What's up/blooming

red foliage backlit by blue sky in autumn

The brilliant fall foliage with a background of blue sky makes my heart sing.

The weather has been glorious. Perfectly blue skies providing a backdrop as the leaves change to their brilliant autumnal colors. It makes my heart sing–and mourn.
Delphinium bellamosum, Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose, Heterotheca villosa 'Ruth Baumgardner' mosaic birdbath

Delphinium bellamosum reigns over Candy Oh! Vivid Red rose on the left and Heterotheca villosa ‘Ruth Baumgardener’ on the right.

Not because winter is coming, per se. I live in a cold climate; winter is supposed to come.
red sumac

Wild sumac blazes along the side lawn.

But not before I get through my gardening list! Yes, by the time mid-September arrives, it’s become quite clear that what seemed eminently doable in the optimism of spring has not been done.
flowering tobacco, colchicums, larkspur all bloom well in autumn

Flowering tobacco, colchicums, and larkspur catch the morning light.

Not all of it, at least. I eventually come round to the idea that while I didn’t get everything done, I did make progress. Having someone ask,

“How do you find time to do it all, Kathy?”

brings that into sharper focus. The one who asks that question must see something more than undone tasks.

Ironically, the long spell of beautiful weather has helped prolong my autumnal angst, because the first hard freeze helps me turn my thoughts toward indoor coziness, and so far, all of our infrequent frosts have been light.

autumn hillside colorful

The view at our old place, especially missed this time of year.

But it’s hard for any gardener to focus on the past, except, perhaps, to plan for the future. And as boxes of bulbs arrive, it’s clear some planning for the future was done this past spring.
Odyssey Bulb order

Hmm, where was I going to put these? Goodies from Odyssey Bulbs

Just wait till next year! I told myself, a little over ten years ago. Or, as my friend from Fairegarden likes to say,


More Whining

In the course of finding the post that says “Just wait till next year!” I found several others bemoaning lack of progress. Reading them over, I find I am doing a bit better keeping on top of the weeds (so far) than in the past. That could have something to do with the fact that I no longer have very young children to care for.
Doing Penance
Spring Madness: Search and Rescue
Kathy’s Hall of Shame

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Shipra October 10, 2013, 3:40 pm

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Any suggestions and feedback will be appreciative.

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern October 8, 2013, 7:53 am

Thank you, thank you as I have felt overwhelmed this year like never before. The gardens got away from me and all that I wanted to get done will not get done, before the snow flies anyway. I do need to get some houseplants inside very, very soon or they will freeze to death! I did find time to admire the beautiful yellow leaves of my young Spicebush. I will change my focus to what I’ve accomplished instead of what I haven’t yet finished. Beautiful fall foliage!

John October 7, 2013, 1:46 pm

I love Autumn, such a beautiful time of year. Your garden looks gorgeous!

Donna@Gardens Eye View October 6, 2013, 3:00 pm

I will not catch up to the lack of doing chores this year. I will do what has to be done and call it a year as I know the weather will not last…next year!!

Matt Mattus October 6, 2013, 10:15 am

So, Kathy; You know, I never even thought about your garden being untidy or messy (it really wasn’t!), but it did get me thinking about my garden – which is truly a mess. In fact, if anyone stopped by to see my garden – I would be mortified! I have to admit that I sort-of like when people tell me things like “I don’t know how you do it all.”, in a way, it gives me a chance to practice confession ( a bit). “Oh, you call this ‘doing it all?’ My place is such a mess!'”, but I always get the same response from garden visitors, who can somehow, magically, see through the mess and the untidyness. Plant people rarely have perfectly groomed gardens, and when we visit other plant people’s gardens, all we see is the magic and the beauty of nature, somewhat enhanced by the gardener who lives there. I enjoyed your garden, even for the short time I was there. I really need to get out more and meet my fellow bloggers in person!

Kathy Purdy October 6, 2013, 10:54 am

It reminds me of the time I stopped at someone’s house to pick something up. While I was waiting for her to fetch the item, I looked down at her kitchen floor, thinking, “I don’t think I’ve ever, ever, ever had my floor this clean.” Just then she walked back into the room, saw me looking at the floor, and said, “Oh! I’m sorry the floor’s so messy, I just haven’t had time to mop it yet today!” It is always easier to see where we’re deficient, and not the progress we’ve made. Going back through old posts, I saw that I have made progress (and didn’t use photos as much back then!). I just keep raising the bar!

Deborah B October 11, 2013, 12:29 pm

LOL! I know you weren’t talking about my kitchen floor. That reminds me of my neighbor who’s always talking about spending the whole day cleaning out closets, or washing all the ity pieces of china in her china cabinet. Of course my point of view is that her garden suffers for it.

Corner Garden Sue October 5, 2013, 10:24 pm

I enjoyed your thoughts and photos. I’d miss my old place this time of year, too. I am so not ready for winter. I am not through with my list, either. I retired last year as a special education paraeducator and am not subbing. Until December, I am only allowed to work 1 or 2 days a week. I can’t believe how many things have kept me out of the garden lately! I am hoping to be out more this week.

I hope you find good spots for your bulbs!

Kathy Purdy October 6, 2013, 10:48 am

Thank you, Sue. I am currently laid low with a cold but am doing the mental work of thinking of the best spots in the garden from both design and cultural standpoints. I tend to buy only one of each from Odyssey Bulbs so there really isn’t much to plant. However, the 300 crocuses are another story . . .

les October 5, 2013, 6:13 am

Your fall foliage shots are the first I have seen trolling my blog list. I am not sure I am ready.

Frank October 4, 2013, 7:28 pm

nice, I just got word that my Odyssey order shipped and may be here this weekend, so apparently I did a tiny bit of planning too!
Love the pic of the Colchicums mixed in with the annuals.

Layanee October 4, 2013, 4:33 pm

I would say you have made great progress. I am also enjoying the colors of fall.

Alison October 4, 2013, 10:07 am

Oh, I miss the wonderful autumn colors of maple and other deciduous trees. That shot of the hillside is lovely. I’m behind on my chores as well.

Frances October 4, 2013, 10:02 am

Onward, indeed! Such beautiful views, Kathy, and your garden is gorgeous still. Have fun planting those bulbs, those Colchicums really love your garden. I am very happy to see the Ruth aster alive and well, too. Thanks for the linkage!