Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slow, Beautiful Decay

   I luxuriated with some time in the flower bed today and noticed even further advancement into dormancy. The changes happen so gradually, yet so suddenly, that it is easy not to see every colorful, textural stage of the season.

   After the abundant sunshine, the first thing that is apparent is how many leaves have fallen and how much of the crunchy stuff has accumulated in the corners of the farm, mostly against the buildings and fences.

   Then there are the brilliant colors. Brick red, true gold, bronze, mustard yellow, crimson, and brown, every shade of brown. Nearly every leaf has surrendered its green now. Only a few waxy stems remain here and there, but they were probably frozen that color and will soon be kneeling to winter's authority.

   The second chance tomatoes are stubbornly offering up their remaining fruits, but those fruits are blistered and burnt now from our cold nights. I am having a hard time pulling up these dead lovelies, after all they've endured this year. It seems overly brutal of me to insist they have reached their end. Maybe if I leave them all winter we'll enjoy reseeded babies next Easter. Those are always stronger, by the way, in case you didn't know.

   I watered everything today while the sun was warm and the soil receptive. We have a few more cold nights forecasted, and Mom & Grandpa have always said that you should water deeply right before a freeze. The idea is that the water will soak down and freeze around the root systems, forming protective insulation against the harsher freezes soon to come. Then in the springtime, of course, the buried ice melts at a snail's pace, giving each plant that deep, slow kiss it needs right as it's waking up...

   Cannas are as striking in dormancy as they are at the height of a tropical summer., I love the structure of their big leaves, the fuzzy seed pods, and the rusty colors. I never cut them down until new growth emerges in the late spring. Often winter does it for me, though, and the fodder makes excellent mulch.

   Speaking of pruning, I also delay cutting anything healthy off of the rose bushes until maybe February. Borrowed garden wisdom says to let the sap slip all the way out of the branches before cutting, which takes the entire winter. So unless you see something truly diseased or so badly tangled with another branch that it needs to be removed, let it stay for now. Make like McCartney and Let it Be.

   The pansies I planted earlier this autumn have all doubled in size. And they are so fragrant. Of course you have to be pretty near the earth to smell them, but what a treat! Don't you love the fragrance of wet earth mixed with that peppery, sweet smell of petals? So nice and clean. Better than Scentsy even.

   The mums all seem ready to trade their first round of blooms for another, but I am not ready to snip anybody's head off quite yet. I adore the colors of straw and burlap all around me.

 Delay, delay, delay...have I found reasons to delay, or am I delaying for good reasons? I think the former is truest. Any way I can keep from busying myself right now allows for more wandering, more touching, more dreaming, especially in the garden where God does His quietest work and where I find the most miracles.

Enjoy the changes around you...


  1. I love this. I love fall. Watching leaves change, watching plants go dormant. It's all just so ... refreshing!

  2. Just gorgeous. I have some bolted broccoli that I can't bear to part with because it is so interesting. I love your photos and your words.

  3. I love your sentiments around delay, the garden... what marvelous insight.


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