When Does Fall …
When does fall
feel like fall?
When does one stop
to enjoy the ball?
Who pauses to see
the season’s perks?
Rushing to clean up
erasing the summer
Readying for winter
planning next year
What would happen
if we could just stay
amidst the leaf piles
in endless play?
The arrival of the holidays invariably catches me somewhat unprepared and taken aback. There is so much going on in the autumn that the thought of decorating, getting presents, planning meals and so on gets overwhelming. So the fall back ( no pun intended) is to keep it low key. That would be fine except, too often, I still fail to meet my own expectations. It is not as though I’m setting the bar too high – my plans are simple but even simple needs forethought. This year, I aim to do better.
Whilst going about the required chores in the fall garden, I’m preparing for the holidays as well.
In collecting seeds from plants, I make packets of them to give as gifts. The seeds go into pretty envelopes that are clearly labeled with all the relevant information. Additionally, I’ll attach a photo of the plant and mention good companion plants. Vegetable seeds will be accompanied with a favorite recipe.
With boxwood blight looming large, one must start considering planting alternatives. So when I purchase shrub honeysuckle or euonymus to experiment in my garden, I pick up some extras to give to a friend who is worried about her boxwoods. Lavender and catmint are other options – I’ll root cuttings from my garden and extras from those that thrive will also be presented to fellow gardeners.
Pruning is a chore that turns up some good staking material. A bundle of sturdy, natural stakes will always be much appreciated by any gardener.
The harvest of fruits, vegetables and herbs results in jams, jellies, sauces, chutneys, pickles, cordials and liqueurs. Who wouldn’t want to receive some of these? Additionally, herein are very handy staples for a soirée. Combine with crudités, artisanal cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, crackers and bread and voila! A cocktail party is in progress.
Redoing or reworking a part of the garden at this time is something to give myself and/or the spouse. Be it relaying the stones on the terrace, replanting a bed or repainting all the lawn furniture, getting it done now will give some immediate peace of mind and when spring arrives, I’ll be all set to enjoy the ‘gift’.
In that same vein, it is prudent to get the trees on the property checked out by an expert. Deal with the dead or diseased limbs/trees. Likewise, take care of trees that are at risk or pose a threat in case of storms. This single factor could save the huge expense and heartache of addressing possible damage. Its a gift one gives to oneself and loved ones. Except of course, some loved ones won’t know to value it!
During the process of clean up, I collect fallen nests, feathers, colorful leaves, berries on branches, pine cones and acorns, seed pods, vines, flowers such as hydrangea that keep their form when dry, evergreens and other interesting natural material. These are all that I will need to decorate the house for Thanksgiving and even Christmas. Simple and natural. And compostable!
Hundreds of bulbs will soon be planted in the garden. Some of them go into the refrigerator to be forced in the dead of winter. A forced hyacinth or crocus will be certain to banish the winter blues from the hearts of a few cherished friends.
Finally, a gift to Nature. A general clean up and tidying is good but I leave as is an area not easily observed. Messy and overgrown. This will provide a habitat for wildlife. shelter during winter storms as well as a breeding spot in spring. Birds, toads and numerous insects that are useful will be very grateful.
There you have it. I’m already calmer. Are you?
Rose hips to bring indoors
Pine cones for decorating
Grapevine prunings and dried hydrangea adorn an autumn table
Someone who needs protection in winter
After a storm
More storm damage
Some of the bulbs to plant
Lavender ‘wands’ to scent rooms and closets
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar