Autumn Begins and the Gardens Are Ragged

But we should not mourn the summer garden. It was not more or less beautiful because it was temporary. If we were smart we took advantage of summer to experience as many moments of garden joy as we possibly could.”  —Jason, from the blog Garden in a City

Yesterday was the fall equinox, that time when there is a balance between day and night. In Maine, fall is perhaps its most beautiful season, a dazzling time of bright blue skies, blazing leaves, warm days, and cool evenings.

However, Jason’s lovely description perfectly captures the bitter-sweet mood that northern gardeners feel when autumn comes. We should “not mourn the summer garden,” but in our heart of hearts, many of us do. Gone are the lilies, the bee balm, and the phlox. The stalwart black-eyed Susans are fading fast. The modest sedums, with their blush of pink, provide some consolation, but the joyous burst of color in the gardens is over for another year.

The modest yet lovely sedum
The modest yet lovely sedum

Yet Jason is also right about taking as many moments of garden joy as we can in the summer. Clif and I certainly did. Almost every evening this summer and indeed this September, we took our supper plates out to the patio, where we smelled the spicy bee balm and listened to the crickets, the loons, and the barred owls. In August, as dusk fell, we admired the hummingbird moths. We were still in blissful ignorance about the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature of these little creatures, of how the beautiful, ethereal moths lay eggs that hatch to become marauding, voracious hornworms.   (I do want to note that not all hornworms attack tomatoes, but the offspring of the hummingbird moths that visited our garden certainly did.)

The gardens are in tatters, and next week I’ll begin cutting them back.

The ragged garden
The ragged garden


The fading hostas
The fading hostas

Cutting back the garden always makes me feel a little blue, but there are certain consolations. That bright sky, the warm sun, and the changing leaves.  Now that summer’s heat has gone, time spent around the firepit.

And, of course, apple pie, my favorite kind of pie to make. This year is surely a banner year for apples. The wild trees by the side of the road are laden with fruit, and yesterday, on a walk, I snitched a couple of dropped apples from beneath a neighbor’s tree. How good and crisp and white they were, with nary a sign of one single worm.  I am thinking of asking if I can snitch some more drops. (Cheryl, I promise to invite you over for apple pie or crisp. Your choice.)

The ones that didn't get away
The ones that didn’t get away

So onward to fall. Every season—even the long dark of winter—has its beauty and pleasures. And like our friend Burni, we intend to squeeze as much pleasure as we can out of each season.


9 thoughts on “Autumn Begins and the Gardens Are Ragged”

    1. Thanks, Eliza. But the credit really must go to Jason from Garden in the City. His wise words were the impetus for my essay.

    1. Thanks, Derrick. Fall has finally come to Maine. The days are warm but the nights are nippy. Still, we put on our light jackets so that we can still enjoy cocktails on the patio.

  1. We were celebrating spring as your autumn arrived but winter returned without warning. Sydney is like that; it can never make up its mind what season we’re in from day to day.

    1. Mary, Maine is a lot like that, too. We have a saying here: If you don’t like the weather, just wait a little bit, and it will change.

  2. Thank you for mentioning my blog, Laurie. I love that Sedum, do you know the variety? As for apple pie, that’s what I always want instead of cake for my birthday, partly because I have an October birthday. If I were born in July, it would be blueberry.

    1. I’m not sure what the variety is. I planted it so many years ago that the memory is now in the mists of time 😉 Pie is a splendid alternative to cake. In fact, given the choice between a good pie and a good cake, I would choose pie every time. Our daughter was born on October 29, so October is a special month in our family.

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