The FALL Of My Garden


Siiiiiiiiiiiiggghhhh......Fall used to be my favourite time of year. The smell in the air, crisp mornings and warm afternoons, the beautiful but spooky fog that rolls across the fields in the evenings, the sugar high on Halloween. Don't get me wrong, I still love autumn, but now it brings with it a bit of sadness. Fall also means my beautiful flowers wilt, wither, shrivel, crumble, and return to the dirt from whence they came. 
I know they aren't really dead even thought they look like zombied husks of their former selves, but it still feels like I might have a hand in killing my babied blooms as I slash and hack my way through what was once greenery, and could now best be described as  "brownery", to prepare the beds for winter. 
I wish I could tell you I was joking, but I really do feel vaguely "Hannibal-esque" as I rip their little heads off and stuff them into bags to take to the compost pile. I send up prayers that I'm not bringing their lives to a premature end, and that they will forgive me and live through the winter to bloom again next summer. 
At this time of year I do have a few autumn bloomers still strutting their stuff, such as Asters, Foam Flowers and certain varieties of Day Lilies, plus some hardy summer blossoms such as Sweet Peas, Rockwort and Astilbe that continue blooming until a hard frost takes them down or, as sometimes happens with our wonderful Alberta weather, the still colourful blossoms are suddenly embalmed in an overnight coffin of ice. But all this does is make me feel like even more of a serial killer as I am slicing off still blooming stems that I think are putting up such a valiant fight to keep living just a little bit longer. (Hmmm...I wonder if this excuse would also fly with my husband as to why we could probably make several round bales in our tiny back yard because I haven't cut the grass in so long? "What? You want me to MOW the LAWN?? Who do you think I am, Jeffrey Dahmer???") 
Then, because I am still in a steep learning curve with this gardening thing, (and I'm getting the idea this may be a lifelong curve. Boy, I sure hope I'm not being graded on this!) I often war with myself as to whether I should whack certain plants down to the ground and tidy everything up, or just tie the fronds, leaves and stalks neatly together to provide them with more winter protection and crop the leftovers off in the spring. Over the years I have learned from experience that you definitely want to completely remove certain plants in the fall, roots and all, so as not to begin excitedly digging around in the spring getting ready to pop in some bright and beautiful bedding plants, only to stick your fingers into a giant mass of disgusting, decomposing goo that used to be a neat and pretty row of Impatiens. (NOT one of my better gardening moments!)
Of course on a brighter note (because there is always a bright side when you play with plants!) as I rip and shred my way through my beds making big blank spaces of dirt, I begin picturing the different blossoms and colours that I can install in that empty spot come springtime. I love to change up the colours in my beds every year, which is why I always leave spots for annuals in my garden. Plus it gives me a convenient excuse to peruse the many greenhouses in the area because I have "just one more empty spot" that must be filled, and one never knows what new and wonderful herbivorous gems can be discovered while you're hunting around for that exact shade of coral Begonia!
So autumn, for me, is a bittersweet time. My wee flower babies nod off to sleep for the winter before they are blanketed under by the white four letter "s" word (can you tell I'm not a fan of winter?), but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing the neat and tidy beds after the riotous overgrowth of summer. Besides, gauging the amount of space I have left in my existing beds after my current perennial blossoms have grown and expanded over the summer tells me if I need to find a spot for a new flower bed come spring. Because as every flower addict knows, you fit the size of your garden to your plants, NOT the other way around! Ooh! Or maybe it's almost time to realize that pond idea that has been niggling at the back of my brain for a few years now, that I have been VERY careful never to mention in front of my husband! ...Yet. Hey, if there's no grass left in the back yard I won't have to worry about finding more excuses not to cut it. See? Always a bright side!
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