Fall is

Copper chain of Virginia creeperIf spring is green-gold with emeralds, summer platinum and winter onyx set in silver then fall is a tarnished copper alloy chain that leaves a smudge on your neck. (But when you spotted it in the junkstore jewelry case, you had to have it.) It’s garnets, amber, carnelian and moss agate.

It’s semi-precious and affordable.

Carnelian (or the thornless blackberry)moss agatethe restgarnet dogwood

Fall is the people’s season. It’s the view that belongs to everyone. It’s socialized medicine and the pursuit of happiness. Fall has the sweet smell of a well-deserved earthly rest and the sound of desperate crickets in love (slow it down to hear the rhythm). Fall is damp socks and asthma and a really red dripping nose. It’s procrastination. A Fingersnap. A murder mystery. Black and brown dogs. A dream-date.

A Nino asleep on the couch

Fall is poetic license and a big cup of tea with honey.

What is it to you?

Gardens grow

Sumac and Pinder's PerchBear with me a minute while I try to work out whether I garden because my garden needs me or because I need to garden. To garden or not to garden is the question. Sort of. (Not really.) But I just spent a week in a full-bloom place where I wouldn’t dream of gardening. I had forgotten just how diverse and spectacular the plant life is on the island shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario. I could have spent the whole time cataloging rose, meadowsweet spirea, bunches of grasses, sumac, cardinal flower, mosses, ferns, lichens (bright orange!), chives, shad bush, chokecherry, beeches and wind whipped pines. roses in the morning Everything planted by wind and opportunity in rock pockets and more spectacularly designed than any LA’s dreamiest dream. meadowsweetI wouldn’t want to mess with any of it. But I had to wonder, if I was there longer than a week or two – say if I lived there for a whole season, would I feel the urge to edit? To add anything? To prune a little? Would the landscape be improved by my ministrations? I answer a resounding NO! to the last rhetorical question – but I would have loved to use snips on the thicket of dead twigs in the wild rose bushes and a few edibles in a raised bed or containers wouldn’t wreck the gestalt, would it? And can’t help but wonder what my own landscape would look like if it had always been left to its own devices. What if the invasive ornamentals like bittersweet, multiflora rose, Norway maples and goutweed had never been introduced? What lovely forest would surround my house? Would I, could I leave it alone? Since the milk was spilled though and the forest was cleared, I figure I pretty much have to tend my garden.

But evidently it grows quite well without me too. In one tiny week, everything that hadn’t even been close to blooming (or so I thought) opened up. I didn’t need to be here at all for everyone to get on with the business of growing.

cardoonsNo path left in the sideyard gardena not-so-dwarf-after-all miscanthus

The weeds also grew gangbusters and so did the Late Blight on the tomatoes and I guess that’s where I come in handy. My garden needs me after all which works out pretty well since I guess I need to garden too.

And it’s so nice to know I’m not alone. A little detour on the long drive to Curly Rocks brought me to the most beautiful garden in Slaterville Springs, NY where Nino had a chance to cavort with his new best Buddy, Z got to talk bikes! with Chris and I got to bask in the gracious company of a favorite fellow plantaholic. Thank you, Lynn – garden on!

Nino and Buddy

An hour a day

just sitting in the garden with a smiling dog at my feetI was talking with someone today who says she spends about an hour a day weeding her garden after work. I admire her dedication and am a little envious of her free time on the weekends. No doubt even a half an hour a day in this garden would be enough to keep the weeds more or less away but suddenly I can think of alternative uses for my time out there. For instance, on any given weekday evening, I might rather perform tasks that involve consumption of snacks and bevvies and perhaps even a little dozing and drooling if I’m feeling truly ambitious.fizzie bevvie in the garden

There have been days lately, evenings really, after work, when I could feel my garden beckon but I just couldn’t face it. What the hell? What’s the point of having a garden of my own if I avoid spending time in it? I have an evil tendency – call it a Puritan work ethic if you’re feeling particularly generous, an annoying character flaw if not – and it only allows for relaxation when the work is done. People with this particular dis-ease know, of course, that the work is never done. But I decided tonight, in a tectonic attitude shift, that the important thing about “an hour a day” is just that I spend it – doing/not doing something – in the garden.a blurry doze in the garden (or what's a chaise lounge for?)

Do you spend an hour a day in your garden?