Fall is the time of year when things wind down, the days get shorter, and we all start to feel a bit more cozy. The sweaters come out, the hot drinks are served, and we spend time around the fire. At this point, we harvest, enjoying our last goods from the summer. The cold nights have nipped a few summer plants, and the mums and asters are all in their glory.
While I wait for the first frost, I gather seeds from my favorite plants of the past summer: marigolds, cosmos, cone flower, nasturtium, zinnia, and cleome. Many of my plants I know will reseed on their own: bachelor button, alyssum, cone flower, cleome, aster, goldenrod, showy milkweed, rudbeckia, and love in mist. I leave my garden a bit messy so I can enjoy watching the finches feed on the seed. It’s a waiting time from Harvest to the first frost. Annuals are still thriving, although leggy. Kale and chard enjoy the cool season. Squash are plump, yet their foliage is white with mildew. It’s all bittersweet.
I always take a few clippings during this time too. Many plants can be “cloned” from their parent. Rooting stems of rosemary, fuschia, pineapple sage, begonia, and coleus in water can ensure a plant or two for next summer season.
Enjoy the fall outdoors, the purple and white of wild asters, the last ducks on the pond, the cool nights. After the first frost, there’s lots to do to close the garden down, so take time now to rest up for the task.
There is a beautiful spirit breathing now
Its mellowed richness on the clustered trees,
And, from a beaker full of richest dyes,
Pouring new glory on the autumn woods,
And dipping in warm light the pillared clouds.
Morn on the mountain, like a summer bird,
Lifts up her purple wing, and in the vales
The gentle wind, a sweet and passionate wooer,
Kisses the blushing leaf, and stirs up life
Within the solemn woods of ash deep-crimsoned,
And silver beech, and maple yellow-leaved,
Where Autumn, like a faint old man, sits down
By the wayside a-weary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow