Drowsy Bumblebees

Drowsy Bumblebees and Johnny-Jump-Ups

Notes From the Gardener

richard-sandora-head-shot

October

I pause, leaning on my shovel, hearing an unusual sound in the woods. It takes a few moments to realize that I'm hearing the sound of hundreds of wings beating. A flock of blackbirds soon swirls into the clearing, their raucous cries echoing as they light in the oaks out back. A short pause and they're off again, winging over my head. I can actually feel the motion of the air as they pass by on their trek south, like ghosts of summer past.

We have been blessed this year with a long, warm fall. Though frost has done it's job on the tender annuals, and the fiery maple leaves are now at my feet, the sun still holds warmth. It amazes me how quickly the forest changes from a blaze of color to the dreary November brown of dead leaves.

Only the oaks still rustle in the wind now and you can see abandoned birds' nests and the snug homes of squirrels in the treetops. Distances unseen for six months reappear.

But there's a lone dahlia blooming by the front porch and the Cranesbill Geraniums by the drive are still going strong. The Herb Robert's dainty pink flowers can still be found along the rocky edges of the garden beds. The Johnny-Jump-Ups still nod their graceful heads in the sunshine.

I wander over to gaze at the drowsy bumblebees, slowly going to sleep in the asters in the front garden. The bees are so logy that you can pet them, even pick them up and hold them for a moment. Farewell little friends. Your winter sleep is near.

A whiff of smoke tells me a neighbor is burning their pile of leaves. Smells wonderful, but we consider it a sin to waste good mulch and/or compost material in this way. We use as many leaves as we can gather to mulch the pathways and cover any bare soil to prevent erosion. We also add them to the compost piles. Besides, after spending many hours collecting and hauling our treasure, Penny and I have great fun diving face first off the trailer into our leaf mountain. Why should kids have all the fun?

Fall is a time to reflect on the summer past, to plan for next year's garden, to ready oneself for the coming winter months. It's time to mulch the perennials and dig the tender bulbs to store them carefully away. Time to plant the garlic for next year's harvest. Time to harvest the last of the hardy herbs into the drying shed. Time to gather the last of the seedheads for next year's planting. Ill take the time later to spread the wild coneflower seeds hither and yon. It's always a pleasant surprise when they volunteer in odd places.

The days are getting much shorter, the wind is blowing much colder. The heat of the drying shed is a welcome respite from the cold in the shadows. The carefully stacked firewood is a comforting sight. Spring is a long way off.

The long, cold and dreary days of winter will soon be here. Time soon to lounge by the fire and peruse seed catalogues. But for today the sun is warm on my face. I think I'll sit and enjoy it a bit longer.