Autumn has arrived!
I smell the fragrance of fall in the air. The morning air is crisp, the leaves are turning, the days are getting shorter, and the temperature is dipping. The quilts are out, the comforters are in. Summer dresses are out, sweaters and light jackets are in. While the aforementioned changes are easier to adjust to, it is my garden and its changing appearance that asks me of my patience, for it is going to be a long wait before my garden dresses up in a myriad of colours afresh.
My vegetable plants have nearly stopped producing. The Japanese eggplant is still bearing blossoms, but which dry out and drop to the ground, because nights are getting chilly. The leaves of my sweet banana pepper plant and tomato vines are turning yellow, but even so they are sparing no efforts to bear fruits. Many plants try till the end! The cucumber vine, however, has given up on climbing and getting taller. The herbs and leafy vegetables are done for the year.
The lilies, peonies, and hydrangeas have died back; they will come back to life come March or April. Pansies and petunias, which are annuals, have already perished. The only plants that are holding up are annuals like marigold and cosmos. However, with most of my perennial plants preparing to go dormant, my backyard is colourless; it is now merely a lacklustre reminder of what it used to be during the summer months.
Roses are quite hardy and many varieties withstand low temperatures until it gets too cold for them to bear. However, my hybrid roses, too, will go dormant in the coming weeks. Seeing their leafless canes, one will then find it hard to imagine that six months down the road, tiny red leaves will sprout from them, harbingering the advent of spring.
The good thing about roses is that some varieties bear one or two flowers even in late fall. My yellow floribunda rose, for instance, gifts me with blooms as late as November. My Blue Girl rose, however, bore her last flower of the season in the last week of September; a fragrant lavender-coloured beauty she was!
The arrival of fall means that you need to collect and bag dead leaves, branches, and sometimes, whole plants. It also means that you have to cut back your perennial plants. Cutting back does not work for vegetable plants, though. You need to remove these plants completely and also clean any materials used for supporting, for instance, sticks, tomato cages or trellises. Needless to say, it is a lot of work and the kind of work that gives me no joy, for it is always hard to say goodbye to gardening.
Once the fall clean-up project is over, my little garden surely looks tidy, but it stands out there like an artist's still life; no leaves flutter, no flowers sway to the wind, and no blue jay come to the bird bath to quench its thirst.