Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm In Denial

The change has begun.  In just the past week, the trees have begun to put on their autumn colors. Mornings are chilly, and the ground has been covered with a white frost the past two days.  For the first time in months, I awoke to a house too cool for comfort and turned on the furnace.

Even though the signs are all around me, I have been in a state of denial.  September was a beautiful month, but I spent most of it substitute teaching more than usual and working on projects in my house, instead of in the garden.  I enjoyed just looking at the garden and walking around it, making notes of things I want to change this fall. 

I'd like to expand several of the garden areas and had planned to do a little digging each day to remove more of the lawn.  But other than planting a few new plants given to me by a friend, the spade has sat idle. The first bulb order arrived over a week ago--with more to come--and yesterday I bought over a hundred more bulbs after attending a talk on bulbs at a local garden center.  I need to start planting these, or I will be out in the cold winds of November trying to put bulbs in the ground with frozen fingers.

Yes, the signs are all around me, but I have chosen to ignore them, living in a fantasy world of  'Endless Summer.' At the very least, I have been thinking that fall would go on forever, and I had all the time in the world to work in the garden.

  Speaking of signs, does anyone know what these colorful leaves are?  Tangled in old tomato cages that should have been thrown away long ago, they're an indication of many uncompleted projects from the summer. I'll leave an answer in a comment.

The Beautyberry looks striking this time of year with its arching branches covered in purple berries, but it is nearly hidden by tall zinnias on either side and nicotania (still!) blooming behind it.

But this is one of the main reasons for my state of denial--
how can I pull out annuals when they still look so good??

A zinnia bud promises more blooms to come, if only the cold weather would hold off.

The 'Illumination' begonia, which hasn't done much all summer, finally shows signs of a glorious display if only there were time enough.

Invigorated by the mild temperatures and frequent rains of September, 'Vanilla Strawberry' Hydrangea paniculata has put out a few new blooms.

To my surprise, even a few coneflowers are also ignoring the warning signs of fall. 

Cosmos are still putting out their cheery blooms and reaching for the October skies.

As if to remind me that it is October, after all, and time for me to get busy, the asters 'October Skies' are covered in blooms.

This mass of blooms over six feet long started from three tiny plants last spring!

It is hard to think of winter coming all too soon when the garden is still a hive of activity.  Bees and more butterflies than I've seen all season are busy visiting the garden, finding enough warmth in the afternoon sun.  But I know they are aware of the changing seasons and probably fueling up for the winter ahead or migration to warmer climes.  The hummingbirds have been absent for the past week, and I can only imagine that they have already found their winter homes in Central America.

Other residents in the garden are preparing for winter in their own way.  Note the bulging abdomen of this little lady; no doubt there will soon be egg sacs of little mantids hidden below the sedum and waiting for spring.  I think she's trying to tell me something, don't you?  She's probably thinking it's time I wake up and realize that fall is fleeting.  I may be in denial, but a hard freeze predicted for tonight may change my mind.  That should provide the reality shock that's it's time I get busy!


  1. Wow, that blanket of asters is beautiful! We're still dry as a bone here, and I also bought a few bulbs (not even close to 100!) but my husband has agreed to dig the holes in hard-as-cement ground and I'm just going to throw them in and see what happens :-)

  2. So much beauty in your garden. Yes, autumn is here. I can't pull a pretty plant until frost comes and takes it. Enjoy what you still have. And, plant those bulbs while it's warm!!!

  3. Oh, I know that feeling well, Rose. The denial that summer is really gone for another year.

    Your garden is beautiful and your pics lovely. No, I can't pull out annuals when they're still blooming either. And I've noticed the increased activity of bugs and little critters as well. But your mantis is really really an amazing shot! Mamma mantis - how sweet and she really looks like she wants to talk to you!

    Thanks for sharing - I remember that tree (first shot), it's always a beauty - every year.

  4. Your Aster 'October Skies' are putting on a great display, especially since you only started with tiny plants last spring. I like that blue to balance all of the earth tones so prevalent right now.

    I've been planting lots of bulbs this fall, encouraged by our perfect gardening weather in September. This weekend I've been working on expanding some garden beds, and have been enjoying the digging.

  5. Hi Rose, Your cosmos, asters, and callicarpa are just beautiful! So is the red-leaved tree. Your grass looks nice and green too.
    Your mystery plant is poison ivy, I believe. Be careful!

  6. The mass of asters is stunning, and it makes fall completely worthwhile, even if winter is coming on. You have so many beautiful sights, but I would be happy just having that lovely mound of asters to enjoy as the season winds down.

  7. It is getting cold here too Rose. I am loving the idea of not so much yard work. Certainly no watering needed. Your colorful leaves and fall bloomers are beautiful. Keep hacking away at that fall chore list. Things will get done.

  8. Wow, that mantis shot is great! I've been playing the denial game, too. But all of a sudden, autumn hit with full force! I love the Endless Summer Hydrangeas in autumn as much as in the summer. The rose color is so old-fashioned and lovely. Good luck planting all those bulbs!

  9. The mystery plant is indeed poison ivy.

    Your 'October Skies' is magnificent!

    Fall just goes too quickly doesn't it? Like those magical hours before sunset in summer.

  10. I am also in denial. It is fall and my flowers are fading and spent. The roses are still put on a show. It will break my heart to see them freeze. In just thirteen more days, in less than two weeks, I will be moving and leaving this garden forever. We are moving to a patio home where I will have very little area for gardening. I am finding it hard not to make mental notes about what I need to change for next year. I resist the urge to move this plant or that. I have not gone out to thin the peonies even though they desperately need that done. I think I should make notes for the new homeowners on what tasks need to be done, and perhaps I could add my vision of how I would change a few things. Yes, I am in denial that I will not ever be gardening on a grand scale again. Keep on writing, I will now be living that life vicariously though you.

    Have you thought of moving the begonia indoors for the winter? I have done that before. It truly is lovely. It is a shame to not let it have its day.

  11. Your annuals are hanging on better than mine. I think I must be about a week ahead of you. That October Skies is great - I have the straight species, Aromatic Aster, also not too tall and a mass of blue flowers.

  12. Getting harder and harder to embrace the denial. But I haven't cut back my perennials or pulled the annuals yet. However, the bulbs I ordered have arrived and some are going into my containers, so those annuals have got to go this week.

  13. Beth and Sweetbay, You are both right--the mystery plant is indeed poison ivy. It is at the back of our property, not in my garden, and I noticed this small patch this summer and always meant to kill it. I'd better do something soon or there may be even more next year. I had no idea it became so colorful in the fall, though.

  14. What a magnificent patch of Michaelmas Daises in one of those photos. I've never seen so many before.

    I think Winter has come to us and its very cold now. This will cut down all the delicate flowers surely.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  15. Started to read this last night then got uninterrupted. I was going to say poison ivy too, though ours turns red in the fall, a very lovely shade of red. hahaha
    Beautiful fall colors!

  16. I was thinking poison ivy or poison oak as well. Normally though I see it turn a bright red here and not the yellow. It is hard to let go. I've been pulling things slowly but surely as I tour the gardens. It is hard but it is a part of change and change is what I like in gardens so it's time. Some things like the zinnias will self seed though if left in place. That is a neat look forward to next year!

  17. Your asters are beautiful. I am making a note to myself to get me some next spring. Your red tree is fantastic, wow!

  18. I hope our michelmas daisies flourish as well as yours!

    Love that red tree. And must get more hydrangeas. I have grown into them, largely thanks to you.

  19. This is my favorite time of year! It's summertime that I always want to avoid. All your plants look so great. I'm so glad you pointed out that bulging abdomen - you are lucky to have them!

  20. Prairie Rose, I'm happy to read in your comment that you recognize the leaves of poison ivy. That's an important skill for a gardener.

    This has been an outstanding fall, making me almost forget the drought. I think a lot of us are in Denial right now. Perhaps we should assign it a zip code and settle down. There are worse places to live. Denial, AnyState, 11235

  21. Wow, what beautiful asters! It is hard to believe it is October already. And where did September go?! It's been chilly here as well, though it is supposed to warm back up a little again, thankfully.

  22. I shuddered when I saw the mystery plant and hoped that you had an id on it as I would hate for you to have pulled it out, bare handed, and then suffered the sad result. Poison ivy is beautiful in fall color isn't it?

  23. Cassi, We must have gotten much more rain than you have this fall; it even kept the farmers out of the fields for awhile. I've been planting some bulbs in front of a big spruce tree where the ground is hard clay and I often strike tree roots--not much fun, either.

    Gardener, A hard freeze Sunday night took my annuals, so I'm finally motivated to get out and do some work!

    Wendy, So glad to hear from you! Sunday's night freeze changed my attitude; those brown, shriveled annuals now have to go! I think Mama Mantis was tired of me taking photos of her:)

    Northern Shade, The 'October Skies' are really lovely mounding asters--I'd recommend them to anyone. I'm getting out again today to plant more bulbs and do some digging, but I'm going to need some heavy clothes, because the wind is brisk!

    Beth, September rains have really perked up the garden. Believe me, I know to be careful around poison ivy--I've learned that the hard way!

    Laurrie, I saw these asters on someone's blog a few years ago and knew I had to have them. They're much shorter than the native asters, though not as blue as I'd hoped. But they have definitely lived up to my expectations.

    Lisa, I'm ready for a break, too. Once I get those bulbs in and some clean-up done, I'm going to put up my feet:)

  24. Rose, I loved this post. I was just thinking the same thing when I was out in the garden taking photos. Fall is nearly over here too. We had that crazy cold snap that was record breaking, and it got me off high center. I began getting everything in the ground. Still, I ordered some mums a couple of nights ago. I'll get them tomorrow. Thanks for the gentle reminder that fall is coming to an end.~~Dee

  25. Your garden does seem to be in denial. I hope it weathered the freeze ok. Oddly enough we haven't had a frost yet in Maine. I'm enjoying the leaves but it is a bittersweet feeling, for sure.

  26. Yes, I have been in denial, too. I need to be pulling some of the annuals and the vegetable plants that did not survive the several below freezing nights. I am glad some of the plants still look good. Hey, I think I have those 'October Skies' asters, too.

    I didn't get any cosmos in this year. Some years they do better than others. Seeing yours makes me want to try them again.

    I love that mantis photo!

  27. I love that aster! It has a beautiful habit. I can imagine that the weeds find it difficult to penetrate that mass of flowers. The slow down of weeds is probably my favorite aspect of winter here. Well, that, and the absence of tourists on the beach.

  28. PlantPostings, I enjoy the fall color of hydrangeas, too. It wasn't until last year, though, that I noticed their foliage changes, as well.

    Sweetbay, That's a perfect way to describe the way fall hurries by. Sunsets come very early these days.

    Sally, I just helped a friend of mine move a few plants from her garden to her new house. They had to downsize, and she has very little room at the new house for gardening, so I know how sad it can be to leave your garden behind. But as long as you have a patio or balcony, you can still garden, just in pots instead of in the ground.

    Anonymous, We've had several nights of frost this week, so my annuals are finally dead--I've been trying to pull a few out each day.

    Jason, In a way, I'm glad to finally pull up the annuals because I want to plant bulbs there, too. Certainly easier when you have bare soil to plant them.

    Maggie May, Since I wrote this, many of the delicate plants have died, but the asters/Michaelmas daisies are still looking good!

  29. I share your denial! That's why I spent last Sunday in a panicked flurry of activity, since that's the night our first frost was expected (it didn't happen!). It's true that the annuals are looking as good as they have all year! I hope that zinnia bud gets a chance to bloom! Those asters are gorgeous!

  30. Janet, I understand about being interrupted--I've tried three times to write replies to everyone, but can't seem to get it done in one sitting. The poison ivy in the photo is in the shade; where it's in the sun, it's much redder. Yes, it's a pretty fall color--not:)

    Tina, I think the amount of sun must have something to do with the poison ivy's color, or perhaps it's dying...wishful thinking:) Now that my annuals are all brown, I'm not having nearly as much trouble pulling them. I'd be happy to have the zinnias re-seed, but the nicotania not so much.

    Ruth, I really love these 'October Skies.' The tree is an ash tree, and is looking exceptionally colorful this year.

    Liz, I had to look up Michaelmas daisies to be sure--yes, they're the same as what we call asters! I'm so glad you've come to like hydrangeas; 'Limelight' is my very favorite.

    Jean, After such a hot and dry summer here, too, fall has been a welcome time. I've yet to find an egg sac in the garden, but I know they must be around in the spring, because I always have quite a few praying mantises.

    Carol, There are so many seedlings I can't recognize, but poison ivy is one I definitely know! Yes, yes, I could be a resident of Denial, USA:)

    Indie, I am wondering where September went as well! We've had cool nights and brisk days, but still enough warmth during the day to work outside. Now if I didn't have to work so much or have so darned many commitments!

    Layanee, The reason the poison ivy is still there is because each time I noticed it this summer--which wasn't often--I didn't want to stop what I was doing and put on long sleeves, change gloves, etc. I've learned the hard way how pernicious poison ivy can be!

  31. Hi Rose, I think the mild fall we have been enjoying has put me into a state of denial as well. This week it has gotten much colder and I forced myself to get out there and get some of my bulbs planted. The leaves have begun to fall and soon there will be that big clean up job as well. Your blue asters are glorious by the way. Love the shot of the Praying Mantis!

  32. Dee, Thanks; I am motivated to get some things done now, I just wish everything else in my life would slow down so I could!

    Sarah, Most of the annuals didn't survive this past week, but there are still plenty of perennials going strong. It's cool, but at least it's not winter yet!

    Sue, I just started planting cosmos a few years ago. They seem to like it here, and I've grown to love them.

    W2W, You are absolutely right--no room for weeds in the asters! I agree--about the weeds, that is.

    Kimberley, I did get out Sunday afternoon to bring in some things, including taking cuttings of coleus. A good thing, because the ones outside were a soupy mess Monday morning:)

    Jennifer, The cold has prompted me to get busy, too; I just hope the decent weather holds a few weeks longer.

  33. What a bloomfinal in your beautiful garden Rose. I have a lot of plans for my garden too but the rain does not make me feel I have to go outside. Fantastic colors of fall a great season, but I am looking forward to springseason when new green is born.
    Have a wonderful sunday Rose.

  34. Hang on to your denial as long as you can and let the garden go until the killing frosts takes it down. Enjoy every minute of it all...xo


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