After the hot summer we’ve had, it’s a pleasure to experience October in the Piedmont. My morning walk has become a tour of fall displays in my neighborhood. Burgundy, gold and orange mums and purple asters vie for attention with pumpkins slick with dew.
One neighbor has tied golden brown cornstalks together and added scarecrows donned with Halloween colors of black and orange. Another has a large round hay bale with a smiling orange pumpkin painted on the end. All this is framed by the azure sky complemented by the autumn leaves of red, orange, and gold. The cool breezes add to the sense of anticipation the change of seasons brings us.
In a friend’s garden, broccoli spears are so crisp that they can be snapped off by hand, and kale stems are so turgid that a knife is needed to harvest them. Red and white radishes add spicy flavor to the fall salad greens. Pesky insects so prevalent in the spring garden are absent in the October garden.
On my deck, the container gardens are full of mums and ornamental cabbages in colors of fresh green and pink. It’s time to plant pansies in an assortment of colors such as yellow, purple, burgundy and pink; these will develop roots over the winter to sustain them through the spring. I’ve made cuttings on my beloved sun coleus so I can have these to plant in the containers next summer.
I begin to blow the leaves into workable piles to be placed in the compost pile. The boredom of this task is alleviated by the cool breeze and the brilliant colors of the leaves of the poplar and maple trees.
As always, I will plan my new bulb garden on a sheet of paper before actually digging in the ground. In local garden centers, the bins of tulip bulbs show pictures of the flowers. Before I really know what I’m doing, my buggy holds the promise of spring. In a moment of weakness, I will plan to battle the squirrels for the tulips, using metal baskets submerged in the dirt to thwart their efforts. I also hope to add more varieties of daffodils to the collection under the trees in my front yard.
I hope you take time to enjoy the fall and the beautiful colors that the season brings. Plant a tree or shrub since the roots can establish during the winter, and prices for these items are at the year’s lowest rates. The investments you make in the fall garden will reap great rewards in the spring.