Monday, October 26, 2015

Thoughts on How We See Our Gardens in the Fall Light

I did this watercolor. It is how I see Japanese iris...

I was a bit bored, "under the weather", which is not true, as the weather this October has been glorious and I am surely not just short of "glorious". But I have been battling every germ known to our kind, exposed to literally a petri dish of virus and bacteria on a daily basis in the form of subbing at school and those four handsome young boys who are my nephews. I have had a fever which has now broke, and a chesty cough, but at least not the vomiting my brother has suffered.

I ran into them shopping with their mom. I could clearly see Boo was under the weather, but could not resist rubbing the stockinged feet of Little Eli, bringing a broad smile to his so-Sollie-like face with its bright blue eyes (so unlike Solomon). I repeatedly asked the boys not to clamor all over me and then on farewell, Boo locks eyes with me and reached out and plants his palm firmly on my chest, as if he was knowingly marking me as his with contagion...

So I have been laying low and playing with painting flowers I know well and playing with  photos I have taken. I can't just lie on the couch an read and zone in and out of whatever drama I am currently binge-watching. If there was a live broadcast news station that was actually "live-broadcast" not just recycling the news as the internet tweets its latest, or Facebook likes whatever it is liking at this moment, I could deal with being a spectator.

Attempting to capture just that moment when the long rays of the setting sun paint golden, with the October light, the calamagrostis in my neighbor's yard. The play of Light of the Golden Hour so powerful, I wonder if even the gardener next door is aware of its power and beauty enhancing this autumnal landscape?

After nearly 15 years of looking at the north side of my sugar maple taken from the family's mythical hardwood ridge, I have suddenly realized the south side of my maple is the view with the best show and that display on the north comes after many of the leaves on the south side have fallen. Leaves I resist the urge to rake or bag, preferring just to mow them as mowing allows.

There is a layer of golden "pine straw" nearly every where as my white pine drops some needles with the ever-shortening hours of daylight. I have raked up some of this and mulched under my shrubs. I have planted my tulips, brought in some annuals and cactus, and started to trim back the Long Border. I hold still my pruners from tidying up some of the bones of my garden.

I have noticed a lot of a tumble-weed-like invasive grass seed heads scattered about the yard making me consider late winter dispersal of a pre-emergent might be an excellent use of my time, even more so than picking up miscellaneous village dog poo while still frozen from my front hosta beds (an area my dog is unable to visit). I am mentally making lists of the best use of my time, already preparing for spring...

While I look at my garden these beautiful fall days filled with the changing leaves of our deciduous trees, there is not a lot flower-wise to draw me other than a very late mum and this late aster.

The latest blooming aster in my garden, later even than 'October Skies'
When I can, which is not often, I eat lunch on my deck and enjoy these beautiful days in my garden. I try to see the beauty and the golden light,

...and not the work.


  1. Such a pretty painting! The light is so gorgeous and golden this time of year. I love golden pine straw. I lived down south for a number of years and was so used to plain old brown pine straw. After moving up north where there are the white pines, I was just in awe over the gorgeous pine needles that turn the sides of streets golden!

  2. I've experienced the light differently this October because the weather has been so warm. I know that doesn't actually change the light and yet it feels stronger. I like your painting.
    White Pines are my favorite pine trees. They are not at all common here. If one of the two shade trees in our back garden were to come down I would be tempted to plant a White Pine ... but then they do give a rather dense shade, don't they? Not much will grow under them, as far as I know.
    Hope you feel better soon. For binging, do you stream Netflix? Have you seen Doc Martin or Last Tango in Halifax? Both great shows.

    1. I might have to check those two out. I have Hulu, but my son has a script for Netflix so I get caught up during school vacations!

      The light does feel so different with it as warm as it has been. I think the plants are reacting differently, too. Working as much during September and October as I have this year, I feel like I have missed giant chunks of fall.

      I have never considered November anything other than a winter month before, but it will be 70 degrees here on Wednesday.

      As you know I was at Longwood in August and it is interesting to see how the garden has changed. The Meadow, although everyone has raved about it didn't do much for me and I think I was surely there during it's peak (maybe other than spring or that third week in June which makes native meadows so spectacular hereabouts. They have a ways to go I think at Longwood.