It has turned cool the past few days. A cold system from Alaska and beyond has been slipping by and teasing us with winter promises. It is still a bit too early for the trees to really be in their flashy fall outfits but some of them are too eager to wait and have begun primping for the big show. The long dry summer we had brought some unusual rewards in my garden this year. Many plants that would be dormant many weeks by now are instead blooming. There are oriental poppies blooming with fiery red sumacs and forget-me-nots putting on a private show behind the waterfalls. The “blooms once a season” climbing roses are flowering like it was June. Candy tuft is making an encore as are the delicate lavender water hyacinth. I had planned on filling the compost bin with them. They had other plans apparently. I even have sword ferns that have decided to unfurl one last frond or two before the winter season hits. Honeysuckle is sweetly blooming right along as though it had no idea what time it was.
I have loved every single flower and speck of green this year; from the first colorful peek of tiny crocus to the full blown shameless display of six foot daisies. The colors and flowers of spring and summer have paraded in the grandest display of exuberance. The scents have carried me away to distant lands of memory and future fantasies. I have delighted at the determined and unexpected sprouts that grew to become spectacular plants. Just not exactly where I planted them.
I have especially rejoiced in the tenacious spirit of plants that refused to die. The little sumac tree in these pictures for instance. Last summer I dug him out of my neighbor’s trash. Her rambunctious dogs had chewed the poor thing down to a nub. It looked pretty darn dead. One day I noticed that dead stick in the trash was leafing. There was no dirt anywhere to be found in that trash can but this little stick was not impressed with that trivial detail. He wasn’t giving up so easy. I took him home and put his one foot length of dead stick and single leaf in a bucket of water. Later I planted him above the pond and he took off like the weed he knew he could be.
I have stories of near death experiences throughout my garden. There are plants that I culled from the dead racks parked by trash bins at nurseries and behind Home Depot. Orphans that no one wanted, sad little flowerless plants with sagging leaves kicked to the curb and left for dead. I offered them sanctuary from neglect and pretty plant syndrome and they found a home in my garden. They have rewarded me with an abundance of lush growth and riotous color for which I am truly grateful.
Now the weather begins to hint at an end to this long day we call summer and I am finally ready. I am ready to put my pastel summer dress away in favor of a warmer richer sweater. I am ready to turn my iced tea in for a hot cup of cocoa and cool salads in exchange for hearty stews. This has been one fantastic party and I have partied like a rock star. I took pictures like a tourist with a new camera and I oohed and ahhed like a fan at a Hollywood premier. I have had a ball but it’s getting late and I am getting tired. I am ready to curl up next to the fire with a blanket and a hot cup of Joe. So will somebody please tell my stupid garden to pack it in and go to sleep already? I don’t want to be out there deadheading in the middle of December! Oriental poppies in October? Come ON!