In The Mood

October is a month of dichotomy in the Fairegarden, two mutually exclusive parts of the whole existing side by side and progressing in the same moments of time. There is the birth of still blooming flowers, like the volunteer morning glories in radiant shades of blue. But at the same time there is the disintegration of leaves. There is imperfection that exists, like seeing the watering spray head in the beautiful shot of stone and flowers. It is truth.

It is wonderful and it is awful. The dwindling daylight causes the green chlorophyll to leave town for warmer climes, allowing the true shades of dogwood leaves to become apparent, one of the first trees to model the fall foliage here in southeast Tennessee. The colors are temporary, for the change signals the gateway to winter, a time of brown and grey. The violet leaves are a reminder of the ongoing battle in this garden between what the human gardener is trying to grow and what the earth itself insists on nurturing. The human will always lose in the long term.

We are both tired and energized. The world seems fuzzy around the edges and yet cuttingly sharp at the same time. Seeing the think sign while sitting in the ever constant lazyboy in the addition, gazing outward but delving inward as the garden changes with each passing tictoc of the timepiece on the wall, represents the mood of the season.

The wildlife clambers for the feeders to be filled, hidden by the still lush growth of the Bulbine frutescens. We oblige, a concession to the harsh reality that soon there will be no greenery to obscure the brilliant plumage of the male cardinal.

At the same time, clarity reigns supreme. Unfocused thoughts zero in on profound ideas, represented by this young mockingbird one of the Empidonax Flycatchers, thanks Lisa!, perched on the piece of driftwood dragged home from a beach trip and mounted like a sentinel in the Gravel Garden.

Long blooming stalwart Verbena bonariensis is consistent from spring through fall with its purple bobbles. It awaits the opening of the interplanted Muhly grass with patient wisdom. The trash bin in the background seems appropriately surreal. It took me a while to figure out how the bin figured into this shot. It belongs to the neighbor across the street. That is the magic of the Canon SX1 on high zoom, it changes the perspective relationship of objects to its own desire.

Colorful leaves are transient. Brilliantly hued berries and stems will remain to nourish the bellies of the birds and the psyche of humans as the cold creeps ever closer. Cornus sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’ brightens the blue needles of the weeping Blue Atlas Cedar in the front garden down by the mailbox.

So much is happening at once, it becomes difficult to focus. Achingly beautiful, heart-wrenching decay, it all plays out everyday in the garden. We can only watch and be amazed and bewildered by the miasma.

We follow the thread, looking for the grand design to it all. The neatly placed row of fading Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ triangular mopheads causes one to pause and ponder the meaning of it all. There is but one word to describe what must be done.



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16 Responses to In The Mood

  1. Carol says:

    Love this phrase: “gazing outward but delving inward”. Truly, that is what autumn does to many gardeners. We start to reflect back and plan forward as we watch the garden we’ve worked so hard on sing its last songs of the season as the curtain starts to fall.

    Hi Carol, thanks for those beautiful poetic words. The garden surely sings all year to me, but the song has changed to a minor key as winter approaches. Ahhhh. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. easygardener says:

    Wonderful and awful sums this season up. I need pictures like yours to cheer me up. Roll on April!

    Hi EG, thanks. I am happy to have sent some cheer across the pond! Dreams of April, wonderful to think about. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Eileen says:

    Living in zone 5, many people believe that the cooler weather brings on the color changes in leaves. I am glad you pointed out that it is the changes in daylight, and it is always a surprise to childen and some adults that the natural colors of the leaves are the fall colors!


    Hi Eileen, thanks. How funny that those zone fivers haven’t learned the fall foliage lesson! HA Just kidding, I am sure that many here in zone 7 also think it is the cold, and to be honest, after the first frost the colors seem much more brilliant. We haven’t had that cold snap yet, but there was a frost warning for outlying areas last night. That is waaaay early for us. What a strange year weatherwise! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • According to my 6yo, there are “scissor cells” in the leaf, right by the stem that begin to activate with the change in temperature and gradually force the leaf off the plant. Who knew?!

      Hi Jill, out of the mouths of babes!!! Thanks for that. I did not know abou the scissor cells. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, the garden looks much the same here but with lots of weeds! It is much more difficult to get enthusiasm for the garden in Autumn and it is needed to get all the jobs done I want to do. I have a list of jobs, if only the weather at the weekends will co-operate. I miss being able to garden in the evenings, the nights are drawing in fast. I planted daffodils on Sunday, the first of lots of bulbs I have to plant.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks for stopping by. Fall is the time of frantic garden tasks with less daylight here as well. There is bulb planting and lots of perennial division and moving around, shrub planting and container switchovers. We won’t even talk about the leaves that fall from the trees and must be chopped for beds and compost bins. No gardening in the evenings here either and when they change the time it will be dark ever so early. That part I don’t like at all! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. LOL, no dichotomy here: I’m just tired and tired of gardening for the season! I always like fall and the shutting down of things for winter. Mind you, ask me in January and I’ll feel differently. Love the Verbena b., as always.

    Hi Monica, I know you are having issues with your garden! The enthusiasm has waned here as well, I believe the drought is the cause. The only gardening to be done for weeks was watering with the hose, it gets old after a while! I am ready for fall too, but know the feeling of missing the garden in January too well. The Verbena is wonderful, I agree. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. gail says:

    My dear friend, I love blue morning glories and purple ones, too. They’re so cheery. Cheery is welcome after the summer we’ve had. As welcome as the cool days that mean working in the garden to get plants in the ground is possible. I’ve loved every minute of it~and all my energies have been on gardening not autumn! You’ve primed the pump of my imagination and as soon as it warms up I am heading out to contemplate the changes! I love the young mockingbird shot~gail

    Dear Gail, thanks. I am tickled pink that you are able to plant things into the softer earth now, and that your pump is primed! It is certainly a time of change, but still very beautiful. Bundle up! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Steve says:

    I also loved that picture of the Morning Glory. What was considered a virtual weed in the North West, owing to its Imperialism, lol, is such a gorgeous plant when well-cultivated. I suspect bout 60% of your readers are secretly glad the season is over. Like baseball, the playoffs are coming then the World Series, then Winter. In gardening, it’s cleanups, bulb planting and then relaxation. Time to re-energize after a splendid year.

    Hi Steven, thanks. The morning glory is considered a weed here as well, we have never planted them but they are everywhere in every color. We allow a few to bloom, we cannot resist their charms, especially against the fall foliage. I am never sad with the seasonal changes, even if it means cold weather and brown/grey gardens. It is how it is supposed to be. I do love the planting of bulb ritual, happening in a couple of weeks here, when the shipments arrive.

  8. Layanee says:

    Onward, it is!

    Hi Layanee, thanks for being so enthusiastic! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Valerie says:

    As I look out the window this morning to a white frost covering everything in the garden I have to say that your last minute lovelies are a welcome sight.

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I shiver at your frosty covering! We are not there yet, but it is coming. I do love taking photos of frost covered plants though, such exquisite designs even as it rings the death knell.

  10. Michelle says:

    It is sad and so beautiful all at once! The smell of fall is unforgetable to me. Love it.

    Hi Michelle, thanks, so nice to see you here. The smells, hmmm, I must go out and take a deep sniff! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Onward for sure. I always find this a busy time in the garden, whether it’s raking leaves or cutting some things back.

    I don’t know your first frost date, here it’s in and around the 21st October. Now frost leaves me down. That really is it ’til spring.

    Hi Rob, thanks for finding time to visit. I don’t know the exact average first frost date either, but it is usually around the end of October. I like frost, as long as it burns off quickly and the day warms up. This time of year, that is the norm, if there is frost at all. The leaves will be dealt with in November, although some are dropping in high wind now. From the drought, they have just given up.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I am still watering here this fall. It seems weird to have the hose lying in the garden this late in the season. Will the drought ever break? I sure hope so. Leaves are falling here too. Your bird isn’t a Mockingbird but one of the Empidonax Flycatchers. They are hard to tell apart unless you can hear them sing. It may be migrating through your area. I almost didn’t say anything since I couldn’t tell you what it was exactly but I didn’t want you to think that little guy was a Mocker. That warty pumpkin is interesting. Perfect for Halloween.

    Hi Lisa, thanks! I didn’t think that looked like a mockingbird, but they sometimes hunker down and get all bunched up together. I have seen that same bird eating the winterberry hollies in March, I think. Never heard of what you say it is, thanks for eddycatin’ me! That funny pumpkin came up in the raised box. I thought I had planted squash and got that warty one and a small orange round one. Free pumpkins! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lola says:

    I loved the pics but that last pic is precious. For some reason we don’t get the “special” pumpkins down here. Sure wish we did.I guess I’ll stick with the poly resin ones even tho they don’t have bumps.
    Cooler temps here don’t seem to make much difference.
    None of my Fall veggies came up–guess it was still too hot. That was a month ago. A bit late now. Just trying to get new plants {in the mail} in the ground.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I do love pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. There are huge pumpkin patches around here, joined by corn mazes to make a little extra money for the farmers. The bumpy pumpkin just showed up in a veggie raised planter box. I thought it was squash but was glad it was that pumpkin. My fall lettuce never came up either, too hot I am sure, and dry, although it was watered. Maybe it still might. Good luck with your fall planting, fall seems to really be here now, we had to turn on the heat!

  14. Lovely thoughtful post. I love Fall, the changing colours, the sense of everything getting ready to settle down for a long nap. I also love that it is the time to be planning for the future, moving plants, planting bulbs, pouring over catalogues. It makes me thoughtful and excited all at once.

    Hi Janet, thanks. I love fall too, the colors, the cooler temps, but is a time of melancholy for the garden too. Onward! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Jennifer says:

    I love the image of the morning glories. So vivid!
    Fall is such a great time of year. I never mind its approach. After the heat of August I am ready for the cooler, golden days.

    Hi Jen, thanks. They are very photogenic flowers, those blue morning glories. After the heat here, we too welcome sweater weather. I love when the ground becomes softer and more moist, makes bulb planting so much easier. That time has come here, hooray!

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