It’s a bittersweet time of year here in the northeastern part of the United States. On one hand, those of us who have been craving cooler drier weather have finally gotten our wish with the onset of crisper days and chilly nights. On the other hand, however, it also means a sort of farewell party for those of us who do any type of gardening, be it in pots or in the ground.
For several weeks now, I’ve been going outside my door, pruners in hand, to trim, gather seeds, cut back and discard. The ground at the base of my potted plants is strewn now with the debris of those flowers that brought me so much joy during the summer’s hottest days. Now, most are nothing more than a memory, a process that I have taken part in for more years than I can remember now.
It’s with a heavy heart that I trim and consign those leavings to the soil, undoing what it has taken me, with nature’s help, several months to accomplish. Over the winter, they’ll decompose, and come spring, will go toward sustaining whatever grows there. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be here another year to add to that bounty.
Like most gardeners, I am already planning for next year. I’ve bought a tarp to cover all my pots over and a small pruning saw to tame the shrub that blocks my view when it gets too large. Once everything has died down, I will go out there and prune the rose bush, straighten the trellis it grows on, and set things to right. I’ll situate my bird feeder in such a way so as not to be hampered by the snow when it starts to pile up, and I will depend on the green things growing inside on my windowsill for sustenance until I am once more able to get back out there some spring.
The months drag, and winters in Maine can be long. But a gardener thinks, not in terms of what lies on the soil but what sleeps beneath and what she can coax from it. And in her mind, she is never far from her flowers…never far at all…