All of the garden publications this time of year wax poetically about the “joys” of fall gardening. And I think back some 20 plus years to when I first began gardening at this property.
I enthusiastically planted bulbs every fall, completely ignoring the realities of my clay soil and the critters that rampaged over the property. One fall I planted 1300 bulbs, giving myself carpal tunnel that lasted until the following spring! It was delightful. Who says gardening is a “genteel” activity?
I thought about Thomas Jefferson’s quote “Though I am an old man, I am yet a young gardener,” as I was thinking about the garden this morning. It doesn’t matter what the weather is–it can be hot, it can be cold, by about mid-August (just about the time I realize we have no more light in the evening anymore) I am done with the garden. All I want to do is cocoon until next spring.
That doesn’t mean I want to go inside, curl up and read a book (although that’s mighty tempting, I must say!). But I look at the all the house plants that I so willingly and happily transitioned outside in the spring and thing, “Ugh! Must I drag all of these back inside?!” It’s just way too much work.
And I look at the gardens–already putting on their autumn hues as the hydrangeas burnish and the black-eyed susans turn to rust colors–and I think, “Fine. Let the leaves fall and cover everything up until next spring. I’ll be more than ready to deal with it again by then.”
This is one reason why I just do a minimal clean up in the fall–for one thing, it’s better for the gardens. For another, it’s personally better for me as the gardener.
And as for bulbs–well, now I know better. In my heavy clay, they just get diseases and rot. And what doesn’t rot, the critters eat. And I am not one of those who is going to be out there like a madwoman spraying repellents every 30 minutes. That’s not sustainable. So no bulbs anymore, as much as I love them. I’ll just enjoy other people’s bulbs.