Thursday, September 11, 2008

September's Song

Hummer drinking from
the honeysuckle on the arbor

It is that time of year when the gardens begin to change, when perennials begin to slowly prepare themselves for winter's rest. Sunlight is now angled low across the woodland gardens. It is romantic light which illuminates the gardens in warm hues and throws shadows which camouflage imperfections like airbrushing the landscape.

I like to sit on my favorite garden bench in the late afternoon and study the light while the squirrels and birds play among the cedars, some looking for bulbs and peanuts they have long ago hidden. I am sure the squirrels are anticipating their next treasure hunt. Soon we will plant more groupings of hardy dwarf tulips, muscari, and crocuses. They view crocuses much like my husband views molten chocolate cake!

Last year we found ourselves deluged in early winter rains before we had finished planting the fall bulbs. Bags of tulips and daffodils were placed in the garage inside their darkened bags until late February when we remembered them. Sure that we still had 6 weeks of cold weather ahead we pulled them out and planted hundreds of bulbs in several huge garden pots instead of digging the cold winter earth. April brought masses of color and a valuable lesson - we will do the same thing this year. Using pots for tulips keeps the gardens from looking so messy when the blooms are spent. Pots are easy to remove to a secluded area in back where no visitors go. We still have daffodil bulbs in the gardens which have naturalized and return each year so the springtime landscape will continue to be sprinkled in gold and the spattering of red from the few tulips which also remain.

Soon we will be making an annual trip in search of fall color. Sometimes we drive along the Skykomish and Wenatchee Rivers in the Cascades where one of the rivers is only a few feet from our car; other times we travel along Puget Sound from Skagit County to Bellingham through a variety of elevations overhanging the water. One of our favorite drives is south to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon where shades of yellow and gold seed the shoreline in shimmering threads of light. Along the winding fjords color mixes with the emerald fir trees as the river rolls across its rocky path between the craggy cliffs.

Until autumn splashes vivid colors throughout the landscapes of our city, I will spend a few more weeks enjoying the summer gardens, looking through the photographs of our summer bounty and recalling the moments when we welcomed every bloom with open hands and hearts. The rewards of hard work and our intense love of nature's mysteries keep us busy in spring and summer. In September we rest a bit, smell the burning wood, bake apples, enjoy the purple asters, take evening naps under warm throws, and remember...

"The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn."
John Muir

Click on each photograph below to enlarge the image.

The Steller's Jay below, the cobalt blue bird with the black crested head,
has been summering here for 5 years. He was born on the property.
When he was young he rode around the gardens on our shoulders and heads and ate peanuts from our hands.He even knocked on the glass door to come inside, once slipping in and stealing something white which I could never identify!
Here is a photograph of his most recent offspring, not quite fully feathered.
We are always eager to see our Steller's Jay each spring!
While he is less tame now, he still follows us around the gardens,
sits with us when we are planting, glides low to get our attention,
and responds to our voices.

All photographs are from our personal collection and may not be used without explicit and written permission.