9/17/17: The Final Days

Sunday will be the last day I’m officially open, as I must begin to tuck it in for the winter. What a short summer! I’m not ready for it to end... 

‘Tucking in’ is a two-week job, but doable, if I have decent weather.  Visitors are still welcome to come through to look around if the first iron gate is propped open. 

I must trim all my lily stems to within 2-3 inches from the earth, and take down all the huge Hostas (with my trusty serrated kitchen knife). Ragged after nearly three months, their leaves testify to a few mild attacks from slugs, who much prefer to devour littler hostas. Huge ones are quite a mouthful. Nobody, even a slimeball, likes to work that hard if it isn’t necessary. 

But as I work away I glance into a mirror sheltered by a special tree in the Faerie Garden, and everything becomes- different. Mirrors are transformative that way. I can lose good chunks of time gazing quietly into it. Reversing a scene makes it fresh and new. It’s a sort of magic, like moving into another world, for as long as one stops thinking. 

The six-foot-high Ostrich ferns are turning brown: they tilt drunkenly to one side or the other. Their arched, browning fronds can be snapped off right at their origin, leaving only the tall, richly dark fiddleheads poking up from protruding rhizome bumps. I love these exuberant, incredibly ancient plants, and welcome them back every spring. A FIRM hand is required, though, due to their tendency to multiply at a gallop. My God, they can take over a garden in two weeks! This rich earth has such power. 

Bryn sits just a few feet from me, hoping rabbits will rocket out from their rapidly disappearing hiding places in response to my trimming. She leaps straight up as they bounce off, but refrains, with an immense effort, from charging into the deep beds after them. (They scramble under the big wall into the neighbor’s yard, just as Peter Rabbit did, leaving Bryn pop-eyed and huffing. But she knows The Rule.) 

She’ll never do her business in here during gardening season, understanding that the entire area is a part of our home.  In deep winter, though, when heavy snow and ice storms eliminate all boundaries, I’ll sometimes let her out into the secret garden’s deep snow when it’s too dangerous to take her around the block. (If I fell as we walked, things would get dicey...) 

She understands the difference, which was carefully taught two years ago. I’m delighted and grateful. We’re both much safer. 

The front garden is still a riot of color. Even the roses are gorgeous. I won’t touch the scene until I run out of autumn. How could I rip out such cheerful bloomers- like my marigolds, and the silly, leggy Verbena bonariensis? Each tiny, absurd, vividly blue flower, perched jauntily on top of four-foot-high, dead straight stems, makes me grin. It’ll reseed, then pop back every spring, anywhere it wishes. This season the verbena has used the black-eyed Susans’ tall, strong stems and bright orange flowers to help keep its narrow figure erect. It is a delicate thing, and clever. 

I’m laughing, having just run outside again to admire their easy camaraderie. 

Soon the Boston ivy’s leaves will turn a rich red as it clambers along the high garden walls. Old robins’ nests, wedged between those thick, tangled vines, are being teased out by mischievous breezes as they begin to disintegrate. Energetic chipmunks rescue bits of fluff woven through these abandoned homes to reuse in their own snug burrows, under my fieldstone paths. 

The immense sweet autumn Clematis, tumbling from the top of the alley garden wall, has finally burst into bloom today! Its zillion delicately perfumed white flowers scent the warm air, attracting hundreds of thrilled honeybees, and even passing cars, which pause as their drivers gaze at the glory. 

The garden is so very beautiful now, and so fleeting, like life... 

I cherish every single minute out here.

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