Good Night, Garden

As the temperature begins to cool and the days get increasingly shorter, it becomes evident that fall is firmly upon us. It also is a signal to those with a green thumb that it's time to put that garden to bed until spring time. Here, a reflection on this autumnal ritual.

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The last line on Ha Jin's poem - a path of flowers will open before your feet -put me in mind of what's outside my window. It's time to say good night to my garden and put it to bed, the annual autumn ritual which fills me with such a sweet sense of loss.

Like the sun, my time is drawing scarcer in the garden. I've reached a human limit. Every day of the spring and summer that I could, I work to make the garden thrive. Every day, I worry about its moisture, the calculations of color at 3 o'clock as opposed to 7 o'clock in the borders. And whether the Brunnera leaves would brighten the woodland section.

Every morning I began the day, coffee mug in hand, searching for what had bloomed overnight, maybe a new frond of Japanese ghost fern had unfurled. Maybe the bottled brush-look (unintelligible) had reared up over a path. But now, on this foreshorten day, when the sun will set an hour earlier by our reckoning, I know the end really is nigh.

I planted a few beauties to last to the end. Like a stage set, these plants seemed to shine in a spotlight against the brown sedges - the tall, royal, purple helmets of the monkshood, the spotted, toed lilies, the autumn sedum black jack with its pink blossoms atop lathery black leaves.

There are even some roses left outside the kitchen window. But very soon, (unintelligible) most of it, I put in spring bulbs and cut back errant branches. I have to admit I can't keep it robust any longer. Nature's reclaiming it, making it dormant. It will get a rest. You won't be able to tell looking at my garden just how much beauty lies beneath.

But I'll be warmed by those memories. And, maybe, I need a rest too. Maybe that's what the garden is reminding me of now - slow down, bide your time, dream a little, and be patient, wait. Those green leaves and blossoms will return and demand tending. In the meantime, I can watch my autumn flower beds fill up with leaves and that a great blanket of silence descend.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: And that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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