Happy Autumnal Equinox. Fall is arriving on a day that is decidedly un-fall-like. It promises to be into the 80s F today, so I will be able to sit outdoors and greet autumn when it arrives at 9:29 PM Central Time.
I don't know the title or the artist of the painting above, but it does speak to me at this time of year. Not just the colors, but the melancholy feeling it conveys. Summer is over. Some planned projects are unfinished, leaves are beginning to collect everywhere, there's a crisper tinge to the air and a general shabbiness to the foliage.
A couple of weeks ago, already, we had freeze warnings. I put my car in my "new" garage. I moved all my houseplants indoors and grouped together and covered as many of my potted annuals as I could. After all that, it did not freeze.
Then, about a week ago, we had a light freeze without warning. I did not put my car in the garage. I did not cover plants. I found myself scraping car windows the next morning, having thought I was done with that chore forever.
Fortunately, only my morning glories and sweet potato vines seem to have suffered. However, the march toward autumn is inexorable. One of my three luxuriant planters of impatiens has half yellow and half green leaves. The ivy that covers the fence between my neighbor to the north and myself has turned red. And while the trees are mostly still green, the tips of some have caught fire.
I have so many annuals that I cannot possibly cover them all. And while global warming has changed Bismarck's last average frost date from Sept. 21 to Sept. 30, there is a point beyond which I just have to stop trying to save my plants and accept the fact that autumn has descended.
So what did I and my helpers accomplish this year? An astounding amount, as it turns out. In the front yard, they installed my new cedar arbor, trimmed my hardy roses and added peat moss and manure to my existing garden beds so I could sow seeds. With the exception of the larkspur and cleome seeds, the marigold, bachelor button, cosmos and zinnia seeds just exploded.
Contractors totally re-built my old garage and seeded the lawn in my backyard. I created a new hydrangea border on the shady north side, featuring my re-located white archway, together with a new statue under the arch.
"Windblown" by Design Toscano
I transplanted my daylilies from the front yard to the back. I added a natural-wood-colored mulch to the areas previously covered by dirt. This alone changed the character of my backyard a thousand fold. We installed pavers to create a checkerboard courtyard garden, and planted the back half of it in shady perennials and the front half in sunny annuals.
We installed outdoor lights to match the Arts and Crafts/Mission style of my house.
But as I mentioned, there are still some small projects left unfinished - a new bed to be turned over on the sunny south side of the backyard, a gutter to be installed on the garage and a re-arrangement of fence panels and gates to make the yard escape proof against Gracie.
But as usual I am twisting in the wind, waiting for three contractors to get back to me. Unlike the seasons, some things never change.