(Editor's Note:This article was published on September 23, 2010. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
Today is the first day of autumn and I absolutely love this time of year. It is difficult to pick a favorite season because each has their own attributes but there is something about autumn that seems to cast a warm glow on just about everything. Stepping outside in the morning the chill in the air wakes the entire body. The involuntary action of deeply inhaling this refreshing cool air heightens all the senses and the transition between summer and winter takes hold completely. As you exhale and inhale again you notice there is a new, distinguished aroma. The sweet fragrance of summer is diminishing and the musky aroma of autumn is left behind.
While the perennial borders continue to offer late season color, the vibrancy is fading as many plant varieties have given all they can and are preparing for their winter nap. Although it may appear unsightly at first, you may want to consider leaving the browning plants with seed heads for a while. Scores of birds will grace your garden as they gorge on the bounty of seeds preparing for either a migration south of the cold winter ahead.
As the summer colors fade, the world around you has taken on a completely different hue as the lush green deciduous trees begin to provide their show. A spectacle of auburn, crimson, magenta, pumpkin and mustard tones set gardens and public areas alight with one last finale of color. Trees are often overlooked much of the year but once autumn arrives, they once again take center stage and are appreciated for all they offer the garden and the world in general.
This is one of the best times to be outdoors embracing nature to the fullest. There is so much to enjoy and prepare for. For most gardeners, it is time to think about putting the garden to rest. Before you clear everything out, consider what I mentioned about the seed heads and also think about some of the late blooming plants such as chrysanthemums. Mums are known as November's flower and they can provide beautiful color until the first hard frost (in most cases).
Beyond our own gardens, the source for all inspiration -- nature itself -- has many wonderful gifts to bestow upon us. The cooler weather allows longer walks through botanic gardens, nature trails or perhaps a local park. Everywhere you look there is something magnificent and breathtaking to gaze upon. Now that I live in Colorado, I am blessed to be able to take part in viewing the aspens change. Many take part in the annual pilgrimage to the mountains to view the fiery colors of the leaves changing. If you check online, there are many recommendations of the best areas to view the leaves changing. This year, I will be checking out Kebler Pass. I have traveled this road many times in the summer and I am now looking forward to viewing it in the autumn.
Life is all about moments. As each season changes to another, we are reminded of all the things that are important. As gardeners, we know that fulfillment comes from our connection to the earth and what we can create from it. We also know that beyond our individual space is something greater. It is during the transitions we are reminded of this greatness. In a song my C.W. McCall he reflects on the changing of the seasons: "Summer to fall, young to old, then to now. And then tomorrow..." He goes on to say that "life is just a collection of memories. And memories are like starlight: they go on forever." As we prepare for a new season with holidays fast approaching, enjoy your garden, your life and cherish the memories for years to come.
Thank you for reading.
All photos were taken by the author