The First Day of Autumn

Bouquets from the Cutting Garden!

The first day of Autumn…already! How did that happen? In some ways, it seems as though I was just celebrating all the “firsts”…the first crocus, the first daffodil, the first radish harvested from the potager, the first ripe tomato and suddenly I’m aware that the “lasts” are beginning. The last cucumber has already become gazpacho. The last zucchini became part of a vegetable lasagne. The last eggplant is nearly ready to pick, the last potatoes have been dug. The cooler nights brought brown spots to the basil, so the last of the potager’s basil “Newton” has been brought in to become pesto for the freezer. There’s still some “Sweet Genovese” in the quick-pick culinary herb pot in a protected spot by the back door for making Caprese salad, until the last tomato is picked. Soon, even the “lasts” will be finished, once frost arrives.

It was sweatshirt weather this past week, at least until mid-afternoon when things warmed up enough to return to T-shirt wear, so the arrival of Autumn did not come without gentle warnings. The walnuts are falling along with the leaves of the cottonwoods (partly due to dryness as well as the season) and farmers are beginning to harvest soybeans. The mums’ buds are swelling; the sunflowers are being ravaged by goldfinches. The starlings are forming their annual gatherings, swooping as a group from field to tree. It occurred to me that soon the flowers will be nothing but a memory, so armed with scissors and basket I went to the Cutting Garden. It’s the neglected child, tucked behind the potager’s fence, and definitely appeared tattered and weary, with lots of blackened stalks of Black-eyed Susans and dried sunflower poles. Some of the gomphrena had already gone to seed, and the zinnias were forming seed heads faster than new blooms. The feverfew that had sparkled back in May and June was re-blooming nicely for filler, and the dahlia “Sylvia” was still providing lots of fresh flowers. So, even at this late stage there were plenty of blooms to make bouquets: a taller one for the living room coffee table, and a short one for the kitchen table, with a few leftovers stuck in the very last canning jar by the kitchen sink.

Yes, I’m out of canning jars! And, I hadn’t planned to can that much this year, since the shelves and freezers were still full. But, the tomatoes just kept coming and coming and couldn’t be wasted. And this week, the local discount grocery had chicken leg quarters for 38 cents a pound, so 20 pounds became 7 quarts of whole chicken legs and thighs, and 7 quarts of soup stock (some with meat bits, carrots, onions, celery; some with only the veggies, and some clear broth.) That will be 14 meals (not counting abundant leftover meals) for $7.60! But, thankfully my mother has some empty jars she’s not going to use, so I’ll be able to can the two bushels of apples waiting in the garage and the 3 rows of beets nearly ready to pick.

It was a good summer for growing, and I should welcome the end and this new season that has arrived. A gardener needs a spell of rest after such a busy time, and there is a fall job list of repairs and projects to make next year’s season even better and easier. I will try to think of autumn as a new beginning, rather than the end of the gardening year. I will try. I will try. I will try…..I will order seeds!!!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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12 Responses to The First Day of Autumn

  1. bcparkison says:

    You were busy busy busy but the changing of the seasons will give you rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo Shafer says:

    I always LOVED the fall season. Not so hot, yet warm enough to continue puttering in the garden or even, as these days, clean out the beds. My herb garden/potager is more manageable now–meaning, I can see the brick paths no long overgrown with bushy herbs and tomatoes. The English perennial borders are next, later this week after I’ve completed processing dried herbs and storing away in little glass jars.

    In the meantime, Hubby and I are driving down to the Lower Valley (where the growing season is a bit longer than here) to raid the farmers’ markets for late tomatoes and cucumbers, perhaps green beans. Then home for an afternoon nap!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. March Picker says:

    Lovely bouquets! I like to hear that you’re welcoming this new season, Carolee.


  4. Wow, you are SO ambitious with the canning and freezing! Those bouquets are gorgeous!


    • carolee says:

      Thank you. I should arrange flowers more often, but since I am generally outdoors more than indoors, the butterflies, bees, hummers and I just enjoy them in the gardens. I enjoy the process of canning and freezing as much as the growing, and there’s such a sense of satisfaction looking at all those filled shelves, and especially now, knowing it means many fewer trips to the store! And my canning jars have been reused for generations, so just think of all the tin cans, plastic and glass bottles that I’m not sending to the landfill. Makes me happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful bouquet! The change of the season is welcoming for the slow down, but always a bit bittersweet to see the color dwindling! Rest & reflection is a lovely way to spend winter months by the fire!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Autumn is here too! Like you I felt inspired to pick flowers for the house and included some of the hips and haws that are adundant this year. My bottling has been the autumn hedgerow fruits – blackberries and elderberries – and some jams from those and sloes. Chutneys next!


    • carolee says:

      So, what do you do with chutney? I made tomato chutney last year, but I seldom open it, and once I do it just sits in the refrigerator. It’s good with roast beef, but we rarely have that. Ideas?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales says:

        I mostly eat it with crackers and cheese as a quick lunch or to give a tang to sandwiches. I don’t eat a huge amount but it is handy when the fridge is rather bare or inspiration lacking! I have to admit that tomato is not one of my favourites – apple and pear or apple and date are better for me.


      • carolee says:

        I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

        Liked by 1 person

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