As I walked out to meet the crews early this morning, I was wearing my all too familiar Rudey Landscape golf shirt, well stained from sweat and soil. Short sleeved and well tracked through your gardens, my trusty polo never lets me down. Until this time of year! The best description for today? A brisk fall morning.
I always have a bit of a laugh when I think of the difference between the "first" fall day and the "first" spring day. The calendar provides a number and a month, but my bare arms tell me the actual day! I know the "first" day of summer and the "first" day of winter as well. When you work outside as I do, you know about these days. I know when the first fall day arrives and I can throw on a hoodie or a fleece and really enjoy the "smell" of fall in the air knowing the leaves will soon turn to provide their final bit of annual beauty and lasting memories of their time in the trees. I know the first spring day is here when I break free of the layers of extra insulation for the long winter and my bare arms feel the heat of the sun and the cool spring breeze once again. I usually get to see the spring bulbs in full flower and the buds breaking to provide the leafy shade that helps us through the upcoming heat of the approaching summer. I know when summer arrives as I walk out to my truck with beads of sweat already forming on my brow at six or seven in the morning and I know when winter arrives as my cold ears and teary eyes announce the cold bite of the cold winter winds howl. I always chuckle how quickly we will shed the layers in the spring (What, it's 45 degrees, I better get some shorts!) and how abruptly a fall morning like today brings out the declarations of surrender (I can't believe how cold it is, MUY FRIO AMIGO!) Still, I never regret the passing of a season.
Like many, I may dread the deep cold of winter and the high heat of the summer, but I welcome each season. It is was makes living in the Midwest so glorious. There is something for everyone here and I believe enjoying the difference of all four seasons is the best way to live! I also know the needs of the garden change dramatically with each season. We have the luxury and the privledge to witness the complete cycle of our gardens every year! Just think, in 365 short days, we see the complete cycle. In a few cases, we dress things up and dress things down, but in the end we see gestation, emergence, growth, maturity and decay. I am sure there is a metaphor for our own lives within that statement and I may just be too dim to find it.
As I have spoken to many of you when discussing your garden, I usually start my thought process with some basic botany and underlying horticultural principles. Great soils, make great roots, make great plants make beautiful flowers that feed the pollinators that make new plants and so on and so on. When I think of a brisk fall morning, I think, "Did we have enough sun and heat this summer, did we get enough rain, will that elevate the sugars in the leaf tissue enough to have a beautiful fall color?" I know, I get a little wonky with the botany and the horticulture. It is the curse of what you know versus that of what you know too much! I hope we had just the right amount of rain and heat and good soils and microbial activity and everything we need to have that amazing fall color! I married my wife on the First of November a number of years ago and we celebrated our wedding at The Morton Arboretum. It was a "late" color year so our wedding weekend was perfect to be among the trees. Fall is the favorite season of both my wife and I. Our son was born at the end of November so we have much too celebrate in the fall as well as the simple admiration for the beauty of the season.
I hope you will embrace today's brisk fall morning as a harbinger of what lies ahead. Burning Bush will soon burst into a perfect red, Bronze and orange Chrysanthemum dot the fall landscape. Lindens, Birches, and Aspen will show a pure yellow and so many other plants will give us every hue in between. I hope you enjoy fall as much as I do. To some it may signal the end of the year. To me, it is just the beginning. Enjoy the brisk!