Sunday, October 30, 2011

...and the Short of It

If autumn is the long season, then it also remains positioned on the precipice of disaster: and this we must not forget.

At this time of year, when the F-word begins to violate the gardener's consciousness, we come to appreciate the fragility of botanical existence even as we mentally fast-forward a few months to the promises of spring.

Yesterday, for many in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, autumn came to a screeching halt. The Long Season, it appears, was merely a rump.

Not as a matter of bragging--certainly not, dear reader, as I will eventually lament the passing of my own gardening world, and will feel the pain of it as I am left to face the reality from which gardening permits me an escape--but we here in Wilmington were spared.

Yes, we received snow and sleet and some ice and a very steely, wind-driven rain throughout the day and night (3 and 3/8 inches, to be exact), but there was no accumulation of which to speak.

The Cassia didymobotrya (a.k.a. Popcorn Plant), a native of southern Africa and hardy only to Zone 10 (that is, subtropical conditions at worst), was clearly shocked (especially as I ripped it--roots and all--from the garden (don't mind the unpainted banister which my neighbor replaced but did not yet paint). I do not know how I shall keep it alive this winter, as it demands sun and warmth--both of which my old house lacks.

Carolina Moonlight Baptisia, in a display indicative of its southern cognomen, turned this rich shade of black; so clearly it has gone into winter mourning.

The chrysanthemums have flattened, and the leaves of Lavatera 'Red Rum', at least the leaves which were not protected by the collapsing single petaled lavender chrysanthemum (at the very bottom of the photo below), are, this morning rather frosty-crunchy.

Ah, yes: the long and the short of it.

But still, autumn, at least at this point of latitude and longitude, marches inexorably on, towards its inevitable end.

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