A breath of fresh air
In the South, the first taste of fall is like jumping in the pool at the end of a long hot day. We knew it would come eventually, but halfway through August it felt like a lifetime away. Now it’s finally here and that first fifty-degree night was about as refreshing as anything could possibly be.
Every region has its unique climate quirkiness. One interesting aspect of ours is Fall’s longevity. In fact, some years seem to cycle through with only a long Fall that leads directly into Spring. I mean, a northerner wouldn’t even recognize what we call Winter in this area. Our all-time record cold temperatures and snow accumulations would only catch attention in the North if they occurred between April and October. Being an initially reluctant Southerner, this long, slow Fall was one of the first parts of living here that started to grow on me, for several reasons.
It’s not just the cool weather
I have always preferred fall over the other seasons. The refreshing cool-down, the lower humidity, camping with no bugs, fresh apples right off the tree that actually crunch when you bite into them, bringing in firewood while geese are migrating overhead, Halloween, Thanksgiving…need I say more?
Then there is the feeling of starting over that recalls the excitement of going back to school after summer break. Vacation is over and now we can begin new tasks and renew old friendships with a well-rested and renewed sense of vigor. Fall is both a time for recollection and an opportunity to look ahead.
As a northern gardener, Fall was traditionally the time to harvest, put up, celebrate and then hunker down. These were all wonderful parts of the yearly cycle, culminating in the holiday season. I look back fondly on my thirty years in the north because that is where I fell in love with gardening. I may yet make it back. Since moving south though, I have been awakened to an entirely new set of possibilities.
Fall is my favorite time to garden
Now my highest quality vegetable production comes in the Fall and continues through winter. Here, Fall brings a whole new set of flowering shrubs and perennials to center stage. The steady flower progression of crape myrtle, tea olive, autumnalis cherry, Camellia sasanqua and fatsia lead us to the winter blooms of hellebores, crocus, mahonia, daphne, sarcococca, narcissus and forsythia without stopping.
All the while pansies and violas offer the colors of the seasons: harvest colors for fall, red and white around Christmas, a variety of bright colors to offset the dormant bermuda lawns in Winter, purple, red and white for Lent and Easter, bright yellows and blues for Spring.
As we gather with friends and family in the Fall, the time always comes for sentimental reminiscing. My greatest joy is this appreciation for the past mixed with a vibrantly active present and hopeful future. May yours be the same. Happy gardening!