November! How can the season be over? It seems as if we only filled the outdoor displays and moved plants from the coldframe a few weeks ago to begin the season. How can it be time to move them all back inside? Of course, we've put the frost-tender plants into the greenhouse earlier, and taken cuttings in preparation for the cold, but still, it just doesn't FEEL like it should be over already.
Of course, I'd noticed the signs....the disappearance of the butterflies and hummingbirds and the mad activity of the squirrels. The annual flowers that always become brighter and stronger in color, in a last attempt to attract a pollinator before they succumb to the frost. The changing color of the leaves, and then the skeletons of empty trees are sure signs of the end. Soaring hawks overhead, like kites on strings above harvested grain fields and V's of fowl heading south are indicators of winter's approach. Yet, with all this, somehow, the end of the growing season always takes me by surprise and sends me into melancholy.
The summer bulbs have been dug, and into the holes went a sprinkling of fertilizer and handfuls of colorful tulips, grape hyacinths, crocuses, or daffodils. This week, we'll gather the fairy houses, statues, and signs and put them into storage. Plants will be trimmed, divided if needed, and moved into the coldframe for a long winter's nap. Flats of cuttings will be moved into the greenhouse floor, where they will be potted on sunny days in the dreary months to come. And, the gardens will be given a final weeding, so those invasive roots cannot expand and thrive over the winter, becoming more abundant and difficult to remove next spring.
The dozens of envelopes of seed that I've collected over the season will need to be organized by planting time and placed into plastic shoe boxes that are clearly labeled. "Early perennials" will be sown yet this month and into January so they get a good start. Then "Early annuals" that take a long germination or growing time will be seeded in February. "Midseason" seeds will go into flats in March, and "Late annuals" will be planted in April and May. I've developed a calendar with varieties that get seeded each week over years of trial and error, so it's pretty easy now. Only new varieties need to get fitted into the schedule. Within the boxes, the envelopes are alphabetized; a task that is easily done as I watch football, as are sorting labels and signs. Anything that I can do in fall to make the hectic spring season more easily accomplished is a positive.
It's always sad to see the season end. The gray days of November are here again. Thank goodness the seed catalogs will be arriving soon, so dreams of the next season can begin!