This morning's first glimpse out the kitchen window caused me to utter the "F" word. Yes, the gazebo's roof, deck railings and most of the back lawn was white. A quick glance out the office window confirmed it. Frost covered all the areas not protected by the spreading branches of the many black walnut trees in the front lawn as well. The flowering heads of sedums in the bed by the lamp post were snowy-white, the blooms of annuals in the bed along the sidewalk were miserable and drooping. I shuffled into the kitchen and put the tea kettle on, grumbling and feeling myself spiral downward into a funk. I hate the first frost.
At the farm, I unlocked the barn door, noting that I had missed a couple of plants that should have been tucked into the coldframe or greenhouse for protection. It's easy to do when you have so many plants. I'd spent nearly every waking moment since I returned from the GWA conference in North Carolina on Monday preparing for the temperatures that were predicted to drop low enough to do damage. Dozens of flats and pots of scented geraniums, patchouli, begonias, green pepper basil, pineapple sage, stevia and other winter-haters were moved indoors. Pots and troughs of delicate succulents were moved to display areas in the barn. Seeds were collected and cuttings taken from anything in the gardens that I needed for next season. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and okra were given a final harvest. Flats of cuttings that had been rooting under benches were placed in the coldframe. Physically, I was prepared. Mentally, I wasn't.
I moped around for most of the morning, trudging around the gardens saying good-bye to annuals that were finished, ripping ugly browned (normally bright chartreuse) sweet potato vines from containers and replacing them with colorful mums, hedgehog grass, and silvery wormwoods. Mushy coleus had to go to the compost pile, along with some annual vines, basils, and tender salvias. Of course, it was a light frost by Indiana standards, so many plants perked up by mid-morning. I cut damaged flowers off zinnias, and if we're blessed with a spell of warm weather there might be more flowers to come yet.
After lunch, I gathered the mail, which contained a few more commercial seed catalogs, so I began making my wish list for next year. Nothing cures the blues quicker than the glossy photos of new introductions! And, I started a list of all the things I'll have time to do now that the frost has ended many garden activities.....learn to update more sections of my website, learn to use the calendar feature on my phone, read through that stack of magazines and catalogs that has been accumulating by my bedstand, listen to those "Learn Italian" language CD's before we leave for Bologne, make the lemon-geranium rice pudding I've been yearning for, shop for a comfortable pair of fall shoes now that my sandals are falling apart.
OK, I'm feeling better now. And looking around my garden at all of the lovely fall blooms....especially the gorgeous monkshood in the Enchanted Forest, my cherished toad lilies with their little orchid-like blooms, the variety of mums and asters, and the anemones that wave in the breeze reinforce the fact that the first FROST is not necessarily the FINALE for most plants, or for dedicated gardeners!