For a recovering perfectionist, I think it's sort of remarkable that I love a garden in the fall as much as I do. After all, autumn gardens are full of falling over, turning brown, self-denuding plants.
There are still splashes of colour, like the rudbeckia and the asters, which bloomed just in time for the Big Party. (How did they know?)
The hydrangea are still going strong...
...as are the gallardia that I grew from seed this year.
But even the plants that have officially called it quits and are dancing slowly into wilt and decay have their own beauty, like the dogwood.
And the peonies! Compared to how this plant looked in June this may seem like nothing much, but as much as peonies are my favourite flower in the garden, I find I am pausing much longer to admire the beauty of the foliage in its last weeks of life.
It's awfully tempting to draw a parallel between my feelings about the fall garden and about turning fifty. But cliche or not, there's something to it. From this perspective, the June garden, as fresh and glorious as it may be, seems to shout "Look at me! Look at me!", which seems a little tedious from here. On the other hand, the autumn garden is full of plants that have a different kind of splendour - less show, more dignity. A kind of beauty that factors in the places the bugs have nibbled, the edges that have become crispy, the spots that are bare, and through the calculation that is life, comes to an answer even more precious than short-lived June blossoms.
My garden continues to teach me, and I am listening hard.