So, November in the garden. What that means depends a lot on where your garden is. If it’s New England, for instance, the spectacular colours of the fall are a sight to marvel at. A hint of chill can be a relief when summer’s been an endurance test of heat and humidity, a chance to embrace cosy woollies, hot chocolate and woodland walks, as the oaks, chestnuts and sugar maples go down in a blaze of glory.
By Anne Byrne
Here on the Wild Atlantic Way, it can be, well, wild. Grey, wet and soggy. And dark. Most of us are looking inwards now, pulling down the blinds, lighting the fires and battening down the hatches.
It’s a time of stripping bare, as leaves are ripped from the trees by the autumn gales. Shelley’s ‘wild west wind’, the ‘breath of autumn’s being’ makes his presence felt, bringing with him his army of lowering rain clouds to soak us into submission, and cut us off from the world outside.
And yet there is beauty in the bareness. Do you ever look up, towards the sky, when you’re out walking, and marvel at the intricate tracery of the branches and the twigs? I do. Well, I try, until I’m yanked unceremoniously onwards by the dog, who thinks she’s taking me for a walk rather than the other way round.
The bare branches do have an austere beauty, an elegance of their own, that gives them a certain dignity even when undressed and exposed. Do we notice it though? Or are we rushing to the next meeting, the next appointment, the next shop, to buy more, do more, consume more? Do we need to compensate for this season of bareness by accumulating, by adding to our hoards of things with the festive season ahead in mind? Maybe. And maybe that’s okay. We need to provide, we need to cheer ourselves up, and I’m totally in favour of retail therapy, indulging in it enthusiastically as often as time and budget allows.
But let’s not completely disconnect from the world outside. Let’s keep in touch with the cycle of the seasons, the turning of the earth, the ever repeating pattern of seasons ending and beginning – the circle of life. Feel the cool bark of a tree trunk. Hear the fallen leaves rustle as they settle down into the earth, their jobs done and their lives complete. Hold a round tulip bulb in your hand and sense the promise of colour and splendour, before you tuck it safely into the damp earth, to burst into glorious bloom next spring. Let’s pause, occasionally, and look up.
ANNE BYRNE GARDEN DESIGN