By Paige Patterson
As I write this it is an extraordinary day outside. The sky is a perfect blue there’s no wind, my clippers are oiled and the garden is crying for me to come out and play. I had to start my fall cleanup even though we’ve only had one frost and there’s no sign of another on the horizon anytime soon. So I’ve started to cut things back and to tidy up. Not my hydrangeas of course. And I don’t touch roses or butterfly bush until the spring, unless it’s to remove dead or broken branches. Or, in the case of the roses, to get the screens off on the storm windows, those roses get chopped.
I’m also planning on dealing with the trumpet vine that is so heavy it’s ripping itself off the side of the house. My plan? To drag it across the roof of the front porch so there’s an orange splash to greet visitors next year. It’ll get more sun, and hopefully bloom more furiously as I love a really good true orange in the garden.
Of course I have my normal ridiculous amounts of leaves this year, but for me that is just a sign that I’m going to have more fantastic compost again next year. Now I will fully admit that if I had to rake up all my leaves, get them onto tarps, drag them to the back of the property and throw them on top of the three piles that are growing this year, I’d lie down on the ground and sob. I have help. His name is Gerardo. And he is wonderful.
He’s also my enabler. You see I figure that since I have Gerardo helping me, he can also pop in a few plants as he’s dragging the leaves around. And he can quickly cut out a new bed. Perhaps he can even help to reconfigure the tomato area. And wouldn’t it be nice to have gooseberries? I spent time in England as a child and my favorite dessert of those three years was gooseberry crumble. So why not get a few? And isn’t fall the best time to plant forsythia? And since Gerardo is helping me, why not buy a few more?
You can see how this could be a problem right? So 65 forsythia show up as do six gooseberries. Oh and since the place where I got the gooseberries also had red currents and black currants, six of each of those jumped into my truck as well. I don’t even know what to do with currants but now I have twelve! So now I have to figure out where to work in this new, “English pudding garden.” And perhaps we should also add some raspberries and blackberries to the same area and make it a whole berry wonderland. And I know there are some boysenberry plants available from a local grower. Perhaps I need a few of those too. As you can see I get carried away very easily.
This has always been a thing with me each fall. While other people find spring to be the time of inspiration and ideation, I start to come alive as the leaves shift their colored dresses through pink and yellow, orange and red. Perhaps it’s the fact that this is the time for fires. And for me, sitting in front of a fire stokes the imagination. I don’t know, maybe it’s a back to school thing — that for me the time of new beginnings and exciting change is just a delayed reaction to wanting to buy my new school shoes.
For me it’s all a time of possibilities. Perhaps it’s also from all the bulbs I plant and the knowledge that from each of those little rounded compact packages beauty will arise next spring. I think it’s the promise of the future, like putting in little tiny brown muscari bulbs and knowing that from them I will get a spring explosion of blue, I believe that exploring the possibilities of my imagination will also reap me a similarly stunning crop.
Just the other night I stayed up until 2 a.m. exploring the internet, pursuing online chocolatier classes. I envisioned using the currants to flavor ganache centered truffles. Perhaps with a touch of black pepper. Or maybe a little lemon. It’s all possible. I ordered three books. And printed out the sign up sheet for the course. Years from now you might see me in Martha Stewart in a photo essay standing in my berry allee, clutching a dachshund or two – a mini chocolate mogul. You never know. The berries are planted, and the future is something that just hasn’t happened yet.
Paige Patterson now wishes she hadn’t ripped all her lemon balm as she is sure in her fantasy chocolatier future she could have used it.