October Skies and 200 Bulbs

The sky, these October days, is a dream of pink, morning and evening as the sun rises and sets. This blush of light stains the scudding clouds that hint of coming snow, not so far off now.

There is a sense of urgency in the air. Hurry and get the gardens to bed. Plant the bulbs, empty the containers (so hard, since many of them contain flowers still happily blooming), put the garden ornaments away. Overhead now, we can see gatherings of ducks and geese, making their way in flocks to and from the farms beyond the city to glean from the harvested fields and some to rest in the river a block away.

The backyard birds are quiet, probably visiting the forest for the fall harvest of berries and bugs. They will return soon enough.

There are still leaves on most trees, although we had 90 km winds last week. Even the trees that are almost stripped bare have little red or gold jewels hanging from the tips of branches. They look like decorations against the branches of neighbouring blue spruce.

I dug up much of the cranesbill geranium yesterday to have room for some new bulbs: tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinth. In the front yard, I have put my nephew, Eric, to work digging up a garden that is now overgrown with a spruce tree and an Amur maple. I am determined to be a better planner for next year and to replant this garden with some order in mind – of course, I always do have order in mind, the trick is to get in hand. Somehow, in spite of all my best intentions, the garden forces me to change my plans and random reigns over order in the end.

It is cool today. A brisk wind awakens the wind chimes and causes the last leaves to dance in the sunlight. Gusts lift the tarp that Glenn has placed over the pool, sending shivers of air over the water beneath the cover. It ripples and speaks in a low voice. The yard is chaos, with dug up bits of plants here and there and the remains of the two shrubs that hid the fence for 20 years.

Eric cut them down and hauled away the branches. Now I must think how to remove the roots of the old mock orange. It did not like the shade of the Manitoba maple tree which rudely took root some years ago among the canes of a snowball viburnum, now long dead. The maple (boxwood elder to some) has spread its branches so wide that shade now occupies this part of the garden except for the rays of the morning sun which reach in there for a couple of hours.

I think the spirea may grow back, so I will leave its roots alone for now and see what happens. Meanwhile, I have neither the strength nor the time to deal with the other roots right now. I will simply plant some of the 200 bulbs I bought in a frenzy of optimism yesterday (when did I think I would have time to plant them?), assuming the snow holds off for a couple of weeks.

Today, I go to Ottawa. I am back Thursday morning until Sunday, when I am off to Kelowna until the following Tuesday. Planting and pink skies will have to wait.

It won’t be the first time I have tucked bulbs into the ground under the freshly fallen snow.

October 16, 2011


13 thoughts on “October Skies and 200 Bulbs

  1. Your writing is beautiful Dorothy (I would expect nothing less after reading your Bio.) You are obviously very fond of the Fall. It’s my favorite time of year and now that we have this amazing garden it is even more enjoyable. Thank you so much for your “like”. I’m honored that you would not only read, but enjoy the posting. Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

  2. A lovely post, and the “urgency” you describe fits perfectly, having just planted out my garlic crop, and with the tulip bulbs demanding their attention from me, I understand fully the urgency before the cold of winter sets in.

  3. Dorothy, thanks for the “Like” on my “Houseboat Gardens of Paris” blog. You should have no more trepidation about your blog. You are a wonderful writer and I’m pleased to have discovered another kindred gardener soul. Your passion spills into your words and they’re a pleasure to read.

  4. Tamika says:

    Fall is lovely! Manitoba is considerably ahead of us in NY. I must admit to letting my gardens go this summer and fall, we have had so much rain, obscene amounts, that I finally gave up on the weeds, soggy wet plants, rotting veggies (accept my husband’s peppers, they did remarkably well considering they don’t like wet feet!). I did plant about 180 bulbs last year.. this year, not inspired. That’s the beauty of our gardens, they are their and are forgiving. With a little attention next spring, the perennials will be bursting once again!

  5. Jenn says:

    Such beautiful observations that captured fall perfectly! I love fall, in a sad, end-of-the-season way, when everything is going to bed but the promise of spring closer than it feels. I am also most enthusiastic about planting bulbs in the fall and tend to bring home more than I can ever get planted. I limited myself to 40 this year, and miraculously have already planted them all! I may treat myself to a few more.

    Thank you for the like on my blog, I am glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Cathy says:

    Thanks for liking my post on Miscanthus. I love your description of putting the garden to bed for the winter… I too have to cut down my last flowers with a heavy heart before icy November arrives. Hope you get your bulbs in before the snow!

  7. uribg says:

    Hi Dorothy,
    Thanks for “liking” my blog, http://uribotanicalgardens.wordpress.com/.
    I enjoyed your description of your garden and the beauty of nature surrounding it.

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