For me, Fall is the time to purge. Not my stomach, or anything like that. But time to purge the garden, among other things. Once things finish blooming, or the vegetables stop producing, I take up my clippers and head out to provide haircuts. I can’t bear to cut everything down to the ground, unless it’s the squash vines, which have withered away to rather slimy stems anyway. But the flowers and a few other things really are due for a trim back.
Usually, it’s the phlox first. Those gorgeous floral heads of fuschia, pink, white, and lavender have provided plenty of weeks of beauty. But when they go to seed, they turn…well, rather gray and ugly. So, I cut the flower stems back far enough so the greenery hides them. I look around, and spot the peony leaves, which are turning a deep shade of magenta. But that will turn quickly to black within a day or two. Yuck! Snip. Gone.
With a gentle tug, I pull out the remaining allium flower heads that I spray painted purple once the blossoms set seeds and dried a bit. Some of them are so tattered that they need to be tossed in the woods. But some are still pristine globes, worthy of a winter arrangement that will remind me that those long cold days and nights will eventually lead to a spring with fresh flower stalks springing up and reaching for the sky.
I turn to the daisies, their stems and tips drooping in weakness. They look pretty messy, leaning every which way. Those too get trimmed off, but the greenery is still vibrant, so that stays untouched. After I’ve snapped off the dead geranium heads, leaving the full blooms, which still look proud and full, I’m almost out of choices. The Solomon seal have set berries for the birds, and the carpet of moss roses is glorious, a riot of color. Overall, the garden looks a healthy green, with shades of emerald, celery, and kelly. But…
I feel a wash of ruthlessness arise. My arms akimbo, my clippers ready, I hunch over, lower my chin, and probably resemble something out of one of those serial killer movies as I contemplate moving in for the kill. The plants are trembling, and I don’t think it’s from the light breezes. They see the blood on my hands from their compatriots, and know their time is coming. I want to mow them all down!
But not right now. Too early. I stand up from my crouch, let my arms hang loose, sometimes even loose enough to drop the clippers. The fire in my eyes dies and I smile. “Don’t worry,” I reassure them. “Your turn may be coming, but I’ll allow my partner in crime, Jack Frost, to do his worst before giving you an appropriate burial in my compost pile.” Dirt to dirt, as it were. There’s an almost audible sigh as I turn away and head into the garage to hang up my clippers and lay down my leather gloves. Saved, all of us.
Guess I’ll go in the house and…hmm. Purge my closets!