Autumnal nights come fast. Racing the setting sun, I sped with trowel and bucket in tow around the garden, quickly tucking in the last of my weekend purchases and watering them. Bats buzz bye, darting past my head as they bypass the security light. Though I love fall, I can’t help scorn the last of the light that flickers beyond the horizon shortening the hours I can spend in my garden. It’s an assured consequence of my second favorite season.
Though I disapprove of shortening days, I grimace more when I hear fellow gardeners decry the hardness and dryness of fall. “Oh the garden looks tough,” they moan, suggesting that fall marks an end. While it’s logical to regard fall as bold and vibrant ending to a well-sung concert, I relish its span of time as much as I did the measures and bars before it. The end is the best part, right? So in defiance, I go shopping every fall in search of the best divas capable of hanging on through overture after overture to appear only in a gallant end scene.
This fall I’ve got a few stops planned. First, I made my way to the coolest plant haven in Iowa, The Perennial Flower Farm of Ionia. Owners Steve and Caroline Bertrand relish the closing acts too, propagating numerous clones of bush clematis (Clematis heracleifolia), the adorable yellow waxy bells (Kirengeshoma palmata), and giant bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Pritchard’s Giant’). I bought some of each, even though I already own several bush clematis and yellow waxy bells. I’m insatiable, what can I say? The giant bugbane has been a lust plant for me for years, even though I’ve had ample opportunity to buy one. Plant geeks have priorities though, and somehow I kept passing up this skyscraping tall boy in favor of something else. Yesterday, however, was its day. Even though my photo fails to do the plant justice, imagine the scent with me for a moment. Bawdy and lusty, bees and all manner of winged pollinators swarmed six-foot tall flower stalks despite my prodding lens and investigative eyes.
My next stop lies 1,200 miles from my fair garden home. Next Sunday I embark with fellow plant geeks Dan Heims, Kate Bryant, and Bob Pries on a whirlwind tour of North Carolina’s finest, all before the annual Garden Writers Association (GWA) convention in Raleigh. I’ll post photos and stories of our trek as I do every year from GWA.
In the flurry of fall, I look to my garden for stability, and even though I’ll miss the entirety of the ending this season, I’ll know it’s nothing but the best.
Check out more photos from my annual trip to The Perennial Flower Farm below:
Listed in order of appearance: Giant bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Pritchard’s Giant’), Clematis viticella (seed wild collected in Poland), Sanguisorba tenuifolia, and a very petite-flowered clone of the unfortunately weedy Clematis tangutica.