As I look out the window of my study, the sun is finally shining, highlighting the brilliant colors of the litter of fallen leaves on the drive, the lawn, and my flowerbeds. The red maples were exquisite this year. And droplets from last night’s rain cling to the tiny crabapples and the slowly bronzing dogwood leaves. All this autumn beauty is exhilarating, but I realize there is another reason I love fall. Apart from the cool air, the acrid fragrance of fallen leaves, the promise of cozy evenings by the fire, fall is the time I rid myself of garden clutter. Plants in the garden that have grown and bloomed and given much pleasure through the year have become excessive; the annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses, and small shrubs are falling all over themselves, competing for attention. They were lovely, but now they are clutter, plain and simple. And clutter makes me anxious.
So I have begun to de-clutter, emptying and removing my burgeoning flowerpots that have finished for the year, cutting back browned stalks of peonies and asters. Pulling out annuals and tough weeds that have escaped my notice till now.
Some species will get tossed altogether. If they no longer give me pleasure, or they are more trouble than they’re worth, they are out—period. A clematis vine that hasn’t bloomed in three years, a creeping silver perennial I’ve forgotten the name of, and Shasta daisies that have spread way beyond their intended space, harboring weedy grasses and poison ivy, all will be wrenched out ruthlessly. And I will relish the remaining patch of plain brown earth beautifully uncluttered.
This de-cluttering comes at an interesting time, the end of an election, an election that seemed endless. Not unlike my garden, the last few months have been a disordered collection of voices, phone messages, pleas for support and money. Fliers and emails and political signs on every street corner and in people’s front yards, screaming for attention, for help, for support, for my vote. But now it’s over. The election has happened, and while not all my favored candidates won, many did, and now I can relax. I can toss out my list of favorite candidates, my script for my candidate phone calls, and the program for the local debate. I can clear the yard signs I put up in the neighborhood. I won’t need them anymore. I can breathe a sigh of relief.
Or can I? No. Our so-called president will not give us a moment of relief. As recent events indicate, he is determined to keep us stirred up, agitated, on guard. I’m so sick of it, I could cry.
But I digress. Back to the garden. If I work outside for a couple of hours every fine day, I know I can do quite a lot. Assessing plants that need to disappear forever is the hardest part. But I know I can do it. I know I can. I have to. My life needs to be simplified. And the work will keep my mind off political issues, if only for a short time.
After I’ve done my purge, the landscaping crew will come and cut down the remaining perennials and the milkweed and goldenrod in the butterfly meadow, giving everything a tidier feel. Ahhhh! The last step will be leaf removal, leaving the lawn smooth and clean, ready to accept frost and snow. And I will be all set for winter and hopefully a brand new outlook for spring.