Thursday, November 3, 2011


To say good-bye! 

It is at this time of the year it seems that we say those words the most. Not always aloud, not always the exact phrase. Nevertheless, there is a passage.

Children go back to school, some around the corner, others across the country or around the world. We say ‘so long’ to the heat of the sun and ‘I’ll miss you’ to the longer days.  ‘Until next time’ to our warm weather clothing, seasonal friends, and gently pat the door of the summer camp as we turn our backs and walk away.

Gardeners face their own rite of passage by saying good-by to our gardens. It is made more difficult when our gardens continue to offer punctuated pockets of colorful blooms. Unseasonably high temperatures earlier in the month keep annuals & perennials aglow. Even the recent unusual early snow did not stop my Shasta Daisies or Ruby Purple cone flowers. New silvery blue orbs from my Globe Thistle rise above the fading foliage.

Earlier this week I was prepared to empty the overflowing containers of one of my clients. To my surprise the owner of the house pleaded, “Wait!” Purple Osteospermum smile at the sky, hot pink Superbells cascade and the gold/yellow of the annual Carex grass wave a hello. Ok, I’ll wait one more week to bid these plants adieu. I, too, am a little reluctant to walk away from my clients for another season. Moreover it pains me to see something so beautiful and apparently full of life go before it’s time. In Maine, time has a way of catching up to our plants and us. We may be just tempted to walk away and let nature take its course.

This is easier for us, but not the best for our plants, containers, shrubs or trees. Offer them the best good-bye you can by cleaning the beds of debris, cutting back spent perennials. Remember to leave the seed heads of those favored by the birds and wildlife choose to stay the winter and not chirp good-bye. Tuck your beds in with a top dressing of organic compost and offer a late season dose of slow release fertilizer. In other words offer a good-bye worthy of your garden all the while focusing on the knowledge you will be reunited.

Yes, if you care for something, someone or any special moment in time, saying good-bye wounds our hearts.  Rejoice when it is not truly a ‘good-bye’--just a separation of time and space. Summer clothes will emerge from the darkness of the closet, camps will be re-opened, seasonal neighbors will return. Your garden will burst forward with new growth.  The sun will continue to set, the sun will rise. However, that perfect melding of cerulean, teal, indigo, fuchsia and fire that captured your soul lingers only within. Memories of a Monet moment when peak blooms met perfect lighting offered an impressionistic vision that was one snap-shot of time.  I have often tried to recapture the feeling of visiting a client’s garden several Octobers ago. A cornucopia of color awaited me; the foliage of the Golden Spirit Smoke Bush was fiery persimmon, Burning Bushes lived up to their name, berries of the cotoneaster rivaled the red of the cardinal singing in the yellowing Ivory Halo Dogwood. I revisit that day in my mind and heart. Nevertheless the day was never duplicated--no matter how many subsequent visits. Little did I know that the accumulation of nature, time and spirit would make these incidents unique? If I had I may have remained a little longer to enjoy it more.

Therefore, as I say good-bye to all the gardens in my care I know next spring they will reemerge and most, with much hope, I will see again.

Nevertheless, I cannot help but say a special prayer for all the good-byes said this year. While it is not easy, I can rejoice in the hello that ultimately led to the good-bye.

KCB is a professional gardener and friend who does wonderful work in the Greater Portland area. KCB is also an accredited Master Gardener by the Cooperative Extension Service and we are honored to have KCB as part of our Skillin's Garden Log family. KCB can also be found at the awesome Finishing Touches website

KCB for Skillin's Greenhouses
November 3, 2011

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