Early morning in the September garden is a treasured moment of peace. I sit among flowers that seem to laugh and sing in their joyful, playful colour. But change is on the way.
‘ Summer ends now; barbarous in beauty,..’
Despite the forecast of cooler weather coming, summer is again reluctant to let go and so am I. A floral stillness settles around me. Throughout spring and summer I have been planning for this moment. With a warm satisfied feeling I pause and enjoy late summer’s ‘barbarous beauty‘, its ‘burning bush’ moment. There is joy here for both flowers and gardener. Enough to put a smile on any face and to cheer the weary spirit.
These September blooms around me are radiating their own warmth. I love this kind of abundance, so I try to surround our front door with late flowers. Zinnias, rudbeckias, echinaceas, cosmos, heleniums and asters never fail to cheer, while Salvia Amistad never seems to have an off day. Come evening, the nicotianas will be giving off their exquisite fragrance.
Heaven’s Glory in Harvest
Walking home through the recently harvested fields, G.M.Hopkins is overwhelmed by the beauty of nature at harvest time. He sees the wonderful reflection of Christ in the clouds as they drift and melt across the sky, over the distant azure hills and the golden stooks of harvested wheat. The fresh discovery draws him into a rapturous response:
“Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks rise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?
I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;….
And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic—as a stallion stalwart,……..
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.“
From ‘Hurrahing in Harvest’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins
I want to share Hopkins’ exultant, joyful wonder at the beauty of the countryside at harvest time full of reflections of heavenly glory. Like him, I too, want to ‘hurrah in harvest‘ and ‘hurl‘ for Christ, the One who has made it all and holds it all together:
‘all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.‘Colossians 1:16-17
Autumn is in the air
The flowering of the Michaelmas Daisies reminds that the seasons are on the move. Has this floral display of annuals been summer’s swan-song, its finale? Since starting this post the weather has changed. Now officially autumn, right on cue summer seems to be giving way. But there will always be something in flower through autumn and winter, like these late chrysanthemums which bring cheer when the days are darkening.
The gardener’s outdoor work will go on. It is time to pick apples and pears, sow early over-wintered sweet peas, to plant bulbs and prepare for the winter display of pot plants indoors. A whole host of inviting things will be waiting in the seed catalogues soon to arrive. Inexpensive, undiscovered pleasures will be sitting enticingly in those unopened packets. As a new gardening year beckons the gardener’s motto is always– ‘it is going to be a better show next year!’
A crop of late quinces, the last of summer’s harvest, wait for October picking, while the pyracantha bush is full of winter supply for the birds. At the end of another fruitful growing season there is every reason to be a Thankful Gardener.