Monday, October 31, 2011
Autumn... At Last!
This year promises the most lovely Autumn in ages. The crisp mornings are delightful... perfect for outdoor coffee and a leisurely walk in the garden. The sunny days are a comfortable temperature and are calm and relaxing. With the rains and divine temperatures of late, gardeners all over Oklahoma have developed a sort of collective amnesia about last season‘s ‘difficulties‘; they are happily donning sweaters and getting outside again. We survived the Summer that broke all records!
As one tidies up the confusion of late garden overgrowth, the bones of the garden are once again visible. One may also see the tiny tips of the early spring bulbs emerging, sweetly reminding one that the garden is perpetual and ever-evolving.
The leaves have begun to change into their autumn finery. Their annual show, which is always breathtaking, has begun. As the foliage change evolves, each day provides a new wonder to behold as the play of light and shadows shimmers on colorful dancing leaves. When they complete their color change, they begin to fall, delicately swirling to the ground in crisp drifting patterns. Finally as they accumulate in colorful heaps, they are a joy to walk through…crackling and swishing with the sudden snap of the occasional acorn hidden beneath them. For an outdoor walk, this season has no match.
For the energetic gardener, the precious pansies are arriving in the nurseries and it is a wonderful time to plant them. Originally a common viola growing in fields and hedgerows in England they were cultivated by William Richardson, gardener to Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennett I the early 1800’s. Despite his efforts, their first noted appearance was on the estate of James, Lord Gambier. His gardener, William Thompson, began to cross various viola species with a viola tricolor in an effort to achieve a round flower of overlapping petals. In the late 1830s he found by chance a flower that no longer had narrow nectar guides of dark color on the petals but a broad dark blotch instead; from this pansy came the future ‘flowers with a face’. Released to the public in 1839 with the name "Medora," this pansy and its progeny, including "Victoria", rapidly became popular with gardeners and breeders throughout Europe.
If planted now, they will survive nicely over the winter and will have a head start in the Spring. Such a cheerful, adorable little flower is always a welcome guest at the garden party and the color options are positively stunning. Their little faces are delightfully amusing!