For the past twenty years, my husband and I have planted spring-bulb gardens that flower and bloom abundantly, enlivening our yard from early spring into summer. We couldn’t have done it without the encouragement and support of our fall community.
Cooler weather, the end of daylight savings time, russet and gold leaves of fall always signaled that it was time to begin the colorful spring production. Our friends and neighbors would arrive to help us plant bulbs and/or prepare the garden beds for winter hibernation; but it will be different this fall.
This year, for the first time in 20 years, we failed to over-plant. Over-planting is adding fresh bulbs to the existing plantings so that the spring production will be abundant, vibrant, and beautiful. Twenty years ago, when we started this process, we thought we were too old to lie sprawled out and kneeling on the cold ground digging tulip holes.
The first year, curious neighbors cruised by looking side-ways while trying not to appear nosey. As they became more familiar with our practice and grew accustomed to the wooden boxes of newly arrived tulip bulbs, they’d comment, Get them right. I want to take pictures this year! or Are you going to put in some yellow? I loved the yellow you planted a couple years ago! We’d smile and say, sure, why don’t you bring over some yellow and help us out?
What’s the old saying, if you build it, they’ll come? Sure enough, a few drifted over to help, and some came to critique. But even if not actively taking part, they’d still walk up, drive by, or shout out to tell us how happy it made them to see us in the yard that fall.
We’re going to sit out this fall and see what happens when we just let things come back on their own. We’ll supplement with a few alliums, irises, and hyacinths, but that will be nothing like the 1000 tulip bulbs we’ve ordered in the past.
Instead of worrying and wringing our hands, we’re saying que sera and moving on to new ideas that we hope will be just as fruitful as our gardens have been. This fall and winter my husband and I are hibernating to reconnect, think about what’s important to us, and plan other fall endeavors that will keep us off of our hands and knees.
One crisp fall day, as I walked around the yard, I glanced over at homes and was reminded of neighbors who used to come over and talk or help us in the yard. They’ve passed away in the last year, and it’s going to be a little lonely for us without them. Our newly widowed neighbors and family members could use some support this fall. So, I’d like to gather everyone around our table at least once a month to eat, tell tall-tales, play games, and share news. This will give us all something to look forward to.
There are new grandbabies and loads of nieces and nephews to taste new dishes hubby and I plan to experiment cooking. If we sow love into our people this fall, the same way we have our gardens, perhaps our family and community will remain close and bloom more bountifully this spring.