Snow does not fall in my back yard. The last time it snowed, and hit the ground and remained, was probably 1960. So the seasons do not put our gardens to bed.
Instead, we do it ourselves. And, our dormant time, whether the vegetation knows it or not, is late summer. When the lavender is done and the camellias are hinting at winter buds.
We know the time has come by a thinning of light and yellowing of leaves. Believe it or not, along with Californian informality we develop a sensitivity to the shift of seasons. Otherwise we might believe life never changes. Immortality is tempting.
I cut back my grasses. Briefly, I imagine topiary rabbits. I settle for introverted turtles.
This embarrassed me. Too Fauxvence for words, or certainly for High WASPs. I hid the bundles on the hearth, behind our very large television. But large televisions also embarrass a High WASP, what to do? I think I’ll keep on bundling. Maybe with brown raffia next time. Or orange. Life is too short to hold on to childhood taboos.
In truth, lavender may burn badly, but the astringent scent by the fireplace compensates for sputter and flare in the fire.
Abelia drops its flowers discreetly, leaving red leaves behind like mothers and fathers at a high school soccer game, “Wait, hey, is the game over?”
I could also cut back the milkweed and sage in my butterfly garden, but as these are natives, in a side yard, I’m letting them do as they will. Go to seed, die, return, make a mess. I like gardens for their death as well as their life. Besides, I’m still kind of mad at the neighbors for adding on a second story and concomitantly cutting down their screening hedge. “Take that, neighbors! Just watch my milkweed yellow and fry! ”
High WASPs are about as good at vengeance as they are at rustic crafts.
And then, of course, those white roses. They never really seem to get a clue. Keep on blooming, and thorning, and flouncing about way past bedtime. Like when you throw a dinner party for some other families with children, and one by one the little ones drop off, on the sofa or in their parents’ arms. Then down the hall comes a small voice, and you tiptoe to follow it, and find one little girl, playing alone, animating a pack of plastic dogs.
“You don’t want to go to bed, do you?” she says to the spaniel. “No, I don’t,” she answers herself.
OK. OK. We won’t prune until January. When even roses know the time has come.
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