Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preparing for fall

An (almost) entire summer away this year reminded me of our experiences many years ago, returning home to Southeast Georgia and our small college town after summers of research (at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland).

One memorable summer, we arrived home about 10 pm, to a grubby and mildew-edged house (it was too expensive to run the ancient, non-energy efficient AC even at a high temperature, and we didn't have the money to upgrade it then).

We set about scrubbing the walls in our bedroom, airing the house out, and cleaning the kitchen before finally falling into bed quite late.  I don't remember worrying about the landscape, however.  Since it was dark, I guess I wasn't worried, and I was a botanist and plant ecologist then, not having added 'gardener' yet to the hats I wear.

This year, we returned to a house slightly aromatic from low-VOC paint and plaster mudding on the ceiling.   Since the last time we were here (to do the final check with the painter), it's been HOT, and the temperature was set on 79° F  (not exactly high, but not low either).  The first order of business was trying to get the house back in order.  We'd barely managed to get the furniture back in place after the last quick trip, so all of the pictures, etc. that needed to go up on the wall awaited our attention.  And things need cleaning up, too.

Today, we finished getting most all of the paintings and prints back up, and it's nice to have them back in order.  We've changed things around a bit (a old lovely Oriental rug has moved from my study to my gardening companion's), and without the old bed (a veteran from the house in the story told above) has been recycled to a new home.

It was a joy to get out in the garden and finally start shaping things up this morning.  I started in the messy border outside the kitchen door (lots of drought-related mortality in the shallow soil), cutting things back, removing dead plants, weeding, and cleaning up.

There was a brief diversion cleaning up my garden shed (a mess following the last garlic harvest without a follow-up sweeping), and then a clean sweep of the main vegetable garden (largely fallow this summer), weeding and turning over the beds. 

Tidying up my potting bench area, rooting out the dead herbs from pots, pulling up dead bermuda grass dispatched on our last visit helped make things look more like mine, and less like an abandoned garden!

There's certainly lots more to do -- the perennial borders and meadow, not to mention the area nearest the porch, with the bird feeders and container plantings, are currently looking quite shabby.  My gardening companion was suggesting I do a planting design for the area nearest the porch.  Hmm.

We haven't 'edited' the rest of the garden yet!

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