Of course, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is popular. Everyone wants to feast their eyes on flowers, but at this time of the year, flowers are passé. Now we celebrate harvest and relish fall colors. Autumn leaves, whose bright hues are initiated by dropping temperatures and shortened daylight hours are lauded for their beauty. But when you think about it, those flashes of russet and gold are early onset decay. A walk around the garden in fall, and not just the week of Halloween and All Souls Day, nature reminds us that all good things come to an end but also that in death, there is life.
Since the onset of rain several weeks ago, the march of decomposition has been swift. Though the droughty summer deprived us of the usual heavy colonies of autumn mushrooms and other fungal fruiting bodies, there is still much evidence of nature’s clean up crew, those creatures referred to as “decomposers”. The decomposers like mollusks, animals, or fungi are breaking down dead wood and other plant parts, as well as departed animals into nutritious earth. The scent of the air right now is rich, complex and earthy. A whiff of fallen Katsura leaves is sweet like browned sugar and the layer of needles shaken from the boughs by rain and wind is mildly astringent. So different from the cold of winter when the air seems to smell nothing but “clean”.
Amongst the trees, meadows and garden beds flies are depositing larvae, mushrooms are releasing spores and slugs are devouring the soggy foliage. The ground is pleasantly littered with myriad shapes and colors of leaves, sticks, lichen and withered fruit. It’s this blanket of litter that will protect the roots of plants entering dormancy and all sorts of living things that hibernate or overwinter underground. Nature is tucking itself in and the varied quilt patterns are intriguing.
Perhaps examining a rotting flower with the level of attention given a freshly opened blossom is morose. Another way to look at it is that you can’t have one without the other and each has it’s own magic. Happy Halloween and Garden Bloggers Decay Day.
© Colleen Miko, 2012