Grand finale

This weekend is the gardens’ final huzzah and I can hardly believe it. The season went by so quickly and it’s quite possible that the gardens have never been prettier than they are right this minute. It will break our hearts to have to start taking annuals out next week. But after Monday’s holiday the mansion will be closed (until the day after Thanksgiving) and we, as usual, have to keep to a schedule. This week the most important task on the to-do list was to enjoy. To get in the gardens just enough to weed and to deadhead lightly – leaving plenty for the bees – and to observe and celebrate the activity. Bees – mostly bumbles – have been all over the asters in the North Garden and every going-by and pollen-heavy dahlia. (Can’t deadhead those until they’re completely done.) And yesterday Gail and Betsy spotted a traveling hummingbird wobbling in exhaustion on the weeping pear tree in the herb garden, which happens to be right next to a pineapple sage in full glorious bloom. Thank goodness for the salvias, nicotiana, and 4 o’clocks because when I caught a glimpse this morning, s/he was zinging around looking well fed and rested.

Thank goodness for the seedheads in the garden too. Gail and I have both been trying to get a picture of the tufted titmouse (titmice?) tearing the cardoon fluff out to get at the seeds. Too cuteĀ  – but don’t they see us coming! This was the best I could do…

I know I have already gone on a tear about chrysanthemums – I do love them, maybe especially our new one, ‘Matchsticks’ (below, left) – but I wish there was more to autumn in the wider world outside our gates than potted mums and pumpkins. Why aren’t dahlias and this gorgeous Coreopsis ‘Red Shift’ (below, right) as ubiquitous? But then would I become bored of them too? Perish the thought.

I hope these pictures inspire you to make a visit this weekend or to go out and appreciate the frenzied activity and color in your own garden. And don’t forget, Blithewold’s gardens and grounds are open year-round even while the mansion is closed, and if you visit in the next few weeks you’ll get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of our preparations for next year.

Is your garden popping in a grand finale? When will you – or have you? – start to prepare for winter and next year’s gardens?