Canadian County OSU Extension Service

A Dear Friend's Departure

The Vine

By Casey Sharber

A Dear Friend’s Departure

I was so excited when a friend called to say she was coming into town to visit. I had not seen her in a long time. We had a lot of catching up to do and we had many plans while she was in town. Well… can I say the first few days were a blast, but by the tenth day, umm… let’s just say I was ready to miss her again.

Now, most of us have experienced this before and know this does not say anything bad about our relationships with our friends. It was simply that I was ready to slow down and not feel as though I had to entertain anyone anymore. 

This is similar to the feeling I have at the end of each summer. To me the summer season is like a visit from an old friend.

It really wasn’t that long ago, when I was getting excited about seeing the first dormant Bermuda lawn that was polka dotted with yellow, white, and purple crocuses. Even though it still felt cold out to me, nature had sensed the subtle changes and had begun to signal that summer would soon be arriving.

My senses were hungry to see the explosion of color, the feel of rich, black soil crumbling in my hands, and the smell of sweet fragrances that occasionally get overwhelmed by the smell of fresh cut grass.

I know I am not alone in the gardening world as I go through this anticipation in late winter. In fact, I believe it is this enthusiasm that gives us just enough energy to sustain our gardening habit throughout the long, hot days of our Oklahoma summers and for me it has been another great gardening season.

However, as much as I have a passion for gardening, I have to admit when I started to notice the Chinese Pistache trees beginning to change colors I had mixed emotions. At first, I was excited for the new color change in the landscape and then I was a little shocked they were already changing. Then when I quickly realized that this was a sign that fall was approaching, part of me was sad to know that the season of flowers and growth was coming to an end, while part of me had a sense of relief.

As a football fan and a horticulturist, I feel lucky that just as the gardening season slows the football season begins. In reflecting on my own season, I have had many “wins” this year and enjoyed every minute of my “play time.” However, with what seemed like a tougher than normal schedule and now nursing a few injuries, I am ready to retreat back to the locker room to review the tapes and begin developing a new game plan for next year.

As you begin developing this new game plan for your garden, you should think about what plants you have longed for all season, but maybe never splurged for.  Also, look at your garden to see where you may need a “stronger player” or perhaps check the timing of these “players” to make sure something is always in bloom.  Perhaps you have a garden that has a dull time of the year.  Do you need to add plants with more winter interest or did your garden look a little tired mid-summer?

This is the time as gardeners we have the opportunity to “recruit the great players” for next year, as this is a good time to go make those deciduous tree, shrub, or perennial purchases. 

Many nurseries and garden centers have these plants on sale.  At this stage the plants may be a little tattered and past their prime.  However, as we are going out of the gardening season nurseries often discount this inventory so they do not have to keep it. 

Although these sale plants may not look that great, it does not matter because we are purchasing them for next year.  Planting them now allows these plants to get their roots established during the winter and gives them a stronger start next season.  

As a football player has playing football in his blood, a true gardener will always have gardening in his or her blood and as gardeners we should not feel guilty for anticipating a slower season, however, we also should not forget about the future. Like the departure of a dear friend after a long visit, the anticipation of summer’s departure does not say anything less about our relationship because we know it won’t be long until we anticipate its arrival once again.  

Until next time - STOP, LOOK, and ENJOY!

~ Casey

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