We were walking along the road with the dogs the other evening when my husband took my hand in his.
"Oh, your hands are soft!", he said with surprise.
"Hmm...", I acknowledged, though with an undercurrent of sadness, "I haven't been gardening."
Usually, my hands are rough sandpaper, but the last few weeks have been busy ones with little time for pulling weeds or mucking about in the dirt.
The gardening season is almost over, in fact this will be the last Garden Blogger's Bloom Day that I can participate in this year.
My blooms are down to a few roses, some hydrangeas and a few perennials that are sprinkled throughout the garden.
What a wild ride this gardening season it has been, eh?
June weather in April, then a cold snap that sent everything into shock, followed by a summer with relentless heat, and little, if any rain.
Thankfully, fall rains made up for summer's lack of generosity. The garden recovered somewhat at least. Fruit and berries were sacrificed however, as tree and shrubs held themselves in reserve.
No pretty ornamental crabapples to put in fall arrangements this year!
I usually pick up tubs and tubs of black walnuts off the lawn. This year there wasn't enough walnuts to fill even a single bin.
Fall has not been without a few surprises as well.
On the weekend, it was like Mother Nature was turning off and on a fall light switch. Friday night, temperatures plummeted and we had our first hard frost.
By Saturday morning, everything was covered in tiny ice crystals.
As if on cue, the enormous black walnut in the backyard dropped almost all its leaves in the space of a single day. By evening, the snowstorm of falling leaves had covered entire lawn in a golden blanket.
Then... just to keep us guessing as to her intentions, Mother Nature graced us with a mild, humid day on Sunday.
Will winter be this unpredictable? I guess we will soon see!
So what remains on this, the my last Garden Blogger Bloom Day of 2012?
My velevety-red coleus and the one above perished in the cold snap. My potato vines are mush.
On Saturday morning, I discover a dopey half-frozen bee on the blue Agastache (left). The sky-blue calamint (right) continues to bloom in the front garden, although the tiny flowers have faded to light mauve in the cold.
Up until Friday night's frost, there were still a few Lavatera flowers.
And a bedraggled clematis that I got at an end-of-season clearance sale was so happy
to have found a loving home that it flowered late last week as a thank you.
My harvest of carrots was again a little meagre this fall, but I am still at that novice stage of vegetable gardening where any kind of a harvest, no matter how humble, is still exciting.
I am very glad that I grew more annuals this year, especially sunflowers.
The chickadees feasting on the sunflower seeds were a joy to watch in the first weeks of fall.
There are still a few chores to do in the garden before all is said and done.
I have some tomato plants to remove, bulbs to plant and leaves to rake.
Then I will have the winter to think about what worked and what didn't...
to consider the lessons learned...
and to dream about what I want to grow next year.
Seeds are set. With or without me, the garden is preparing itself for next year.
Just a hollow husk of its former glory, this poppy has dispersed its seeds on the wind.
Next year's garden has already begun...
I am going to link this post to May Dreams Gardens GBBD.
To see other beautiful October gardens in bloom, please click the link.