Fall can surprise you

Despite our best efforts, as gardeners and as just plain folks, we never know for sure what can happen in a season. There I was, walking west on Lake Shore in mid-October and a flutter among the hawthorns caught my eye. Could it be? Yes, it was! The little fella above, left behind by the Monarch butterfly migration, was catching the last fall rays.

Then there’s the fruits of my procrastination. Totally immersed in revising the Toronto Gardener’s Journal Source Book for the last few weeks, my fall garden tidy-up is long overdue. Result? A handful of green ‘Chocolate Sprinkles’ – how appropriate for the day after Hallowe’en – tomatoes on November 1st.

I added these to the bowl of slowly ripening ones harvested at the end of September.

It’s great to be able to enjoy fresh, home-grown goodies, even in the month of November. When I hauled down the vines from the pole and runner beans and cucumber yesterday, I found enough late beans to snack on, as well as bean seeds to save – and one hidden cucumber. Trick or treat!

The toughness and cold hardiness of certain flowers never ceases to amaze me – even after near-freezing temperatures and a sprinkling of snow.

You’d think with their juicy stems that nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) would be the first to succumb to the cold. Not so! It’s one of the last things flowering here on November 1st.

Right now, two small bouquets from the garden are perfuming my office with the peppery scent of nasturtiums and the last of the ‘Windermere’ roses.

‘Windermere’ is a lovely white to shell pink David Austin rose with an old-rose fragrance.

Let that be a lesson to us. Every season is a season of surprises. And I mean that in a good way.

What surprised you in your garden this fall?


  1. My garden surprised me with the knowledge that it can get along without me just fine. That it will cling to existence without fussing and happily wait until next season, when I have more free time. Or not….

    1. I put my garden to the same test this very busy fall, and had the same result! Hooray, us and our gardens!

  2. My Big Lawn to Big Meadow conversion project surprised me this summer… and not in a good way. I’m still wondering why the grass grew so sparsely — a lack of rain early in the season? temperatures too high in July and August? But the best surprise is deciding that this may be a good thing. Leaner soil may produce less vigorous grass, leaving more space for wildflowers to grow.

    1. Well that’s a good thing in a bad thing, Pat. Get those wildflowers going. My guess is that the grasses will soon catch up.

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