The end of the growing season is always a busy time on the farm, as we hustle to savor the last bits of summer, begin fall clean-up, and look ahead to planning for next season. Cooler temperatures and shortened day length slowly turn the once vibrant flower fields to a patchwork of brown and bright color as plants do their best to hang on despite the inevitable frost.
For some plants who need the entire growing season to mature, fall is their time to shine. Flowering kale is one of these beauties. As temperatures drop, the colors become more deep and vivid. Fall is also the time when we can finally cut into our eucalyptus patch. Eucalyptus grows to a tree in warmer climates, but for us in the north we treat it as an annual. We seed it in March, and watch it slooooooooowly grow all summer long. It is tempting to snip away at the beautiful silvery green leaves, but if cut too soon, the tender new growth quickly wilts in the vase. Finally in September, when the leaves have become more tough, we begin to harvest!
We grow many flowers specifically for drying, and fall is the time to stockpile for making wreaths and other dried flower beauties in the winter. Gomphrena (pictured above) is one of my favorites - these stiff little puffs hold up so well in the field for use as a fresh cut, and when dried maintain their bold color all winter long. Other flowers we dry include statice, dusty miller, seed pods, strawflower, artemesia, celosia, and eucalyptus.
Fall is also the season of the floating row cover, which we use as frost protection. With three weekends of weddings in October and many other flower customers to keep happy, we don't mess around with frost warnings and spend a lot of time putting the row cover on, and off, and on, and off..... So far we have been lucky, but the inevitable end will surely come.
Above all else, autumn is the time to revel in the abundance of beauty and growth that the season has given us. With our available time and energy, we do our best each year to grow, make, create, learn, and stretch....and then the time comes to let go. While we linger in these last few weeks of pre-frost weather, we do our best amidst the hustling to appreciate and relish in the fullness of the season.