The Gardens continue to inspire awe in all those who visit even though we are now in mid-October and the temperatures have begun to dip dangerously close to the zero mark.
Gone are the multitudes of kids eagerly awaiting ‘story time’ at the Uncommon Grounds Cafe, and the local residents who strolled down to the cafe for their morning coffee.
In their place the Gardens are abuzz (and I do mean humming) with thousands of tourists off cruise ships, whose fresh eyes remind us what a special place this is.
The seasonal change is felt in spite of the fact that the Gardens are still floriferous and the days continue to unfold crystal clear and warm(ish). You can feel it in the people who frequent it, in the plants that are beginning to go dormant and in the fauna who are now migrating through the Gardens.
This photo could have been taken in the height of summer, but it was taken 5 days ago. The Dahlia’s were at their peak , as were the geometric beds around the bandstand and the rose beds scattered around the Gardens.
The Pineapple plants in the edible fruit bed are still flourishing and have produced new fruit, as have the Coffee plants and Oranges, though they will never reach maturity in our short growing season.
The Great Blue Heron was still hanging about last week looking for dinner….
… and succeeding in finding it!
Don’t let it all fool you…. The inevitable is just around the corner
The ‘living urns’ become hanging baskets on their way back to the greenhouses for winter storage.
One by one the beds are being emptied. Jonathan cleans out one of the beds by Horticultural Hall. The plant material is discarded in the compost (except for the Canna lilies whose rhizomes are stored for the winter until it is time to start them again in spring) and the soil is amended with bone meal in preparation on next years plantings.
Spring bulbs are planted at this time, usually Daffodils and Hyacinths. Many of the beds which used to have Tulips in them had a virus, so Tulips can’t be planted in them for a few years as the virus is carried by nematodes, microscopic worms which reside in the soil.
Our free tours are over for the season. They were well attended this year and we added a weekend tour and extended the season until October. Thank you to the volunteer tour directors who helped me offer this service on behalf of the Friends of the Public Gardens. I am the person in the middle (for those who are wondering) and I’ve been conducting the tours for four years. The books the women on my right are holding are the brand new edition of the book on the Public Gardens published by the Friends.
Carpe diem and enjoy the last of the warmth and greenery. Fall is a time when we have a renewed sense of purpose after the lazy days of summer. We begin the new ‘school year’ full of good intentions , a habit we don’t seem to shake no matter how far behind us our school years are.
It’s also a time to gather our nuts for the (hopefully) short winter ahead.
Many people have mentioned the lack of ducks in the Gardens this summer. Well they’re back in droves and resting up before their journey south in search of better feeding grounds.
As I mentioned earlier, the Friends have just published the second edition of their book on the Public Gardens. It’s fascinating reading, especially if you are interested in history. It’s amazing how many illustrious Haligonians were involved in the early history of the Gardens.
They have also created a new Pocket Guide and Map. One side features lovely photos of the Gardens, with descriptions of its main features. The other side is a planting plan identifying every tree, using its Botanical name as well as common name. I had the privilege of meeting every tree in the Gardens for this project (all 673 of them). A laborious but very rewarding experience.
Dare I say it? If you are looking for a gift for someone for that upcoming occasion… look no further than here.
The Uncommon Grounds Cafe will be closing on October 27, so if you have a hankering for that last ice cream or special coffee… time is of the essence.
The Gardens will be closing for the season on November 30. Winter hours will be in effect after that date, as it was last year, weather depending.
Finally dear Friends… save the date. Our Holiday Season Social at Horticultural Hall will take place on December 5.
In the meantime go out and enjoy, it ain’t over yet!
All copy and images, except for the Pocket Guide which was provided by Arthur Carter, copyright © Serena Graham-Dwyer, 2013. If you wish to use any part or whole of an image, in any manner, please contact us.