Six on Saturday: Fruits of the Season

Figs

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Gardens teach us many things.  Like any other education, you might want to believe you’ve learned everything there is to know; but the next week, the next semester, the next season, the next garden proves how much we still have to discover.  Gardening is a slow study; more than a lifetime can master.  And it can not be rushed.

One of the first lessons one grasps, an understanding that shades and colors all others, comes when one understands the nature of passing time.  Like a precisely choreographed dance routine, a garden unfolds and ripens within the context of time.

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Begonia grandis, perennial Begonia finally blooms by late summer.

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The wisdom of all the ancient schools is written within a season in the garden.  It is all there for those who will read it.  But only those who pause, and observe, and look for it will find it.  Like a ripening grape hidden under a leaf, knowledge grows in plain sight and yet also remains cloaked to a casual glance.

This is the season of fruition and ripening.  All of the promises and hopes that built through the winter and spring are maturing, now, into reality.

The hazelnut tree dances and shakes as squirrels scamper through its branches.  The ripening nuts satisfy with loud pops and crackles as a squirrel’s strong jaws crush them and the pieces rain down to the ground.  The nuts will be gone before they ripen, crushed into green fragments, snacks lying there waiting for other small animals to find.  A single huge buckeye pod swells in the upper garden.  all the others have been carried away already, or fallen, not quite mature.

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Muscadine grapes will soon turn dark purple as they ripen. These grow near the back door, in easy reach.

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Green figs ripen high in the branches of our fig tree and swelling fox grapes hang in curtains from their vines stretching across the canopy.  It is that time of year when golden Black-eyed Susans finally open and tight buds swell atop stalks of butterfly ginger lilies.  The perennial Begonias have finally bloomed, and branches of beautyberry are thick with tiny green fruits.  In another few weeks they will ripen to brilliant purple before they, too, disappear to feed the animals who make our garden their home.

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Butterfly Ginger Lily will begin its season of bloom this week.

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For as everything ripens, so it also will fade in time.   The first hints of autumn have already brought a scarlet tinge to the dogwood leaves.  Collapsed Hibiscus flowers lie crumpled on the ground.  moonflowers bloom for a night, filling the patio with radiant white flowers and their intoxicating perfume.  By noon of the following day they have finished.   Time measures the rhythm of each growing thing in the garden, just as time measures our rhythms, too.

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Abundant rain has made this a good growing season here in Coastal Virginia.  Leaves are large and lush.  Japanese stilt grass fills in any space not cultivated, mown or mulched with its exotic, bamboo like leaves.  I was wandering through the paths today and discovered a rare surprise:  nature sown ferns.  There in the path, arising from a clump of moss, was a perfect little fern I never planted.  What a gift; what a little miracle of chance and opportunity and exuberance.  Later, camera in hand, I found some more.  I wonder now how many more little ferns may be growing in hidden, moist places, growing in their own rhythms from spore to frond.

This week the garden has grown nearly to its peak of lushness.  Paths have closed as plants reach from one side to the other to touch one another, and perhaps to soak in a bit more sunlight.  Late summer flowers come into bloom, vines stretch themselves ever further, some sprouting new leaves to replace ones lost in July.  Cuttings root, buds form and shrubs expand.  Goldfinches harvest seeds from faded flowers even as fallen leaves litter the street.

Every ending balances a beginning.  Time’s pendulum swings in a never ending cadence, marking nature’s pulse.  After long years we finally feel it and harmonize to its beat, at long last learning to see each moment as fully perfect and perfectly ripe.

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Moonflowers, Ipomoea alba

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Woodland Gnome 2020

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Beautyberry, Callicarpa hybrid

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Visit Illuminations, for a daily quotation and a photo of something beautiful.

Many thanks to the wonderful ‘Six on Saturday’ meme sponsored by The Propagator

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

3 responses to “Six on Saturday: Fruits of the Season

  1. Are muscadines popular there? They seem to be popular outside of their natural range, but not here. No one in California seems to know what they are. I just got some seed for this autumn. I want to grow them because they are so traditional in the some regions.

    • Hi Tony, Muscadines are native in our region and I’m not sure they will grow well in other parts of the country. They are popular with folks who know what they are and seek them out or grow them, but they aren’t widely available commercially- as fresh fruit or as vines for sale. I researched a number of mail order nurseries to buy them years ago, and ended up growing my own from seed. I just harvested the first two ripe grapes yesterday and am happy to see several clusters on the vines. Now, if I can just keep the squirrels and birds from harvesting them before they ripen! Here, we sow the seed fresh in summer so the vines can start to grow and their new wood can harden a little before the winter. Enjoy the day- and I hope that you will be successful in growing Muscadine grapes!

      • Even if they do not do well, I will determine if the are suitable for the climate here. There is a big old grapevine on the farm that is supposed to be a muscadine that is fruitless because it lacks a pollinator. I doubt that it is a muscadine, since there is no reason for one to be here. It looks like the understock of an old wine grape vine to me (which could theoretically be a muscadine). I will grow my own from seed, just so I know what they are from the beginning. I might get cuttings from the one at the farm to see if it fruits with friends. Some wine grapes here were bred with muscadines for resistance to disease, but are not the same thing. The closest I could get to muscadines is the ‘Concord’. We grew it in the old garden because it made such good juice.

We always appreciate your comments. Thank you for adding your insight to the conversation.

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