Here, at the onset of Autumn, the garden slowly slips from life to death, from ardor to apathy. Peonies are stiff stalks, brown and cracking with every breeze. I must remember to remove supports and mow them soon back to dust. Likewise the daylilies and irises, green at their base but yellow-tipped, bent and beaten by wind and sun and insect, begging, almost eager, to move gently into the cold nights. These and more have budded and flowered and seeded, the annuals among them filling their need to make new life from old, to be reborn with Spring into the next generation. Perennials also have prospered, storing summer's sugars in roots and stems for another season, casting seed onto earth, future offspring to watch and treasure, children at their feet.
Some in the garden, however, have not yet satisfied that primal itch, late to the game, slow to the plate. Roses still bloom, unnatural remonant freaks that never understand there is a time for rest, a time to reflect, and a time for rebirth. They will soon freeze for their troubles, energy wasted on buds unborn. Helen's Flowers shine on, reflecting back the months of gathered sun into the heavens, lanky and tall before they finally bow to Winter. Asters abound, white and blue and purple to reflect the autumn sky and coming snows.
A few fight forward still, faith given to provenance and strength, rushing to beat deadlines of frost and freeze. I recently discovered this bedraggled sunflower blooming in a bed near the house. If it is indeed, as I believe, an ox-eye daisy (Heliopsis helianthoides) or false sunflower, then it has evaded weeding gardener, incessant sun, late-summer drought, and an army of insects to flower now in a hardened clay bed, late but insistent, desperately trying to add its hardy genes to the future. Stunted, oppressed, and humbled, fighting the nearby daylily for every nutrient atom and molecule of water, still it lifts its face to the heavens, stretching for the ribbon at the race's end.
Ox-eye's are perennials here, so I choose now to leave this one and await its return. Every gardener plays God in his or her own garden. and the lord of this garden is happy to accept this survivor into the gene pool of his garden. Such are the beginnings of new species and new promises, these pioneers pushed to the edge of death and pushing back with life. Such are the lessons of the garden for their gardeners.