Remember the story of the ant and the grasshopper said to be one of Aesop’s fables? Whether you consider the ant to be wise and industrious or greedy and lacking compassion in an alternate analysis, the idea of gathering, collecting, harvesting rings true at this time of year.
In the aging in place garden, autumn is a time when the yard is rich and full.
Two ways to play in the autumn garden.Take a few minutes to inventory the plentiful harvest. Play a game with your grandkids, letting them think of themselves as the ants gathering samples they can find. Try categories like biggest berries, smallest seeds, something squirrels would eat, etc.
Or simply put yourself in the ant’s shoes for a meditation on abundance.
If the weather is still sunny, though cool, visit that comfy bench you’ve sited in the perfect place to catch warmth out of the wind. Or maybe it’s a bit too brrrrrr - cold, rainy, and windy - for sitting outside. So place yourself in front of a window snuggled in a chair with your favorite mug of coffee nearby.
Stroll from one area of the yard to another, mentally or actually if the grandkids are energetically up to explore with you. What berries are ripening nearby? Yes, the red ones on the possum haw will get noticed first, followed by the rose hips. If you have enough moisture for beautyberry, the rings of berries clustered on its branches can be showing fuchsia or violet now. Maybe there are yellow berries on another variety of yaupon you’ve had planted.
And what else is quietly offering its contributions to the harvest?
You may have hidden seeds on the “weedy” hackberry that the cardinals fight over, or acorns from your oaks, or shiny black marbles splitting out of the Mexican buckeye’s pods. Wafer ash has seeds in winged samaras. They can feed critters at a distance, not only those eating locally.
Did you know, for example, that prairie dogs eat grass seeds?
Think of the tiny hard or fluffy seeds of grasses. Those plumes of flowers are not only ornamental. They are a banquet for birds and other small animals. Even wild onions left to flower will provide tiny angular seeds.
Check out the perennial flowerbeds, too. Plateau sunflower blooms late in the fall and finally goes to seed with sharp, cold weather. Pluck the dried flowers from a plant and gently spring them open to discover how the seed particles are protected by coverings of chaff. Oh, how the goldfinches love to perch on these stiff stems and winnow their breakfast!
How prosperous you are to have such bounty in your Elderyarding® garden!! I am grateful for every seed, berry, and nut in my garden. How about you?
Do you know the joyous fun of legume for aging in place?