The quiet pitter-patter sound of raindrops seeped into my dream state. The gentle rhythm carried along a magical fragrance in the air that only can be experienced with rain. In my half- dream state, my brain registered that it surely must be the irrigation system. It had to be close enough to five in the morning when the MP rotators normally throw out their graceful arc pattern of water over the front of the garden. Yet something wasn’t adding up. Grudgingly, my eyes opened to peer at the clock and though my internal clock was correct, I still couldn’t believe that it was raining.
Alas, I clambered out of bed as the intensity of sound dictated that the water was not coming from the irrigation system hitting plants unless a sprinkler break occurred. Nor was I imagining the fresh rain scented breeze blowing through the bedroom window. It was really raining and not a rain classified as a shower or drizzle! Puddles quickly formed, water gushed off the rooftops and the horses were running for cover. I stood looking out the open bedroom window and knew it was official…the dog days of summer were behind us as the cool breeze carried a chill not felt in some time.
You might ask why I fought to acknowledge the morning rains. I was not ready for autumn! The awareness of seasonal changes occurring in the garden escaped me. Out of habit some pressing chores took place in the garden. Apple tree limbs required added support as their burgeoned branches were weighted down with fruit. Carrots and parsley had bolted to seed requiring seed collection, and friends showed up with boxes of fruit with the need to unearth canning equipment for making jam, canning salsa and applesauce. Auto pilot took place as autumn unofficially arrived. And clearly, yours truly was not ready!
The rains elevated my awareness level a notch. I did a walk through assessing what needed my immediate attention before it would be too late to protect plants from the harsh winters found in northeast CA. Alas, more weeds needed to be pulled and what better time for that chore than after a hardy rainfall!
The beautiful stone patio also caught my eye. The Veronica repens (Thyme-leaf speedwell) is nicely filling in between the Three River stones but what lurked about was fuzzy light gray green plants vying for attention and growing where nothing but one of my favorite ground covers should be! Upon closer inspection, hundreds of seeds from a native plant growing close by blew in and germinated into the patio area . My trusty hori hori knife made short order of these invaders and found me off onto the next area for inspection.
Mulch was the target. Mulch is one of the best insulators to keep roots cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Refreshing the mulch around some plants made the list for immediate tasks to be done. Admittedly, this was one of the favorite tasks for it required that the tractor was needed to move vast quantities of bark around the garden -and who doesn’t have fun behind the force of a tractor!
While some items were crossed off the list, there is still lots to do. Bulbs still require planting, perennials need division, tropical plants must be moved into the house or greenhouse for protection from the freezing temperatures, and germinating seeds for winter crops are still high on the list before the first freeze.
Yes, fall is in the air. The rains can do their magic. Meanwhile, strategies for a more efficient garden are functioning. I know the rain shut off device is doing its job as the irrigation is not turning on this week. Heavily mulched areas are keeping the weeds at bay and the new irrigation area is ready to accept the concept and planting for an apple orchard.
How about you? Are you ready to take on the cooler seasons? If not, there is still time!