A garden is like a marriage. It starts out new and fresh, and blossoms into something beautiful. Then you blink your eyes, and it’s turned into an overgrown, neglected mess. About eleven years for a marriage and roughly October 9th for a garden.
This is a good time of year to realize that you’re not getting around to that rose arbor, so let go of the dream and start raking. There’s a lot of maintenance to do before winter, and trust me, do it. If you procrastinate until spring you’ll be faced with this. Any misguided energy you had to foolishly do this all over again next year will be gone.
Here’s a ritual that makes cleaning up the fall garden feel less like torture and more like a craft project. Gilles and I wander around le Château, cleaning out the urns, draining fountains and looking for things that catch our eye. Seed pods, interesting leaves, dried grasses, things like that.
Get a wreath form or just duct tape together a pool noodle if you’re strapped for cash and you live in a place where you can buy one of those. Cover it with greenery – I like to use moss and juniper but you can use whatever you like.
In order for it to look natural and not like something your mom picked up at Hobby Lobby, you’ll need to place things strategically. Don’t try to make it symmetrical. Don’t cover every square inch because that looks forced and screams amateur. Make it a bit wild. A great way to do this is to just close your eyes and shove stuff in, or have a few gin and tonics beforehand.
When you reach that point when you are questioning if it’s done, stop sherrif, it’s DONE. And don’t stick two legs and a witch’s hat on it thinking “that’ll be cute.” It won’t.
Here is what I made yesterday afternoon. Giselle had an extra head of garlic, and it makes a perfect statement alongside some dried larkspur. I threw in an apple and a few chestnuts above. Hung it on a salvaged window and now I have something to keep me company all winter.