In the Garden with Lori and Jack

Changing colors, and a good time to fill some holes.

Fall colors - Photo courtesy Lori Mahoney Wescott

Seeing that first load of mums come in is bittersweet, for sure. It’s the telltale sign that summer is drawing down and the leaves will start falling shortly. The benches that were once filled with bubblegum-pink petunias and pastel daisies are now a wave of mauves, oranges, reds, and yellows. I love the cabbages and kales too, their frilly leaves and dusty blue and purple colors are great for contrast in containers or in the garden. For many here on the Island, fall is when those endless workweeks are finally starting to ease up a bit. Yesterday afternoon was the second time all season my husband and I have been able to work in the yard together; well, that was for about an hour, before Jack wanted to join us. We have a lot of holes that we want to fill, and now is a great time to do it. With the weather cooling down, it’s a good time to plant. There are new shipments of plants coming in, as well as lots of stuff going on sale. OK — truth be told, we have Jack’s birthday party coming up, and our yard has been neglected. All except for the veggie garden, from which Jack has enjoyed eating cherry tomatoes and raspberries (as well as the occasional rock, which I so accurately predicted).

I’ve also been making note of things that worked well this season, and what I will do differently next year. I like to get it all down while it’s fresh in my mind, and then come back to it in the spring when it’s time to get things going again. I want to start seeds earlier next year, and it seems like the list of what I want to start keeps growing. Heads up, Dad — I’ll be begging for my own table in the back of the greenhouse come April! Every season is a new learning experience; new varieties come out that stand up to our conditions better than others, or new colors that are more vibrant, etc. Just one example is some of the tall phlox: I love the flower on them, and they are so showy when they bloom, but trying to keep the powdery mildew from getting them was a constant battle. Now there are a few varieties that are resistant to it, and the colors are amazing. Jack has learned that potting soil, although it may look pretty and feel really cool between his fingers, doesn’t taste all that great. It’s been a lot of fun watching him study the flowers and leaves so closely. He has also learned that different herbs and plants have different smells — he likes mimicking me as I over-enthusiastically sniff them.

Fall is a nice time to reflect on the season. It’s also a great time to get any bigger projects done, especially if you are looking to hire a landscaper. Most of their schedules are more flexible now, rather than trying to get stuff done in the spring. Keep that in mind when thinking you need a little extra help around the yard. We aren’t quite ready to start putting everything to bed yet. Soon, as the days get short and the early mornings get chilly, the frost will start to settle in, and it will be time to cut everything back and give the garden its last feeding before winter. The final churn of the season before the snow flies: tying up all the grasses and filling the window boxes with greens to get us through the long winter.

Best wishes,

Lori and Jack!

Lori Mahoney’s family operates Jardin Mahoney in Oak Bluffs;