The Autumn Garden: a Bittersweet Place

The cooling temperatures and diminishing light mean that everything slows down – a welcome reprieve after the frantic pace of the season.

At the same time, reality sets in. Soon, it will be time to say goodbye to the plants you’ve lovingly nurtured through the spring, summer, and fall. The garden will certainly grow again next year, but it will never look or feel quite the same. 

Lessons from the Growing Season

October is a time to apply some of the lessons learned during the growing season. What worked well this year, and what areas need improvement? This fall in Lucille’s, we conducted a soil test to check the nutrient levels in a few spots in the garden, and we’ve started saving seeds from some of our favorite crops, including early bulam and rattlesnake bean. We also double-dug the Apple Bank, thanks to the help of volunteers at Vanguard, so that we could work some more organic material into the heavy clay soil, which should provide better drainage on that slope for our apple trees. 

Volunteers from Vanguard take a break to pose for the camera.

Blooming Perennials and a Gnome Farm

We still weren’t finished planting, though! On October 19 and 20, we added perennial plants in spaces all around the Lucille’s Garden complex, from the Rain Garden to the fern bank. These plants include garden favorites like yarrow (Achillea ‘Terracotta’), hibiscus (Hibiscus ‘Lord Baltimore’), lavender (Lavandula ‘Phenomenal’) and anise hyssop (Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’). Staff and volunteers planted over 600 plants, including the Medicine Garden. Talk about hard work! We know it will be worth it as these plants will bring fragrance and pollinators to the garden in 2024. Still to come are 660 bulbs that we’ll place on the Apple Bank for a colorful spring display. Just for fun, we also planted a Gnome Farm in one of the raised beds in the Children’s Garden with cool-season greens and veggies. Stop by and take a look! 

This time next year the Gnomes can harvest their greens and veggies.

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped at Lucille’s Garden or came by to visit this season. We’ve so enjoyed meeting and working with every one of you and are always happy to keep talking plants through the winter months and beyond. Make sure to stroll down the garden paths, even as the weather turns colder. The beds may be quieter than they have been, but the green leaves of the garlic have emerged – a promise of the garden to come. 

Autumn brings shorter days.

A Medicinal Garden

Frequent visitors to the garden will notice that the front entrance bed looks a little different now. We redesigned the space to create a medicinal garden to showcase some plants that people have relied on for thousands of years outside the culinary tradition. Plants like catmint (Nepeta ‘Walker Low’) and coneflower (Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’) will help visitors connect with the folk uses for these familiar garden flowers. We planted garlic for a fragrant harvest next July. Already beneath the soil, the structure of next year’s garden is taking shape. 

Volunteers help plant a medicinal garden.

Blossoming Support: A Grant from Sun East Charitable

Last week, we received the exciting news that the Sun East Charitable Foundation has awarded us a grant to fund the purchase of seeds and plants for Lucille’s Garden next year! We are grateful for their continued support and are excited to see what next season brings.

Harvesting and Preparing for Reflection

October has been a busy month. Alongside all that planting, there is still the work of harvesting, weeding, and watering. On October 12, we dug an astonishing 73 lbs. of sweet potatoes, bringing our harvest for the 2023 season to a total of 2,828 lbs. so far. Quiet November is upon us now, and with it, a time of reflection and garden planning. 

A sampling of the whopping 2,828 pounds of sweet potatoes harvested this season.