A faithful reader in the northwest USA gently berated yours truly for being so spotty about writing the blog lately. Duly chastened and slightly abashed, I disciplined myself to ponder pertinent Alaska gardening topics. Just moments later I was done pondering and a sense of finality settled into my brain. We’re all done here.
Of course I’m speaking of summer, and not of the mental state of Alaskans at large (though this might also be apt). A few days ago some ominous-looking cloudy riff raff deposited dandruff on the lofty peaks to the east. I suppose it must be snow but I’m not hiking up there to find out. Curses! The termination dust is here!
For those unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger, nor unsightly accumulations of particles under your bed. Opinions vary, and if I were one for research I would find out which is the most plausible (or on a good day, factual). However, Camp A insists the term “termination dust” was coined by those souls who believed the first dusting of snow on the mountains signaled the end of an all too brief summer. Camp B shrilly maintains that the reference actually comes from the practice of laying off (firing) seasonal workers at the end of the summer.
I’m with camp A. Our summer is about ten days long. OK, I’ll throw in that sunny day we had in May and make it eleven. By the time my petunias, dahlias, and fuchsias are reaching their peak, it seems like a crime of nature that frost should take them. (And yes, I had a banner year of growing sophisticated garden plants. Have I mentioned I grew hot pink pelargoniums, too?) So when the white stuff is sighted on yonder lofty peaks, a constriction of the airways is not uncommon in gardeners here.
Sadly, I have to announce I put my containers away for the year. (Now, now, dry your eyes.) It seemed only natural after mowing the lawn one final time last night. There was perfectly good icy blue Lobelia growing in one particularly fine container. Good (as opposed to ratty, rip it out posthaste) Lobelia in September is akin to a good hair day without using conditioner: good luck.
This particular container was a study in texture, or at least, that’s what I told myself as I rammed different blue leaved plants into the dirt with little method and most likely a spot of madness this spring. The lobelia was a surprise. I don’t usually (OK, ever) use it as it’s been done to death in my city and can be fussy on sunny days with it’s watering requirements. I picked it up at a nursery that was offering a free 6-pack for Mother’s Day. What gardener can resist a pack of free plants? Apparently, not I. Heaven help me if they start offering some kind of weed for free.
Anyone a fan of the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown? An homage in the spirit of the season, by the Last Frontier Gardener:
Goodnight grass Goodnight mower cutting the grass
Goodnight sunlight and the red afternoon
Goodnight grizzly bears
Goodnight lawn chairs
Goodnight outdoor sittin’ and hello mittens
Set back clocks and put on wool socks
Goodnight garden tool abuse and hello cranky, hungry moose
Goodnight fork and goodnight hoe
Goodnight nobody Goodnight grow
And hello to the cold wind whispering “snow”
Hello bright stars Goodnight warm air
Goodbye summer everywhere
No doubt Lord Byron looks down fondly on me now. Or else he’s getting ready to hurl a lightening bolt. I don’t often feel poetic so this is a rare treat for you all. If I get any more complaints, gentle or otherwise, I may riff on “Back in Black” by AC/DC. So there, you’ve been warned. Bundle up, winter is coming.
Are you ready for the next season? Or content and hoping it will never end?