I count myself fortunate to have lived and gardened most my life in the Deep South–and to have also lived and gardened in the North. Had I never moved North, I would have known, in an intellectual way, about the seasons above the Mason Dixon Line, but I would not have really understood. To state the obvious, the weather and thus, the gardening, is just different in the North. I currently live on the New Jersey Shore–and things are especially diffent in northern beach towns.
My friends in the South will find it hard to believe that this area almost closes entirely for winter. I have learned that about this time each year, the garden centers begin screeching to a halt. Two weeks ago [in mid-July], I made a trip to Lowe’s. It had rained the night before, and in the garden center, a bit of a breeze had cooled things significantly. I discovered that all the shrubs were on sale and was surprised that I was the only person garden shopping that day. As I walked around the Garden Center, I noted that things had begun to take on that eery quietness that I have come to associate with autumn here. I could actually feel the summer’s ending. If I had shut my eyes, I could easily have imagined fireplaces burning and leaves beginning to fall. Mid-Juy, but I could definitely sense that cool weather was not far away.
Upon the arrival of August, I began to detect a slowing down of the blooming of my brilliant summer flowers. In spite of the fact that the massive and brilliant hardy hibiscus had begun blooming, the calliope of color was over, and the mood of the garden was more reserved than it had been a month earlier. I could tell that my garden had begun to mellow and had begun to take on a jewel-like autumn glow.