A dear friend once told us that the time to prune is when the shears are in your hand. A time for everything and everything in its time. We have often used this piece of gentle advice as a salve for the times when we perhaps didn't deadhead as much as we should or we neglected to cut back the azaleas three years in a row. The time to do it? When the shears are in your hand? That's the right time.
And, let this perhaps be a gentle reminder in these last times of blazing bounty and beauty that is the Autumn garden: now might be a good time to pick up the shears (or your other favorite tool of choice). Now might be a good time to get your hands in the dirt and your body into the universe and your soul into the tender care of good work and deep breathing and the smell of leaf smoke and coming frost in the air. It's time to cut back or divide and deep water perennials, clean up any late bloomers, wrangle and mulch leaves, transplant anything you have heeled in from spring (or summer if you let it ride just a little longer than you might), harvesting any herbs you're planning on drying for winter, and cutting abundant wildly-leggy bouquets of late-blooming rudbeckia and aster.
Of course, it's also the time to start thinking about what you *might* want to have in the mix for spring. Like all good things, maintaining a garden requires that you simultaneously make continuous leaps of faith and promises to your future self. Putting down roots, as it were, takes time and intention setting. This is why we are particularly fond of the ritual and magic of the fall-planted, spring-blooming bulb.
There is no greater metaphor for resilience, abundance, generosity, beauty, and the human capacity for delayed gratification than the spring-blooming bulb. Bulbs are our favorite kind of gardeners gift, both to gift to green-thumbed dear ones and to receive from the Earth herself.
Nestled into the fallowing grounds of autumn and holding out until the first sun-tilted warmth of spring (ahhh, spring!! remember her?) brings wick back to the soil, a bulb is like a little hope-bomb, waiting to send up a flag to remind us of what is possible with a (very) little forethought.
To channel that hope, we're stocking spring-blooming bulbs this year. From classic daffs (with a few gorgeous trumpeted varietals) to gorgeous frilly-petticoated tulips (including one dark stunner called LABRADOR!), bee-favorite-globe alliums to a spiky perennial low-bush "tulip" we can't WAIT to get into the ground, interplanted with our low sedums, these beauties are US cultivated in upstate New York by a company founded by a Dutch bulb-grower in 1946. The surest fire way to bring the current beauty-magic from fall, through the dormancy of winter, and all the way into spring.
The same friend who gave us the piece of advice about the shears told us: if you see daffodils blooming on a hillside or in a forest, it means there was a house there once. We love this so much. There is a powerful dream of possibility latent in the act of planting a spring-blooming bulb, one that transcends time, one that says: "Someone was here, someone who once dreamed of spring". Time may come and time may go, but the dream of hope lives on, ceaselessly blossoming. We want to say that more, and now: "Here, someone desires beauty. Here, someone believes that brighter seasons are coming. Here, someone believes that it is all worth it".