Seasons Change

It’s almost hard to believe that summer has moved so quickly. It seems that not more than a week ago I was putting the seedlings into place on the balcony and waiting for the shipment of seedlings to arrive from the gardening supply company. Now, when I look on the balcony, I see huge plants full of blooms and (sadly) signs of late maturity.

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I have a hard time deciding what to do at this part of the season, admittedly: do I uproot the mature plants that aren’t blooming as much anymore and replace them with fresh, more autumnal plants or do I “honor” the existing plants by letting them live out their life cycle? Silly as it may seem, I’m usually guilty of personifying plants. This may be owing to having raised many of them from tiny seeds back in February.

If you’ve never gardened or even put a bean in a cup of potting soil, it’s probably not easy to understand the sensation. But, maybe it’s akin to being a parent in some ways? I remember how tiny the petunia seeds were — only about twice the size of this period. Inside the seed was a plant that I hoped would emerge and surprise me with the color of its blooms. And — in spite of all the things that could have gone wrong — miraculously I now see a balcony littered with blooms and beefy stems. It’s hard to not feel some sense of pride — even though all I did was put them in soil and add water (and worry).

As promised, the Morning Glories have started to bloom and put on their “dance of deception” — wowing you with their ability to traverse over your entire garden and put on showy blooms, all the while dropping their seeds everywhere! So far, we’ve noted three color varieties showing up… I’m not sure which is my favorite.

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Though they’re arguably less magnificent, I was excited to see the cosmos finally blooming — cosmos are maybe one of my top 10 flowers. I’m a little disappointed with the variety of colors we’re seeing, but I’m very pleased to see the blooms. From the “Bright Lights” blend, we were supposed to see orange, burnt orange, and yellow. Instead, we’re only seeing orange. From the “Sensation” blend, we were supposed to see white, pink, rose, and crimson. So far we’ve seen tons of pink and one that was either rose or crimson depending on your idea of those colors! There’s still one “Sensation” plant that has yet to bloom, so I’m holding out hope for a color we don’t already have.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, the parsley is closing out its biennial life cycle and has sent up giant stalks of flowers that look a cross between Queen Anne’s Lace and Dill. Parsley so seldom makes it to this stage in a container garden (most folks don’t bother to overwinter it) it’s been entertaining to see just how wild and overgrown the plants can get.

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Since it’s been so prolific and wild, the parsley also became host to two rounds of Black Swallowtail caterpillars. Sadly, the first batch I showed you all met with untimely demise. One completely disappeared. We assume it was snapped up by a bird. The other got larger and larger and — just before reaching the chrysalis stage — was stabbed and sucked dry by the larva of a soldier bug. It was so tragic (not to mention disgusting)! It never occurred to me that babies eat babies! Nature can be so cruel!

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Thankfully, we have gotten three more caterpillars to watch, recently. One was recently massacred by something — God knows what. But, the other two have prospered quite well — one of them has reached chrysalis stage (at last!) and will probably be a butterfly soon — assuming no crazy, freak-of-nature bugs or other critters find him. Considering where he decided to set up camp, though, I’d say his chances of survival are a little bleak if he’s planning to be there for more than a day or two! He’s definitely not camouflaged! Needless to say, the caterpillar drama that has unfolded in the garden, this year, has really opened our eyes to the miraculousness of butterflies. With the caterpillars’ almost complete lack of defenses, it’s astonishing that any of them survive!

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If I’m going to do a “changing of the guard” in the garden — swapping out tired plants for new, more seasonal ones — it will likely be this weekend. I still can’t make up my mind. Even in a balcony that faces a dumpster, life remains a cycle of change. The seasons change, the colors change, the characters enter and exit the stage — some of them exit in a body bag while others exit having completely changed into a different form. The pace is slower, for certain, but it’s endlessly more entertaining than reality TV, in my opinion!

(UPDATE: As of this morning, the caterpillar has completely formed its chrysalis and no longer resembles a caterpillar at all! Fingers crossed for a butterfly, this time!)

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~ by Jason on August 25, 2011.

9 Responses to “Seasons Change”

  1. You have an ad at the end of your post. Do tell. But also, we had a mourning dove family living in our window box last year. We got to watch the little ones up close and personal. Mama wasn’t even that worried about her babes. One day upon leaving the apartment, we noticed one of the babies was gone. We were quite sad until we realized that s/he had flown down the three flights and was sitting on the picnic table. Fun!

    • I’m just finding out that WordPress doesn’t show ME the ads because I’m logged in, but they do show ads to everyone else. Apparently there’s some sort of upgrade (i.e. $$$) that I could get to be ad-free.

      I LOVE mourning doves!! They usually visit our balcony in the wintertime because the furnace pipes run through our exterior walls and keep it a little toasty out there.

    • Do let me know if they ever advertise something offensive, though! (not that advertising could ever be completely non-offensive) 😀

  2. I’m glad I got to see the flowers in pictures — cause when I visit in November (YAY), they will be gone. I love ya’ll. Can’t wait to see yall! 🙂
    Love MOM

    • Thanks, mom. Now that you mention it… it’s true: you normally visit earlier in November when there would at least still be some LEAVES to admire in the trees and blowing around on the sidewalks. Late November in these parts can be bleak — we’ll have to go find some scenery! Love you too!

  3. I put up this post on a gardening group I’m a part of on Facebook to see if there were any suggestions. The administrator of the group (a gardening teacher and environmentalist) had this to say to you: ‘Yes its tough to decide…if the plants that are not blooming anymore are seasonal, then they are about to die. Its best to remove them and put them into the compost bin. Plant new ones. Its their time to bloom! And by composting old ones he will just reuse all the energy in his garden… He wont miss them. Trust me 🙂

    Hope that helps!

    • Thanks, Munira. Unfortunately, I can’t compost here in my apartment — there’s simply no room on the balcony and there’s no public space where I could store a compost bin, either. The landlords are touchy about that kind of stuff. 😦 Admittedly, I’ve decided to go ahead and uproot a lot of the spent petunias and other plants… but the weekend completely got away from me and I’ve had ZERO TIME (also didn’t have a means of getting to a nursery to pick up new plants). So, alas… I’m having to put this off for a while. But thanks for the vote of encouragement to keep the garden alive well into autumn. 🙂

  4. The blossoms in the images are beautiful,they made the end of the summer wonderful!

    • Thanks, Candice. I’m always especially grateful for the Morning Glories since they seem to do most of their work without my assistance! 😀 They usually start blooming right around the time that everything else that’s been going since spring starts to look woefully tired.

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