Changing of the Seasons

by Beth Weir


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
― John Keats

It’s hard to be in denial.  As much as I wish it were not so the hydrangea blooms are taking on the faded look that signals they are tired and ready to retreat into a winter rest. Hydrangeas tend to be my red flag, the early warning that the season is about to slip from summer into fall. They tell us the leaves of the deciduous trees around them are going to turn soon, the nights will become crisper and longer.

The emotions stirred around the shift from summer to fall differ from those of winter to spring. The latter tend to be joyous, an escape from cold weather is promised and, for garden lovers, so are blooms and bees. Abundance and extravagance of color, form, smell and light that are part of a garden will be ours to enjoy for the next little while. We know it will be a time when the soul is embraced.  

Fall is often less welcome. The abundance fades away and cold toes are on the horizon. But Keats’ quote captures both a richness of feelings and a gentleness to the seasonal change. What is there not to love about mists since they add mystery and charm to the day. In the garden they wrap up the Douglas firs on the Great Lawn and embrace the rays of the sun that make their way to the ground. It is a sight to still the step. I personally want to look about for the fairies who haven’t disappeared from their night wanderings when I see the gauzy mist.

The ‘mellow fruitfulness’ Keats observed as part of fall has been celebrated around the world and across time since the ancients. One of the most enduring symbols of the earth’s bounty to arise from such celebrations is the cornucopia, a horn-shaped object stuffed beyond limit with fruits, nuts and vegetables. Some other symbols are less widely known but equally as arresting. Giuseppe Arcimboldo, an Italian artist of the 1500s, used his penchant for painting heads comprised of fruits and vegetables as a celebration of the earth’s riches. His art was often political and controversial but it always showed  the inextricable connection between humans and the land.

Dunn Gardens doesn’t have its own symbol for fall but it does have a couple of celebrations of the ‘mellow fruitfulness’ that signifies the change of season and its resonance. Before the leaves turn there is opportunity to explore the color of the flowers still blooming. Jess Hagenah will lead a class in creating a centerpiece with – as the advertising says – unique and juicy colored blooms fall has to offer. The class is offered September 29 1-4. Light snacks and tea will be served. If you like you can think of your constructed centerpiece as your personal symbol of the change of season.

But wait there is more. Mark October 20th on your calendar as the Dunn’s formal recognition of the season. Fall Foliage Festival. It is the time when guests are invited to scuff their feet through leaves, bowl the pumpkins, sip cider, gossip with friends and other neat stuff.

Best of all there is the knowledge that the season will give way to a time of restoration. At the Dunn Gardens we use that time to plan for spring and beyond when the bounty will return. The promise of the cycle is indeed enduring and lovely. And we would love to celebrate the ‘mist and mellow fruitfulness’ part of it with you.