Most people who live in Southern New Mexico say that October is their favorite month. Blue skies, moderate temperatures, and almost no wind work together to bestow one beautiful day after another. I have begun adding violas to the pots of annuals that will die after the first hard frost. The violas should survive the winter. Even if we are lucky enough to get some snow, they will keep blooming.
The berries on my holly tree have turned orange. My summer watering paid off this year, so I didn’t lose the green berries during the hot weather as I did the previous year. Soon the berries will turn fiery red and remain on the branches until next spring.
In December and January it will be too cold to sit out in the courtyard. The lantanas and other deciduous plants will be dormant, but the color of the viola blossoms and holly berries will still cheer me when I look out from my library window or hurry through the courtyard with Emerson the Dog on the way to our morning walk.
Although not much is blooming at the moment, the shady side of the courtyard is looking rather nice.
The sunny side, where we recently created a new border, is looking bare. (See below.) The blossoms have fallen off the new Lantana plants, although some buds are forming. I am hoping the plants will put down good roots over the winter and spread out nicely next spring. In October, I will pot up some violas and kale plants to fill in the spaces over the winter.
The evergreen holly tree in the corner has only been in the ground for two seasons. It grows very slowly, but it is covered with green berries that will soon turn red and remain on the branches throughout the winter.
I am still experimenting with Pelargonium cuttings. In the summer heat, my cuttings from the Pelargonium graveolens (Rose Geranium) rooted well in moist soil. Even though they are related, all my efforts with Pelargonium citrosum (Citronella) utterly failed. Undaunted, I took some cuttings again this morning. Perhaps they will root in water during the cooler weather. The fragrance in my studio after I brought in the cuttings was intoxicating.
One day last week, we woke up to a winter wonderland. By noon the snow was gone. The violets and violas didn’t seem to mind. Later in the week it was warm, and I said my prayers in the garden. Then yesterday – snow again. Praise Him for the gift of change!
My Advent Garden is a ‘sign of contradiction’. A few brave pansies and violas promise to brave the winter, as long as the temperature doesn’t fall too low at night. My Shamrocks are still a delight, but who knows how long they will last? I had to cut back the Desert Bird of Paradise shrubs (pictured upper right). They look dead now, but beneath the surface, they are preparing to offer a profusion of orange and yellow blossoms next year.
In the desert, the cold is a welcome change from the sizzling heat of summer. I miss my flowers, but I am grateful for this quiet time of waiting. I am grateful for this time of preparing for the Life to come.