The fall garden

It's always interesting talking to George Ball, and I love visiting historic Fordhook, the 60-acre W. Atlee Burpee farm in Doylestown. Today our topic was the fall garden, though George prefers to call this time of year "green autumn." 

His way of looking at the coming season is an optimistic one, putting the lie to the  seasonal affective disorder many gardeners experience come fall. He even dislikes the term "fall," insisting it connotes negative things like people tripping and empires crashing. I never thought of it that way.


George is right about this, though: Here in the Philadelphia region, we are blessed with a climate that, if all goes right over the next few months, allows us to have "a second summer."

We can plant leafy and crunchy vegetables right now, also members of the allium family, and all sorts of flowers, including very cool varieties of pansies. Meanwhile, George suggests we all calm down and enjoy the garden for another three months. We can continue to pick beans, peppers and even tomatoes, while loving plants like this one - gomphrena, an annual that still looks sharp in the ground and makes for fabulous bouquets and dried flowers. It's good till frost.

"When I see people ripping out their gardens on Labor Day," George says, "I feel like saying, hey, please, for the garden's sake, for people's sake, please stop!" OK, OK. I'm not organized enough to be ripping anything out, but I can pop some lettuce seeds in the ground and I can keep those peppers and eggplants till Thanksgiving - at least.