Halloween is here.
The best holiday of the year.
The rest could go away and never come back.
I really wouldn’t care.
Growing up in Spokane, on Altamont Boulevard, the houses were old and so were the trees. There were large areas along the circle where the parking strips were planted with maple trees that reached across the street. The branches created a living vaulted ceiling. Come fall, the leaves would be raked into huge piles and left for the garbage trucks to pick up. How they did it, I’ll never know. It happened while I was at school. The temptation of those giant leaf piles were too much for my sisters and I to resist. You would get a running start and jump before disappearing into the pile. I can remember bringing a rake so we could make the pile higher and keep jumping. A few times I just stayed in the leaves, breathing in fall, staying hidden. I don’t remember anyone ever coming out to tell us to stop. Those were the good ole days for sure! The first time I saw leaves put into bags for the garbage trucks to pick up (they were orange plastic and made to look like jack o’ lanterns) I was so mad! It was like being told for the first time that the world was no fun.
At least we still have Halloween.
It’s great when you’re a kid, but it only gets better as you get older. You appreciate the macabre more, the dressing up and it’s a really great time to stock up on skulls and all things black (my favorite color)!
As October progresses, and the garden’s bones are laid bare, I start to assess my garden and if it’s going in the direction I want. The first time I had any thoughts about what I might want my garden to be was when I found out there was black grass.
“I’ll have a creepy garden!”
It was a defining moment to be sure.
I found black hollyhock seed but, after waiting two years for the biennial to bloom, it turned out to be pink! Luckily, black tulips, dahlias, iris and geraniums came in true to color. I was also able to get all sorts of plants with black stems: ferns, brunnera,…more iris….and finally a hollyhock that bloomed black!
Planting black plants and blooms was, at first, more tricky than treat. They needed a good foil or else they disappeared from view. I began to contrast them with lime green foliage plants and large rocks or walls. There was still something missing,…
When planning you’re garden, don’t just think “plants”. Even aside from the hardscaping, there are other elements that can come together to create a complete space.
A painting instead of a window…..
I probably complain too much about most of the creatures in my yard: the raccoons tear into my buildings, the deer eat my plants, squirrels have started to munch my lettuce and the neighbors rabbits are tunneling under my fence! Ugh! I must confess that I love plants more than I love most animals.
There are some visitors to my yard that I never mind.
There is nothing that I don’t like about crows: they are black, a flock is called a “murder of crows”, their call is a primordial sounding, “caw” and they are very smart. We had a neighbor with a yappy dog that they would leave outside. One day I heard the crow mimicking the dog by barking back at it! It made me so happy.
Another great thing about crows is that they mate for life. It’s true that crows will, in the evening, return to roost with other crows, but that mainly happens in the fall and winter which is outside of the breeding season. I have for many years now had a pair of crows that have lived (and loved) at my house. This last summer I made a short video of my resident crows with their young one.