November 30, 2011

Garden lessons learned: autumn 2011

What a glorious autumn we’ve had this year! Before the snow falls, I’m taking stock of garden lessons I’ve learned this season. I hope you’ll join in the meme sometime between now and December 22. This season, I learned:

1. Take a drive. Get out and explore a favorite section of roadway at the peak of fall color. Or travel where you’ve never been before. Several drives to visit our daughter at college got us out on the road. I need to make time for this every autumn, because the views are incredible!


2. Put down the camera. None of my shots out the window of the speeding car were acceptable. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving at the time.) So I paused and simply experienced the incredible scenery. Sometimes being forced to part with a camera can be a good thing. It helps you live in the moment and imagine great shots for later. It’s almost like it helps develop perspective and an eye for a good photo without actually taking the shot.


3. Pick up the camera. Take a lot of photos of fall color. This is the first year I’ve done this. I can’t answer why. I guess in the past I’ve mainly focused on documenting specific plants. This autumn I zoomed out a little more and captured a few colorful landscapes. But whether you zoom in or out, take advantage of the magical light and the incredible color autumn provides and put that camera to work!


4. Stay in one spot and observe. One exceptionally wonderful, mild fall day I sat on a lawn chair for about an hour and experimented with my new camera. It helped me to see things in a different way. While it was challenging to stay in one spot without moving around from plant to plant, it was a great exercise in observation and photo composition.


5. Take a walk. Autumn air is refreshing and easy to breathe. Enjoy the mild weather while you can, because before you know it walks will be less comfortable. And you’ll have to wear heavy boots, coats, mittens, and scarves. And your fingers will freeze as you try to snap just the right photo.


6. Look up and down. One day I looked up into the Oak trees, and I felt like I was in a cathedral. The sun was shining at just the right angle to make the leaves glow like stained glass. Another day I captured shots for Donna’s meme (Garden Walk, Garden Talk) about “texture” and “pattern.” Even things that seem mundane and ordinary are beautiful if you look closely.


7. Tidy up when you can. If you have a windless, clear, mild day in autumn, make it a priority to spend time in the garden. Raking, trimming, and planting don’t work as well on windy, wet days. Fortunately, we didn’t have many of these this autumn, but that may not be the case next year.


8. Appreciate each stage of autumn. One day in early October on my drive to work, the colors of the Maple, Beech, Ash, and Hickory nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was overwhelmingly breathtaking. When those trees started to lose their leaves, I was a little sad. But then the Oak, Burning Bush, and Sumacand later the Spirea and Hydrangeaput on brilliant displays. Each stage was stunning in its own way.


But the biggest lesson of all was to truly appreciate autumn. I think I’ve been in too much of a hurry in the past to really enjoy it. Autumn is stunning!


What garden lessons have you learned this season? Whether you’re in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, please link a recent post about your advice, reflections, or ideas to the Garden Lessons Learned Mr. Linky meme below. I’ll post about your lessons near the solstice (Dec. 22). Enjoy the last days of the season!


38 comments:

  1. What a wonderful idea. I loved your lessons and learned a great deal; especially the one about putting down the camera for awhile and just enjoying what you see on a ride and living in the moment.

    I'll have to give this some thought and link up...and try to keep it shorter and sweeter than I usually do. :-)

    Wonderful photography, this has been a gorgeous fall and you've captured the essence perfectly.

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  2. You have captured autumn beautifully in your shots - sadly in the UK the leaves have practically all gone now and so has the mild weather. Back to gales and rain - oh well it was nice whilst it lasted.

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  3. I loved your lessons too! It can be difficult to make time to sit and enjoy when it's dark for so many of the hours you're home at this time of year ... but last weekend I spent about half an hour just looking out of our guest room window at all the birds visiting the garden and felt really lucky to be surrounded by so much beautiful nature in such a big city ... it definitely pays to pause for breath once in a while. I need to learn to do it more often!!

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  4. Great shots of the glorious Autumn display...especially like the Hydrangea.

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  5. @Karen: I hope you will--long posts are welcome! Thank you, and yes it's been one of the prettiest autumns I can remember here in Wisconsin. :)

    @Elaine: Our leaves are gone now, too, and we're getting snow tonight. But it is December, so I guess it's time. Thanks for your kind words!

    @Courtyard: I don't think we pause enough in our modern society. Thanks for your kind words--I hope you'll join in the meme!

    @Bridget: Thank you! Hydrangeas amaze me--in every season except winter. I hope you'll join in the meme!

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  6. Great ideas, all of them! I really loved the photos of the grasses. My fall was a marathon to finish a huge To Do list that needed to be done before next spring. I had very little time to just enjoy the season but I did relish being outside. Hopefully, next fall will be more relaxing!
    Let me know how the fudge turns out! :o)

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  7. These are amazing photos! And your tips of autumn appreciation,i realized, are general and can also be used here in the tropics, as long as only the first sentence will be considered, LOL. Kidding aside, autumn colors are one of the privileges of earthlings, which we are deprived of!

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  8. I agree about trees being like a cathedral in autumn ... and the importance of putting down the camera and just being and observing. But, at the same time, it's fun to play with the camera. I have a new camera, too! A combination graduation/early birthday/early Christmas present. It's going to take awhile to figure out how to use it, because it's a major step up from my old camera.

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  9. Great lessons. That last picture really is stunning! We have such a short fall here, sometimes it's easy to overlook. And sometimes I dread it. So, learning to appreciate it is something I need to learn!

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  10. What great lessons/suggestions. I am trying to improve my photography. I am also celebrating my 4th blogoversary with a great Giveaway. I hope you'll come and celebrate with me.

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  11. Leaf peeping in New England was once on my bucket list.

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  12. I will link in next Monday...these are wonderful lessons...

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  13. Lovely post Beth! We don't have an Autumn living here in South Texas. But I grew up in Massachusetts and absolutely loved the fall! It's still my favorite time of year. That's why I'm super excited about our Michigan summer home! Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos and the lessons learned. I will apply them to my life here as well.

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  14. You do have some great photographic images in your post today. I like your look at Autumn especially. I have some lessons to add, but I have to wait until the work schedule slows so I can really put the thought into the post. It is lessons I passed onto clients where they saw things that eluded them before. I hope you don't mind, but I want to post mine as lessons shared. I have had a hard time looking at it as lessons learned (gardening, that is), but I think sharing the lessons seems better suited to what I want to post, if that is OK.

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  15. @TS: Thanks! I guess it helped that I didn't have as many activities to attend for the kids, except for car trips--which actually gave me more time for reflection and observation. I can't wait to try the fudge recipe!

    @Andrea: Thank you! I hope you can experience colorful fall scenery firsthand at some point. It's hard to describe in words and hard to truly capture in photos. New England, the Midwest, and many areas out west in the U.S. are spectacular in the autumn! I'm sure parts of northern Europe and Asia are beautiful in fall, too!

    @Sheila: Congrats on the new camera, and of course your graduation! I'm having fun with my new one, too. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself since it is a new tool. But the photo quality does seem to be a bit better. Enjoy yours, too!

    @Holley: Thanks, and thank you for joining in the meme! The last photo is Cotoneaster, and I think I'm going to take a bunch of shots in the next few days. It's such an amazing plant and particularly full and lush this year.

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  16. @Pat: Your photography is beautiful! I enjoyed your blog and the books sound wonderful (I'm secretly hoping I'll win.) ;) Congrats on four years!

    @Diana: Yes, as I mentioned to Andrea, autumn in the north is truly spectacular! I guess it makes up a bit for the bitter winter that is blowing its way into our neighborhood now.

    @Donna: Thanks! I can't wait to see your post--each one is chock full of garden, and life, lessons.

    @Diane: Thank you! Michigan is lovely in the fall, too. Similar to Wisconsin, yet with a unique flavor. And New England is spectacular in autumn, as well!

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  17. Hi Beth! I enjoyed doing this meme last time and have enjoyed doing it again! Its a great excercise (especially for us newbie gardeners) to think about what we have learnt. Thanks for hosting this.

    Your photos are fabulous!

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  18. Hi Beth. It seems that my deductions from observing autumn are surprisingly similar to yours. :)
    Have a nice week-end!

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  19. Your gorgeous photos remind me of what a beautiful fall we had. Your lessons learned are great advice for everyone. I did enjoy the fall color while working in the garden and even while driving here and there, but I wish I'd taken more time for walks. I promised Sophie we'd go to our local forest preserve for a walk in the woods, but we never made it. It's easy to let the "to-do" list take over my time.

    I enjoyed this meme last season, and I'll try to join in sometime. I've had a writers' block for post ideas lately, so this is perfect!

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  20. @Donna: Lessons shared would be wonderful! In fact, I'm finding that some of the things I'm including in this meme are things that I learned before, or that I have to keep reminding myself to do. Thanks!

    @Christine: I'm so glad you joined in again! We can learn so much from each other--even when we live in different countries and hemispheres! Thank you!

    @Dona: We must be kindred spirits. :) I hope your holiday preparation is fun! Venice must be especially sparkly and celebratory this time of year?!

    @Rose: Thank you. Yes, the Midwest had a beauty of a fall this year! Even way up north here. :) I'm glad this meme will help with writer's block--sometimes I like having a theme to help me start, too. :)

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  21. A beautiful post and so my heart. Yes, autumn is grand and prepares us in vivid color/memories for the simple white and bones of winter. You said in words/images so well. I love to travel with my camera but also love to simply enjoy!

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  22. Autumn is my favourite time of year, and you are so right that it is a great time to be out and about, whether with or without a camera. Both have their merits. Lovely photographs.
    PS Worde Verificaiton was "restio", plants I have always wanted to grow but have never had the conditions for... Maybe its a hint...

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  23. I thought I commented before. I am really enjoying all the posts associated with this meme--great idea.

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  24. Good meme! and some good lessons. I learned the "put the camera down" one a while back (when my daughter was little). I was so busy trying to take photos of her events, I felt like I was missing them (if that makes sense??)
    I will give it some thought and see if I can join in. Glad someone had some great weather to enjoy this fall too!!

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  25. @Joey: Thank you. Yes, the colors were so vibrant this fall. Now the landscape is gray, so I'm actually looking forward to a little snow. (Did I just say that?!)

    @Janet: Ha! The word verifications seem to have hints for me sometimes, too. Thanks, and I hope you're enjoying the season!

    @Carolyn: Thank you! I'm enjoying it, too, because I love to share ideas and lessons with other gardeners. When we look back next year, maybe we can anticipate some of these things. :)

    @Kathleen: Thanks! Yes, I had the same experience with my kids. Early on I got a point-and-shoot camera because I didn't want to spend a lot of time composing pictures. I wanted more time to just enjoy their cute moments and "experience" their childhood.

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  26. The natural colours of autumn are to be enjoyed in camera as well as in person. Great tips and a privilege to be able to enjoy the changing of the seasons.

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  27. You hit it right on the head. Exactly. We've done fall leaf tours all over the country and the upper Midwest is as good as anyplace. :)

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  28. @Autumn Belle: I'm so happy we can share the beauty of our diverse surroundings. I always enjoy visiting your blog and taking a virtual trip to Malaysia!

    @Troutbirder: Thanks! Yes, I agree--the Midwest is a great place to live or visit in three seasons. (Not so thrilled with the next season, though.) ;)

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  29. I wrote a reflection post last fall and have already been working on my post for this year. I've been a bit lazy finishing it but was planning to post it this week. I will definitely link to it here when I get it posted. Thanks!

    Amy

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  30. Great lessons - sometimes it's so good to just stop and enjoy the season without trying to do so much! And I love getting out there with the camera!

    Thanks for the invitation to join this meme, and thanks for hosting!

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  31. @Amy: Great! I will look forward to it. You always have fun things to share.

    @Indie: Thanks for joining in! I'm missing fall now with our temperatures turning quite cold.

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  32. Nature teaches us so much. We think with our years of gardening experience that we have lots to share. That is true. But we also have much to be taught if we will just stop still long enough to look around.

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  33. Wow, I didn't realize you were posting a lessons learned for each season - good for you! I never take enough time to enjoy the fall. I'm always so busy harvesting and trying to get all the fall chores done, it makes me hate fall. I will try to remember your lessons learned next fall and enjoy it more!

    My lessons learned is a reflection on the whole gardening season. I started this last year and it has really helped me to get better. Hope you enjoy.

    Amy

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  34. @Karen: So true! I'm always learning something new in the garden and in nature. I'll never grow tired of it! It's my favorite subject for lifelong learning!

    @Amy: Thanks for joining in! I should probably learn from you and do more chores in the fall. I tend to put things off until springtime, when I run around tidying things up and planting like a mad woman!

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  35. Phew, just in time! I've added my link. What nice lessons you have learned this autumn, Beth! Mine is more of a Spring cautionary tale this time.

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  36. @Lyn: Sorry for my tardy response. I'm so glad you joined in the meme! Your post was so much fun! I'll post the wrap-up on Thursday. Cheers!

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  37. My lesson learnt - is to put up the meme invite up ahead. I've garnered just 3 ;~)

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  38. Better late than never, Beth! Thank you for letting me still join in. :)

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