At home the snow blowers are being dragged up the mountain at the ski resort. The mums have wilted, the dahlias have been dug. My tall Joe Pye stalks look ugly now that Halloween has passed. Our nurseries have closed for the season, opening only to sell garland and wreaths. But, when we arrived at the lake house this week, three Iris were blooming at the gate. The neighbor’s azaleas are in full bloom. Camelias are opening. Roses enjoy the cooler fall temperatures. Atlanta gardeners are planting pansies to bloom til spring.
This is the month our NC Christmas tree farms send their truck loads of balsam and Fraser fir trees down the mountain to the South, where they are packing poinsettia from zone 9 to ship up north. A fair trade, I guess.
The Smoky Mountain black bear have gone to hibernation and chipmunks burrow under piles of leaves in zone 5. In zone 7, the fire ants build towers in yards and roadsides. In the mountains we spread pine straw and stake shrubs. Our lake house neighbors are cultivating their winter garden. All zones are preparing for winter, in uniquely different ways.
In zone 7, I see an ornamental shrub with big yellow trumpet-shaped flowers. I’ve heard it called “yeller horn,” “golden trumpet,” one woman calls it “angel weed.” I think I’d call it Gabriel’s Trumpet, if I had one, in honor of the Christmas season. In NC, the gardeners move indoors to watch for blooms on their Christmas cactus in a warm window.
Margaret Rose Realy, an author who is a master gardener and a lay Benedictine Oblate and lay hermit, writes beautiful meditations for gardeners and readers in all zones and seasons. She’s also a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Liturgical Landscape Consultant, St. Francis Retreat Center Garden Society Coordinator Emeritus, presenter and retreat leader. Her blog is on Patheos called Morning Rose Prayer Garden. She also writes for Aleteia, Catholic Mom and Catholic Digest.
Whatever your zone, whatever you nurture, you’ll love her books that speak to the soul. The covers are works of art and the text a soothing balm. Whether you dig in the soil or read in a hammock, you will love her books. Tie a ribbon around one for a nice gift in any zone, any season. Or curl up next to the fire with one for yourself.
A Catholic Gardener's Spiritual Almanac, Ave Maria Press: Amazon and Barnes and Noble
A Garden of Visible Prayer and Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, Patheos Press: Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Blogs at The Catholic Channel on Patheos and Catholic Mom