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“Falling leaves is autumn’s way of waving goodbye to summer.”
I heard that one day last week and I don’t even remember who said it, but isn’t it a lovely sentiment? It has begun.
It had been so dry before last Saturday that leaves and other things had begun falling. Acorns crunch underfoot below the oak trees on the courthouse square. Walnuts lay scattered on the sidewalk in front of the Williams’ house, as if waiting for some giant game of marbles. And I saw a tiny squirrel struggling with an as yet green, prickly chestnut, determined to carry it away and store it for winter, I suppose. The thing was as big as he was; hope he made it.
If you listen to WFLO in the mornings, Tuesday you heard them define the word “sough.” Perfect timing because that’s what the trees in front of the Primary Care were doing Sunday morning, soughing. Pronounced “suff,” as a verb it means to make a sighing, rustling or murmuring sound. Just a little breeze set those leaves rustling…listen closely.
Do you have some flowers hanging on to summer in your yard? Zinnias, straw flowers, dahlias, and delicate roses may be lingering. Instead of purchasing artificial stems to create a new fall wreath or indoor arrangements (have you seen the prices on those things?!), use what you have in your own garden. Head out with your gathering basket and clippers early in the morning after the dew has evaporated and choose only blooms without blemish or damage. The flowers fall into two cutting categories: those with head-like blossoms, such as daisies, roses and zinnias, and those with long, spiky blooms, such as salvia, bells of Ireland, and lavender. Clip spiky blooms with stems as long as will fit in your chosen containers; cut head-like flowers with only about an inch of stem.
Now, instead of hanging these flowers upside down in bunches like we used to do, we’re going to use silica gel, a plastic container about the size of a shoebox with a lid, florist wire, tape and your sharp clippers. Line the bottom of your container with about an inch of gel and lay your blossoms in, face up, immediately after cutting, except for daisies which go in face down and spiky flowers which go in sideways. Cover them completely with gel. Be sure to sprinkle gel in between the petals of flowers like roses and dahlias, as the flowers will dry exactly as you have placed them. Keep layering your flowers in this way. Cover tightly.
Just about ten days in the gel should do the trick. If in doubt, leave the flowers longer rather than a shorter time. When you’re ready to remove the flowers, gently pour the gel into another container. The gel, by the way, changes color as it absorbs moisture from the flowers. When it’s completely depleted, it can be placed in a baking tin and revived by a quick stint in the oven. Read the directions that came on the package.
You’re ready to create those beautiful arrangements. Wire might be needed to support long stems and some filler plants like Artemisia or ornamental grasses might be needed to add bulk or fill in places that lack foliage. You’ve saved money and preserved some of the beauty of your summer garden. When the cold winter wind is blowing outside, you’ll appreciate this souvenir of summer.