Welcoming the Autumnal Equinox and Planting Season

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. —Chinese Proverb

In Southern California, summer shifts almost imperceptibly into fall. But if you step outside on an unusually brisk morning, you can almost convince yourself that it’s hoodie weather.  Wait a little longer and there it is: a gentle breeze rustles through the trees, carrying with it the faintest whiff of moldering leaves. Autumn: The season of subtle shifts and new beginnings.

It’s time, now, to re-imagine the yard as a whole. Time to backfill the bare spots and brighten dark corners. Time for soil amendments and color splashes that pay tribute to fall.  And you know what that means: Time to head to the garden nursery!

Riding shotgun in my little roadster: yellow hibiscus and Shasta daisies, and frilly pink azaleas for a shady corner.

I also brought home a pineapple guava tree. Not on impulse, mind you–I’ve been tempted for a good long while. But now that daytime temps have dropped a bit, I’m hoping this little sapling will find it easier to put down roots.

Zoom a little closer–See the hummingbird in the swing?

For me, anyway, it was love at first sight. The leaves are leathery, with silvery green undersides, and the flowers are 100% edible. They’re velvety smooth, with a melt-in-your-mouth sweetness– tempting treats for winged visitors (not to mention the full-time residents).

Image courtesy of Monrovia Nurseries

But wait, there’s more! Pineapple guava (aka Feijoa sellowiana) is an easy-going, drought tolerant plant–just perfect for our Mediterranean climate! Should I shape it into a low, wide canopy, or allow it to reach for its 15-foot potential? Hmmmm…I love its sprawling nature, but there’s something to be said for low-hanging fruit.

I’m told it’s a mash-up of flavors: pineapple and guava, maybe also Juicy Fruit gum. Yum! I’m really looking forward to next year’s crop. Until then, I’m satisfying my cravings with lovely images, shared online by generous gardeners.

Image courtesy of Just Fruits and Exotics

As serendipity (and this year’s calendar) would have it, the autumnal equinox aligns with the Jewish New Year.  Shana tovah to all who celebrate!  It’s planting season, here and elsewhere–for flowers and plants, and seeds of all kinds. Forgiveness, compassion, and peace come immediately to mind, and a sweet little folk tale called “Honi and the Carob Tree.” It speaks to me of tilling the soil at the turning of the seasons, and the joys that come of planting trees. A rabbi might explore with you its deeper significance, but I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

One day, Honi the Circle Maker was walking on the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. Honi asked the man, “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?”

The man replied, “Seventy years.”

Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree?”

The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.” —  A Talmud tale, via Spirit of Trees

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5 Comments

  1. Carol baldwin

    Lovely. When my husband went back to his childhood home in Chicago, he tried to glimpse the fruit trees his dad planted. 😀

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