23 Sep 2014
Happy Fall Equinox! We are celebrating doubly because the evening temperatures fell below 70 a few nights ago. Unlike homes up North which are shut up all winter, homes in Florida are shut up tight all summer because we all have the AC running (if we’re lucky). Once the night time temps fall below 72 or so, the windows can be opened and the AC turned off most of the fall through the late spring. Throwing open the curtains and opening the windows set off a flurry of cleaning. While I was looking out the front window, I spotted a ripe butternut squash that got completely missed!
We only had about six weeks of truly hot weather, but that was enough to see the changes that the cooler temperatures are bringing already. The butternut squash, luffa, and birdhouse gourds have started putting out new fruits again. The cutleaf coneflower, which I despaired about all summer, is finally blooming. The cutleaf coneflower, monarda, and tropical sage are making quite a display right now.
As Ginny Stibolt reminded us recently, I don’t put out “bird feeders”. I plant gardens. My mostly-natives bed has half gone to seed but I’m resisting the urge to deadhead. Those seeds will feed migratory birds and the rest will reseed the garden for the spring. The beach sunflower is unstoppable, filling all of the gaps in the natives bed. The small yellow flowers brings clouds of bees, flies, and wasps every sunny day. I also don’t put out hummingbird feeders full of sugar water. I plant lots of firebush instead (red flowers in the background) which blooms for eight months straight and keeps the hummingbirds coming back every day.
Growing comfrey here is a struggle. I have three comfrey patches established but this one, the only one that doesn’t benefit from at least some shade during the day, died back to the ground in July. It’s rapidly recovering with the changing season.
The sunchokes are also flowering! It’s interesting that the sunchokes (Helianthus tuberosa) and the beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis) attract different pollinators. The sunchokes attract a lot more beetles than bees so far. It’ll be interesting to see what the 8 ft tall swamp sunflowers (Helianthus augustifolia) attract once they bloom.
I am one of the rare people who wishes summer would last forever. I don’t like cold weather. My favorite seasons are Spring and early Summer. I still do my best to live in the cycle of the seasons, to not resist the changes happening around me. So I will embrace fewer mosquitoes, ripe persimmons, cane boils, and scarf weather, and plant my winter garden.