by Alice Woodrome

Autumn Joy with a bee
I love the changing of the seasons. Each season has its own special allure. Let me count the ways

Autumn. The weather in the fall is sublime here, the best of the entire year. I love to work outside during the waning days of the gardening season. There is still some color, and more with the blooming of the chrysanthemums and the turning of the leaves. I'm not confined to mornings in the garden anymore, but can work in the middle of the day and not be too warm, or just take a coffee break on the park bench under a blue October sky. There is plenty of time for cutting back dry foliage, planting bulbs for spring, for collecting seeds, and getting the garden ready for its long winter sleep.

Winter. The garden has its own special beauty while it lies dormant under a blanket of snow. The bare trees silhouetted against a cloudless sky serve to remind me that there is a season for everything, even endings. Winter is a time to rest from the labors of the growing season, and reflect on what plants worked and what didn't. And it is a time for planning. I love to look through colorful catalogs for new varieties that I want to try and dream about the season to come, and how I will use what I learned the previous year.

Spring. The best time of year because it is full of hope. New life is everywhere and after the cold months, it is a great joy to get my hands in the soil again. Spring is a brand new beginning–a chance to start over and do it better this time. Each sprout is greeted with rejoicing and anticipation as it grows and matures. Spring usually brings with it revitalizing rains that make everything grow vigorously and garden explodes in color. Something new begins to bloom almost every day, and my husband and I play the "I saw it first" game. There are plenty of fresh flowers to bring in for the table, and enough to give away. I can't imagine living where the seasons do not change, where there are no new beginnings.

Summer. Ah, summer with her bountiful sunshine and warmth. I can think of few pleasures that rival the bliss of sitting in my garden on a summer morning breathing in the fresh morning air amid the beauty of so many flowers in bloom. Lilies are reason enough for me to love summer. I leisurely watch the butterflies and hummingbirds as they flitter and dart from blossom to blossom. Then when I'm ready–and not before–I take my garden shears and tend the garden, plucking spent flower heads and taming unruly vines. It's a beautiful way to spend a morning.