– Plants do what plants do.

These are rhizome and root bundles of the Christmas fern, and, having sat in the package for a few months, they are as dry as straw.

Fern rhizomes

This is the parched rhizome of a bleeding heart.

Bleeding heart root

I have a few of each, packed in peat moss in plastic bags and waiting, on deck, in the garage. All the season-end gardening work, but for the laying down of some hay around the newly divided day lilies and hostas and the transplanted daphne, is done, and I feel restless to do some more. But not restless to buy some more. Why I didn’t plant these, when I bought them in early July, I’m not sure. The rhythms of summer gardening are different from the fall ones: There’s so much labor at the beginning that a person tires by late June and slows down. It was easy to buy these — that takes no energy — but I must have lost my momentum by the time I got home.

Summer gardening seems to fan out expansively in front of the gardener, and some leisure naturally occurs. I don’t fight that. Fall gardening has a deadline built in, and the cooler weather and shorter days motivate me — this happens naturally, too — to tidy things up and shepherd the plants into hibernation. I pause, once in a while, to look and enjoy, yet the pleasure is sharpened by my knowing that the display days are numbered.

At the moment I feel a little burst of energy to plant something, but not foolishly. There’s not much time for green foliage with moist roots to establish themselves out of the pot and in a new habitat. So, I’ll try these shriveled, woody packs of DNA, and I’ll see if some insulating dirt and a long, winter sleep will revive them, come spring.

Dahlia surpriseIt could happen. Yearly, I am surprised when what are supposed to be annuals in zone 6 (greater Boston), like chrysanthemums, come back, after I’ve left them to decay and mulch. Once in a while, a stray dahlia, springing up from the leftover bit of tuber I must have left behind when I dug some out, pokes through. In fact, just today I noticed one emerging among fallen leaves. Doesn’t it know it’s October 14?

Guest photographer: Jimmy Guterman. Customarily our specialist in candid shots, today he agreed to photograph the standing still.

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