I think nature, if we really look at it, gives us hope. Deborah Blum, editor of the Houghton Mifflin series, Best American Science and Nature Writing, says nature is a great teacher of resilience.

“Here’s what I find inspiring about nature: It’s stubbornness personified,” she says.

Spending the time to really stop and look at nature, the behavior of our plants and the ecosystem in our own backyards serves as a helpful reminder to look to nature as a guide for what we can do in times of uncertainty and hopelessness.

One example that has been front of mind for many of us is the recent fires and days of smoke that filled our state. In the days that followed, we have noticed the toll it has taken on our plants. You may have seen that your deciduous plants have lost their leaves without turning colors first, maybe your flowers have stopped blooming and even evergreens have lost foliage. Maybe you noticed a bit (or a lot) of ash in your vegetable garden and on your soil. Many of us have never been through this before and don’t know what to expect. So we look to the experts for advice.

According to a recent OSU Extension article, a thin dusting of ash on plants (can still see the green color) isn't likely to have long term effects on plant health before our fall rains wash it away so no need to remove.

The recent rains may have taken care of most of the ash, but if you’re concerned about eating from your garden, OSU says, the smoke and ash won't be able to necessarily penetrate deep into the fruit or vegetable and so rinsing well should remove any residues. Again, use your best judgment in all of this. If your garden has a heavy layer of ash, was located near a structure fire (which creates different toxins than a forest fire), or you are at all uncomfortable - when it doubt, throw it out (into the compost pile).

Our friends at Garden Time TV have produced a short segment on the effects of the fire and smoke on our plants. In this video they mention that multiple factors may have affected this strange behavior:

  • The dry winds sucked a lot of the moisture from some of the plants.
  • Darkened skies and drastic temperature changes can put a lot of plants into shock.
  • The lack of sunlight may have been an early trigger for some plants to go into their dormant stage.

But they reassure us that plants are resilient. All we have to do is wait, be patient, let the fall sun do its work. We’ll take a page from their book, and let nature take its course, literally.

Now is the time to get back to the garden in the cool, fall weather, now the ground is wet and easy to dig, and we won’t have to worry about new plants drying out too fast. This is the best time to reconnect with the changing seasons and the natural world.

Planting bulbs is the perfect autumn exercise - a way to plant for the future. Put them in the ground before it freezes and delight in a brand new symbol of resilience after the long winter.

Come and browse the bulb selection at Al’s, or find many varieties at our Online Shop:

Resilience is an important trait to practice for us and a wonderful lesson to teach the next generation - and we can’t find a better way to teach it than through our Kids Club Fall Flower & Bulb Pots lesson this month! The kids will learn some bulb botany as they plant their own colorful pot of flowers to enjoy the fresh blooms of pansies now and then watch as your garden comes to life in the early spring when their tulips emerge and start to bloom.

Let’s go back to nature and really look at it - look at it for reassurance, for inspiration as an example of what we can do, too.