Autumn Days and Anniversaries

It’s the autumn equinox here in the northern hemisphere, or in simpler terms, the first day of fall. It’s also our wedding anniversary.

Today (September 23) sees the 2019 autumn equinox, the moment when the planet’s northern hemisphere swaps with the southern hemisphere to become the one furthest from the sun.

Autumn is a good time to reflect, especially in the garden. While the perennials remain robust year-round, summer annuals are closing up shop.

We had a second year of disappointing tomatoes. Despite my best efforts planting the EarthBoxes with fresh soil and fertilizer, moving them to a new location and ensuring they got full sun, production was blah. My garden mojo took a hit.

end of season tomato Don’t be fooled. It looks juicy, but the sweetness has gone.

This stripey variety took months to set fruit. While they look interesting, I didn’t care for the thicker texture. All in all, one plant produced half a dozen tomatoes. Sigh.

stripes tomatoes A trio of Stripey Tomatoes

This was also my first season without pumpkins. We’ve relied entirely on the squirrels to plant them each year, even if their planting methods are unconventional. By the time I fully noticed, it was too late to plant on my own.

I had brief hope. After amending the mix in a planting box with heavy, sandy soil, a few pumpkin plants appeared. It seemed unlikely that they would amount to much, but while I was traveling in July they took hold. Alas, they didn’t establish in time. Although the plants became vines and proffered a few blooms, there was no time for setting fruit.

spent pumpkin vines Spent pumpkin flowers and vines along with other pruning debris

On a brighter note, I received this gorgeous yellow calla lily in a pot last year. Mike transplanted it for me in the front garden and it’s spreading its proverbial wings.

Yellow Canna lily, a thank you gift from FDC

It’s flowered twice and is now showing off its interesting seed pods as the plant goes dormant.

Calla lily seed pod Calla lily seed pod

Our garden is densely planted now, requiring careful thought when a new plant joins the mix. This calla lives in the shadow of the Magnolia tree, not far from the deck. I love the cheerful display.

Nepeta or catmint Nepeta going to seed

Nepeta, also known as catnip or catmint reseeds every year. It’s an herb, pleasing to cats, and humans alike. It produces a subtle scent in the garden unless of course, you’re a cat.

cat and nepeta Tessa enjoying the nepeta
white cat and nepeta Mouse the cat lounging on the nepeta



tuxedo cat in nepeta Lindy sleeping near the nepeta

Our cats become quite possessive of the plant near the patio, though Mouse likes to visit the plant in the side yard as well. We all have our favorites.

As for anniversaries, I married this wonderful man 24 years ago today.

Celebrating then and now (Went Brothers Winery, Livermore | Winchester Mystery House fundraiser, San Jose)

It was the first day of autumn that year as we wed on the grounds of Wente Brother’s winery in Livermore. The day went by in a blur, so I’m grateful for the photographs that help solidify the memories. I’m grateful for Mike every day and for our life together.

I’m grateful for you, too, dear reader, for continuing to show up and read my posts.

29 thoughts on “Autumn Days and Anniversaries

  1. Happy Anniversary Alys! I saw some enormous pumpkins growing in a vegetable garden today and thought of you and your love of pumpkins! I also vowed to grow some squash next year. Your garden is looking very pretty – lovely anemones. My tomatoes were also not brilliant – the extreme heat in June and then the two heatwaves in July and August just burnt them up, but we still have had two or three a week, which is better than none at all. Is it worth all the effort?!
    Hope you are getting some nice cooler weather. Happy autumn!


  2. Such a beautiful post, Alys — what a pleasure it is to take a virtual tour of your garden with you! And how happy it makes me also to congratulate you and Mike on your anniversary. I truly hope the year ahead will be your happiest yet. xo


  3. Happy anniversary to you both dear Alys! Despite the years rolling by you two look as beautiful together now as you did then. And despite your disappointment with tomatoes and pumpkins your garden has that late summer look of abundance and fading flamboyance that I love to see. It’s so different now from the carefully spaced new plantlings that went in three years (or so) ago. (Time and me, not best friends any more, I lose track constantly) Your squirrels are becoming tardy in their planting habits – and what happens now there are no pumpkin seeds to toss about and bury for later? Will you have to actually purchase seeds? And what will the squirrels eat over winter? Orlando would quite like to come and live in your nepeta laden garden. I bought him a little pot a while back and in his joy at seeing it he rolled it right off the kitchen counter and upended it on the floor. It didn’t last long 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, your have such a gracious way with words. Thank you!

      I like the idea of a garden’s “fading flamboyance”. I see it especially with the hydrangea. The blooms have moved from pink to cranberry and in some cases a soft green. They’ve been abundant this year. I lose track of time as well, but must say you are close. It will be four years this November since revamping the garden. It’s hard to imagine all that lawn now that it’s gone. I haven’t missed it for a day.

      You bring up an excellent question about the squirrels and future pumpkin potential. Many of the commercially grown pumpkins can’t be propagated, though I’m never sure if it’s sterile seeds or just a Big Brother sort of threat. Hmmmm

      The nepeta keeps self-seeding, with the plants growing larger and larger each year. There are two in the back garden, and another three or four out front. I give large clippings to my neighbor for her two cats and she passes on some to her brother for his cats as well. Kerry tells me that she covers her plants with a cage of sorts, so that the plant has a chance to grow before being mauled by her cats. I was surprised to see how large our plants get when left alone (about a meter tall). Orlando must really love his nip.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kerry passed that same tip onto me three or four years ago and I valiantly tried to grow nepeta in the tiny courtyard under wire and mesh.baskets He dug ’em out or squished them flat – nothing survived his determination. He’s an addict.


  4. Still as lovely today as you were then, and I’m sure he agrees. I’ve always thought gardens are like life. Sometimes there are disappointments, but then another year rolls in and you get another chance. I hope life blesses you with ample tomatoes and pumpkins next year.


  5. 24 years….what a wonderful world you have built together in that time 💕
    Tomatoes are rather fickle things, and seem to be prone to tantrums unless conditions are just right. Unlike zucchinis and beans that are so eager to please, fruiting prolifically. Your catnip must go in the ‘eager to please’ camp too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gardens have a way of keeping us humble and reminding us who’s in charge (and it ain’t us!) But we are ever hopeful and pleased with the rewards–as are your cats! I have similar photos of mine, in drunken stupors. And happy, happy anniversary–the time goes SO quickly, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Anniversary kids 😀 I say kids because you’re both looking so great. Did you guys drive a convertible back then? I always thought they’d be fun until I rode around in one. The ex had a convertible Jimmy and anywhere you went, your hair was done by Mix Master, impossible to brush.
    Too bad about the pumpkins and tomatoes. I just bought a pumpkin for the porch. It was $10 but so interesting looking, Hey?! What are those panels on your fence now? Decor? Solar? I’ve just spent 8 hours on Saturday, in the front yard cleaning, pruning, washing and I was totally whipped. So a vegetable garden isn’t in my future but I always love hearing about yours. Mostly because it gives you such joy. xox K

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your anniversary is the same as my parents’! Happy anniversary to you. You looked happy then and still happy now, so things are going right. I love the pictures of the cats in the catnip. Wouldn’t we all like to go lounge in something like that at least once a week? I’m sorry about the pumpkins. You may have to plant them next year if you want them. And your tomatoes are better than mine!


    • Hi Lisa, I’ve been a terrible correspondent of late. I’m finding time this evening to visit and reply to comments. I see that you just posted so I’ll be visiting soon. Yes to rolling around in something akin to catnip. That does sound dreamy. Cats really know how to enjoy life. It’s a good skill to have.

      I hope you’re managing the day to day at work. I can’t even imagine the stress. Sending a California hug. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the hug! And for the lovely hand made card, note, and bookmark last summer! I meant to reply and thank you–It was such a nice note. I’m finding it hard to get to people’s blogs the way I used to and am thinking a regular set day and time might be best, but I catch as I can. Work is definitely weird. Keeping my head down and doing my particular job…


  9. Such wonderful wedding and anniversary photos, Alys. Congratulations! I enjoyed walking around your garden, as well!

    Our tomatoes were strange this year. I had bushels, quite a haul, very early They all came at once, then after that, no more blooms! I have no idea what happened, but it was very disappointing. I just planted lettuce and chard, and I’m hoping for success! Happy gardening and much continued happiness in your dear family.


    • How nice to hear from you, Debra. Sorry to take so long to get back to your comment. You’ve been on my mind. That is strange tomato behavior. Everytime I read an article on successful tomato growing, I marvel at all the various tips. It seems so much really is up to mother nature. We’re stewards.


  10. After three bad years we actually had a decent tomato crop this year. I’m never growing more than one courgette plant again though!!
    Happy Anniversary to you and Mike. You were certainly a beautiful bride and, like good wine, you have aged well too. 😊🍷


  11. You have had a busier summer than usual, is my guess. As well, the weather has been very off this year. Bees not as plentiful as before. Lots of reason for gardens not to do well. But you have so much beauty there anyway. The cats are happy with your results and your neighbors are happy with your flowers gardens. I know you like to grow your own pumpkins but looks like you may have to go to the pumpkin farm this year. So sorry about that and the tomatoes. I love seeing your photos through the years. You look so happy all the way. Wishing you many more wonderful and happy anniversaries.


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