Autumn is a time for reflections - on life as well as on the garden. It's the time of year and the time of life when we are most able to look back over the year in the garden or over our lives and see what has worked out well, or where we have made mistakes and what we can do to correct those mistakes or at least to keep from making them over and over again.
As the leaves fall faster and faster around us, we are forced to think about the passage of time and how gardening is a bit like life itself. As gardeners, we experience life in its full circle every year, from planting and reproduction in spring right up through death in winter, and yet, as gardeners, we know very well that nothing - nothing - ever really disappears from the earth. The tree that disappears from the forest or from our landscape may no longer be recognizable as "tree", but it is still there. Its atoms and molecules may be changed, but Earth and its natural processes will not suffer it to be lost.
Our planet is a closed system and everything that was ever here is still here. The dinosaurs may no longer walk the earth (although some of us believe their descendants fly around it every day) but they are still here. Their molecules have been changed and have migrated into some other form, but nothing is lost. Nothing is ever wasted.
As gardeners, we amend the soil and plant. We water and fertilize and prune - yes, and water again. We are witnesses to the constant changes throughout the gardening year, and, if we take the time to think about it, we can see those changes reflected in our own lives as well. For there, too, we amend the soil and plant and water and fertilize and prune. We strive to learn and grow as human beings, to prune away bad habits and bad thoughts and to fertilize and encourage good ones. We are always seeking to make our lives blossom and to achieve that perfect form which only we can see.
One learns to garden by gardening, but, in a very real sense, one can learn to live by gardening as well. The lessons of the one translate well in facing the problems and vicissitudes of the other. Gardening as a metaphor for life seems very plausible to me on this perfect autumn afternoon of reflections.