Instead of winding down for the season, the Market will be in its heyday these next few weeks, promising to be as colorful as the foliage at Falls Park. Look for the late season veggies like broccoli and potatoes, garlic and still lots of greens, winter squashes, a good selection of onions, dazzling chrysanthemums and yes, eventually pumpkins. I like to view their various colors as equivalent to the autumn blast of energy we all feel after the oppressive heat and humidity of summer, experienced in robust array; vegetables (and flowers, of course) as art. Along with the cobalt blue and salmon-colored sunsets of October, the deep colors of fall veggies seem a perfect fit. In fact, while re-reading a book this afternoon about the Galveston hurricane in 1900 (Isaac’s Storm, a non-fiction read I highly recommend) I happened upon a description that also seemed somehow connected; frigate birds wheeling through a cantaloupe sky. We all wait to be dazzled!
With our long run of cool, dry days, now is naturally the prime time to get the yard and garden cleaned up and ready for next year, time to think about putting in more daffodil bulbs, or even a few new plants (who can pass up flowering vines on clearance?). The extended forecast appears to be favorable, so there is probably still time to get them established if one plants in the next few days. Water consistently until we get a hard freeze, then mulch and hope they have ample time to set roots and survive the winter. It’s always a gamble, but the odds appear to be in their favor this year.
This is also a good time of year to dry or press any flowers you might want to save. Just about any fresh, non-fleshy flower can be dried for use over the winter for use as indoor arrangements, or pressed for crafts. Many will dry right on the plant, such as hydrangea, rose hips, yarrow and astilbe, while others may be lain carefully on a bed of powdered borax (yep, old 20-Mule Team; look for it in the detergent booster isle) then covered completely with more borax and left for several weeks (a disposable roasting pan is a good and inexpensive container to use and re-use for this purpose, and the borax can be re-used, as well). Pressed flowers, leaves and thin twigs look nice arranged on the sides of plain or colored pillar candles (rub the back of a heated spoon (careful, as the handle will also be hot-foam pencil holders help here, as does keeping them sitting atop a electric skillet on low) to slightly melt the area where you want to attach the piece so it will stick. It will cool quickly and your decoration will stay in place. Once the candle is completed, dip it into melted paraffin to set (melt the paraffin in a 1-lb coffee can in a pot of simmering water. A pair of pliers to clasp the wick is handy for the process). This is obviously not a craft for children! However, children will most certainly enjoy creating their own landscapes or greeting cards with pressed leaves and flowers, and good old white school glue works just great for these. Simply remove the stems and press leaves and petals whole or separately in a book or magazine and add weights until dry, usually a month or so. This is an especially fun craft for those cold indoor months when children are looking for something out of the ordinary to do. Older children may enjoy working with the more delicate petals with the use of a pair of tweezers for careful placement. Young children will have fun with simple, easy to handle fall leaves.
Here are a few additional quick decorating ideas to enhance the autumn season: Hollow out a pumpkin (poke a few drainage holes in the bottom) and set a pot of mums inside, tip the top decoratively near the base and accent with gourds and autumn berries. And don’t forget the clear twinkle lights! One can drill some around the pumpkin and put the lights inside the holes around the plant for added fun (my daughter did this for her October wedding (ten years on the 20th—happy anniversary!). I recently kept a smoky blue pumpkin I found at the Market over the entire winter placed on a tray with miniature lights and just changed the fall foliage to evergreen and pinecones as the season progressed.
Finally, I just have to add how proud I am of Sioux Falls, and especially of the great improvements over the past decade to Falls Park. Last week I showed this off to my sister and brother-in-law, visiting from Indiana, and I could not have been prouder. The beautiful weather was a bonus, of course, and the falls were running well despite our lack of rain. We took the trolley, snapped a photo for a visiting European couple, rode the trolley and visited some shops downtown; one can so easily overlook that which is right in the backyard, and I recommend a trip to the Falls Park if it’s been awhile. You will come away pleased, especially if you combine it with a trip to the Market in these last few weeks.