It is a sea­son of changes.  Not only is the weather cool­ing, life is chang­ing here.

Ben­jamin, my only child (my baby!), has gone off to col­lege at The Citadel.  He is the third gen­er­a­tion on his dad’s side to attend col­lege there. When he grad­u­ates, he will wear “The Ring” with his dad, uncles, great uncles and cousins. He knew what to expect going there. He is well-prepared for the chal­lenge. And he seems to thrive on the manly cama­raderie of the place.

That still didn’t stop me from cry­ing for pretty much the first week while he was gone. The tears were drawn from a com­bi­na­tion of miss­ing him, wor­ry­ing about him and being dis­ori­ented by the new direc­tion of my life as an empty-nester.

sweet autumn clematis 1

Sweet autumn clema­tis blooms over the gar­den gate in September

I have stopped cry­ing now, but am still try­ing to nav­i­gate a life with a 50% reduc­tion in the num­ber of men I need to take care of on a daily basis.

In other changes, Harry has left pri­vate prac­tice and gone back to work for the gov­ern­ment. The book I was co-writing this sum­mer, Gro­cery Gar­den­ing, is finally off my desk. The six new baby chicks will be lay­ing in about another month–leaving us with 10 — 12 eggs a day to dis­pose of. And I have major new work and writ­ing assign­ments to keep me busy.

Oh, the garden?

garlic chives and pineapple sage 1

Gar­lic chives and pineap­ple sage duke it out in the herb bed

I can’t say this has been my most pro­duc­tive or metic­u­lous gar­den year. There were so many dis­trac­tions and chal­lenges that kept me out of the gar­den. Still, Mother Nature was for­giv­ing for just this year. The work from past years has paid off, as peren­ni­als con­tin­ued to bloom, flow­ers to re-seed and the over­all bones of the raised beds, fences and arbor to hold it all together. I don’t think I can con­tinue this type of neglect next year and still hold my head up as a gar­dener though.


The hakuro nashiki wil­low stan­dard needs a haircut–but then it ALWAYS seems to need a hair­cut. The tuteur is cov­ered with mal­abar spinach and scar­let run­ner beans.

Now, as weather cools and all these darned changes slow down just long enough for me to catch my breath, I am enjoy­ing being out in the gar­den, putting in fall veg­eta­bles and tidy­ing up for the win­ter to come.


I just broad­cast a mix of let­tuce seeds for this pretty lit­tle bed. What a treat to pick our sal­ads each night.

I’m actu­ally look­ing for­ward to win­ter now. I have a fancy new cold frame to put together this week­end. I’m set­ting up the light gar­den in the base­ment to grow micro­greens. Cook­ing projects, sewing projects, writ­ing projects and, of course, vis­its to The Citadel and Ben’s vis­its home are going to keep me busy.


That’s ama­ran­the lean­ing against the tuteur where the hen­ryi clema­tis grows.

Over­all, I’m still liv­ing the good life. It’s a life of tran­si­tions, but it’s a good life.

(You can click on an image for a larger ver­sion of the photo.)

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  • Val says:

    Wel­come to the bit­ter­sweet land of the empty nest! I remem­ber how strange it all seemed, and how those emo­tional moments can sneak up on you at unlikely times. Best wishes as you estab­lish your new rhythm of daily life — it’s a won­der­ful new place. P.S. your gar­den looks lovely…

    Hi Val,
    A new rhythm is a great way to describe it. It has its ups and downs, to be sure.

  • Nice to see your blog bloom­ing afresh Robin. Life is full of changes, but the empty nest is one of the biggest. Con­grats on Ben get­ting into the Citadel. It’s dif­fi­cult to get in. He’s a grand boy. You should be proud. Con­grats on all of your writ­ing projects too and the new book.~~Dee

    Hi Dee,
    Thanks! I am very proud of Ben. He has made a dif­fi­cult choice, but one I believe will pay off for him.

  • Gail says:

    Hi Robin, Your life sounds full, even with Ben leav­ing for col­lege. Con­grats to Ben on the Citadel. That first year is quite an adjust­ment for par­ent and child. gail

    Gail — I’m quite sure the big­ger adjust­ment is Ben’s! And yes, life is VERY full.

  • Nell Jean says:

    It’s quite nor­mal to have unfounded wor­ries and tear­ful moments. When I left my older son in NY in 1980, I boo-hooed on the air­plane home. I finally pulled myself together and apol­o­gized to my seat-mate, a flight atten­dant return­ing home, say­ing that I’d just left my child at the USMMA. She replied ‘Oh, that’s okay, my mother acts the same way.’ My grand­son is a cadet there now and it was a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence for his Dad, who knew what to expect.

    Both your gar­den and your child will make you proud.

    Hi Nell,
    Thanks for vis­it­ing and shar­ing the story.

  • I’ve been where you are, Robin, and it ain’t easy. But you’ll quickly set­tle into it and you and Harry will love the time you have together with just each other. I love this time in my life.

    I really like the ‘wild hair’ look of your Nishiki wil­low! I know it isn’t sup­posed to look like that, but hey, I like odd things. LOL.

    Your let­tuce is gorgeous.

  • Con­grat­u­la­tions on your son enter­ing the Citadel, and for fin­ish­ing your book. That’s so exciting.

  • Frances says:

    Hi Robin, I love the metaphor of the open gate! It works two ways, going out, like Ben, and enter­ing, you com­ing into a new stage of life. We vis­ited The Citadel once and were struck by the cadets walk­ing in the straight lines, proud and erect mak­ing 90 degree turns. A place full of fam­ily tra­di­tion and great pride. And con­grats to you on the book! Your gar­den still looks won­der­ful, some­times it needs us less than we think. :-)

  • Daricia says:

    robin, your gar­den is just gor­geous! i’m try­ing not to think about mine just now. the com­par­i­son is depress­ing! lol.

  • Jean says:

    Robin, you have a lot of things to be very proud of. It looks like set­ting a good foun­da­tion for the gar­den paid off in a big way this year. I hope you get back to your gar­den when you need to. And I look for­ward to your new book! Congrats!

  • Robin, Hon­estly, I think you do more in one hour than I do in a day. Plus I’ll wager that you remem­ber to breathe once in a while too. You’re not alone in feel­ing like this isn’t the “most pro­duc­tive” year in the gar­den, but it cer­tainly doesn’t show from your pic­tures. — Your salad mix is a thing of beauty — why haven’t I done that?

  • Layanee says:

    I have failed as a gar­dener this year…oh well there is always next year. I have been think­ing of you and won­der­ing how you are cop­ing. Our lives change dras­ti­cally com­pared with the lives of men don’t you think?

  • Leslee says:

    Empty nester I will be next year. I am look­ing for­ward to it.. I have three chil­dren and time for my own inter­ests have been on back burner for too long.

    Wanted to know what you think of your autumn cle­man­tis.. it looks great.. I have wanted to try but have heard it is very inva­sive and can take over..your thoughts??

    My gar­den has lacked atten­tion also but looks ten times worse than yours.But yes peri­en­nels save me every time.

  • Pippi21 says:

    Your picket fence sur­round­ing your home is “the icing on the cake” and I just love that gate and arbor design and oh, that sweet autumn clema­tis is beau­ti­ful! Do you have any other clema­tis vines grow­ing in your gar­dens? I browsed your blogspot off Flowergardengirl’s blog.

  • Robin,
    Thanks for shar­ing your thoughts dur­ing an emo­tional time.
    Hope it all works out.

    Aanee xxx

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