Ah, autumn! This is a new season that the novice gardener often won’t consider. Winter may be expected to be a little dreary, but autumn doesn’t have to be. Many of us don’t think that far ahead as we plan our gardening year, and we allow the garden to “slow down” in the fall, when it really could be coming alive with color and texture.

We take time in January to order seeds, maybe even plant them inside under grow lights. We carefully water and tend them. Then, of course there is the big rush to put in the annuals in springtime, and by autumn the majority of us are tired of the whole mess.

The temptation at this time of the year is to purchase some hay bales, pumpkins, and potted mums and just hide the “real” garden from view.

I had a coworker who was constantly concerned with preserving her youthful appearance, while giving less thought to the other valuable parts of life. A cartoon on her cubicle makes light of this, with the caption “Oh, rats! I meant to get married and have children, but I was having too much fun.”

Now, close to middle age, she still has the splendor of the “summer garden” look. This is like the gorgeous plants that were established in an early garden, but I worry about what she has sown for the autumn years of her life.

It’s not a tragedy to remain single, by any means, nor to take care of your appearance. But if youthful good looks is only perpetuated by Botox treatments and plastic surgery, is it as attractive as a life well lived? The drinking and loose living looked great for a short time, but the emptiness and decay in the next season might be devastating.

Another friend has a garden in which she had sown some Tall Celosia under-planted beneath the spring and summer blooming flowers. As those early blooms matured and then deteriorated and subsequently cleared away, the upright stems and pretty blooms of the Celosia stood straight and tall in their proud array of pink and fuchsia glory.

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, NASB).

This is like planting those seeds that will bloom at the time when all else is lost. As surely as summer follows spring, and fall follows summer, your works and activities will slow down; and in some cases stop altogether.

This is when the relentless march of time will strip the fresh flower buds of your youth away. What will you have left? Will you attempt to hide the emptiness of your life with something you bought? Just as surely as your garden fades behind the newly acquired hay bale and scarecrow decorations, your fading years will be marked by what you have sown earlier…or what you have neglected to sow.

If you are blessed with years in the autumn of your life, you can always plant more, and develop new beauty in your garden as well as your soul. It won’t be the same result as the one who planned early, but God welcomes you as long as you have breath to call on his name. The adage is true; better late than never. However, you are not guaranteed that you have tomorrow.

Make all your years beautiful, as you work diligently in all the seasons of your life. Remember, a garden full of fall flowers and vegetables was planted early.

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