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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14 Responses to “Fall Transitions at Bumblebee”

  1. 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.

  2. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Kylee from Our Little Acre Says:

    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.

  6. Mr. McGregor's Daughter Says:

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

  7. 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. :-)

  8. Daricia Says:

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

  9. 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!

  10. kris at Blithewold Says:

    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?

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Flowers Dublin Says:

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

    Aanee xxx

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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