This fall has struck me as particularly gentle. Maybe it's because the air conditioner has not turned on for weeks — and neither has the neighbors'. We hear a lot about various types of pollution, but never enough about noise pollution, or light pollution, in my mind. I like silence, or at least the absence of mechanical noise.
Maybe it's because the summer was so harsh that we didn't know how desperately we needed a glorious, mellow interlude.
Whatever the reason, I'm grateful for October, and I love the tasks of planting trees, improving the soil and planning for drifts of spring-flowering bulbs. To me, these tasks are not harried must-dos but enjoyable take-your-time-and-savor pleasures.
This October also brings an uncharacteristic flurry of activity on the Wichita garden scene. Usually the garden railroad tour of September signals a slowdown, but such is not the case this year. It may be at least in part a reaction to the closing of the Wichita Garden Show and a transfer of events to a time of year that is usually more fallow. (A reminder: A smaller, more focused garden show is being planned by Entercom radio for the first weekend of March at Century II.)
Here are the events that are on my calendar as of this writing:
* The annual twilight tour at Scenic Landscapes Water Garden Nursery , 5911 W. Maple, from dark to midnight Friday and Oct. 8. There will be nightscaping throughout the nursery's many ponds, along with torches and candles, and a movie on Oct. 8.
But you don't have to take the movie in only that weekend. Scenic is having movies every Saturday night near the fire pit once darkness falls — a variety of films such as family and superhero films, said owner LaLana Moore.
"We invested in a big projector and sound. It's almost like going to the drive-in."
And there is praise and worship —"like church" — at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Scenic's store burned down in August 2010, and the nursery is close to getting the permit to rebuild. But the Moores have decided to move the location of the store on the property and are in the process of building an amphitheater on the site of the old store.
"We want to use it for music in the garden, drama and movies in the garden," LaLana said. "We want to have one or two plays a year. Just something for families to go to for free or for very little cost. Something fun to do."
* Paul James, who was "The Gardener Guy" on HGTV, will give a free talk at 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Wichita State University Campus Activities Center Theater, 1845 Fairmount. The talk is sponsored by the Ulrich Museum of Art in conjunction with an exhibit of landscapes and natural themes from the perspective of abstraction by Anne Appleby that runs through Nov. 27 in the Amsden Gallery, and also "Matfield Green Stories," photographs by Terry Evans of that community in the Flint Hills.
On the night of James' talk, the galleries will be open until 6 p.m. so people can take in the art before heading to the theater for the talk.
* Bootanica, daffodil show and Rudy Love concert — all Oct. 15 at Botanica, 701 N. Amidon.
Bootanica is an event particularly for children, and this year it will spill over into the new Downing Children's Garden. There, the woods will become haunted for the afternoon. Activities will include walking the scarecrow trail, stepping into the spider's lair, listening to spooky stories, going batty in the bat cave and making a trick-or-treat bag. Hours will be 2 to 5 p.m., and the cost will be $7 (free for children under 2). Costumes are optional.
If it's time to plant daffodils, it's time to shop for daffodils. One place to get some unusual varieties for good prices will be the daffodil sale by the Wichita Daffodil Society, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that same day at Botanica. Admission to the sale itself is free.
And that evening, Rudy Love and the Love Family will put on an outdoor fall concert at Botanica at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $10.
* Fall Festival, Oct. 22 at Botanica. The Wichita Area Garden Council is sponsoring this event. It will feature booths and demonstrations by many of Wichita's garden clubs, along with a flower show by Suburban Garden Club members, seminars, door prizes, a silent auction, music and a chili cook-off by the clubs. Visitors will be able to sample the chili.
Hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission will be $10 for adults and $3 for children under 12 and will include admission to Botanica's gardens. Proceeds will go to the garden council and Botanica.
'Fluffing' the soil
Meanwhile, I love how one master gardener, Connie Stephens, advised in a recent master gardener newsletter to "fluff" the soil in the fall before adding any amendments.
"A shallow turning of the soil will expose insect eggs as well as overwintering insects. A day or two of exposure now is better than weeks of fighting off infestation in the heat of summer."
It's this kind of intuitive gardening that October fosters. Look for more on what to add to the soil in next week's Home & Garden section.