Once-vibrant colours are fast fading to shades of deep brown, ash grey. Stems bow. Leaves curl and crackle in the wind.
It is autumn here in Assiniboine Park’s English Garden. It’s a favourite destination, the turning point of a good walk that sees me—several times a week—leaving my Wolseley home, skirting the south bank of the Assiniboine River on riverside trails, emerging at the English Garden and the adjacent Leo Mol Sculpture Garden before returning home along the north bank of the river, through a chain of parks, across creeks, down residential streets.
Summer in the English Gardens is, of course, an explosion of colour. Families stroll down paths bordered with dense beds of hot hues. And it is the season of photographers with long lenses and tripods. I have been one of those in previous years. Not this summer though. No, I chose to wait for this time, for the muted deep tones of fall.
It is a crisp overcast day that brings me down the riverside trail to the English Garden. The riverside path is carpeted with petals of yellow and red. With each step comes the distinctive crunch of dry, crisp leaves, an autumnal sutra to life’s journey. In the distance, I hear Canada Geese honk in their own mysterious, mystical language as they launch themselves from the river’s surface with a loud swoosh of icy water.
The garden is not at all empty of visitors. But the tone is subdued. People speak in hushed tones. They drift silently along the paved paths. There is a solemnity to the proceedings. Not exactly funereal. More reflective. Less jubilant than summer. More stoic.
It is, I think, gardens, plantings and people at their best.