Let’s face it. The fall garden is like that hot chick from the night before. You know the one now staring back at you with morning makeup melted down her face…what happened to that sassy girl? That special one-in-a million “gurl” from the dance floor: the one with all the fresh feistiness of a June peony.

Gone. Gone. Gone.

And for that matter, what about all the other early-summer lovelies? Iris, lilac, tulip…once all aglow, those gals made us foolishly think their vitality would last forever. With soft-as-May hair, pink cheeks and peach petals all properly in place, we wonder: why can’t things just stay, well, perfect?

There’s no denying it. By this time in the season, the fall garden has fallen. She’s succumbed to the harsh judgment of morning light. A last-night face exposed for all to see as she sits there slumped and sipping her Styrofoam coffee.

Of course those of us who cherish our gardens see past the smudges, streaks, and crumpled edges. There’s value in the imperfect. Like adoring mothers, we see only beauty in our creations. We squint more. We judge less. We cast late-season tender assessments. We’re the ninth-inning fans still in the stands when it’s clear the game is over. We’re the loyal garden forgivers–like holy men–granting absolution to Mother Nature’s fallibility. But for others, the fall garden represents the morning-after-walk-of-shame. They have no compassion; feel no tug for all those sorry-looking-slug-bitten -dehydrated princesses. Instead, they scornfully eye their once vibrant flowerbeds offering one last backward glance…until next spring.