If you’re a gardener in Alaska, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the end-of-season chores as summer gives way to autumn. Our daylight hours are waning and the nightly temperatures are falling – fast…

Last weekend, I finally took a pruning shears to my perennials and cut back a summer’s-worth of lush growth.

An image of Anna Dalton harvest lettuce.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo J. Lopez.

We had a gorgeous summer and, while I am personally grateful, I know my garden appreciated it more than I. My coneflower and phlox carried their blooms through the end of September. I was sad to say good-bye to the overflowing mounds of Karl foerster feather reed grass in my front yard. I even found a few spots to nestle in a few more hastily-planted spring bulbs. (I always buy too many spring bulbs!)

Every autumn, as I put my garden to bed for the winter, I feel a twinge of sadness. It is like saying good-bye to a dear friend that you won’t see for six to seven months…

But I also know that – with proper care, planning and perhaps bit of luck – the perennials will be back next summer.  And they will be stronger than ever.

How well have you prepared your soil?
How well did you select your seeds?
If the seeds take root, did you care for the tender young shoots?
Did you provide proper sunlight and water? Too much? Not enough?
Will there be anything when it comes time to harvest?

So many factors go into the process of caring, nurturing and harvesting your garden is an apt metaphor for this work in community philanthropy.

There is a reason it is called donor cultivation.