Building structure

Physically, gardens must have boundaries. Mentally, they can reach to the limits of the known universe. ~Tom Turner

The first significant snowfall of the season brought out the beauty of the garden and its bones, its structure. Devoid of color, the 4″ of fresh white snow highlighted the shapes of fences and arbors, benches and shrubs, the lines of tree limbs and last year’s grasses.

You mustn’t rely on your flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first . .  no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depths of winter. ~Margery Fish

The patterns of paths and plantings were a mere suggestion where the snow fell most heavily. circlegarden

The weeping cherry tree marks the center of the garden of circles. cherrycircle

Even as I begin to plan this year’s garden and plant the seeds of flowers, the structure of the garden speaks quietly to me in the depths of winter – “build . . . build . . . you will not regret it.”

A garden is half-made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire. ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

This coming spring will mark 19 years of making this garden, but for the past few years, I have struggled with  natural disasters that have rearranged the garden structure as well as struggling with mobility issues of my own. We had our our small upper deck rebuilt last March – we knew it needed repairs but the builders discovered that it was built improperly and rotting within. The rebuild was perfectly executed and we were able to add an attractive cedar ceiling on the underside of the deck, an unexpected bonus.

In July, lightening struck a massive white oak near the house, damaging it beyond saving and wreaking havoc on the electrical systems of the house. It took months to repair everything and the dying tree was removed in October. (Angel inspects the oak tree in happier times)angelsnowtreeThis month, we enclosed the space where the oak had stood and extended the tall fencing almost to our property boundaries, adding privacy around our patio and a safe entrance from the house into the enclosed woods for Angel. Later this summer we will add another arbor to mark the entrance gate like this one on the other side of the house.

Snowy arbor

My own physical structure has required some rebuilding as well. Arthritis and bursitis has kept me out of the garden for the past two years and at times I wondered if I would ever really garden again. Fortunately, physical therapy and multiple lifestyle changes have restored a great deal of my mobility over the past few months. I realize now that the garden and I have moved through de-struction and re-building together, partners of a sort. It has been a challenging journey for us both but one with lasting rewards . . . and just in time for spring.

All gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Robert Dash

Painted leaves

October is the month for painted leaves . . . ~Thoreau

While the garden is quietly collapsing back into the earth, the trees are a riot of color. Cold crisp nights dipping towards the freezing point have triggered the shift from soft green leaves to a paintbox of crisp autumn colors. Most of my time outside has been spent looking upwards, that’s where the drama is. (click on any photo to see a full size image)

 

October proved a riot a riot to the senses and climaxed those giddy last weeks before Halloween. ~Keith Donohue

A few tender plants linger – a coral Million Bells tucked under the spiral staircase, Gloriosa daisies in a planter on the deck, a mound of coral red ‘Sedona’ coleus in a protected corner of the house.

 

The herb circle in the front of the house remains lush, with tall grasses and creamy seedhead clouds of our native white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum)octoberherbcircle

along with a mound of tall blue ageratums self-sown from last year. ageratum

A few days ago, a flock of robins gathered for their flight south and indicated to me that they wanted their favorite watering bowl at the foot of the oaks cleaned and refilled. I obliged and they drank long and deep before taking to the skies. oakmaple

The leaves of the kousa dogwoods have turned a deep russet red kousaleaveswhile the wild grapevine leaves remain green even as their stems turn scarlet. wildgrapevineleaf

As I step outside each morning, a rich sweet smell arises from the earth, the scent of fallen fruit, decomposing leaves and rain soaked earth, the smell of true autumn. hardyplumbagoleaves

At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth . . .  ~Rainer Maria Rilke

 

 

Browsing the autumn garden

The slant of the autumn light is making for dramatic mornings in the garden. Sunlight sifts through the dark leaves of the oak and maple trees, reminding me that the autumn equinox is only a week away.

treelight

The herb garden glows in the low morning light, highlighting the flower racemes of Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ in the thick mix of natives Eupatorium rugosum and Rudbeckia triloba in the herb circle. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

Sedums and autumn crocus bloom along with a few vibrantly colored annuals.

But parts of the autumn garden have been pruned for me unintentionally. A few weeks ago, the tall phlox began to disappear, the hostas were cut to the ground, rose branches were stripped of flowers and leaves, the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ was greatly reduced in size. Even the branches on the weeping cherry were stripped bare. cherrytreedeer

What could be doing this in the protected garden safely enclosed in fencing? Was it the work of the 17 year cicadas that appeared this summer or perhaps a very large rabbit? As I was eating a late dinner at dusk on the deck, I heard a creature in the garden but saw nothing. I went down the steps to investigate and watched the head of a beautiful male white-tail deer emerge from the woods and happily finish off the remaining hostas.

MPdeer1
(Photo courtesy of Mary Pegher ©2019)

Creeping quietly around him, I discovered that someone had opened the back gate of the garden and left it ajar. This beautiful creature had been making nightly forays for at least a week into Lynn’s Gourmet Deer Cafe as I was busy teaching evening classes instead of working in the garden. The last time a deer entered the garden, it threw itself against the fence in panic when Angel gave chase. To avoid that catastrophe and to stay safe in the face of a healthy 6 point buck, I chose to open the gate wider and coax him quietly out. I spoke gently and made the encouraging noises I would use to coax a dog to my side. Intrigued, he stepped hesitantly towards me until he almost reached the gate, then paused. I quietly entered another gate behind him and told him firmly that it was time to leave. He looked at me over his shoulder, then trotted out out of the garden while I hurried to shut both gates. Only after he disappeared into the woods did I realize that I hadn’t thought to photograph him.

Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. ~Suzy Kassem

My friend Mary Pegher takes amazing photos of the denizens of North Park, a 3000+ acre county park near our house; she graciously let me use her pictures of a healthy 10 point buck she had photographed this past week. Our deer fence serves to keep these wild creatures out of my garden but I cannot help admire their beauty. And like the deer in Mary’s photos, the one that ate my garden looked very healthy indeed. I’m sure that the nutritious food I provided will make him a favorite of the ladies this fall. I find myself amused rather than upset – the garden is entering its last phase of the season and will take no permanent harm. There is plenty to share and I truly feel graced by a gentle encounter with a magnificent animal.

Wildlife in the world can only be protected by the love of compassionate hearts in the world! ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

I admit that I worry about the wildlife in our changing world. Housing developments continue to spring up everywhere, displacing the creatures who once lived there, and climate change  also disrupts sources of food and migratory habits. In spite of maintaining an organic garden and providing protected space for many different creatures, I see a dramatic drop in bees and other pollinators. Every chance to live in harmony with the natural world seems a small win for us all.

MPdeer2Photo courtesy of Mary Pegher; you can see more of her work on Facebook at MLP-Photography.

If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.  ~Steve Irwin

You’re a good boy, Charlie Brown

A week ago, we were delighted to have our poodle “nephew”, Charlie Brown, visit us for a few days. Charlie and Angel celebrated his 14th birthday with party hats and extra treats on the “cookie rug” poodlebirthdayparty

followed by a good nap. CharlieNap

As he aged, Charlie lost most of his eyesight and hearing, so it took him a day to get his bearings. He took to following his beloved Angel around the garden.CharlieFollowsAngelThey’ve been best friends since they were pups and play non-stop on their visits with each other. dogplaywp

Last year, they celebrated a snowstorm with their antics – what fun! (click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

A few days after his delightful visit last week, Charlie Brown passed away in his sleep, in his own home with his human Mom and sister Madison nearby. A sweet funny boy who was smart, gentle, and unfailingly loving, he will be deeply missed. We count ourselves lucky that we had a few last precious days with him. You are such a good boy, sweet Charlie Brown. Safe journey.charliebrownwp

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace. ~Milan Kundera

All text and photos ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted.

 

The golden hour

In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. ~Wikipedia

We had three glorious days of sunshine this past week, probably a first for this year. The garden reveled in the sunshine and bloomed gloriously at the height of daylily season. pinkhems2

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. ~Marcus Aurelius

Pink daylilies bloomed with abandon

as did the purple and plum colored ones.

Flowers with eyes seemed to follow me with their gaze wherever I went in the garden

while the deepest colors added bass tones to the floral orchestra.

Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real. ~Amy Grant

According to local weather tracking, only 29% of the days this year have been without rain or other precipitation. Like any gardener, I treasure rain but it has been a dark and gloomy summer. After those few glorious days of sunshine, the rain returned with a series of furious storms that pounded the garden with wind, water and spates of lightening and thunder for most of the day. Dozens of roads were flooded in the area; after a summer of heavy rain, the soil simply could not absorb any more.

The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall. ~Helen Garner

dewyroseleaf

In late afternoon, the rain stopped and the sky lightened. By early evening, sunlight unexpectedly sifted through the trees and turned the garden into a golden land.

treelight

While many of the flowers were battered and sodden, their color sang to me from below as I stood at the top of the hill.  The battle with weeds and soggy garden beds were forgotten. The world was glowing.

I stood transfixed as the garden seemed to turn to me and say “See? We are fine. Stop worrying about neatness or perfection and join us as we revel in this golden hour.” rosedereschtrain

Once in a golden hour,
I cast to earth a seed,
And up there grew a flower,
That others called a weed. ~Tennyson

All text and photos ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted.