A Visual Feast

It is always exciting to open the door and go out into the garden for the first time on any day.
- Marion Cran

In spite of chilly temperatures and a bout of sleet this morning, the garden is a visual feast of colors and texture. A thousand shades of green grace the trees as new leaves emerge each day while frequent rain has transformed the grass into an emerald carpet. Every day a new flower opens and lays its color and form against the growing tapestry of garden and woodland. Late spring, perhaps like no other season, is a study of contrasts in the garden.

Some plants are quiet and delicate, with color-kissed blossoms floating among clouds of feathery foliage.

Other plants are bold and vibrant, with strong shapes and colors in flower and leaf, or both, from the lollipops of Allium to the dangling hearts of Lamprocapnos spectabilis.

The elusive wood thrush has returned and begins each morning with its distinctive fluted song that continues from dawn to dusk. (You can listen to its song in The Woodthrush Sings). A pair of mourning doves has appropriated one of my deck planters as a nesting spot; Angel is gently but endlessly curious about them – I won’t plant there until the babies fledge.mourning dove nest My garden will be on a large garden tour this June, so I’ve been busy planting and pruning, creating a new pollinator garden (more about that in the next post) and enjoying every moment spent outdoors.

For the first time, I am joining in the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day meme sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. It is a great place to visit the 15th of each month as garden bloggers post what’s blooming in their gardens. I hope all of you are enjoying the beauty of spring as it gracefully pirouettes into summer.  (All photos ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas

Spring Unfolds

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke

Even though we have had light snow all day on this vernal equinox, the garden is unfolding into spring. Bloom started with the snowdrops at the end of January, followed by tommy crocus. Last week Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ added its deep purple notes to the pink and purple flowers of hellebores. Forsythia began blooming yesterday, along with the delicate golden flowers of Lindera benzoin, the host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies. Every day brings another bloom, spring is truly here.

Multiplicity

Multiplicity – a very large number (the simple definition) – from Merriam-Webster

A snowstorm quietly moved through western Pennsylvania earlier this week, sifting fine wet snow onto the garden and woods, snow that clung to every branch, leaf, and twig. An early morning foray outside revealed a magical wonderland, a multiplicity of shapes and forms delicately outlined in white.Lutyens bench in snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first inch of snow melted on pavement, outlining stepping stones.stonepathWP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An oak leaf on the driveway became a pillow of white against the black asphalt.oak leaf snow

 

Bronze leaves still clinging to branches held small tufts and caps of snow.bronze oak leaves

 

A loose hedge of forsythia was transformed into an ethereal cloud.Forsythia in snow

 

Ornamental grasses stood tall, capturing snow crystals in their curved inflorescences.grass gate snow

 

The straight lines of a bench echoed the bold trunks of trees.Monet bench in snow

 

The lower garden became a study in curves made up of a million tiny lines of black and white. I became lost in the looking, entranced by an endless multiplicity of growth and life stripped down to its skeletal beauty. Winter suddenly became as beautiful as any fair day in May.
February snow in the lower garden

 

What an amazing world we live in! A complex harmony of shape and form and line that changes from day to day, season to season, beautiful without measure.Snowy wood

All photos ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

 

An Artist’s Sketch

 

Winter, an artist’s sketch in charcoal,
so clearly etched against a cloud-filled sky ~from Winter by Lynn Emberg Purse

artsuppliesWPFor the past few years, I’ve been taking non-credit courses in subjects that interest me as a way to recharge and challenge my creative juices. This semester I’m taking a studio art class in drawing, something I haven’t done for many years. I was a bit nervous – could I still do this? – but as I began to haunt art stores and buy supplies, apprehension was replaced by growing excitement. I remember the gathering of artistic tools from my college days and the delight I felt in drawing and painting classes. Sketchpads, pencils, charcoal, erasers – a potential treasure trove!

stilllifeWP

10th Grade Still Life

We are using Betty Edward’s classic book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, as a way of bypassing the logical linear part of the brain and getting to the visual side that supports the creative process. The process of shifting perception in order to see and record what is there is markedly different from creating symbolic shorthand, like a child’s drawing of a house or stick figures, to represent what we think is there. I remember discovering that perceptual shift  in my tenth grade art class while sketching this still life. I suddenly realized that if I looked at it in a certain way, I could reproduce it on my paper. I became obsessed with drawing and painting and continued to take classes in college; I only dropped the practice while traveling when photography became more practical.

There are lessons to be learned from this new challenge. I wasn’t sure if I could still draw but I realized as soon as I began the first exercise that I’ve never really stopped using my visual skills, whether in photography or gardening. According to Edwards “Learning to perceive is the basic skill that the students acquire, not drawing skill.”

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A color shot of the trees and sky

Ironically, we don’t work with color in this class until spring, about the same time that color returns to the natural world. As someone who feels that she is banished from colorful Oz every winter, I quietly laughed at the weird synchronicity of using pencil and charcoal in the season of brown and gray and white. Looking through bare trees into a gray sky, I feel as if I’m living in the monochromatic world of Dorothy’s Kansas. Yet, if I look closely enough, I find color in leaf and lichen and a few daring flower buds. I will content myself with reconnecting to a familiar and beloved art form, embrace the artist’s sketch, and look at the world with fresh eyes. Enjoy a few scenes from the winter garden – click on any photo to start the carousel. (All photos ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

The painter draws with his eyes, not with his hands. Whatever he sees, if he sees it clearly, he can put it down . . . Seeing clear is the important thing. ~Maurice Grosser, The Painter’s Eye

The Time Between

Liminal: “of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition” Merriam Webster.com

xmastrees_vertWPThe week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day has always been a special time for me. The everyday world seems to pause and recede, leaving time for inner reflection, time to consider the past year and the future to come.The Norwegians have a name for this season – Romjul. According to My Little Norway “the time from Boxing Day [day after Christmas] until New Years Eve is called Romjul (Christmas Space) which is the ‘space’ between Christmas and New Year’s.” Traditionally, this time is spent with family and out of doors.

XmasMoonriseWPI’ve often thought about liminal space (The Space Between) but until now, I hadn’t considered the idea of liminal time. Liminality, as the moment “betwixt and between” is the time for transitioning from one state to another, and that is exactly what this week serves. After the intense activity of the end-of-semester deadlines and the rush to prepare for Christmas, nothing is more welcome to me than to stay quietly at home for a week, reading books, meandering through the garden in any weather, and looking over photos from the year. Angel and I even spent several balmy nights entranced by the rising of the Christmas moon, its brilliant light a reminder of longer days to come..

New Year’s Eve is considered to be an important liminal time – the threshold between one year and the next. The many traditions associated with the holiday – midnight fireworks, kisses, and toasts, are ancient and worldwide practices associated with our need to pass safely from one state to another. And did you know that the oldest record of a New Year’s resolution is over 4000 years old from ancient Babylonia?

seedsWPAs I reflect on the year past and prepare for the year to come, the garden is on my mind. I hope to have my garden open to visitors this summer and have been busy preparing while the weather remains mild. The first packet of seeds came this week, along with a book on propagation techniques. More seeds are on their way, the light table in the basement is clean and ready, and visions of the coming garden season creep into my dreams.

Here is a slideshow of this past year’s highlights of the garden, from the snows of February to the autumn colors of November. Enjoy! (all images ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

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All blessings to you and yours in the new year!

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
~Deck the Halls