Deep Summer

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~ Sam Keen

 

treesmorningWPThere is always a certain morning in summer that seems magical, that moment when I step outside into a quiet world and say to myself “summer has arrived.” This morning, late in July, I finally had that moment. The sun in the eastern sky lit the trees along the road with a golden light, a wood thrush greeted me with its distinctive song, and the soft warm air promised a hot sunny day to come. I had no agenda other than to wander through the garden with Angel, accompanied by the drone of cicadas and the calls of robins and bluejays.
The garden is lush, almost voluptuous in its beauty, thanks to hot days and frequent thundershowers.viewfromhillWP

The daylilies are finishing their season, with a few welcome malingerers.

The roses have caught their second wind with fresh foliage and fulsome blooms.

The hydrangeas are bowed to the ground with a bounty of creamy white blossoms, fragrant and covered with tiny pollinators gathering food. Their busy wings remind me of last night, when I watched hundreds of fireflies rise up from the garden to sparkle and flicker their way into the trees.

This was not a morning to rise before dawn and do the hard work of weeding and digging for hours in order to prepare for visitors. This was a lazy quiet morning to soak in every sight, sound, and scent the garden offered, a gift of deep summer, when the burdens of the world fade for a few hours and I live in the moment.

The perfect song for a lazy summer day: Barbra Streisand’s “Lazy Afternoon” 

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

 

A Garden in the Woods

doubledecksJuneWPAs a child, my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book was “Little House in the Big Woods“. When we began to look for a larger property to garden fifteen years ago, it was no surprise that I fell in love with a house tucked into the middle of an acre of woods. I wanted to be surrounded by trees in a home that was an integral part of the landscape and I got my wish. Every level of the house has a door to the outside, sometimes three or four, and two levels of decks make walking out into the landscape an every day joy. ~Lynn Emberg Purse, A Garden in the Woods (Pittsburgh Botanic Garden tour book)

toursignWPOn the last Sunday in June, I opened my garden for the annual Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Town and Country Tour – an all day event where visitors explore selected local gardens. A few days later, I was told that 500 tickets were sold; I think everyone of those people came through my garden! I had worked for months to prepare the garden for close scrutiny, still prepping until ten minutes before the garden gates opened. I was especially pleased that many visitors made a point of telling me that they chose to come here first because of the description I wrote of the garden, beginning with the paragraph above.

circlesvertWPMy generous husband serenaded everyone by playing guitar on the deck for many hours of the tour. I loved greeting visitors, answering their questions, and discussing approaches to gardening. One of the comments that I heard over and over again was “this is a sanctuary!” and I would agree with a smile.  Here is what those on tour saw as they explored the garden, with the text taken from the garden tour description. You can listen to Bill’s guitar wizardry on Woman In the Meadow (composed by Mark Lucas, recorded on the Tribute CD by Bill Purse) while you enjoy the photos (all images ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

 Visitors arrive outside of the fence where many plants have been tested for deer resistance. Native plants rub shoulders with polite foreigners, each adding to the beauty of the garden while supporting a variety of wildlife. Flowers, grasses, herbs, shrubs and groundcovers thrive in relaxed casual planting beds that connect to the surrounding woodland.

Inside the fence, the open areas embraced by a tall backdrop of woods contain a formal structure of circular gravel paths and beds filled with striking color.

Hundreds of roses, lilies, daylilies, clematis, Hydrangea, perennials, and hosta make up the romantic plantings that thrive protected from deer and rabbits.

Rugged stone steps lead from the gardens up to the deck where visitors can get a “bird’s eye” view of the planting beds.

Although this is a “one woman” garden, I want to extend a special thanks to my niece Carly, my friend Doug, and my husband Bill who helped me prepare the garden and grounds, and my sister-in-law Susie and all of the volunteers from the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden who helped the tour day run so smoothly.

Home is the nicest word there is. ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Free

Free, free, free to fly away
I long to be so free ~Lynn Emberg Purse

youngrickMany years ago, my husband and I drove to Romney, West Virginia, to visit my brother Rick, who taught music at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind.  Bill and I, as the group Aergo, had just recorded our first album of original music and my brother began using it with his students, many of whom suffered from emotional and behavioral difficulties in addition to their physical challenges. He taught the title song Free to his choir and they sang it for us; I watched my brother work miracles leading this choir of blind and deaf students – he tapped his foot, called out cues, waved his arms, and they sang straight from the heart. We had a wonderful day meeting with the students and sharing music; Rick told me that whenever they were upset, hearing our music always calmed them. It was clear that my brother loved teaching and had a genuine connection with his students.

rickworkshopRick also loved being in nature and originally wanted to be a forest ranger; as kids, we were always taking long hikes in the woods, climbing trees, swinging from grapevines. He was a fine musician; he and my brother Jim and I were often recruited by my father to play instruments in the school band or sing in the church choir. He played tuba in marching band;  he also repaired woodwind and brass instruments for a music company in Pittsburgh.

My brother Rick passed away this week, far too young at age 67. I dedicate this song Free to him and to his life. Big bro, now is the time to lift your feet off this ground and sail into the clouds.

Here’s a music video we recorded of Free, produced in 1984 by our friends at Eagle Vision Productions. (Words and Music by Lynn Emberg Purse©1982, All Rights Reserved)

Free, free, give me the wings of a bee
I long to be so free. ~Lynn Emberg Purse

 

Wine and Roses

They are not long, the days of wine and roses
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
~Ernest Dowson, from “Vitae Summa Brevis” (1896)

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‘Rose de Rescht’

As I walk down the steps into the lower garden, the air is adrift with the scent of roses in the sun. The heady fragrance of the old fashioned ‘Rose de Rescht’ lining the deck garden perfumes the air around it. The lighter notes of English rose ‘Tamora’ greet me as I turn to the peach and blue area of the garden. ‘Winter Sunset’ displays its classic tea rose form but is a hardy soul, bred for Iowa winters by Griffith Buck. Lilies are beginning to bloom too and they add their scented song to the mix. A cascade of single white flowers covers the fence where hybrid musk rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ reigns beneath the shadow of a mulberry tree, intertwined with the purple and white blossoms of Clematis vit. ‘Venosa Violacea’, the perfect companion for roses. Tiny sweet clusters of plum purple flowers cover ‘Sweet Chariot’ rose, backed by the stars of Clematis ‘Margo Koster’ weaving through the arms of eastern ninebark ‘Diablo’ (Physocarpus opulifolius). The Carpet roses are putting on a show – Rainbow, Coral, Pink – and what they lack in scent, they make up for in extravagance of bloom.rosy_hillside

This is the most romantic time in the garden, some areas featuring a Valentine of pinks and reds and whites and in others, spouting a fruity concoction of “pink with attitude” – coral, peach, and apricot mixed with purples and blues. Roses scramble over fences and through arbors, intertwined with clematis and surrounded by lilies. The days of roses may not be long, but they are lovely to the eye and fragrant to the nose. Though fleeting, their presence in the garden is a treasure long remembered. Enjoy viewing some of the blooms of mid-June, click on any photo to see a full size image. (All photos ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, sponsored by May Dreams Gardens.  Take a peek at some other gardens around the world to see what is blooming in June.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. ~ Maud Hart Lovelace

A little music while you view? Peggy Lee sings “Days of Wine and Roses” 

Continuum

Continuum: a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees (Merriam-Webster)

arborfogWhen I step into the garden each morning, it has changed somehow. Perhaps it is a discrete change – a few more blooms open, fog instead of sunshine, soft summery air instead of a damp chill.

hostawoodsOther times, the rate of change is more dramatic – many plants have bloomed overnight, or the leaves have suddenly transformed the woodland trees into a dense green canopy. It is this continual shift and change in the garden that intrigues me and challenges me to become more aware of each moment as it passes.

 

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan Watts

Each plant has its moment to shine; the trick is to plant enough varieties so that as one plant winds down, another rises to take its place in the spotlight.

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When I teach garden design, I give my students a chart to plan their seasons of bloom, but what appears as clearly delineated boxes on a planning page is far more blurred in reality; throughout the day and throughout the seasons, the garden changes. Last week, the tall alliums gave way to the peonies and foxgloves, even as the roses and daylilies are beginning to move on stage for their moment of glory.

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Blossoms are ephemeral, foliage is seasonal, but even the rocks change over time. In the evening light, the lichen on the steps glow a pale turquoise and silver, illuminating the passageway between garden levels. stonesteps

This is what the garden teaches me – the continuum of change. While I can alter the rate of change through tending the garden, and I can capture a single moment in time with my camera, those are mere attempts to slow the continual flow. With apologies to Heraclitus, I am learning that the gardener can never step twice into the same garden – and that is the joy of it.

Enjoy the gallery of garden images, each a discrete moment in time. (Click on any photo to enlarge it. All images ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

 

Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream. ~Heraclitus