Delicious autumn

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

I have always loved autumn, with its cooler temperatures and crisp golden days. There were many mornings this past week where walking in the garden felt magical, the low light sifting amber through the leaves. The flowers of PG Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ have turned a soft pink yet still play host to sleeping bumblebees.

The oak trees have been putting on a brilliant display this year, hung like jewels against vivid blue skies.

It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.” ~Diana Gabaldon

But there was also a few foggy days that brought out the more subtle colors of autumn.(click on any photo to see the full size version)

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. ~George Eliot

The leaves have been falling for days. I set my coffee cup down for a moment in order to take a photo and it was covered in leaves within moments.

The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground . . . ~George Eliot

The coleus and other annuals have became gigantic displays of warm color surrounding the house and deck

while a few roses bloom their last flowers of the season.

Pixie has been the real star of the garden this year, racing through the woods and tracking my every step through the garden, gracefully posing for the camera.

She is featured in a little film I made of the autumn garden, working her way into the path of the camera with ease.

The leaves continue to drift down, in a few days the trees will be bare and the ground covered. Until then, I celebrate the garden as it completes its final dramatic act of the season.

The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art . . . ~Shauna Niequist

(All text, photos, and video @2022 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.)

 

A Beautiful Habitat

In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water. ~Doug Tallamy

I went out in the garden during a break in the rain this weekend and the bumblebees had already emerged to feast again on Agastache ‘Black Adder’. New to the garden this year, this plant has been feeding pollinators for months as it spread its long arms and blue flowers through the blue and peach garden.

It has been a perfect summer for the garden, with plenty of rain and sun. In October, the growth is still lush in the cool temperatures and autumn rains.

After a strong pruning last year, the flower heads of panicle hydrangea ‘Limelight’ are enormous this season and a showpiece in the October garden. I’ve had my hands in the dirt (well, dirty gloves) all summer, leaving little time to write or share until now. In July, my garden was on a garden tour to benefit a local library and I taught a class in it for Phipps in September. It was the first time visitors have been here in three years. The “to do” lists for prepping the garden were long but with the help of my garden guys and my hubby, all was made ready for the hundreds of visitors. It was a joy to have people in the garden again, wandering through to the sound of Bill playing guitar on the deck. A special thanks to the volunteers from the Shaler Garden Club for their invaluable assistance and to my friend and fantastic photographer Mary Pegher for taking photos of the day (Photos below ©2022 Mary Pegher). (click any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Last year was a year of rejuvenation – the garden beds were half empty by October after invasive and non-productive plants were removed. The remaining plants thrived this spring and hundreds of new plants, mostly natives for pollinators, were planted. The results made for a garden full of bees, butterflies, birds, and many other happy well-fed creatures.

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. ~Michael Pollan

The gardens outside the fence got an infusion of Monarda (bee balm), Agastache  foeniculum (anise hyssop), milkweed (Asclepias), Liatrus and Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), much to the delight of the bumblebees and hummingbird moths. The anise hyssop continues to bloom with the goldenrod and zinnias.

I let the sun loving natives take over the south facing hillside and they attracted so many bees that my garden crew couldn’t work there on a sunny day.

The decks were stuffed with pots of salvias and Agastache rupestris which drew in the hummingbirds and bees and a poodle.

I made room in the blue and peach bed for a swath of great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) and tall phlox (Phlox paniculataamid a new set of glass globes in the blue garden.

The garden has buzzed for months with pollinators, more birds took up residence in the woods including some I’ve never seen or heard before and they fledged many babies over the season. And I learned to look more closely, listen more intently, and feel more connected to the garden than ever before.  Pixie and I spent many wonderful hours together in our little paradise.

I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. ~Wendell Berry

Here is a short video of the pollinators in my garden throughout this year; enjoy!  

All text, photos, and video ©2022 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

When June comes dancing

When June comes dancing o’er the death of May,
With scarlet roses tinting her green breast,
And mating thrushes ushering in her day,
And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest.
~ Claude Mckay, A Memory of June

The last days of May and the first days of June have been dance worthy. Days of warm sunshine alternating with days of cool rain have triggered lush growth and spectacular bloom. Early summer was ushered in by peonies, alliums, and viburnum (click on any photo to see a full size image)

while the banner of bloom was then carried on by irises of every type, size and color. The bearded iris (Iris germanica) were first to bloom, with ‘Tiger Eyes’ and ‘Beverly Sills’ creating a river of color up the stone steps of the hillside.

Close on the heels of the bearded iris were the Siberian iris (Iris siberica) in a whole new color palette. The brilliant blue of ‘River Dance’ pulsed in contrast to the peachy pink of ‘Beverly Sills’ while ‘Reprise’ bloomed in a soft shades of moody blue.

I have a fondness for peach and caramel colors and was delighted when Siberian Iris ‘Buttescotch Fizz’ bloomed so freely this year, set off by the foliage of Heuchera ‘Caramel’ beside and behind it under the Japanese maple ‘Garnet’.

Native iris were the last to come into bloom with the sky blue flowers of Iris virginica and the purple violet blooms of Iris versicolor ‘John Wood’.

And then the roses came.

On this June day the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year – those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled. ~Francis King

From the tiny polyantha rose ‘Margo’s Sister’ to the lush old rose ‘Rose de Rescht’ surrounded by geraniums and penstemons, June arrived in earnest.

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.  ~ Gertrude Jekyll

Rose ‘Complicata’ is one of my favorite roses. Almost thornless, it covers the arbor leading into the lower garden and is one of the first to bloom. The huge single flowers are sweetly scented and visited by bumblebees throughout the day.

A single peony in the same color combination blooms at its feet, clothing the arbor from top to bottom with pink and yellow flowers.I suspected last year that there would come a day in the garden when the loss of Angel Eyes would strike me suddenly. It happened while I was photographing this arbor of roses – I have many years of photos of Angel standing under the arbor – she loved the scent of the roses and always paused here to smell them. Suddenly the arbor was empty without her  with only fallen petals to mark her favorite spot on the path. I had to put my camera away for the day but the next morning, Pixie insisted on staying near me, “helping” me to pot up flowers on the deck and making me laugh again.

Later that day, Pixie went to a different rose covered arbor, thick with the scent of white rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ and turned to look at me, as if to say “I’m here with you, Mom, no worries.” What a gift she is.

The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction.
~Dan Simmons, Drood

I wish you all a beautiful June full of dancing, staggering beauty and joy. May you recognize and treasure each gift that comes your way.

All photos and text ©2022 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted.

Honey-sweet May

At last came the golden month of the wild folk—honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents and songs of the dawning year. ~Samuel Scoville Jr, Wild Folk

Today is one of those perfect days in May. Birds are singing outside of every open window and soft breezes keep the air fresh and cool. Pixie and I have been gardening at sunrise for the past few days – she keeps a close eye on the wildlife while I work.There was no hurry or bustle this morning, just a task completed here and another one begun there with no sense of a clock ticking or a checklist to follow. Time was instead measured by new flowers opening, the sudden low buzz of a hummingbird passing, and the occasional visit from a fat bumblebee.

Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you. ~W. E. Johns

In just a few days, the woods have shifted from a misty breath of new growth that barely shaded the garden

to a lush green canopy that creates shadows and mystery in the late afternoon sun.

Horticulturally, the month of May is opening night, Homecoming, and Graduation Day all rolled into one. ~Tam Mossman

The garden beds are burgeoning with growth as new flowers emerge every day.The spring bulbs have finished for the season – one final blossom of the summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) lingers among the ferns. Allium and Camassia, the bulbs of May, come forward to have their say in shades of purple and blue while Lilac ‘Miss Kim’ is just starting to bloom. (Click on any photo to see the full size image)

The lovely Geum ‘Mai Tai’ – whose buds are as pretty as the flowers – blooms with abandon

while the hardy geraniums and woodland phlox bring a frothy grace to the garden beds.

The delicate yellow blooms of heirloom Iris germanica ‘Flavescens’ reign over the garden from their perch along the stone wall.

I discovered a native tree in the woods below the garden, blooming for the first time ever. Pennsylvania hawthorn (Crataegus pennsylvanica) is self-pollinating so its berries should feed the birds this fall. In the meantime, I am enjoying its white blossoms and graceful shape.

Last evening, Pixie and I sat in front of the yellow iris and listened to a wood thrush sing; it was the perfect end to a perfect day. Have a listen and enjoy the honey-sweet days of May. 

And a bird overhead sang follow, and a bird to the right sang here. And the arch of the leaves was hollow, and the meaning of May was clear.” ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

This post is part of the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams. Visit her site to see what’s blooming around the world today.

Carry the universe in your heart

I believe in strong women. . . You face the world with a head held high and you carry the universe in your heart. ~C. JoyBell C.

This morning, the full-throated pre-dawn bird chorus mingled with the sound of rainfall as Pixie and I walked through the dark wet woods and back to the house. (you can adjust the volume in the player).

home viewed from woodsThe rain has transformed the garden into a lush paradise ready to burst into a new round of blooms and the woods are beginning to take on hints of their green cloaks of summer.

The leaf buds of the hickory trees unfolded in a matter of days, revealing the remarkable geometry of nature. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full-size image)

The birdsong and the lushness of early May mark a year today since my mother’s passing. Ruth Bach Emberg lived a long life, 97 years (though she was hoping for 100) and accomplished so many things. She was a doer, a fast walker, and a no nonsense woman with a kind heart and a smart creative mind.

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. ~Maya Angelou

Born in the 1920’s, she grew up in the Great Depression with four older brothers who taught her to drive a car, walk proudly, and stand up for herself.

She was recruited in the early 40’s as a Curtiss-Wright Cadette, one of 900 young American college women who learned 2.5 years of aeronautical engineering in 10 months at universities in order to do technical work on fighter planes for the war effort. College student in 1941I remember visiting the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. with my mother to see the Curtiss-Wright fighter plane that she contributed to in her work. The wartime efforts of the women Cadettes have finally gained recognition in the past few years (see linked article above) as an important precursor to the STEM movement.

Ruth went on to work in technical industries, teach high school math, serve as Dean at a community college, and work as the chief assessor in a rural Pennsylvania county – she was a strong woman in a man’s world.

She raised a family, gardened like a goddess, cooked so well that she wrote a cookbook, and served on many governing boards while running a basket shop and teaching others the art of basket making. Yes, she was a doer.

Living independently in a senior community in her mid-nineties, she was still lively as ever and we frequently went out to eat breakfast at the diner around the corner.

In the gorgeous green days of last May she suddenly fell ill and passed a few days later. When I accompanied her to the hospice, a beautiful place tucked deep in the woods, a large tom turkey was pacing outside her window as if welcoming her. The next evening, Bill and I took our pup Angel to visit her – while Angel ran into her room and kissed her hand, Bill brought his acoustic guitar and sat beside Mom’s bed, quietly improvising beautiful music. Although she couldn’t open her eyes or move much, she smiled when she heard the guitar and I could feel her relax. As we sat in the dark together, the room overflowed with light and love and we sensed her letting go. She passed peacefully the next day and when I left the hospice for the last time, the bird song outside was so beautiful that I stood to listen to the evensong of the day and of her life.

Mom lived a remarkable life, held her head high, and truly carried the universe in her heart.

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. ~Elaine Heffner

May each of you have a blessed Mother’s Day and hold your family dear.

All text and photos ©2022 and 1984 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except for historical documents or where noted/attributed.