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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 … you cannot step twice into the same stream. ~Heraclitus


20 thoughts on “Continuum

  1. Your garden is quite beautiful, and at this time of year, so fulfilling! I love the final quote, which must have inspired Robert Irwin when he placed a flat stone in the woods beside the Wave Hill Gardens years ago – it said, “Ever present, never twice the same.” yes, absolutely a continuum of change, and it’s a great challenge to work with that.

    • Thank you, Lynn; yes, I think the Heraclitus quote has influenced many and continues to ring true, I love the way the garden remains the same in its essential form but changes daily as well 🙂

  2. When I plan a new bed I make a chart so I can be sure there is always something special in bloom. Of course, the new bed never looks exactly how I expect. I agree completely that change is part of the beauty of gardens – this is why I don’t like gardens dominated by clipped evergreen plants – too static.

    • Jason, I agree – gardens filled with change over the seasons are the most interesting to me. The balance between static and change, uniformity and variability is a continuum as well and applies to many art forms – always interesting to me to see where on that continuum a garden stylistically lies.

  3. Ah, Lynn, what a joy to see these images and imagine the scents, and breezes, and light moving through your gardens! Such bliss. There certainly is no stasis in the garden, is there? For me, a lot of the fun in design is orchestrating the flow of color, smell, and texture, and hoping for the grace of nature to co-create some of my ideas with me…and yes, it changes and changes, as do I. Thank you for continually inspiring me to dream new gardens.

    • Kitty, we are definitely of one mind here. My next post is about “orchestrating the garden” 🙂 I love your idea of co-creating with nature – a beautiful thought. Thank you for once again commenting from the heart.

      • Only in those places I visit repeatedly. You have the advantage of seeing change play out in your garden on a daily–or even more frequent–basis. That’s something to savor.

Leave a Reply to bluebrightly Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.