At the Heart of Nature

Every New Year must be celebrated at the heart of nature – in the middle of a forest or by the side of a lake under billions of stars – because it is nature who has made our existence possible! ~Mehmet Murat ildan 

It is probably no surprise to anyone that I consider the heart of nature to be in the garden. The day after Christmas was so mild that I spent it quietly potting up all of the bulbs that didn’t get planted in November. A few days later, I managed to rake the last layer of leaves from the garden paths so that their patterns would emerge under the snow. Winter is here in fits and starts; snow covers the ground today but rain is predicted for tomorrow. On this last day of the year, Angel and I are snuggled up on the sofa, looking over the photos of the garden this past year.

PollinatorSignThis was the year that the property became certified by the Penn State Master Gardeners as a Pollinator Friendly Garden, a landmark step in my efforts to create a haven for wildlife in general and pollinators in particular.  With the help of my niece Carly, an untended garden bed along the road got an extensive  makeover and was filled with native plants to further support pollinators.


In late June, 500 visitors meandered through the garden as part of the Town & Country garden tour to benefit the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. I worked 6-8 hours a day, six days a week for two months, to prepare the garden for close inspection. I realized as I was writing the garden description for the tour booklet that I had always thought of this garden as a “garden in the woods” inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods. The trees that surround the house and garden are an integral part of the landscape and are beautiful in every season.

After all the visitors were gone for the season, the plants on the hillside garden were temporarily moved to make room for a new pair of handsome stone walls.  I look forward to seeing them covered with blooms next season.

Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? ~T. S. Elliot

The gardening year really begins in the spring, fresh and full of potential.

Memories of summer bring to mind an explosion of flowers amid warm days.

Autumn arrived with a new palette of colors.

The calendar year begins and ends in winter:

Tomorrow brings a new year, full of the hopes and ambiguities of an unknown future. I wish all of you a new year of joy and I hope that you spend some of it in the heart of nature.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice . . .
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets: Little Gidding”

(All photos [except pollinator sign] in this blog post ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

35 thoughts on “At the Heart of Nature

  1. Pingback: A Pollinator Garden Abstract – stbarbebaker

  2. I am always inspired by your garden photos!
    I can really appreciate how much effort it takes to build and maintain your garden in the woods. Ironically, I see myself as a ‘keeper of my woods’, and while the wild part pretty much looks after itself, my garden part has transitioned into ‘deconstruction’ mode. I’m getting too old to keep it up, so have been actively removing perennials and replacing them with low maintenance trees or bushes.
    My winter house, in the Arizona desert, is much easier to look after, though! Gravel, rocks and cactus only need some clean-up a couple times a year

    • Thanks, Margy. My woods take care of themselves too and, like you, I’m transitioning into a less intensive form of gardening. Creating some naturalistic pollinator gardens has been the equivalent to going to shrubs for me, but I admit that I like the daily grooming of the garden. Most important, I try to stay in shape – flexible and energetic – with yoga and Pilates because I want to be able to work in the garden, a great motivator 🙂

  3. It was a great year for the garden in the woods (I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, too). What a gorgeous seasonal tapestry – only wish I could see it in person. But I expect I’ll enjoy it, one way or another, in 2017, thanks to all your hard work, and your visiion.

    • Lynn, thank you for your kind words. Looking back over the year always seem to surprise me – did all of that really take place? I’m glad that you enjoy your visits here; your comments always mean so much to me. Have a wonderful new year!

    • Tracy, so great to have you stop by! It is this time of year that I value my garden photos the most, a gentle reminder of more colorful days ahead. Your Peanut Gallery post was awesome – a Happy New Year to you too!

  4. Lynn, I love your blog! And your beautiful words, “the heart of nature is the garden”. I too believe that is true. Wishing you a happy 2017.

  5. I am delighted that I found your blog this year. And what a wonderful review of your very special garden. Congratulations on the award. I loved seeing all the pollinators in my new garden this year and I shall be looking to see what grows in yours that I might be able to copy. Happy 2017 Lynn xx

      • Ah, the garden challenge has come to an end now. I’m going to take some time off from hosting a challenge and concentrate on my photography a bit more this year (I can say that now it is after midnight here). But I may just throw the odd challenge out there 🙂

      • I’m sorry to hear that but I understand – I’m still trying to get back to a regular biweekly posting schedule! Regardless, I always enjoy visiting your blog 🙂

  6. Gentle peace to your year’s end and may sweet blessings blossom in your new year, Lynn. It is always glorious to visit your garden in the woods, and so inspiring to revisit a year of its splendor. Thank you! I send you love.

Leave a 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.