Hope is the thing

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

Angel and I stood out under the almost full moon last night. She was restless, so was I, and the moonlit woods beckoned to us, mysterious and full of the sounds of night creatures awake and moving. I stood and watched the sky while she investigated every rustle and sigh – it was nearly midnight before we returned to the house. We were up early this morning to catch the sun.

Spring is here and the world is growing greener. I’ve been walking the garden every day, starting with the morning sun and ending at dusk and still I wish for more. Angel, at age 15, is a little gimpy, a little slower – we make a fine creaky pair as we circle the garden beds and pause for a closer look at each new flower that appears. 

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~ Gertrude S. Wister

I finally had to admit that if I wanted to keep my garden, I would have to hire help for the heavy lifting. I called my friend Bill, who built the stone walls in my garden.  

He and Ron have been weeding, pruning, moving shrubs, and mulching garden beds for me for the past few weeks. Finally, the garden that was slowly going to ruin has now re-emerged, its bones intact and eager to grow. 

The bones of the garden

I can take pleasure in the easy stuff of gardening, knowing that I have able and knowledgeable help for all of the tough jobs that I no longer can manage. I designed, dug, planted and maintained this entire garden by myself for twenty years and now wonder how I managed to do that. But being forced to slow down has its pleasures. I’ve long enjoyed the contrast of the white daisy-like flowers of Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ against the dusky purple foliage of Euphorbia dulcis‘Chameleon’.

For the first time, I noticed the pink and purple tones of the anemone’s flowers and stems when its petals close for the night, entangled in the purple arms of the euphorbia.

Nearby, creeping sedums (S. rupestre ‘Angelina and S. spurium purpureum) have mingled together in a jazzy gold and burgundy combination.

White forsythia (Abeliophyllum) has pink buds before it opens but I’ve never noticed them before.

White forsythia buds

Delicate as a ballerina’s pink slipper, the buds eventually give way to the sweet-scented white flowers that gives this early blooming shrub its name.

White forsythia flowers

I had the pleasure of watching daffodil ‘Verdant Meadows’ open as a yellow and white flower before it slowly paled over a few days in the spring sun, eventually becoming creamy white.

My sisters-in-law gave me a lungwort (Pulmonaria) from my mother-in-law’s garden after she passed – its first bloom of the season opened this week on her birthday, a lovely synchronicity. 

The weather is mild enough to sleep with the window open; what a joy it is to awaken to the pre-dawn bird chorus. The garden is awake and this gardener has hope that she will be able to tend to it with ease and joy, and revel in nature’s beauty. May you also have hope and beauty in your daily world as spring works it magic.

Cornus mas blossom

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

~Emily Dickinson

42 thoughts on “Hope is the thing

  1. Ah, I’m glad I saved this post. Better late than never, right? I love the anemone buds with the euphorbia…the two sedums look fabulous together (I’ve been admiring our native sedum, which sports varied colors now on its leaves, from magenta-ish to blue-greenish). The blush on the white forsythia buds reminds me of apple blossoms, just opening now, with deep pink buds and white open flowers. Yes, always surprises! Your daffs are gorgeous. What a touching moment, to see the lungwort open on your M-I-L’s birthday. I’m happy that you’ve eased into a slightly different role so gracefully – I love seeing your friend working on the stone wall and knowing that you don’t have to struggle with that kind of task. Hope may be the thing with feathers that perches on your soul, but grace is that person wandering the garden at dawn and dusk, in love with it all. Be well, Lynn!

  2. Hi Lynn! Remember me from the CompuServe Group. I lived in GA then. Your name just popped into my head. I thought you might have written a garden book. Glad to see that you’ve retired and are getting back to your garden.

      • Yes we’re in Portand for almost 9 years. Good luck on your book proposals. Barb

  3. Oh my goodness Lynn, this is so beautifully written and the photos are spectacular! I’ve been reading Mary Oliver‘s book devotions, (which you would love if you haven’t read it) and you remind me of her in your writing and observing! That’s the highest compliment!❤️ Keep sharing, keep digging keep seeing things that we go too fast to see and revealing to us The gardens’s magic and beauty!

    • Pam, what a delight to have you stop by and visit the garden. I love Mary Oliver, I have used quotes from her very often, so yes, your comparison is a high compliment indeed! Slowing down has changed my perspective and I’m seeing new things in my garden every time I look, a life lesson that I’m beginning to take to heart. Namaste, my friend.

  4. Lynn there are so many metaphors in. your words and images and they are all beautiful. Spring is about hope of course but winter has been beautiful, too. I learned when I moved back north to find the beauty in the winter so I could embrace the hope of spring.

    It’s lovely to experience the evolution to this stage of life through your spirit. Thank you! See you soon…

    • Doug, your photos of the lake in winter have been breathtaking. I appreciated being home all winter and enjoyed the beauty of the snow especially, but I’m so happy to see color in the garden! All that new life springing up from the ground.

      I hope “see you soon” means that you will be coming to visit!

  5. Thank you for the hope and lovely photos! I’m just starting in the garden finding emerging surprises everyday. We missed the early spring wildflowers on our rail trails last year, so back out and happy to find Jeffersonia yesterday…it’s blossom is so fleeting!!! The gardens keep us going and hopeful.

    • Thanks for visiting Shelley; so wonderful that you saw the Jeffersonia. My sister-in-law bikes along the rail trails often. Yes, the gardens are so important, especially seeing new life and color in the spring. Enjoy yours!

  6. I loved having a wander around your garden again Lynn, you have some delightful combinations. After an hour outside weeding my very small garden I am beginning to realise that I am not 40 any more. I think I might call in some help to redesign some of my garden to make it easier for me, but there will always be weeds! Enjoy the springtime, I think we have earned a good one.

    • So glad you enjoyed your wander, Jude! Yes, we have definitely earned a good spring and we are having a mild one here this year.

      It is never too soon to get help in the garden; I’ve had a bit of help in the past but never quite enough. I’ve decided to give up a garden bed along the roadside and will grass it over; it’s never been successful and I hate working there with the traffic coming by, one more burden to let go. My neighbor loves to mow that area for me so it will be a win win. :-). Have a great spring in the garden!

  7. So glad you have found a good ‘work around’! Your place is an inspiration!
    I have been wondering too how much longer I will be able to maintain my yard. Last year my husband bought a new tractor with a back hoe – it has been an excellent tool to keep moving the heavy stuff around – things that I used to move with trip after trip with a wheelbarrow.
    We are still a month or more away from spring, so I’ll see how it goes this year. On my Dr’s suggestion I’m following a different exercise program to increase muscle mass and reduce arthritic type pain. Hopefully it makes a difference!

    • Margy, I considered buying an electric riding mower so that I could attach a wagon to it but that still left me with spreading mulch, pruning shrubs, etc. It was easier to hire some knowledgeable help – they’ve done so much in a short time. An exercise program is good – I’m working with my yoga/pilates teacher privately for the same reason. Not a lot I can do about my arthritic hands though except try to control it through diet. It’s tough, this aging thing! Enjoy spring when it comes 🙂

  8. Didn’t realize you were having trouble managing your garden. Hopefully now that you’ve taken on some assistance you can enjoy it even more. It’s wonderful to see the blossoms & promise of spring in your photos. Still a bit to look forward to here 🙂 We still have snow. It’s melting, but very slowly!

    • Kate, it is a gradual thing – when I realized I was dreading the garden season instead of being excited, I had to acknowledge my limitations and do something about it. We have had beautiful weather for March but then there is almost always an April snow. I hope spring comes soon for you!

  9. What beautiful, beautiful photographs. You have an eye for combining flowers – something that I am working at. I can identify with needing help for the heavier tasks, but sometimes forget that I’m not 40 any longer, nor 50, nor 60, nor 70. But I do want to keep my garden so I think I need to start looking for someone.

    • Thank you, Graham – I hope you and Marilyn are well. We’ve been enjoying retirement but very happy that spring is here. Bill has started to play his guitar on the deck again – all is well 🙂

  10. Thank you for this beautiful post, Lynn. Your garden is amazing in every season! Glad you have help with the heavy lifting and that this also allows you more time to see all the tiny miracles you’ve created! 🌸 Joy to your spring!

    • Sweet Kitty, thank you for your generous response. Yes, the help has made all the difference between defeat and hope. Fortunately, I have amazing helpers and as of now, future rewards seem unlimited! I hope you are well and happy, so wonderful to have you here.

    • Oh, the proverbial lamb 🙂 The season has been sweet, not sour. Yes, I’ve received the 1st vaccine shot and waiting for the second. Hope abides but nothing stops my hope for a rich beautiful year ahead 🙂

      • Amen. We got our second doses this afternoon. Regarding the virus, 2021 seems destined to be much better than 2020. When it comes to the rapidly mounting suppression of thought and speech and facts in what I’d always held to be the land of the free, I’ve never been so depressed.

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