About composerinthegarden

A composer by vocation, a gardener by avocation. My garden and my life as a composer are deeply intertwined - the yin and yang of my creative life. . .

Walk in a dream

You can walk in a dream while you are awake; just walk in the misty morning of a forest! ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

Yesterday was sunny and hot, a perfect August day. Then wild windy storms blew in, pouring rain over the hot earth –  wisps of steam rose into the air as the storm moved on. This morning, I awoke to clouds of fog and mist and felt as if I were still in a dream. Angel and I took a short walk but turned home sooner than usual, concerned about safety on the foggy road. foggyroad

The rain amplified the green of grass and trees along the shady woodland edges.

The fallen tree still hanging over the lower garden has kept me from working there, but the fog softened the shaggy edges and lent the garden an abandoned romantic quality.

The Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ was bowed down by the heavy rains, making the path under it impassible. limelightpath

A spider wasted no time spinning a beautiful web on the deck. spiderweb

Even the brightly colored hillside garden shimmered softly, subdued in the misty light. foggyhilltop

steelerstepsRudbeckia ‘Little Suzy’ fell down the steps after the heavy rain but continues to bloom, unconcerned. littlesuzy

I have spent much of this summer composing a cello concerto that will be premiered next year. There is more work to do, but as I walked through the mist this morning, I thought of Benjamin Britten’s description of the process. “Composing is like driving down a foggy road toward a house. Slowly you see more details of the house – the color of the slates and bricks, the shape of the windows. The notes are the bricks and the mortar of the house.”  May you find clarity in the fog and enjoy the misty beauty of your dreams.

foggygate

moonlight disappears down the hills
mountains vanish into fog
and I vanish into poetry ~Sanober Kahn

 

The very top of summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless . . . ~Natalie Babbitt

It is a cool quiet morning as Angel and I go out into the garden. Last night’s raucous frog chorus has faded with the light and the cicadas won’t begin their drowsy drone until the air warms. It feels as if time has stopped, with only the occasional bird song to remind me that I am awake in this beautiful world, the essence of late summer.

The garden has suddenly become voluptuous with the buxom blooms of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ and tall summer phlox (Phlox paniculata).

August creates as she slumbers, replete and satisfied. ~Joseph Wood Crutch 

The composite flowers of Echinacea, Rudbeckia, and shasta daisies (Leucanthemumsuperbum) are running riot through the garden.

late summer steps

I resist the urge to pluck their petals to the chant of “he loves me, he loves me not” and instead admire their cheerful faces so beloved by bees and butterflies.

I saw a monarch butterfly the other day, the first I’ve seen in two years, although it proved to be camera shy. Winged pollinators of all sorts have been busy in the garden.

A few weeks ago, I spied this huge creature on a daylily stem, with a wing span larger than my hand, the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus).  A denizen of deciduous forests, it only lives a few days as an adult, just long enough to lay eggs and complete its life cycle. When I shared the photo with my friend Edwin, he exclaimed “In 4-H etymology projects this was the grand prize!” Polyphemus moth

I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain. ~Keats

While creatures were flying, trees were falling. A high wind twisted and ripped a tall red oak tree from the base of its trunk in our front woods, splaying it across the road. A friendly neighbor driving by helped us cut the top branches and clear the road until the tree company could remove the rest. Fortunately, only a few fence rails were damaged.

A few days later, I heard a terrible cracking sound through my window at 4 A.M., followed by a series of snaps. I’ve heard a tree fall before and I braced myself for the crash into our house but fortunately, I heard only a solid thud in the distance. At first light, I found our neighbor’s huge oak had cracked near the base and fallen into the woods, taking two smaller oaks with it. I’m hoping the mulberry tree won’t suffer permanent damage, as it now has an oak leaning into it until the tree surgeons do their work later this week.

treefall2

fallenoak

Last night, I walked through the garden at dusk to the sound of evening birdsong and the thrum of tree frogs courting.  The hilltop that looked so cheerful in daylight hilltop

became dreamy and mysterious in the evening light. eveninggarden

There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer’s day than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air. ~Peter Mayle 

May you enjoy every moment of the very top of summer before the Ferris wheel resumes its downward plunge into fall.

The garden is singing

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can never learn how to paint. ~Picasso

The garden of circles is in its most colorful garb of the year and changes its appearance throughout the day as the light shifts and turns. downstepsjuly

Morning light brings an inner glow to new blooms, a luminescence seen at no other time of day and ephemeral in its passing. sweetcharlotte

Evening lights up the hillside and creates shadows around the arbor gateway. upsteps

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and its ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I’ve been experimenting with color themes for all of my years as a gardener, laying one color against another to create a gentle moment or a raucous party.  July is the month of daylily bloom and the endless choice of flower color, patterns and shapes of the hemerocallis clan provides an opportunity to make visual music in the garden.

Sometimes the colors between two flowers are tender and lyrical, creating an evocative melody.

Sometimes the darker tones rule, dramatic, mysterioso. “Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” ~Claude Monet

I drink purple in the morning and read on lime green.  I sleep in smoky blues beneath burnt orange, and I eat in a yellow afterglow. My home is filled with the conversations of color. . .  ~Ketzel Levine

What happens when purple meets yellow? Zing! or perhaps Sing! The grape and lemonade bed is in full chorus.

Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.  ~Kahlil Gibran

peachblue

The peach and blue bed

Peach has always seemed to me as sweet as pink but with a little more attitude. Combine it with blue for even more pizazz, a romantic pas de deux.

The new rock walls on the hillside are filling in nicely. hillsidefromdeck

Plants displaced during its construction have settled in and are making lovely warm color combinations that subtly change each morning as the daylily blooms reconfigure themselves.

Each evening, Angel and I tour the garden, then go up the steps to the house for one more look. angelonsteps

The view from the upper deck reveals the theme of circles in the garden, a visual rondo.

May your summer sing with the sounds and sights of joyful color.

Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul. ~Kandinsky

Perfect young summer

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

Summer is truly here, the solstice bringing long days of light along with copious rain and heat. The last of the May flowers are finished, and early June has suddenly pirouetted into young summer. The garden burgeons with lush green growth.June garden circles

Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.     ~Pablo Neruda

Our native Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ threatens to swallow the bench at the bottom of the garden, drinking long and hard of the rain brought by frequent thunderstorms.

<em>Hydrangea arborescens</em> 'Annabelle'

<em>Hydrangea</em> fairy

Always generous with her blooms, ‘Annabelle’ generously provides a few clever nests for the leafier moth  (Olethreutes ferriferana) – there are plenty of leaves and blooms to spare.

Long trails of Italian clematis clamber and flow along fences, down shrubs and across other perennials while the perennial residents of pots rise up to meet them. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image.)

The daylilies are beginning to flower. A stand of ‘Lynn’s Delight’ was given to me by a friend years ago and and is the first to blossom each June; black annual poppies are poised to bloom in tandem.

Every day, new daylilies open amid the roses, bringing a surprise of color to each morning walk.

True lilies continue the show throughout the garden; one of my favorites is the soft peach down-facing ‘Tiger Babies’. The peach theme continues with roses.

On this June day, the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers.     ~Francis King

The grape and lemonade bed is moving into its glory of lemon yellows and deep purples.

June is almost over yet the freshness of young summerJune hilltop with yellow foxglovefilled with blue skies,June skies

lush blooms, June hillside

and rich greens Hostas and ferns at woodland edgecontinues to enchant. May you enjoy the final days of a lovely June and celebrate the entrance of the fireworks of July.

And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June.  ~Abba Woolson

(All images ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

 

An instrument of grace

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is our instrument of grace.  ~May Sartor

Each morning this week began with a stroll through the garden. Under blue skies and surrounded by the peace of the green woods, there was so much to see. Time to put away the troubles of the world and enter the sanctuary of nature for a moment of grace. Won’t you join me on my walk this morning?

The upper garden is in its final moment of glory. Alliums, foxglove, iris and peonies create a spectacle of color and shape.

lateMayherbcircle

Peony ‘Krinkled White’ is always generous with her blooms and shrugs off the rains that drop other peonies to the ground. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full-size image)

Allium christophii sparkles near the self-seeded ‘Foxy’ foxgloves. alliumfoxglove

If you long for a mind at rest and a heart that cannot harden, go find a gate that opens wide into a secret garden. ~Unknown

The garden gate beckons us to enter. gardengate

The warmth and rain of the last two weeks has triggered lush and abundant growth.

Summer has already come to the lower garden, peonies and iris giving way to roses and clematis. Hybrid musk rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ climbs the fence and creeps into the mulberry tree. Her simple white blossoms are sweetly fragrant, attracting pollinators and scenting the lower garden.

As I walk along the crunchy gravel paths, I see crowds of bumblebees visiting blooms, filling their pollen sacs with golden goodness.

The ninebark ‘Diablo’ in the Plum & Pewter bed is festooned with Clematis ‘Margo Koster’ and the patio rose ‘Sweet Charlotte’ has burst into bloom. A single five petal blossom adorns the species rose Rosa rubrifolia, treasured for its smoky foliage color.

The apricot roses are out in force, showing off with the purple fireworks of Allium christophii. A firefly rests on a silvery gray lamb’s ear stalk nearby, no doubt gathering energy for tonight’s show of lights.

Several bushes of ‘Rose de Rescht’ bloom along the curving path and fill the air with the intoxicating scent of old roses; many buds promise weeks of bloom.

As I approach the arbor that leads to the woods, I am stopped in my tracks by the profusion of rose ‘Complicata’ climbing its rungs. The clusters of large single blossoms carry a sweet light scent and will provide orange rose hips in the fall. When I turn around to view the garden through the arbor, I see that Angel has joined me on the garden stroll.

I hope you enjoyed walking with me through the garden, where each journey leads to new discoveries. May you savor the slow circles of nature and find grace therein.

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir