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. . .

For the love of trees

Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ~Kahlil Gibran

I fell in love with these woods 21 years ago when we found the house set within them. After living in a small stone cottage in a charming city neighborhood, I wanted to be surrounded by trees.  Growing up in an era when kids played endlessly in the woods, I spent hours by myself exploring paths, climbing trees, admiring wildflowers, listening to birds. Now I can step outside of my door and walk through the woods at any time of day or night with Pixie by my side. Since we have been walking in the woods so often, we’ve created our own path

and I’ve been learning how to identify the trees along the path by their bark and buds.

The dawn chorus has been lively as the birds prepare to mate and nest. A pair of robins have built a beautiful  and intricate nest on the spiral steps to our upper deck, undeterred by our efforts to encourage them to move elsewhere. We’ll take the inside steps to the deck until the babies fledge.

The garden is waking up and feels magical after such a long winter.

Pixie fearlessly explores the garden; it is surviving.

After working hard last year to eliminate invasive plants on our property and in the garden (an ongoing effort), I spent the winter attending online seminars on native plants, bumblebees, and gardening to support pollinators and wildlife. Even though I garden organically and support birds and pollinators, I’ve decided to step up my game and be more proactive in planting for the creatures around me. So much recent research has revealed in detail and in practical terms the intricate web that connects life on our planet and I continue to see my role as gardener and caretaker of the woods change and evolve.

Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish. ~Munia Khan 

Oak trees in budToday is the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day and the 50th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation, an organization devoted to planting trees throughout the world. Entomologist Doug Tallamy has changed the way gardeners see trees – his research revealed that native trees supports hundreds of pollinators which in turn support birdlife. What a wonderful day when we found this property filled with oak and hickory and black cherry, some of the best trees for nourishing the world around us.

Enjoy a short video I made of life in the woods and garden this spring, full of bird song, the buzz of pollinators and the beauty of trees.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. ~Herman Hesse

May is Garden for Wildlife Month. Are you planning any projects to support wildlife in your garden this year? This post is part of the #GardenBloggersChallenge sponsored by Gardencomm for the month of May. You are invited to join in and can see more details at gardencomm.org

April Moon

The moon, like a flower in heaven’s high bower, With silent delight Sits and smiles on the night. ~William Blake

These past few nights, Pixie and I have wandered through the garden under the light of an almost full April moon. The tiny flashlight I carry stays in my pocket, unneeded, as we travel the light gravel paths, stop to smell the cherry blossoms, and admire the way the lichen on the stone steps reflects the moonlight. I sit for a while in a garden chair and watch Pixie explore the woods; sometimes she sits and looks at the sky as if she admires the stars too.

Winter has returned again and again these past few weeks, sometimes with mounds of snow and sometimes just with bitter plant-slaying cold. Mark Twain was exactly right when he said “in the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of forty-eight hours.” Pixie didn’t seem to mind the snow but the green lady was definitely not amused.

Fortunately, the snow that covered the patio furniture last month

has melted into the ground to nourish the flowers. And finally, they have emerged. The hellebores (Helleborus orientalis)are always the first to bloom (click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

along with the cheerful blue blossoms of Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’.

Now that the temperatures have warmed and the sun has returned, more flowering bulbs emerge and bloom every day.

The Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) always blooms early

while the leaves of our native Hydrangea quercifolia (oak leaf hydrangea) are just beginning to emerge in their perfect geometry.

The promise of more to come is held in the new foliage of Phlox paniculata and purple sedum along with the flower buds of lilac ‘Miss Kim’.

The dawn chorus has been glorious – the birds are here and nesting and the woods are full of their songs. Robins are building a nest on our front porch, they are sociable and don’t seem to mind our comings and goings. In fact, they tap on our front door when they want more water in the birdbath.

One never knows the idyllic charm of our northern woods who has not seen them in April, when it is all a feast of birds and buds and waking life. . . This month belongs to the birds and flowers; but most of all to the robin. ~Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, American writer and ornithologist

Last evening, the April sun slanted through the circle garden to the buzz of hungry bees and wasps feeding on the weeping cherry blossoms. Spring has finally arrived, beautiful and welcome. Tomorrow night, the April moon will be full and I expect that Pixie and I will again walk in the garden under its brilliant light. 

What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished. ~Deng Ming-Dao

Did you know that the first full moon after the vernal equinox determines the date of Easter? Read about it here.

This post is a part of the April edition of Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, hosted by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Click on the link to see other gardens blooming around the country!

A March moment

Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even as I prepare a series of posts about the evolution of the garden, I am drawn into the drama of March weather. This past weekend was gloriously warm and sunny, full of blue skies and singing birds.

The light through last year’s hydrangea blossoms was magical  and the colorful sunset above the bare trees inspiring. But soon the wild winds of March blew in from the west, bending and creaking the bare trees. A day later, the snow began to fall, enormous fluffy flakes that coated everything in a magical layer of white. Never mind that the winter had already expressed itself in snow and ice many times, the effect was charming and worthy of a short video.

The snow melted by mid-afternoon, leaving the spring garden tasks visible once again, awaiting my pruner and loppers and shovel. And so March goes, an unpredictable yet compelling time of the year, promising so much for the months to come.

March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know.~ Emily Dickinson

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

Bejeweled

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs

I have become reacquainted with my garden this winter. Several times a day, Pixie and I wander out into the snow and ice – she romps in the snow as I stand and study the details of the garden in a new way.

I have no real love of winter – I find it cold, uncomfortable, and devoid of color – and yet I can always find beauty when I take the time to look.
One of my favorite fairy tales is the story of the twelve dancing princesses. They would escape their room each night, traveling through forests of gold, of silver, and of glass, to dance with their twelve princes. Last week’s ice storm brought total quiet to our neighborhood – no one stirred on the dangerous roads and everyone stayed inside, safe and warm. Yet outside stood the forest of glass, a fairy tale vision of frozen crystals coating each branch, each leaf, each faded blossom. (click on any photo to see the full-size image)

A brief snowfall coated the branches, allowing the ice and snow to sparkle through the woods and the garden, nature bejeweled and magical.

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. ~Henry David Thoreau

Thanks to my intrepid lively Pixie, I left my warm fireplace to venture into the cold crystal beauty of the garden, and for that I am ever grateful. Each moment in the glass forest and garden felt magical, an echo of fairy tale romance. May each of you, my friends, wear out your dancing shoes as you follow an adventure into nature’s beauty, perhaps in your own backyard.

 . . . what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. ~Frederick Buechner

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

Go to the winter woods

Where the forest murmurs there is music: ancient, everlasting. Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch . . . ~Fiona Macleod, Where the Forest Murmurs

Winter has truly arrived, with frequent snowfall and frigid temperatures. The browns and grays of the garden and woods have been transformed into visions of crystal magic.

There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. That is a loveliness to which surely none can be insensitive. ~Fiona Macleod

The familiar scenes of the garden are transformed, its bones and structure revealed as patterns and shapes. (click on any photo to see the larger view)

The woods and garden are visually connected by white instead of green.

The stone steps that lead to the lower garden are now just a suggestion of shape while the seedheads of plants still stand above the snow to nourish the birds.

Cherry tree

There’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special. ~Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home

The turquoise pot containing a blue fescue looks like an odd cactus, a rare spot of color in the winter landscape.

After months of mourning and tears from losing Angel, we decided it was time to add some puppy joy to our lives. We were lucky to bring home a 6 month old standard poodle puppy last week – her name is Pixie – “a cheerful, mischievous, vivacious female spirit” – a name which she lives up to very well.

She loves the snow and has created her own agility courses through it – she is quite the athlete and has free reign of the fenced-in garden and woods.

She is so fast that I’ve wondered more than once if she can actually teleport herself when I turn my head away for a few seconds and she is suddenly next to me!

(A special thanks to my niece Tracey for requesting that I add my music to this video)

It is good to snuggle up to a sweet creature and to watch her puppy antics . . . it is good to laugh again.

If you are experiencing snow and ice, I wish you warmth and safety amidst the beauty of winter; if you are in the midst of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, I wish you the joy of color and beauty filling your world.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again. ~Bill Morgan Jr.