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. . .

Purple Prose

Purple prose: writing that is extravagantly flowery

I admit it, the garden is guilty of purple prose. It is extravagantly flowery this week, especially in shades of purple. Siberian Iris 'Reprise'

Now is the time of alliums Allium 'Purple Sensation'and columbines (Aquilegia). doublebluecolumbineThe three petaled flowers of our native spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) opened this morning. spiderwort

What potent blood hath modest May ~ Ralph W. Emerson

Not only is the garden extravagant with bloom, it is clothing itself in rich layers of texture and color. The upper garden greets me each morning with flowers and foliage under a cathedral of green oaks. frontgarden

The south facing garden in the back is even more extravagant, more “purple”. Let’s enter by the gate.MayGate

The hillside garden is in its late spring glory but the color comes as much from the foliage as from the flowers. lowergardenMay

The deep purple and white ‘William Guiness’ columbine stops me in my tracks as I pause on the steps – a dependable self-seeding plant, I love that it pops up everywhere in the garden. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to enlarge the image)

Nearby, Iris germanica ‘Tiger Honey’ blooms near Heuchera ‘Caramel’ and Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, a lovely color counterpoint to the purples.

As I descend further into the lower garden, the purples get softer surrounded by blues and greens.columbineallium

The garden bench is closely embraced by the exuberant growth of the rain-rich May garden. gardenbench

As I circle back around through the garden, I am captured by the sight of complex layers of woodland and garden intertwining their voices in a vesper song.lowergarden

As dusk falls, I retrace my steps and view the garden from above. It grows quiet as the last light retreats and the birds settle to their nests. Thank you for walking along with me in the garden and listening to its purple prose.eveninggarden

If it’s drama that you sigh for, plant a garden and you’ll get it. . . If you long for entertainment and for pageantry most glowing, plant a garden and this summer spend your time with green things growing. ~Edward A. Guest, Plant a Garden

All photographs and text ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

Blossom by blossom

Blossom by blossom the spring begins. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

While you read and look, I invite you to listen to Craig B. Dobbins’ Appalachian Lullaby recorded by my husband Bill Purse for an upcoming album.

This was a year when winter seemed longer and gloomier than usual. The soft browns and grays of the garden were lovely in their own quiet way but I longed for color, for signs of new life. foggygarden

The sky obliged with  color. MarchSunrise

And then the first signs of new life emerged. Along with the Tommy crocus and snow drops, the hellebores began blooming in pink and white and deep purple while the wine red stalks of peonies rose up from the ground. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

 

For the first time in years, the forsythia bloomed profusely followed by the daffodils and mid-spring bulbs.

 

Gray clouds carrying rain became more welcome as they hurried along the greening of the woods and garden.

Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.  ~Charlotte Brontë

 

Along with the rain and green growth came the weeds. My niece Madison showed up to help me sort out the garden beds; what a pleasant talk we had in the spring sunshine. madison

As the rain and sunshine dance through the garden, it has exploded with color and scent. The shrubs and trees are blooming while a few tulips and daffodils linger.

 

Each morning, the intoxicating scent of lilies of the valley greet me as I step out my front door; the wild violets tucked in among them only increase their charm.

 

Now the garden is full to overflowing with lush textures and colors. Yesterday I heard the wood thrush singing and a pair of robins are nesting nearby where I can sometimes catch a glimpse of a tiny blue egg.

 

Angel and I walk the paths through the garden each day, reveling in every new blossom and scent.

angelMay

To understand the journey you have to do the walking. ~Bryant McGill

upstepsMay

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey around the garden and through the season. May you enjoy a spring rich with color and life.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

All images and text ©2019 by Lynn Emberg Purse except as noted.

Circles of Light

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. ~Anne Frank

The early mornings are dark now, the light is late to arrive. It is the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the solstice that marks the turn to longer days of light. (The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still”) Humans have long celebrated that moment as we turn from dark to light by lighting candles, burning logs, bringing evergreens into our homes, reminding ourselves that the days will grow longer. solsticesunset8

A few years ago, I took a class in creating mandalas, a circle that encloses the expression of our inner selves. The circle is an ancient symbol – the circle of life, the circle of a wedding ring, the circle of councils and celebrations. Some of the mandalas we created in that class were ephemeral, fashioned from found objects in nature. This one of ferns and moss reminds me of a Christmas wreath. intothemoss

At some point during the course, as I set the point of the drafting compass to paper, I suddenly realized that I had created my lower garden as a mandala without realizing it. I had found the center point of the garden plot and pounded a stake into it, tied a rope to it and let it guide me as I walked in concentric circles around it, creating planting beds and paths by dragging a hoe on the ground through the loose dirt.

mid-April

Circle Garden in mid-April

Walking these circular paths in the garden in any season is like tracing the steps of a labyrinth and always puts me in harmony with the natural world. cherryaftersnow

My favorite drawing on paper, however, expresses my love for the earth and my hope for peace and light for the world. Ironically, I discovered that when drawing the wings, the light was made more powerful by drawing shadows for contrast and depth. And so life goes, shadow and light, circles and seasons, sorrows and joys, through the great round of life. On this day and in this season, my wish for each of you  is that the light grows brighter both in your world and in your heart, from the inside to the outside and back again.

wings_tree_mandala copy

In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. ~ John Burroughs

All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted.

Here’s a musical view of the winter solstice.

Gratitude among contradictions

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly

Even as we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving this week, I am mindful that gratitude is seasonless and ever appropriate regardless of temporal circumstances. I have taken a long hiatus from this blog as I dove deep underground for reflection and renewal these past few months. Surfacing into a heavy teaching schedule this fall only complicated matters, yet each day brings something for which I am grateful.

herbcircle2

 “I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take.” ~Suzy Kassem

There were many moments of beauty in the garden during those months. Flowers bloomed, butterflies graced the garden, and the rain came often to soak the ground and encourage growth and flowering. (click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Two weeks ago, the autumnal light slanted through the woods while the mild fall weather had barely turned the leaves into shades of red and gold.

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf. ~Albert Schweitzer

Chestnut Oak leaf with acornsLast week, a freezing rain followed by snow turned the woods into a fairy land but bent to the ground many trees that had not yet dropped their leaves.

brokenpineboughsGrateful that our electric power stayed on,  several friends were not so lucky and dealt with many cold days and dark nights. Alas, our white pines suffered damage from the heavy load and lost several branches, crushing a chair beneath them. Fortunately the Chinese dogwoods (Cornus kousa) and Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) trees sprung back up after being bowed to the ground. Resilience in nature is not to be underestimated!

Today’s frigid temperatures revealed roses frozen in mid-bloom and a bounty of rose hips from previous blooms that will feed birds throughout the winter. frozenrose

Even as people in many parts of our country and our world are in distress, I am aware of my blessings as I write this from the warmth of my home, my sweet Angel curled next to me, my husband serenading us on his guitar. How fortunate I am to have a home, a loving family, a beautiful garden, and meaningful work.  Marcel Proust reminds us “let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” swallowtailechinacea

May your soul blossom now and through the coming days and please, send a word of thanks to those who have given so much, regardless of circumstances. Heroes walk among us, every day people who give their time, their hearts and sometimes their lives.

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. ~Albert Schweitzer

All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

That beautiful season

That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is the middle of the calendar year, that fulcrum on which the earth spins and twists into the depths of summer. This Fourth of July morning, the garden was at the height of bloom, sparking with floral fireworks.

hothemshillWP

The hydrangeas have grown twice their normal size from the many days of rain in June and sweep the ground with their massive white blossoms against the deep green of the woods. (click on any image in the mosaics to see a full size photo)

The daylilies have stepped forward into the spotlight and are singing intricate songs of color and shape. Some appear gentle, fragile, tender in tints of pink and violet.

Others are bold and daring, as if they’ve thrown their heads back for a hearty laugh.

My favorites are the dark quiet treasures, promising secrets if you listen closely enough.

True lilies are blooming too – Orienpet lily ‘Altari’ is so fragrant that her scent carries over the entire garden in the heat of a July morning. altariWP

The smaller Asiatic lilies are almost done blooming for the season.

The woods have grown dark with summer leaves, promising a cool respite from the summer heat.

gatetowoodsWP

The trees have it in their pent up buds,
to darken nature and be summer woods. ~Robert Frost

Coming and going through the garden gate, the sheer bounty of color and life makes me pause for a longer look.

My eyes, weary of staring at luminous screens indoors for days on end, find relief and delight in the complex layers of shadow and light before me. I look across the garden at scenes of color and texture

and look down to the tiniest leaves at my feet. yellowbluefoliageWPIt is like looking at the music that I hear in my dreams but can never quite remember, rich and wild and overflowing with life. It is a beautiful season indeed.

All images and text ©2018 by Lynn Emberg Purse, except as noted.