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.

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

 

Of flowers and light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” ~Theodore Roethke

As earth spirals towards the summer solstice, each day begins earlier and seems filled with more light. The growing crescendo of flowers opening in the garden somehow capture and reflect that light even more.

Allium 'Everest' against beauty bush

Each day brings new change as buds become flowers . . .

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and garden scenes shift their colors as new blooms open and others begin to fade.

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When I first began to study photography, I was deeply influenced by a line from the book The Art of Seeing – “Only light, not things, strike the retina.”  The objects we think we see are in reality spectrums of light reflected back to us. That realization changed the way I saw the world and the way that I tried to capture it with my camera. In the garden, light is everything. Plants respond to it, live by it, reach for it, and reflect it.

What we see as color is actually the reflection of a particular wavelength of light. Happily, color in nature is never just one shade or tone, but instead a complex reflection that challenges and seduces our eyes with both boldness and nuance.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The garden unfolds in the growing light, rich and full of promise, and extends an invitation to step over the threshold and wander the paths.

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. ~William Wordsworth

hrbMayvert

Enjoy the loveliness of May and may you treasure the light that grows each day.

“I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself.” ~Edward Steichen, photographer

Composing about light: The Four Elements: Light

Perpetual Astonishment

Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters

A week of sun and rain has changed everything. The garden grows greener by the minute, more flowers are blooming each day. The small islands of early flowers and foliage are growing larger and starting to connect throughout the garden. It looks and smells like spring. The wild cherries and amelanchier are blooming throughout the woods with clumps of summer snowflakes blooming beneath. (Click on any photo in these mosaics to see a full size image)

The later daffodils are beginning to bloom and have escaped being felled by sub-zero temperatures.

The tulips are coming into bloom, along with some early perennials.

Spring seems to have arrived in earnest, perpetually astonishing in its loveliness.

This post is a part of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, a monthly event sponsored by May Dreams Gardens. You will find links to over fifty beautiful gardens blooming in April – have fun exploring!

All photos ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

The call of spring seems to be louder, sweeter, more siren-like, than ever before. The longing to get closer to nature, fills the heart. ~M.F. Canfield