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

In a quiet time

There are few machine noises these days, just the occasional car in the distance or neighbors working in their yards. The bird song has been astounding, as if they can now hear each other clearly and are no longer struggling to communicate through a wall of manmade sound.

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear. ~Rumi

I was weeding near the ‘Snow Fountains’ Japanese cherry tree yesterday when I heard a loud buzzing sound. It was the first bumblebees of the season as they dove through the branches and nuzzled blossom after blossom.

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
~ Kobayashi Issa

I love the quiet moments in my garden. Did you know that scientists have discovered that as we isolate and stop our frenzied pace, the earth itself has become quieter?

waterbowl

Spring holds hope for a new beginning and this year is no different, but perhaps it is more important and more longed for in these strange times. The sun shining through blossoms of the spicebushspicebushbranch

and the light on the footpath lightonpath

seem to promise renewal and fresh beginnings at a deeper level – I hope so.

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke

The daffodils and Virginia bluebells are opening . . .

along with late blooming double hellebore ‘Rose Quartz’. hellebore1

Life is uncertain yet we can still be kind, still be thoughtful, still be loving. Each step in the garden reminds me that Mother Earth and her creatures are flourishing even as our human world is turned upside down. My greatest hope is that we will find a way to live in harmony with each other and with the earth. Many people are in desperate need now – I encourage you to do what you can in your own way to help, whether it is to call a friend or contribute to your local food bank. If you are in need, please reach out to others for help – we are all in this together.

If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. ~ Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Thank you for walking with me in the garden. I wish each of you gentle silence and peace of heart.

Listen to silence. It has so much to say. ~Rumi

All photographs and text ©2020 Lynn Emberg Purse, except where noted.

 

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.

Tipping Point

Tipping point – the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place ~Merriam-Webster 

For the past few weeks, spring bulbs have been blooming at my feet, adding shots of welcome color to a skeletal world of bare branches and empty earth. Each day brought something new into flower.

The past few days, after warm and rainy weather, the world looks if an artist had spilled an entire palette of colors into the landscape. The skeletons of bark and branch are suddenly clothed in spring finery and the once bare earth is filled with plants rising up to meet the new canopy overhead.

The kousa dogwood reveals its delicate young leaves against the woods around it. dogwoodleaves

Vibrant new oak leaves are festooned with tassels of Victorian flowers whose pollen sifts to the ground, layering everything with a fine gold dust. oakflowers

The shrubs are fully flushed out with lush green foliage and some, like this Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake’ are beginning to flower. woodlandedgeWP

 

A lady bug emerges into the cool morning air from the rough leaf of a Chinese viburnum, where she sheltered during the night.ladybugleaf

Each morning when I step outside, my eyes are dazzled by the richness of the garden, herbbedsMay

the light sifting through leaf northwalkWP

and flower. bellacoolaWP

Scenes that were flat and dull are now filled with shadow and light, herbcornerWP

shape and color. bleedingheartWP

I am too restless to stay indoors; I trace my path through the garden again and again to greet each new face, marvel at each new sign of life.  cherrytreearchWP

As the light fades in the evening, I stand on the deck for one last drink of color.  glMay

Early spring has tipped deliriously into May and each new day promises more change, more surprise, more beauty. Wherever you find yourself, may your days be spent in the beauty of nature awakening.  lowergrdnMayWP

Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire. ~Virgil