Visiting Gardens

Creativity is contagious, pass it on ~Albert Einstein

One thing gardeners love to do is to visit other gardens. It is a chance to see how others  create beautiful spaces and inspire the rest of us to tweak or refine our own gardens. Inspiration and fellowship all in one package – what a great idea! This summer, I will be joining dozens of other garden bloggers from across the U.S., Canada, and the UK to visit gardens in the Washington D.C. area.15977491_1381982131833368_2823875859792622106_n

Garden Bloggers Fling is an annual gathering of garden bloggers to visit beautiful gardens and make connections with like-minded folks, an event I’ve been wanting to attend for the past few years. Tammy, one of the organizers of this year’s fling describes it as “three and a half days of gardeners gabfest.” Gentle encouragement posted by fellow blogger Jason at Garden in a City tipped the balance for me, as well as an image from a gorgeous rose-filled Franciscan monastery  garden on the tour.

There is nothing better than visiting gardens to discover new ideas and gain new inspiration. Knowing first hand what a challenge it is to prepare your garden for visitors, I am always grateful to those who open their gates to us. Here are two gardens in Pittsburgh that are worth visiting.

Choderwood is a hidden treasure in the eastern part of the city, located next to an industrial site and hidden behind a long stretch of high fence. A bold gate marks the entrance to the B&B sited above the Allegheny river. Ornamental gardens, quirky structures, scenic river views and a charming kitchen garden complete with chickens combine into one of the most unique gardens I’ve ever visited. A popular place for weddings, B&B guests can also stay in small boats on the river in season. How cool is that?

Want a shot of color in the middle of of a long gray winter? Get your color fix in this urban landmark destination for garden visitors worldwide. Randyland is the brainchild of artist Randy Gilson, who bought a crumbling home in the North Side of Pittsburgh years ago. On a shoestring budget, he transformed his house and garden with paint brush and plants and went on to help establish neighborhood community gardens that have changed lives.

Dreaming of the garden season is in full swing here – I’m starting seeds this weekend and my wish list for new plants is growing longer by the day. Are you planning any garden visits this year?

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation ~ Voltaire

At the Heart of Nature

Every New Year must be celebrated at the heart of nature – in the middle of a forest or by the side of a lake under billions of stars – because it is nature who has made our existence possible! ~Mehmet Murat ildan 

It is probably no surprise to anyone that I consider the heart of nature to be in the garden. The day after Christmas was so mild that I spent it quietly potting up all of the bulbs that didn’t get planted in November. A few days later, I managed to rake the last layer of leaves from the garden paths so that their patterns would emerge under the snow. Winter is here in fits and starts; snow covers the ground today but rain is predicted for tomorrow. On this last day of the year, Angel and I are snuggled up on the sofa, looking over the photos of the garden this past year.

PollinatorSignThis was the year that the property became certified by the Penn State Master Gardeners as a Pollinator Friendly Garden, a landmark step in my efforts to create a haven for wildlife in general and pollinators in particular.  With the help of my niece Carly, an untended garden bed along the road got an extensive  makeover and was filled with native plants to further support pollinators.

toursignWP

In late June, 500 visitors meandered through the garden as part of the Town & Country garden tour to benefit the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. I worked 6-8 hours a day, six days a week for two months, to prepare the garden for close inspection. I realized as I was writing the garden description for the tour booklet that I had always thought of this garden as a “garden in the woods” inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods. The trees that surround the house and garden are an integral part of the landscape and are beautiful in every season.

After all the visitors were gone for the season, the plants on the hillside garden were temporarily moved to make room for a new pair of handsome stone walls.  I look forward to seeing them covered with blooms next season.

Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? ~T. S. Elliot

The gardening year really begins in the spring, fresh and full of potential.

Memories of summer bring to mind an explosion of flowers amid warm days.

Autumn arrived with a new palette of colors.

The calendar year begins and ends in winter:

Tomorrow brings a new year, full of the hopes and ambiguities of an unknown future. I wish all of you a new year of joy and I hope that you spend some of it in the heart of nature.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice . . .
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets: Little Gidding”

(All photos [except pollinator sign] in this blog post ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

A Winter Wonderland

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again. ~ Lewis Carroll

patternoflightThis week, winter arrived. An all day snow turned the world into a festive snowy wonderland that I could barely see during a slow drive home from work in the dark. Morning brought blue skies and golden sun and revealed the white fairytale forest around me. You might enjoy listening to the unusual arrangement of Winter Wonderland by Pentatonix (below) while you look at the snow photos – click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image. (All still images ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse)

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~ J.B. Priestley

The Air Wild with Leaves

Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves ~Humbert Wolfe

Last week, a misty morning  turned the garden into a place of magic and mystery.

A few days later, a wild wind carried winter in its arms and spun the color from the trees into the air.

And then it snowed for two days.

In spite of the recent snow and freezing temperatures, the garden still offers moments of beauty. In a world that seems to have gone mad, the garden remains a place for quiet reflection, solace for frayed emotions and restless thoughts. Everywhere I look, there is richness of texture, of color, of light sifting through the trees, mist flowing down the hills. As I step on carpets of fallen oak leaves rimmed with morning frost, the world seems alive and abundant. A family of deer sidle by the fence, the red-tailed hawk whistles its distinctive cry, chipmunks scuttle under the stone walls, bluejays and cardinals drink from the birdbath. A few roses linger next to the russet leaves of autumn shrubs, the carpets of Ajuga glow with their dark winter foliage. Until the snows come in earnest, the garden is a cornucopia of life.

At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth ~Rilke

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For my American friends, I wish you a joyful Thanksgiving; to all my friends and readers, I wish you a cornucopia of abundance in your lives.

There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, “There’s not enough good to go around. There’s lack and there’s limitation and there’s just not enough.” The truth is that there’s more than enough good to go around. There is more than enough creative ideas. There is more than enough power. There is more than enough love. There’s more than enough joy. All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature. ~Michael Beckwith

Here’s a link to Jude’s November garden challenge on trees and leaves, worth a visit, especially if you like woodlands and Shakespeare.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos and text ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

Syzygy

supermoonwpTonight the sky was clear and yesterday’s supermoon reappeared in full glory – the earth, moon, and sun are all in a line, creating a syzygy. I had never heard this term before my student Ryan Bromley brought a composition to the electronic ensemble entitled Syzygy. The piece was a success and my husband liked it so much that he recorded it with Ryan for his Tribute CD.

Listen to the clip generously provided by Bill Purse while viewing a few images of the garden and woods in their autumn glory. 

In celebration of autumn color and inspired by the work of nature artist Andy Goldsworthy, I assembled an ephemeral piece of leaf and flower. redleafmandala1

Now Autumn’s fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt. ~William Allingham