Four and Twenty Hours

In the spring, I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain

It is typical March weather – one moment full of sunshine and flowers, the next filled with snow. A few days ago, the early morning sun on a mild day lit up the glowing green of moss and the soft colorful blooms emerging everywhere. The forsythia was finally in full-tilt bloom, the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) was covered in tiny gold bubbles, and the Japanese weeping cherry was about to burst into flower. I spent a peaceful afternoon in the garden, cleaning up beds, pruning shrubs, and listening to the lively bird song coming from the woods.

By evening, fierce winds brought winter’s return and by the next morning, wet snow clung to every branch and twig, transforming spring into a sparkling white wonderland.

The snow was wet and heavy and bright blue skies warm with sunshine threatened its demise and a quick return to spring.

But that was not to be. Within a few hours, the north wind swept through once more, creating a white out effect as it whipped the loose snow into milky clouds and froze thin layers to branches. whiteoutWP

Today, it is bitterly cold and the world outside the window is bleak once more. In a week or so, March winds will carry spring back again, an event I eagerly await. What is March weather like in your part of the world?

Anticipation

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister

Winter comes and goes these days. February has embraced all of the seasons in a few short weeks, from bitter winter to balmy summer. Earlier in the month, January’s snow melted into the ground and a thick fog rose overnight, transforming the woodland into a mysterious world of gray and black.  forestfog

Later, the sun appeared and burned away the blanket of fog, revealing the bold architecture of oak trees stark against a bright blue sky. (Click on any photo to enlarge)

Temperatures continued to warm last week until many early flowers burst into full bloom while shrubs and trees began to swell with buds and leaves. The black and white and gray of winter was suddenly sparked with color.

More hellebore (Helleborus orientalis) flowers open each day, a few weeks earlier than usual. Many have self-seeded and spread under trees and shrubs; a few are named varieties. A favorite is the almost black double flowered ‘Onyx Odyssey’. The unusual green flowers and uniquely patterned foliage of the fetid hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) punctuate the edge of the woodlands.

The temperatures have plunged once again and gardeners can only hope that the early growth won’t be damaged by the return of winter. But the anticipation of spring has begun. (Click on any photo for a full size version; all photos ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse)

Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream. ~ Barbara Winkler

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

autumngarden

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