Green things growing

O the green things growing, the green things growing,
The faint sweet smell of the green things growing!
       ~Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (English poet)

greengarden

Profuse rain and warm sunny days have turned the world green. Plants grew a foot overnight and the tender veil of new leaves in the spring woods was suddenly transformed into a verdant velvet curtain. O the green things growing indeed.

herbcircletrees

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration . . . ~D. H. Lawrence

In a few weeks, flowers will fill the garden beds but for now, they are lush islands of leaves with a few sparks of floral color. Not all of the foliage is green though – deep reds, bright golds and warm bronzes have come into full leaf as well.

There are a few bright spots of contrasting colors as spring flowers give way to the early summer blooms of alliums and flowering shrubs. (Click on any photo to see a larger image)

Some of the perennials have begun to bloom, bridging the floral gap between spring and summer.

In a few days, the garden will change again as the roses and peonies and foxglove add their drama to the scene, but for now I will treasure the blessing of green things growing.

All photos and text ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse (except where 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

 

Gold in Its Pocket

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~Jim Bishop

goldoakleaves

Cold nights finally arrived this week and transformed the trees and shrubs around the garden and through the woods. Green is giving way to gold and bronze and red, filtering the already golden light through a stained glass canopy of warm colors. It is one thing to view the fiery colors from open ground and another entirely different experience to walk beneath them. I feel as if I am in a new world seen through a new lens.

oakleaves

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonize. ~George Eliot

herbtreesfallEverywhere I turn, most of the green beneath my feet and above my head has been changed out to a new color scheme. The morning has been a constant shift between hesitant sunshine and spats of rain and every surface is saturated and rich with color.

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
~ Dylan Thomas

(click on any photo in the mosaics to enlarge)

A few flowers continue to bloom, offering rich color and the last bits of food to pollinators.

Some of the garden faces are still smiling.

Angel and I make the rounds several times a day – not only are the colors beautiful but the autumn earth is rich with scents. “At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth.” (Rilke)

The leaves are beginning to fall as the rain begins again; it won’t be long before the trees are bare and this glorious color is a memory. “Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” (Chad Sugg)
autumngate

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

All photos and text ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted; All Rights Reserved.

An April Day

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day. ~ Robert Frost

bentdafWPSpring has arrived with great hesitation, or perhaps I only greet it this way. Warm days abruptly end in snow or frost, pouring rain soaks the ground and triggers green growth which is then stopped short by another deep freeze. I’ve never witnessed such extreme disruption in the garden. Although many of the early daffodil blooms hang to the ground in surrender, other growing things, especially ones native to this area, are coping with the dramatic and abrupt changes and reveal their beauty to the eye.  I must admit to a deep uneasiness – will this scenario continue in the future as we grapple with climate change? How will the creatures who depend on pollen and other garden foods at crucial times cope or even survive? Here’s what the National Wildlife Federation has to say about gardening for climate change and the problems that changing bloom times create between pollinators and the plants they depend on.

AprGrdnarchWPNevertheless, each day brings new growth and beauty. The hellebores continue to spring back after the worst conditions and a few sleepyheads are just beginning to bloom now. Bird song is a constant soundtrack to my journeys through the garden and a pair of robins follow me around as I expose the earth while digging up dandelion roots. The first blooms on the weeping cherry that survived sudden sub-zero temperatures are nuzzled by a native bee desperate for spring pollen. Tiny wind anemones and grape hyacinth bloom amid the warm rock walls. Foliage in shades of green and red rises up from the ground, displacing the last of the fallen oak leaves that blanketed the beds all winter. Now is the time for cleaning up the garden, trimming roses and shrubs, and planting seeds indoors in anticipation of summer. Prolific rains have created vernal pools and streams through the woods and spring peepers have been singing their high chweeps of courtship on warmer evenings.

Shades of pink and rose – click on any photo to see a larger image or trigger the slide show (all photos ©Lynn Emberg Purse 2017, All Rights Reserved).

Spring blooms in white, yellow, and purple.

But days even earlier than these in April have a charm, – even days that seem raw and rainy . . . There is a fascination in walking through these bare early woods, – there is such a pause of preparation, winter’s work is so cleanly and thoroughly done. Everything is taken down and put away . . . All else is bare, but prophetic: buds everywhere, the whole splendor of the coming summer concentrated in those hard little knobs on every bough . . . ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “April Days,” 1861

A special thanks to The Quote Garden for a seemingly endless source of literary inspiration.

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).