Deep Purple

It was a beautiful day here in Western PA – skipper and black swallowtail butterflies flitted around the garden and dark rich colors blossomed everywhere.  Here are a few photos of deep purple flowers.  Next week, some new music!

All photos ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

My World Is Blue

“Blue, blue, my world is blue …” English lyrics to “L’Amour Est Bleu/Love is Blue”

These lyrics echoed through my head as I walked through my garden this weekend, surrounded by clouds of blue forget-me-nots, tall wands of Camassia quamash (a native wild hyacinth) and the shorter spires of English bluebells and purple Ajuga. The garden is in its bluest moment, in bright contrast to the golden leaves of Spireas and hostas and the fresh green foliage of the woods. My world is truly blue.

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Perhaps you remember the song “Love is Blue” written by Andre Popp  –  “the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.” (Wikipedia)    Made famous as an easy listening instrumental hit by French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat in 1968, it was more recently featured in “The Blue and the Gray” episode of The Simpsons in February, 2011. The song was first introduced through the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 where it placed fourth. Here is charming footage of Greek singer Vicky Leandros singing “L’Amour Est Bleu” in the original television program that launched the song.

As someone who is attentive to both color and the elements of nature, I find it fascinating that the original French lyrics written by Pierre Cour compare the pain and beauty of love to both colors (blue and grey) AND elements (water and wind) while the English version by Brian Blackburn focuses only on colors (blue, grey, red, green, and black).  Here are the original French lyrics with English translation and here are the English lyrics written by Blackburn.

In addition to the original French pop song and its instrumental version by Mauriat, it has been recorded in an instrumental rock version by Jeff Beck, and a soul version by the Dells. Here’s my favorite French version by Claudine Longet but the one that really knocks my musical socks off is the soul version by The Dells. They sang a medley of I Can Sing a Rainbow/Love is Blue that still gives me goosebumps for its power and passion – an incredible vocal group, The Dells take this song to a new level.

And finally, a video of Paul Mauriat (1925-2006) conducting his instrumental version of “Love is Blue.”

Blue, blue, my world is blue.

Brass Fanfare in the Garden

I catch my breath every time I enter the garden through the front gate and turn towards the house.  The copper garden has grown huge, a bower of bright and dark coppery colors celebrating autumn early.  The Coleus have gone to flower and the ornamental sweet potato leaves are lacy with insect nibbling but the color!  The brass section of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was magnificent this weekend in its performance of “Pictures at an Exhibition” – it seems those grand brass flourishes have translated directly into the September garden.  I turn to look down the stone steps and the color continues, like a brilliant fanfare of red and gold and every shade between.  I look up at the decks from the side and deep warm colors overflow from every pot and hayrack.

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After a large tree fell on the decks last year, I had an opportunity to refurbish the renovated spaces.  I was inspired and challenged by garden artist Keeyla Meadows’  remarkable book “Fearless Color Gardens: The Creative Gardener’s Guide to Jumping Off the Color Wheel.”  I have worked with color in the garden for years, but this book stretched my notions of what was possible.  I took the plunge into bolder color on the upper deck, inspired by a Mad Mats outdoor carpet and my love for dark foliage.  This was the opportunity to revel in the warm tones – apricot, peach, gold, orange, rust, burgundy. I painted a table and chairs, added a bench with pillows, and filled up pots and hayracks with ornamental sweet potatos, petunias, Agastache, Million Bells, zinnias, and cherry tomatoes.  It has become my morning haven, the perfect place to drink in a large draft of glorious color while I write and think.  Unexpectedly, it has also become a haven for bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.  The deck is small and perched high among the treetops, a promontory for viewing the garden below.  In another month, the trees will shift from summer green to the gold and scarlet of autumn – I look forward to a spectacular flourish to end the gardening concerto for another year.

All photos and text of “Brass Fanfare in the Garden” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved