The garden is singing

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No. Just as one can never learn how to paint. ~Picasso

The garden of circles is in its most colorful garb of the year and changes its appearance throughout the day as the light shifts and turns. downstepsjuly

Morning light brings an inner glow to new blooms, a luminescence seen at no other time of day and ephemeral in its passing. sweetcharlotte

Evening lights up the hillside and creates shadows around the arbor gateway. upsteps

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and its ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I’ve been experimenting with color themes for all of my years as a gardener, laying one color against another to create a gentle moment or a raucous party.  July is the month of daylily bloom and the endless choice of flower color, patterns and shapes of the hemerocallis clan provides an opportunity to make visual music in the garden.

Sometimes the colors between two flowers are tender and lyrical, creating an evocative melody.

Sometimes the darker tones rule, dramatic, mysterioso. “Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” ~Claude Monet

I drink purple in the morning and read on lime green.  I sleep in smoky blues beneath burnt orange, and I eat in a yellow afterglow. My home is filled with the conversations of color. . .  ~Ketzel Levine

What happens when purple meets yellow? Zing! or perhaps Sing! The grape and lemonade bed is in full chorus.

Let me, O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.  ~Kahlil Gibran

peachblue

The peach and blue bed

Peach has always seemed to me as sweet as pink but with a little more attitude. Combine it with blue for even more pizazz, a romantic pas de deux.

The new rock walls on the hillside are filling in nicely. hillsidefromdeck

Plants displaced during its construction have settled in and are making lovely warm color combinations that subtly change each morning as the daylily blooms reconfigure themselves.

Each evening, Angel and I tour the garden, then go up the steps to the house for one more look. angelonsteps

The view from the upper deck reveals the theme of circles in the garden, a visual rondo.

May your summer sing with the sounds and sights of joyful color.

Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul. ~Kandinsky

Like the First Morning

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~ Thoreau

sunnyhillsideWPEach morning this week began with a walk through an ever-changing garden. Spring is building up to an astonishing crescendo of color and texture and growth, all laid against a ground of fresh green. The early dawn chorus of birdsong masks the ordinary noises of  the world – robins, bluejays, cardinals, and red-tailed hawks zoom through the woods as they raise new families, argue over territory, and search for food. As I wander through the garden every day, the same song comes to mind. “Morning has broken like the first morning; blackbird has spoken like the first word.” Yes, each morning this week feels like the first morning, fresh, new, full of life.

On one particular morning, the garden sparkled in the morning sun from the previous night’s rain, and as I walked through the wet grass, more lyrics came to mind. “Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass.”

grassbladesWP

Tulips are the rising stars. One of my favorites is ‘Shirley’, white with feathered purple edges and a stunning center of blue. White daffodils and wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) are fitting companions to its beauty. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger version)

Lilac ‘Beauty of Moscow’ is adding its sweet scented blooms to the mix as it cascades over the fence, while in the woodland, the trees and shrubs are still leafing out and shade loving peonies bloom quietly amid the emerging ferns and hostas.

Each day feels like a miracle, a new chance for new growth and life. I wish you all a beautiful morning walk in your daily life. “Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden . . .”

Here is the 1971 version of Morning has Broken that I hear in my head as I walk through the garden (original text by Eleanor Farjeon, 1931, set to a Scottish hymn tune).

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.

Garden Abuzz

Nature’s message was always there and for us to see. It was written on the wings of butterflies. ~Kjell B. Sandved

swallowtailThe garden in August is as much a garden of creatures and sound as it is of flowers. As the flowering season comes to a crescendo, the garden becomes a “last chance buffet” for every creature gathering food stores for winter or for migration. The cicadas buzz in the woods throughout the day; in the evening, the frog chorus breaks out into pulsing serenades of courting. Bees of every size and shape buzz around the richest sources of pollen, butterflies flitter and float through the air and compete with the bees for flower landing space, hummingbirds visit every tubular flower for nectar. This is the time of the year that the gardener needs to step aside and enjoy a ringside seat to the panorama of life in the garden. Here’s a sample of the frog chorus at night. (Audio recorded and edited by Bill Purse) 

A few years ago, a serious health crisis made me an observer rather than a participant in my garden for a season or two. Even as the weeds grew unhindered, the flowering plants also bloomed without my help and were covered in bees and butterflies for months. It became apparent to me that tidiness was not a priority of Mother Nature; her priority apparently was growth abundant, unruly and rich with life. While I still enjoy playing with color and texture and form, my garden priorities are now more aligned with those of Mother Nature to support the life of creatures around me. Happily, creating a refuge for pollinators can also result in a beautiful refuge for the gardener.

We have entered an age of environmental gardening. Given the afflictions of our planet, this is overwhelmingly positive as long as we remember that the one creature most in need of refuge in the garden is the gardener. ~Adrian Higgins, The Washington Post

Each morning, Angel and I explore the garden. It is lush and overflowing, full of wings and buzzing and singing.

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The hillside that in July was covered with daylilies is now overflowing with the cheerful gold of native brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta and R. triloba) that are favorites of both butterflies and bees.

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Golden flowers abound this time of year and are a favorite of pollinators. For the first time, the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly has made an appearance. (Click on any image in the mosaic to see the full size photo).

 

The deck garden is anchored on one end by a large stand of purple coneflowers and on the other end by single roses and Persicaria ‘Firetail’ – all attract a bevy of native bees and butterflies throughout the day.

 

Lush Hydrangea blossoms form a backdrop to a tall swath of native Phlox paniculata in shades of lavender and purple, a favorite of the yellow swallowtail butterflies. Planting in groups helps pollinators gather food with the least energy expended, so I’ve begun to allow their favorite plants to increase and spread. Birdbaths tucked into flower beds provide essential water.

PollinatorSignEvery garden is a work in progress and changes over time. I have been gently steering my garden toward one that supports winged life – this year it was certified as a Pollinator Friendly Garden through the Penn State Master Gardeners program. Just one more step in creating a place where all the parts fit and work together as a whole. Want to know more?  Visit pollinator.org for information on National Pollinator Week and easy steps you can take to support life on our planet.

The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else. ~Barry Commoner, American scientist 

Except where noted, all images, sound and text ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

The Old Year Passes

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses ~ from Deck the Halls

winter skyReflection and anticipation vie for my attention at this time of the year. Like Janus, for whom January is named, I look back at the year that has passed even as I look ahead to the new year to come. A busy fall semester and the hubbub of the holidays has kept me away from my blog until now, but in the lull before the new semester begins, I have been reflecting on this past year in the garden. It was eventful, partly because of the work done on the garden paths and the deck, and the day I welcomed visitors to the garden. I’ve created a few “time lapse” slideshows of the seasons passing in the garden as a way of sharing my memories of the year’s delights.

The gravel paths that were installed this summer have been a joy to walk on in all kinds of weather; more than ever, they define the shape and the structure of the garden.

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Some areas of the garden change more dramatically than others as the seasons bring new colors, new blooms, and new heights of growth. I was particularly happy with the border below the deck, set off by the new path, and the meadowy bed outside of the gate that I call the “herb circle” anchored by a terra cotta birdbath.

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Perhaps the most iconic element in the garden is the arbor that connects the outside garden to the garden hidden inside. Designed to echo the roofline of the house, its simple shape becomes the one unchanging element as the seasons pass.

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As for hailing the new year, seeds and plants have already been ordered and plans for the garden are in the works. I hope that you enjoyed the “time-lapse” images of the garden (all photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse). A special thank you to each one of my visitors this past year, and especially my followers and fellow bloggers. May you have a new year filled with joy, beauty, and wonder.

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. ~George Santayana