An instrument of grace

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is our instrument of grace.  ~May Sartor

Each morning this week began with a stroll through the garden. Under blue skies and surrounded by the peace of the green woods, there was so much to see. Time to put away the troubles of the world and enter the sanctuary of nature for a moment of grace. Won’t you join me on my walk this morning?

The upper garden is in its final moment of glory. Alliums, foxglove, iris and peonies create a spectacle of color and shape.

lateMayherbcircle

Peony ‘Krinkled White’ is always generous with her blooms and shrugs off the rains that drop other peonies to the ground. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full-size image)

Allium christophii sparkles near the self-seeded ‘Foxy’ foxgloves. alliumfoxglove

If you long for a mind at rest and a heart that cannot harden, go find a gate that opens wide into a secret garden. ~Unknown

The garden gate beckons us to enter. gardengate

The warmth and rain of the last two weeks has triggered lush and abundant growth.

Summer has already come to the lower garden, peonies and iris giving way to roses and clematis. Hybrid musk rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ climbs the fence and creeps into the mulberry tree. Her simple white blossoms are sweetly fragrant, attracting pollinators and scenting the lower garden.

As I walk along the crunchy gravel paths, I see crowds of bumblebees visiting blooms, filling their pollen sacs with golden goodness.

The ninebark ‘Diablo’ in the Plum & Pewter bed is festooned with Clematis ‘Margo Koster’ and the patio rose ‘Sweet Charlotte’ has burst into bloom. A single five petal blossom adorns the species rose Rosa rubrifolia, treasured for its smoky foliage color.

The apricot roses are out in force, showing off with the purple fireworks of Allium christophii. A firefly rests on a silvery gray lamb’s ear stalk nearby, no doubt gathering energy for tonight’s show of lights.

Several bushes of ‘Rose de Rescht’ bloom along the curving path and fill the air with the intoxicating scent of old roses; many buds promise weeks of bloom.

As I approach the arbor that leads to the woods, I am stopped in my tracks by the profusion of rose ‘Complicata’ climbing its rungs. The clusters of large single blossoms carry a sweet light scent and will provide orange rose hips in the fall. When I turn around to view the garden through the arbor, I see that Angel has joined me on the garden stroll.

I hope you enjoyed walking with me through the garden, where each journey leads to new discoveries. May you savor the slow circles of nature and find grace therein.

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir

 

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.

Deep Summer

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~ Sam Keen

 

treesmorningWPThere is always a certain morning in summer that seems magical, that moment when I step outside into a quiet world and say to myself “summer has arrived.” This morning, late in July, I finally had that moment. The sun in the eastern sky lit the trees along the road with a golden light, a wood thrush greeted me with its distinctive song, and the soft warm air promised a hot sunny day to come. I had no agenda other than to wander through the garden with Angel, accompanied by the drone of cicadas and the calls of robins and bluejays.
The garden is lush, almost voluptuous in its beauty, thanks to hot days and frequent thundershowers.viewfromhillWP

The daylilies are finishing their season, with a few welcome malingerers.

The roses have caught their second wind with fresh foliage and fulsome blooms.

The hydrangeas are bowed to the ground with a bounty of creamy white blossoms, fragrant and covered with tiny pollinators gathering food. Their busy wings remind me of last night, when I watched hundreds of fireflies rise up from the garden to sparkle and flicker their way into the trees.

This was not a morning to rise before dawn and do the hard work of weeding and digging for hours in order to prepare for visitors. This was a lazy quiet morning to soak in every sight, sound, and scent the garden offered, a gift of deep summer, when the burdens of the world fade for a few hours and I live in the moment.

The perfect song for a lazy summer day: Barbra Streisand’s “Lazy Afternoon” 

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

 

A Visual Feast

It is always exciting to open the door and go out into the garden for the first time on any day.
- Marion Cran

In spite of chilly temperatures and a bout of sleet this morning, the garden is a visual feast of colors and texture. A thousand shades of green grace the trees as new leaves emerge each day while frequent rain has transformed the grass into an emerald carpet. Every day a new flower opens and lays its color and form against the growing tapestry of garden and woodland. Late spring, perhaps like no other season, is a study of contrasts in the garden.

Some plants are quiet and delicate, with color-kissed blossoms floating among clouds of feathery foliage.

Other plants are bold and vibrant, with strong shapes and colors in flower and leaf, or both, from the lollipops of Allium to the dangling hearts of Lamprocapnos spectabilis.

The elusive wood thrush has returned and begins each morning with its distinctive fluted song that continues from dawn to dusk. (You can listen to its song in The Woodthrush Sings). A pair of mourning doves has appropriated one of my deck planters as a nesting spot; Angel is gently but endlessly curious about them – I won’t plant there until the babies fledge.mourning dove nest My garden will be on a large garden tour this June, so I’ve been busy planting and pruning, creating a new pollinator garden (more about that in the next post) and enjoying every moment spent outdoors.

For the first time, I am joining in the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day meme sponsored by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. It is a great place to visit the 15th of each month as garden bloggers post what’s blooming in their gardens. I hope all of you are enjoying the beauty of spring as it gracefully pirouettes into summer.  (All photos ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas

A Moment’s Grace

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. . . For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~Wendell Berry, American poet and visionary

Bulbs ready to plantNovember has been a turbulent month. October was a slow graceful dance into the dying year, still filled with bloom and color, but November’s winds and weather grabbed and shook the world into the gateway of winter. For the first time in many years, I ordered bulbs to plant in the garden. Inspired by the renewal of the garden paths (see The Big Picture), I imagined a glorious spring filled with bulbs blooming in impossible beauty. What I forgot was how low one must bend to plant them in the earth!

After weeks of digging, only a last few crocus and scilla remain on my dining room table, awaiting placement along the path to the birdbath. After waves of sleet, rain, ferocious winds, and snow, this weekend’s mild temperatures may soften the frozen soil and provide a moment’s grace to complete the work of this weary but hopeful gardener. Winter has arrived, snow lies all around and the only growth in nature is taking place unseen, underground. The growing season is on pause and I am content to rest from my garden labors and dream about the spring to come. A moment’s grace indeed. Click on any photo to start the slideshow (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? ~Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry, poet, book author, gardener, and environmental visionary, was interviewed by Bill Moyers last year. See the amazing video here at Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity and listen to him read “The Peace of Wild Things” (20:36).