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.

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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

 

Of flowers and light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” ~Theodore Roethke

As earth spirals towards the summer solstice, each day begins earlier and seems filled with more light. The growing crescendo of flowers opening in the garden somehow capture and reflect that light even more.

Allium 'Everest' against beauty bush

Each day brings new change as buds become flowers . . .

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and garden scenes shift their colors as new blooms open and others begin to fade.

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When I first began to study photography, I was deeply influenced by a line from the book The Art of Seeing – “Only light, not things, strike the retina.”  The objects we think we see are in reality spectrums of light reflected back to us. That realization changed the way I saw the world and the way that I tried to capture it with my camera. In the garden, light is everything. Plants respond to it, live by it, reach for it, and reflect it.

What we see as color is actually the reflection of a particular wavelength of light. Happily, color in nature is never just one shade or tone, but instead a complex reflection that challenges and seduces our eyes with both boldness and nuance.

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The garden unfolds in the growing light, rich and full of promise, and extends an invitation to step over the threshold and wander the paths.

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. ~William Wordsworth

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Enjoy the loveliness of May and may you treasure the light that grows each day.

“I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself.” ~Edward Steichen, photographer

Composing about light: The Four Elements: Light

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

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 Garden in the Woods

doubledecksJuneWPAs a child, my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book was “Little House in the Big Woods“. When we began to look for a larger property to garden fifteen years ago, it was no surprise that I fell in love with a house tucked into the middle of an acre of woods. I wanted to be surrounded by trees in a home that was an integral part of the landscape and I got my wish. Every level of the house has a door to the outside, sometimes three or four, and two levels of decks make walking out into the landscape an every day joy. ~Lynn Emberg Purse, A Garden in the Woods (Pittsburgh Botanic Garden tour book)

toursignWPOn the last Sunday in June, I opened my garden for the annual Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Town and Country Tour – an all day event where visitors explore selected local gardens. A few days later, I was told that 500 tickets were sold; I think everyone of those people came through my garden! I had worked for months to prepare the garden for close scrutiny, still prepping until ten minutes before the garden gates opened. I was especially pleased that many visitors made a point of telling me that they chose to come here first because of the description I wrote of the garden, beginning with the paragraph above.

circlesvertWPMy generous husband serenaded everyone by playing guitar on the deck for many hours of the tour. I loved greeting visitors, answering their questions, and discussing approaches to gardening. One of the comments that I heard over and over again was “this is a sanctuary!” and I would agree with a smile.  Here is what those on tour saw as they explored the garden, with the text taken from the garden tour description. You can listen to Bill’s guitar wizardry on Woman In the Meadow (composed by Mark Lucas, recorded on the Tribute CD by Bill Purse) while you enjoy the photos (all images ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

 Visitors arrive outside of the fence where many plants have been tested for deer resistance. Native plants rub shoulders with polite foreigners, each adding to the beauty of the garden while supporting a variety of wildlife. Flowers, grasses, herbs, shrubs and groundcovers thrive in relaxed casual planting beds that connect to the surrounding woodland.

Inside the fence, the open areas embraced by a tall backdrop of woods contain a formal structure of circular gravel paths and beds filled with striking color.

Hundreds of roses, lilies, daylilies, clematis, Hydrangea, perennials, and hosta make up the romantic plantings that thrive protected from deer and rabbits.

Rugged stone steps lead from the gardens up to the deck where visitors can get a “bird’s eye” view of the planting beds.

Although this is a “one woman” garden, I want to extend a special thanks to my niece Carly, my friend Doug, and my husband Bill who helped me prepare the garden and grounds, and my sister-in-law Susie and all of the volunteers from the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden who helped the tour day run so smoothly.

Home is the nicest word there is. ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

This post is linked back to Jude’s monthly theme of August: Open Gardens. You can explore some fabulous gardens there!