Plant a Flower, Save the World

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Bee in flowerI’ve been dreaming about bees lately. I’m allergic to their stings, so it can be a bit alarming when they follow me around Dreamland. Nevertheless, I love seeing them in the garden and welcome their beauty and soft buzzing sound.

A TED talk recently reminded me of how important bees are to our planet and food supply. Each one of us can make a difference if we plant a flower. Perhaps some of you see flowers as important only for their aesthetic beauty and regard vegetables as the practical heart of the garden, but that is not the whole picture. Without flowers, we have no pollinators, and without pollinators we have no fruits and vegetables. Recent field studies show that planting a few flowers can change the ecology of any landscape for the better as well as provide food for insects and birds. So please your eye and please your palate – plant a flower and make the world a better place.

TED Talks: Why Bees are Disappearing 

Immerse your self in the wonder of pollinators with Schwartzberg’s The Hidden Beauty of Pollination (pollinator footage starts around 3:15)

For a look at how flowers affected the evolution of our world, read National Geographic’s The Big Bloom – How Flowering Plants Changed the World

The Penn State Extension has a great guide for planting Pollinator Friendly Gardens.

Doug Tallamy’s site Gardening for Life: Bringing Nature Home gives even more insight and suggestions on the importance of native plants for sustaining our natural world.

Deborah DeLong has a lovely blog, Romancing the Bee, on urban beekeeping, gardening, and cooking with honey.

If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live. ~Albert Einstein

We Must Be Mad With Joy

 “People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” ~Iris Murdoch, Irish author

Garden after rain

Garden after rain

The thunderstorms passed by quickly, leaving a few large drops of rain in their wake and some empty threats of weather violence.  We have fared far better than our neighbors in the American West, those unfortunate victims of extreme tornados who still struggle to recover their lives. Even as I grieve for them, I celebrate my own small corner of land in the foothills of western Pennsylvania.

Tonight, the garden in twilight is luxuriating in its richness of leaf and flower and I cannot end my stroll. It is bewitching. Leaves of every shape and form spring out and blend – all of the plants in my garden touch and jostle each other – no Puritan “touch me not” unplanted spaces here! Oh, this is an excess of green and growing that sings a great chorus in the dusk of a warm early summer day.  Yes, many plants bloom in May – the insignia of iris, the globes of allium, the stars of clematis, the blooms of columbine, lilac and others.  But May is feckless in its headlong plunge into green growth from the carpet beneath one’s feet to the canopy among the trees. May is fragrant and headstrong, the vibrant green path leading and spilling us into June.

Lamb's ear rising up to bloom

Lamb’s ear rising up to bloom

The silver lamb’s ear have risen to a foot high impossibility in the past few days, ready to bloom and nourish the bees –their bright foliage outlines the beds in the garden. The swords of daylily leaves create circular swirls of green blades, predicting their July bloom – a  promise of color and form to come. Beauty bush and lilac burst with thousands of tiny flowers, mounds of color and scent that greet the morning and bless the warmth of the evening, alive with the buzzing of bees seeking nectar. And so it goes. May is so full of voluptuous beauty and scented flowers that it sends the senses reeling with the experience of it, making us mad with joy.

Wild black cherry (Prunus serotina)

Wild black cherry (Prunus serotina)

The surrounding woods are filled with the blooms of native black cherry, dangling white racemes that scent the air with their sweetness. Every day, a dozen new flowers awake and open and bring a new shape and scent to the bounty of the garden. I can hardly keep up; I mulch and trim and plant seedlings but it is as if I were on the end of the “crack the whip” game – I can only hold on tight and try my best to serve the beauty of the garden as I am flung and swung through its spurt of green growth and scented flowering. Here are a few images captured that may share some small part of this beauty; click on the first image to open the gallery. (All photographs ©2013 Lynn Emberg Purse)

It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

To see more photos and read more about the fragrant wild black cherry that is native to the eastern US, see Bernadette’s post Wild Black Cherry.

The Shape of Things

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.  ~Albert Schweitzer

Each day brings more plants into leaf and flower. As I wander through the woods and gardens each morning, I realize that it wasn’t just color that I missed in this long winter past. It was the amazing cornucopia of shape and form that emerges from the trees and shrubs, the miracle of plants springing up from the bare earth in fresh new clothes. The early morning light gets caught in the shape and trembling of leaf and flower and I get lost in the looking.  Enjoy.

What a Beautiful Morning!

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a wonderful feeling,
Everything’s going my way.  ~lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II,  from “Oklahoma!”

I’ve spent the early hours of the past few mornings in the garden, with the moments between weeding and planting spent enjoying the sparkle of early morning light. The woods are showing a soft green blush of unfurling leaves as the garden begins its April bloom cycle. Yesterday morning a golden shimmer of light reflected on dewy flowers; this morning the almost full moon still hung in the morning sky while the birds sang their dawn chorus. I couldn’t help myself – I broke into song with them. “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!” is a personal favorite of mine and it seemed so descriptive of the moment. “All the sounds of the earth are like music” – who knew Oscar was so poetic?

Here are a few images from the late April garden. Enjoy!

All photos ©2013 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All RIghts Reserved

At Last

At last, the skies above are blue. ~Mack Gordon

At last, spring has arrived.

At last, flowers are blooming.

At last, the dawn chorus of birds is deafening.

At last, I am in the garden.

Although this song has been playing in my head for the past few days, no one can sing it quite like Etta James.  Enjoy.