Building structure

Physically, gardens must have boundaries. Mentally, they can reach to the limits of the known universe. ~Tom Turner

The first significant snowfall of the season brought out the beauty of the garden and its bones, its structure. Devoid of color, the 4″ of fresh white snow highlighted the shapes of fences and arbors, benches and shrubs, the lines of tree limbs and last year’s grasses.

You mustn’t rely on your flowers to make your garden attractive. A good bone structure must come first . .  no matter what time of year. Flowers are an added delight, but a good garden is the garden you enjoy looking at even in the depths of winter. ~Margery Fish

The patterns of paths and plantings were a mere suggestion where the snow fell most heavily. circlegarden

The weeping cherry tree marks the center of the garden of circles. cherrycircle

Even as I begin to plan this year’s garden and plant the seeds of flowers, the structure of the garden speaks quietly to me in the depths of winter – “build . . . build . . . you will not regret it.”

A garden is half-made when it is well planned. The best gardener is the one who does the most gardening by the winter fire. ~Liberty Hyde Bailey

This coming spring will mark 19 years of making this garden, but for the past few years, I have struggled with  natural disasters that have rearranged the garden structure as well as struggling with mobility issues of my own. We had our our small upper deck rebuilt last March – we knew it needed repairs but the builders discovered that it was built improperly and rotting within. The rebuild was perfectly executed and we were able to add an attractive cedar ceiling on the underside of the deck, an unexpected bonus.

In July, lightening struck a massive white oak near the house, damaging it beyond saving and wreaking havoc on the electrical systems of the house. It took months to repair everything and the dying tree was removed in October. (Angel inspects the oak tree in happier times)angelsnowtreeThis month, we enclosed the space where the oak had stood and extended the tall fencing almost to our property boundaries, adding privacy around our patio and a safe entrance from the house into the enclosed woods for Angel. Later this summer we will add another arbor to mark the entrance gate like this one on the other side of the house.

Snowy arbor

My own physical structure has required some rebuilding as well. Arthritis and bursitis has kept me out of the garden for the past two years and at times I wondered if I would ever really garden again. Fortunately, physical therapy and multiple lifestyle changes have restored a great deal of my mobility over the past few months. I realize now that the garden and I have moved through de-struction and re-building together, partners of a sort. It has been a challenging journey for us both but one with lasting rewards . . . and just in time for spring.

All gardens are a form of autobiography. ~Robert Dash

Browsing the autumn garden

The slant of the autumn light is making for dramatic mornings in the garden. Sunlight sifts through the dark leaves of the oak and maple trees, reminding me that the autumn equinox is only a week away.

treelight

The herb garden glows in the low morning light, highlighting the flower racemes of Pennisetum ‘Little Bunny’ in the thick mix of natives Eupatorium rugosum and Rudbeckia triloba in the herb circle. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

Sedums and autumn crocus bloom along with a few vibrantly colored annuals.

But parts of the autumn garden have been pruned for me unintentionally. A few weeks ago, the tall phlox began to disappear, the hostas were cut to the ground, rose branches were stripped of flowers and leaves, the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ was greatly reduced in size. Even the branches on the weeping cherry were stripped bare. cherrytreedeer

What could be doing this in the protected garden safely enclosed in fencing? Was it the work of the 17 year cicadas that appeared this summer or perhaps a very large rabbit? As I was eating a late dinner at dusk on the deck, I heard a creature in the garden but saw nothing. I went down the steps to investigate and watched the head of a beautiful male white-tail deer emerge from the woods and happily finish off the remaining hostas.

MPdeer1
(Photo courtesy of Mary Pegher ©2019)

Creeping quietly around him, I discovered that someone had opened the back gate of the garden and left it ajar. This beautiful creature had been making nightly forays for at least a week into Lynn’s Gourmet Deer Cafe as I was busy teaching evening classes instead of working in the garden. The last time a deer entered the garden, it threw itself against the fence in panic when Angel gave chase. To avoid that catastrophe and to stay safe in the face of a healthy 6 point buck, I chose to open the gate wider and coax him quietly out. I spoke gently and made the encouraging noises I would use to coax a dog to my side. Intrigued, he stepped hesitantly towards me until he almost reached the gate, then paused. I quietly entered another gate behind him and told him firmly that it was time to leave. He looked at me over his shoulder, then trotted out out of the garden while I hurried to shut both gates. Only after he disappeared into the woods did I realize that I hadn’t thought to photograph him.

Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. ~Suzy Kassem

My friend Mary Pegher takes amazing photos of the denizens of North Park, a 3000+ acre county park near our house; she graciously let me use her pictures of a healthy 10 point buck she had photographed this past week. Our deer fence serves to keep these wild creatures out of my garden but I cannot help admire their beauty. And like the deer in Mary’s photos, the one that ate my garden looked very healthy indeed. I’m sure that the nutritious food I provided will make him a favorite of the ladies this fall. I find myself amused rather than upset – the garden is entering its last phase of the season and will take no permanent harm. There is plenty to share and I truly feel graced by a gentle encounter with a magnificent animal.

Wildlife in the world can only be protected by the love of compassionate hearts in the world! ~Mehmet Murat Ildan

I admit that I worry about the wildlife in our changing world. Housing developments continue to spring up everywhere, displacing the creatures who once lived there, and climate change  also disrupts sources of food and migratory habits. In spite of maintaining an organic garden and providing protected space for many different creatures, I see a dramatic drop in bees and other pollinators. Every chance to live in harmony with the natural world seems a small win for us all.

MPdeer2Photo courtesy of Mary Pegher; you can see more of her work on Facebook at MLP-Photography.

If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.  ~Steve Irwin

The golden hour

In photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. ~Wikipedia

We had three glorious days of sunshine this past week, probably a first for this year. The garden reveled in the sunshine and bloomed gloriously at the height of daylily season. pinkhems2

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. ~Marcus Aurelius

Pink daylilies bloomed with abandon

as did the purple and plum colored ones.

Flowers with eyes seemed to follow me with their gaze wherever I went in the garden

while the deepest colors added bass tones to the floral orchestra.

Without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness. You’ve got to be willing to mix black into your palette if you want to create something that’s real. ~Amy Grant

According to local weather tracking, only 29% of the days this year have been without rain or other precipitation. Like any gardener, I treasure rain but it has been a dark and gloomy summer. After those few glorious days of sunshine, the rain returned with a series of furious storms that pounded the garden with wind, water and spates of lightening and thunder for most of the day. Dozens of roads were flooded in the area; after a summer of heavy rain, the soil simply could not absorb any more.

The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall. ~Helen Garner

dewyroseleaf

In late afternoon, the rain stopped and the sky lightened. By early evening, sunlight unexpectedly sifted through the trees and turned the garden into a golden land.

treelight

While many of the flowers were battered and sodden, their color sang to me from below as I stood at the top of the hill.  The battle with weeds and soggy garden beds were forgotten. The world was glowing.

I stood transfixed as the garden seemed to turn to me and say “See? We are fine. Stop worrying about neatness or perfection and join us as we revel in this golden hour.” rosedereschtrain

Once in a golden hour,
I cast to earth a seed,
And up there grew a flower,
That others called a weed. ~Tennyson

All text and photos ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted.

Lavish Summer

No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer. ~James Russell Lowell

After near constant rain for weeks, the sun has returned and the garden is lavish and lush.

peonyallium

Peonies blossomed between the rain storms, although the pounding rains shortened their bloom lifespan. (click on any photo to see a full size image)

We have returned to a more normal weather pattern and the roses and cottage garden flowers of early June have emerged.

Rosa ‘Complicata’ covered the arbor with her large simple blooms, draping boughs into the yellow leafed Spirea below while fallen petals drift across the path.

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. ~Maud Hart Lovelace

English rose ‘Abraham Darby’ went from tight bud to open bloom over three days, releasing its lush fragrance at last.

More roses bloomed among the perennials

while a few clematis twine through the arms of roses and shrubs.

The steps in the garden are a froth of gold with the blooms of sedum and Corydalis lutea. GoldenSteps

A few days ago, the berries of the mulberry tree on the edge of the garden ripened. mulberrytree

The tree is full of birds and squirrels feasting on the bounty and the lazy afternoons have been spent watching their antics.

Each day, new flowers open and the garden is in constant flux, yet always beautiful. What a delight, this lavish summer.rosearch

And since all this loveliness can not be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June. ~Abba Woolson

All text and photos ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

Purple Prose

Purple prose: writing that is extravagantly flowery

I admit it, the garden is guilty of purple prose. It is extravagantly flowery this week, especially in shades of purple. Siberian Iris 'Reprise'

Now is the time of alliums Allium 'Purple Sensation'and columbines (Aquilegia). doublebluecolumbineThe three petaled flowers of our native spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) opened this morning. spiderwort

What potent blood hath modest May ~ Ralph W. Emerson

Not only is the garden extravagant with bloom, it is clothing itself in rich layers of texture and color. The upper garden greets me each morning with flowers and foliage under a cathedral of green oaks. frontgarden

The south facing garden in the back is even more extravagant, more “purple”. Let’s enter by the gate.MayGate

The hillside garden is in its late spring glory but the color comes as much from the foliage as from the flowers. lowergardenMay

The deep purple and white ‘William Guiness’ columbine stops me in my tracks as I pause on the steps – a dependable self-seeding plant, I love that it pops up everywhere in the garden. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to enlarge the image)

Nearby, Iris germanica ‘Tiger Honey’ blooms near Heuchera ‘Caramel’ and Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, a lovely color counterpoint to the purples.

As I descend further into the lower garden, the purples get softer surrounded by blues and greens.columbineallium

The garden bench is closely embraced by the exuberant growth of the rain-rich May garden. gardenbench

As I circle back around through the garden, I am captured by the sight of complex layers of woodland and garden intertwining their voices in a vesper song.lowergarden

As dusk falls, I retrace my steps and view the garden from above. It grows quiet as the last light retreats and the birds settle to their nests. Thank you for walking along with me in the garden and listening to its purple prose.eveninggarden

If it’s drama that you sigh for, plant a garden and you’ll get it. . . If you long for entertainment and for pageantry most glowing, plant a garden and this summer spend your time with green things growing. ~Edward A. Guest, Plant a Garden

All photographs and text ©2019 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.