A Beautiful Habitat

In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water. ~Doug Tallamy

I went out in the garden during a break in the rain this weekend and the bumblebees had already emerged to feast again on Agastache ‘Black Adder’. New to the garden this year, this plant has been feeding pollinators for months as it spread its long arms and blue flowers through the blue and peach garden.

It has been a perfect summer for the garden, with plenty of rain and sun. In October, the growth is still lush in the cool temperatures and autumn rains.

After a strong pruning last year, the flower heads of panicle hydrangea ‘Limelight’ are enormous this season and a showpiece in the October garden. I’ve had my hands in the dirt (well, dirty gloves) all summer, leaving little time to write or share until now. In July, my garden was on a garden tour to benefit a local library and I taught a class in it for Phipps in September. It was the first time visitors have been here in three years. The “to do” lists for prepping the garden were long but with the help of my garden guys and my hubby, all was made ready for the hundreds of visitors. It was a joy to have people in the garden again, wandering through to the sound of Bill playing guitar on the deck. A special thanks to the volunteers from the Shaler Garden Club for their invaluable assistance and to my friend and fantastic photographer Mary Pegher for taking photos of the day (Photos below ©2022 Mary Pegher). (click any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)

Last year was a year of rejuvenation – the garden beds were half empty by October after invasive and non-productive plants were removed. The remaining plants thrived this spring and hundreds of new plants, mostly natives for pollinators, were planted. The results made for a garden full of bees, butterflies, birds, and many other happy well-fed creatures.

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. ~Michael Pollan

The gardens outside the fence got an infusion of Monarda (bee balm), Agastache  foeniculum (anise hyssop), milkweed (Asclepias), Liatrus and Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), much to the delight of the bumblebees and hummingbird moths. The anise hyssop continues to bloom with the goldenrod and zinnias.

I let the sun loving natives take over the south facing hillside and they attracted so many bees that my garden crew couldn’t work there on a sunny day.

The decks were stuffed with pots of salvias and Agastache rupestris which drew in the hummingbirds and bees and a poodle.

I made room in the blue and peach bed for a swath of great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) and tall phlox (Phlox paniculataamid a new set of glass globes in the blue garden.

The garden has buzzed for months with pollinators, more birds took up residence in the woods including some I’ve never seen or heard before and they fledged many babies over the season. And I learned to look more closely, listen more intently, and feel more connected to the garden than ever before.  Pixie and I spent many wonderful hours together in our little paradise.

I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. ~Wendell Berry

Here is a short video of the pollinators in my garden throughout this year; enjoy!  

All text, photos, and video ©2022 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.

When June comes dancing

When June comes dancing o’er the death of May,
With scarlet roses tinting her green breast,
And mating thrushes ushering in her day,
And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest.
~ Claude Mckay, A Memory of June

The last days of May and the first days of June have been dance worthy. Days of warm sunshine alternating with days of cool rain have triggered lush growth and spectacular bloom. Early summer was ushered in by peonies, alliums, and viburnum (click on any photo to see a full size image)

while the banner of bloom was then carried on by irises of every type, size and color. The bearded iris (Iris germanica) were first to bloom, with ‘Tiger Eyes’ and ‘Beverly Sills’ creating a river of color up the stone steps of the hillside.

Close on the heels of the bearded iris were the Siberian iris (Iris siberica) in a whole new color palette. The brilliant blue of ‘River Dance’ pulsed in contrast to the peachy pink of ‘Beverly Sills’ while ‘Reprise’ bloomed in a soft shades of moody blue.

I have a fondness for peach and caramel colors and was delighted when Siberian Iris ‘Buttescotch Fizz’ bloomed so freely this year, set off by the foliage of Heuchera ‘Caramel’ beside and behind it under the Japanese maple ‘Garnet’.

Native iris were the last to come into bloom with the sky blue flowers of Iris virginica and the purple violet blooms of Iris versicolor ‘John Wood’.

And then the roses came.

On this June day the buds in my garden are almost as enchanting as the open flowers. Things in bud bring, in the heat of a June noontide, the recollection of the loveliest days of the year – those days of May when all is suggested, nothing yet fulfilled. ~Francis King

From the tiny polyantha rose ‘Margo’s Sister’ to the lush old rose ‘Rose de Rescht’ surrounded by geraniums and penstemons, June arrived in earnest.

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.  ~ Gertrude Jekyll

Rose ‘Complicata’ is one of my favorite roses. Almost thornless, it covers the arbor leading into the lower garden and is one of the first to bloom. The huge single flowers are sweetly scented and visited by bumblebees throughout the day.

A single peony in the same color combination blooms at its feet, clothing the arbor from top to bottom with pink and yellow flowers.I suspected last year that there would come a day in the garden when the loss of Angel Eyes would strike me suddenly. It happened while I was photographing this arbor of roses – I have many years of photos of Angel standing under the arbor – she loved the scent of the roses and always paused here to smell them. Suddenly the arbor was empty without her  with only fallen petals to mark her favorite spot on the path. I had to put my camera away for the day but the next morning, Pixie insisted on staying near me, “helping” me to pot up flowers on the deck and making me laugh again.

Later that day, Pixie went to a different rose covered arbor, thick with the scent of white rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ and turned to look at me, as if to say “I’m here with you, Mom, no worries.” What a gift she is.

The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction.
~Dan Simmons, Drood

I wish you all a beautiful June full of dancing, staggering beauty and joy. May you recognize and treasure each gift that comes your way.

All photos and text ©2022 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except where noted.

Honey-sweet May

At last came the golden month of the wild folk—honey-sweet May, when the birds come back, and the flowers come out, and the air is full of the sunrise scents and songs of the dawning year. ~Samuel Scoville Jr, Wild Folk

Today is one of those perfect days in May. Birds are singing outside of every open window and soft breezes keep the air fresh and cool. Pixie and I have been gardening at sunrise for the past few days – she keeps a close eye on the wildlife while I work.There was no hurry or bustle this morning, just a task completed here and another one begun there with no sense of a clock ticking or a checklist to follow. Time was instead measured by new flowers opening, the sudden low buzz of a hummingbird passing, and the occasional visit from a fat bumblebee.

Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you. ~W. E. Johns

In just a few days, the woods have shifted from a misty breath of new growth that barely shaded the garden

to a lush green canopy that creates shadows and mystery in the late afternoon sun.

Horticulturally, the month of May is opening night, Homecoming, and Graduation Day all rolled into one. ~Tam Mossman

The garden beds are burgeoning with growth as new flowers emerge every day.The spring bulbs have finished for the season – one final blossom of the summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) lingers among the ferns. Allium and Camassia, the bulbs of May, come forward to have their say in shades of purple and blue while Lilac ‘Miss Kim’ is just starting to bloom. (Click on any photo to see the full size image)

The lovely Geum ‘Mai Tai’ – whose buds are as pretty as the flowers – blooms with abandon

while the hardy geraniums and woodland phlox bring a frothy grace to the garden beds.

The delicate yellow blooms of heirloom Iris germanica ‘Flavescens’ reign over the garden from their perch along the stone wall.

I discovered a native tree in the woods below the garden, blooming for the first time ever. Pennsylvania hawthorn (Crataegus pennsylvanica) is self-pollinating so its berries should feed the birds this fall. In the meantime, I am enjoying its white blossoms and graceful shape.

Last evening, Pixie and I sat in front of the yellow iris and listened to a wood thrush sing; it was the perfect end to a perfect day. Have a listen and enjoy the honey-sweet days of May. 

And a bird overhead sang follow, and a bird to the right sang here. And the arch of the leaves was hollow, and the meaning of May was clear.” ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne

This post is part of the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams. Visit her site to see what’s blooming around the world today.

Bejeweled

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs

I have become reacquainted with my garden this winter. Several times a day, Pixie and I wander out into the snow and ice – she romps in the snow as I stand and study the details of the garden in a new way.

I have no real love of winter – I find it cold, uncomfortable, and devoid of color – and yet I can always find beauty when I take the time to look.
One of my favorite fairy tales is the story of the twelve dancing princesses. They would escape their room each night, traveling through forests of gold, of silver, and of glass, to dance with their twelve princes. Last week’s ice storm brought total quiet to our neighborhood – no one stirred on the dangerous roads and everyone stayed inside, safe and warm. Yet outside stood the forest of glass, a fairy tale vision of frozen crystals coating each branch, each leaf, each faded blossom. (click on any photo to see the full-size image)

A brief snowfall coated the branches, allowing the ice and snow to sparkle through the woods and the garden, nature bejeweled and magical.

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. ~Henry David Thoreau

Thanks to my intrepid lively Pixie, I left my warm fireplace to venture into the cold crystal beauty of the garden, and for that I am ever grateful. Each moment in the glass forest and garden felt magical, an echo of fairy tale romance. May each of you, my friends, wear out your dancing shoes as you follow an adventure into nature’s beauty, perhaps in your own backyard.

 . . . what you look out on is not the snow of Narnia but the snow of home, which is no less shimmering and white as it falls. The earth is covered with it, and it is falling still in silence so deep that you can hear its silence. ~Frederick Buechner

All photos and text ©2022 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except as noted.

A lapse of time

No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. ~Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

When I looked back over the year, I was surprised at some of the moments of beauty in the garden. Perhaps it was because I didn’t write about it or share many photos of it, or just that my attention was required elsewhere. My first blog of the year was in March and the second was in November, a long stretch of time without words, without pictures. It seems fitting at the end of the year to share some of the garden moments from April to October, the missing moments of the garden.

It was a turbulent year from the start, with weather alternating sharply between freeze and thaw, blue skies and gray, sunshine and fog, rain and snow. I cut some forsythia buds before a March snowstorm and brought them into the warmth to bloom.Forsythia cuttingsThe gateway to the garden changed quickly over the seasons, from a sudden snow in early April to the lushness of June. (click on any photo to see a larger image in the gallery)

Once through the gate, the steps and hillside leading to the lower garden went through the same transformation, from a hint of the garden to come to the lush growth of early summer.

The lower garden, distinctive in its concentric circles, transformed quickly in April beginning with the flowering of the weeping cherry in April then slowing down through the lushness of June and into late summer. By then, the deep transformation of the garden beds through months of pruning and removing unwanted plants left only the Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ and the native Phlox paniculata blooming.

There were some beautiful moments where flowers took front and center throughout the seasons.

Drastic weather events continued in June, when a tornado ripped through our neighborhood for 15 minutes, downing hundreds of beautiful oak trees. We suffered little damage on our property, losing one tree and another one injured, but our neighbor’s oaks crashed across the road and into our driveway, hanging by the electric lines. Until the power was turned off, we were trapped in our property with live wires in our side yard. Eventually, we were able to creep through the downed trees and several days later, they were cut down by the electric company and removed by the township. We were lucky to escape with only inconvenience and little damage to the gardens; others were trapped in their wooded properties for weeks, only able to leave by foot.

The upper deck became a small sanctuary during the summer as my garden helpers and I worked on a long overdue transformation of the garden beds. The bees and butterflies found their way up to the blooms and the cherry tomatoes were a sweet treat on hot summer days.

By October, a few plants were still in bloom, the autumn crocus, some roses, but the season was coming to an end.

I had two cataract surgeries in October, restoring my sight and my ability to take and accurately edit photos, something that had been difficult this year. Fortunately, I was able to shoot photos with my cell phone and press my finger to the surface to focus! It has been a challenging yet rewarding year of sudden starts and stops, crazy weather, loss of loved ones, yet also a year of renewal and regeneration both in my garden and in my self.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.  ~Lao Tzu

I leave you with my favorite photo of Angel from this year, as she stood beneath an arbor of roses. May all good things come to you in the new year, my dear readers – thank you for your patience with my absence on these pages and your kind gift of time and attention. May the year of 2022 bring you great blessings and joy!