Continuum

Continuum: a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees (Merriam-Webster)

arborfogWhen I step into the garden each morning, it has changed somehow. Perhaps it is a discrete change – a few more blooms open, fog instead of sunshine, soft summery air instead of a damp chill.

hostawoodsOther times, the rate of change is more dramatic – many plants have bloomed overnight, or the leaves have suddenly transformed the woodland trees into a dense green canopy. It is this continual shift and change in the garden that intrigues me and challenges me to become more aware of each moment as it passes.

 

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~Alan Watts

Each plant has its moment to shine; the trick is to plant enough varieties so that as one plant winds down, another rises to take its place in the spotlight.

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When I teach garden design, I give my students a chart to plan their seasons of bloom, but what appears as clearly delineated boxes on a planning page is far more blurred in reality; throughout the day and throughout the seasons, the garden changes. Last week, the tall alliums gave way to the peonies and foxgloves, even as the roses and daylilies are beginning to move on stage for their moment of glory.

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Blossoms are ephemeral, foliage is seasonal, but even the rocks change over time. In the evening light, the lichen on the steps glow a pale turquoise and silver, illuminating the passageway between garden levels. stonesteps

This is what the garden teaches me – the continuum of change. While I can alter the rate of change through tending the garden, and I can capture a single moment in time with my camera, those are mere attempts to slow the continual flow. With apologies to Heraclitus, I am learning that the gardener can never step twice into the same garden – and that is the joy of it.

Enjoy the gallery of garden images, each a discrete moment in time. (Click on any photo to enlarge it. All images ©2016 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

 

Everything changes and nothing remains still … you cannot step twice into the same stream. ~Heraclitus

 

Spring Unfolds

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke

Even though we have had light snow all day on this vernal equinox, the garden is unfolding into spring. Bloom started with the snowdrops at the end of January, followed by tommy crocus. Last week Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ added its deep purple notes to the pink and purple flowers of hellebores. Forsythia began blooming yesterday, along with the delicate golden flowers of Lindera benzoin, the host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies. Every day brings another bloom, spring is truly here.

Wake to Sleep

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 ~ from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

The Woodland GardenThe end of autumn is a season that stretches the mind in many directions. There is glory above in the treetop colors and in the remnants of summer beauty at the feet. Lingering green mixes with gold and red and brown as summer gives way to autumn. Even as the garden moves through entropy as it prepares to lapse into winter somnolence, the roots of every plant grow and deepen, a hidden font of life beneath the earth. Even as nature moves into winter’s sleep, its underground life, its dreaming, stretches downward as a balance of new growth. Waking and sleeping become one, as we humans balance on the threshold of old and new, the magic of seasonal change. Nothing expresses this multiverse of experience like Theodore Roethke’s evocative poem “The Waking” as set to music and sung so eloquently by Kurt Elling (scroll down to start the video of a live performance). Enjoy the images of October in my garden as you listen to this song of waking and sleeping. (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

For more beautiful nature-based poetry and art, visit poet Simon Hilly’s blog.
For exquisite autumn (and any season!) images, visit Kerry’s Lightscapes Nature Photography blog.

Colors, Endless Colors

Autumn in leaves of gold,
springtime a thousand shades of green unfold to
summer with its joyous Joseph’s Coat of colors,
endless colors, endless colors.
~from the song “Winter” by Lynn Emberg Purse ©2009

gardenwoodsfogWPAutumn has decidedly arrived. Wild windy storms brought rain, hail, mist and fog this past week; the green trees have begun to don their fall coats while their leaves are drifting into the garden paths and beds. The cool damp weather has intensified the colors of the garden and triggered new blossoms from many of the plants. A fuchsia rose here, a peach salvia there – scent and color hang heavy in the air. Yesterday morning, a thick fog turned pearly with the morning light and the world was wrapped in a glowing cloud. Slightly disheveled at the end of the growing season, the garden was nevertheless graced for a moment with endless colors. (Click on any photo in the montage to see a bigger image; All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. ~Thomas Hood, English poet

Outside the Gate

I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate. ~Pinero

Outside the gateThe first thing visitors encounter when they come to my garden is the open space outside of the garden gate where the wild things roam – deer, rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, and wild turkeys. The gardens have to withstand creature browsing of all kinds, so sturdy shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses and various herbs and native plants dominate the plantings. A terra cotta birdbath anchors the beds of herbs and native plants and the fences are lined with tall shrubs and trees that shelter and protect the garden behind the gate. This year, a self-sown woodland tobacco plant (Nicotiana sylvestris) makes a tall bold statement.

"Zelda" A narrow path along the north side of the house leads to “Zelda”, a face planter with golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) for hair, and then to a patio that used to be a fenced dog pen. This is a favorite summer dining and lounging spot, shaded by tall oaks and cooled by a steady breeze from the north.

Opening the gate draws visitors into the lush gardens within; the arbor surrounding it stands as a defining symbol for the liminal space between the outside and inside gardens. Part Two of Opening the Gate, here are a few images of the “outside” gardens as they appeared to my visitors a few weeks ago. (Click on any photo to see a larger image. All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

If you only knock loud enough and long enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.  ~Longfellow