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.

Carry the universe in your heart

I believe in strong women. . . You face the world with a head held high and you carry the universe in your heart. ~C. JoyBell C.

This morning, the full-throated pre-dawn bird chorus mingled with the sound of rainfall as Pixie and I walked through the dark wet woods and back to the house. (you can adjust the volume in the player).

home viewed from woodsThe rain has transformed the garden into a lush paradise ready to burst into a new round of blooms and the woods are beginning to take on hints of their green cloaks of summer.

The leaf buds of the hickory trees unfolded in a matter of days, revealing the remarkable geometry of nature. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a full-size image)

The birdsong and the lushness of early May mark a year today since my mother’s passing. Ruth Bach Emberg lived a long life, 97 years (though she was hoping for 100) and accomplished so many things. She was a doer, a fast walker, and a no nonsense woman with a kind heart and a smart creative mind.

To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. ~Maya Angelou

Born in the 1920’s, she grew up in the Great Depression with four older brothers who taught her to drive a car, walk proudly, and stand up for herself.

She was recruited in the early 40’s as a Curtiss-Wright Cadette, one of 900 young American college women who learned 2.5 years of aeronautical engineering in 10 months at universities in order to do technical work on fighter planes for the war effort. College student in 1941I remember visiting the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. with my mother to see the Curtiss-Wright fighter plane that she contributed to in her work. The wartime efforts of the women Cadettes have finally gained recognition in the past few years (see linked article above) as an important precursor to the STEM movement.

Ruth went on to work in technical industries, teach high school math, serve as Dean at a community college, and work as the chief assessor in a rural Pennsylvania county – she was a strong woman in a man’s world.

She raised a family, gardened like a goddess, cooked so well that she wrote a cookbook, and served on many governing boards while running a basket shop and teaching others the art of basket making. Yes, she was a doer.

Living independently in a senior community in her mid-nineties, she was still lively as ever and we frequently went out to eat breakfast at the diner around the corner.

In the gorgeous green days of last May she suddenly fell ill and passed a few days later. When I accompanied her to the hospice, a beautiful place tucked deep in the woods, a large tom turkey was pacing outside her window as if welcoming her. The next evening, Bill and I took our pup Angel to visit her – while Angel ran into her room and kissed her hand, Bill brought his acoustic guitar and sat beside Mom’s bed, quietly improvising beautiful music. Although she couldn’t open her eyes or move much, she smiled when she heard the guitar and I could feel her relax. As we sat in the dark together, the room overflowed with light and love and we sensed her letting go. She passed peacefully the next day and when I left the hospice for the last time, the bird song outside was so beautiful that I stood to listen to the evensong of the day and of her life.

Mom lived a remarkable life, held her head high, and truly carried the universe in her heart.

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. ~Elaine Heffner

May each of you have a blessed Mother’s Day and hold your family dear.

All text and photos ©2022 and 1984 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved except for historical documents or where noted/attributed. 

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.