Snowed Under

“Snowed under” – overworked; exceptionally busy (The Free Dictionary)

snowy tree trunkIt has been snowing a lot lately, and I have been feeling “snowed under” both literally and figuratively.  Winter is beautiful and I love my work, but sometimes it is just too much of a good thing. I hope to resume regular posts this weekend. Until then, enjoy a few snow photos.

Snowy woods

Snowy woods

Snowy steps into the garden

Snowy steps into the garden

(all text and photographs © Lynn Emberg Purse, 2013)

A Day in the Tropics

Who loves a garden loves a greenhouse too.  ~William Cowper 

We are fortunate to have the Phipps Conservatory, a wonderful glass house, in the heart of Pittsburgh. A visit to Phipps in the dead of winter is a treat for the senses, and members can take a tripod for photography early on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday, my friend Suzan and I indulged in a ninety minute whirlwind of intense picture taking amid the tropical splendor of an orchid show. Not only was this a great winter interlude, it was also an opportunity for me to give my new camera a workout and test the waters for the equipment I may need for my  A Year in Penn’s Woods project. The challenge of taking photos with limited space in which to maneuver a tripod and varied sources of light was useful in determining what worked with my current camera gear and what needed to be changed. I’m convinced that a few more trips to this warm green space filled with flowers will be required to continue my research this winter 🙂

Enjoy the tour of my morning in the tropics.

What, I sometimes wonder, would it be like if I lived in a country where winter is a matter of a few chilly days and a few weeks’ rain; where the sun is never far away, and the flowers bloom all year long? ~ Anna Neagle

Facing the Light

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher. William Wordsworth

As daylily season winds down, I spend each morning removing spent blooms and reflecting on how new blossoms turn towards the light.  When I first began gardening, I was dismayed to find that the daffodils and daylilies I had planted along the paths turned to face the sun but often faced away from garden visitors.  It was like being in a hall before the concert starts and looking at the back of everyone’s head and an empty stage.  It took a while to get the hang of planting flowers with faces in the right spot, often with a sturdy shrub at their backs, so that they turned towards the light and the garden visitor.

I cannot help but see the metaphor of this, of trying to find one’s place in life, preferably with a friend at one’s back, so that it is easier to face the light. As always, the garden teaches me a gentle lesson. Here are a few photos of daylilies and other flowers with faces as the garden nears the end of the July flower extravaganza. Enjoy!

To see more photos of light in nature, visit Carol’s Light Words and Robin’s Life in the Bogs; Kerry has a wonderful series of light filled photos of the Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks of Utah in his Lightscapes Nature Photography Blog.  I will be taking a two week vacation from the blogging world; I look forward to catching up in August, the first anniversary of this blog.

All photos ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved

Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.  Walt Whitman


Abbondanza – Italian for abundance

A mild winter and a warm wet spring has set the garden awash in flowers and foliage beyond all expectation. Every day, another dozen flowers bloom for the first time – each morning is a new vision of color and texture, a subtle shift from the day before.  And the scent! Wild honey locust in the woods mingle their heavy sweet fragrance with the climbing roses scrambling along the fence, with subtler notes from the iris and cranesbills. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and bees of all stripes hover and swoop through the garden.  Here are some photos of the garden in the past few days.  Enjoy!

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For a wonderful essay and photos on abundance in the garden, visit Catherine O’Meara’s post “First Person, Present” in her blog The Daily Round.

Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing. Cicero

Lining the Path

 All paths are the same, leading nowhere. Therefore, pick a path with heart! Carlos Castaneda

Dusk is falling, I am determined to renew the mulch of my garden paths but the length of day challenges me.  The design of this part of the garden depends on the paths – they define and shape everything. Without them I cannot expect to stroll the garden nor photograph it. So each spring, I renew the garden paths.

As I work quietly, I begin to consider how frequently “the path” serves as a metaphor for life, for making choices, for encountering difficulties, for taking the easy way out, for pursuing an adventure. According to American psychologist James Hillman “Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path… this is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am.”  Italian psychologist and criminologist Cesare Lombroso wrote “Good sense travels on the well-worn paths; genius, never. And that is why the crowd, not altogether without reason, is so ready to treat great men as lunatics.” Thoreau exhorts us to “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence” but Spanish poet Antonio Machada states “Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.”  Personally, my favorite path saying is by Groucho Marx – “A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.”

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In the garden, a path is literal, practical, yet highly symbolic. Visually, it leads the eye and the foot, like a giant arrow pointing the way.  There may be unexpected twists and turns, creating places for plant treasures, ornaments, a bench. This particular part of my garden was designed to be seen from the decks above it, not unlike the Elizabethan knot gardens that were meant to be viewed from a high castle window. The garden beds are both defined and connected by the paths.

Before the dark drops so deeply into the garden that I must retreat, I look at the paths with a sense of satisfaction. Task finished for the year, the paths are clear and ready for use, and I walk them home.

One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time.  Hermann Hesse

All photos ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All rights reserved