The Last Roses of Summer

Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone  ~Thomas Moore, Irish poet

webvertWPNovember and December have been very mild this year, encouraging me to work in the garden late into the season. But this morning brought both fog and a frost, turning the world into a frozen fairyland. The moisture from the fog that coated leaf, flower, twig, and spiderweb was transformed into a spectacular structure of glistening crystals. Sadly, the last lingering roses of summer have come to a sudden halt, now preserved in ice.

frozrosevertWPI have a few more shrubs to plant today once the temperatures rise but it is probably the last time I can play in the dirt. Dreams of next year’s garden are starting to stir as I begin a list of seeds and plants to be ordered in the dark days of winter. Enjoy the photos of the last blooms of summer, both in flower and frost, while you listen to Irish tenor John McDermott sing this wistful song (video at the bottom of the page).

Click on any photo to start the slideshow (all photos ©2015 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them ~Moore

The Wood Thrush Sings

“This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This year, a wood thrush has come to live in our woods. I knew its song immediately, the distinctive two part harmony it sings through its Y-shaped syrinx (voice box). It is an elusive woodland bird that is related to the robin (and sometimes called a wood robin), but seldom seen – I have yet to spot him. His song goes on each day from pre-dawn to early evening and accompanies my every move in the garden, a lovely soundtrack to my days. Here is a clip of his song that I captured a few mornings ago. 

Mulberry tree

Mulberry tree

June is the month of roses and clematis, bringing a new set of colors to the garden. The mulberry tree that hangs over the garden fence is overflowing with berries, a feast attracting the birds and littering the gravel paths. A giant kousa dogwood at the driveway entrance has been spectacular, a long column of white blossoms that is only now beginning to fade to green. Once again our temperatures vary drastically from cool to hot and back again, punctuated by wild thunderstorms, unusual weather for June.  But the garden is lush and full from the heat and rain; here are a few images of June’s bloom. Click on any photo to start the slide viewer – enjoy!  (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is the perfection of music when heard in its place and season… the note of the wood-robin is the spontaneous voice of Nature, devoid of artifice, clear as a bell.” ~T. Chalkley Palmer

To learn more about the wood thrush, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or Friends of Glen Providence Park.

Except My Roses

You steal my roses, the things I love most in all the world. . . You could have taken anything – except my roses. ~ from Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast

A perfect first day of summer, the solstice, the longest day of the year. The roses are celebrating, having a raucous party in the garden while they soak up the sun and feed the bees. The height of rose bloom always brings to mind one of my favorite movies, Jean Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece “Beauty and the Beast” (La Belle et la Bête). In a magical film that still delights and intrigues me with its whimsical imagery and cinematic beauty, the scene that comes to mind is when Beauty’s hapless father plucks a rose from the Beast’s garden as a gift for his daughter and is immediately confronted for his crime.

How ironic that I moved here twelve years ago so that I would have more gardening space for roses, and all of the roses I planted the first year died over the winter. The daylilies that I brought thrived in the heavy clay soil and shrugged off deer and rabbit attacks. Not so the lovely English roses, who were far too genteel to survive this robust and challenging garden microclimate. To be without roses was unthinkable, so I began a long experimentation with roses safely ensconced behind garden walls – who was sassy enough to survive in an organic garden with no spraying and no artificial fertilizer?

Old roses, a few of the hardier English roses on their own roots, stalwart Griffith Buck roses, a few Canadian and shrub roses – all became part of the garden landscape, surrounded by geraniums, lambs ear, and other gentle plant companions.  The summer sun triggers the rose perfume; each morning begins with thousands of petals of color, heady fragrance, and the songs of bees nestling in for a little more pollen. You could take anything from me- except my roses.

All images ©2013 by Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

Remastered and released by Criterion, La Belle et La Bête is now available on DVD and Blueray. (B&W, in French with English subtitles)  A film treasure.

I buy most of my “own root” roses from Roses Unlimited, they are shipped in pots in beautiful condition. Wonderful source!


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