Earth Day, Watershed Edition

I remember the first Earth Day as a teenager – I loved the idea then and all of these years later, it still seems a special day to celebrate. As I grow with my garden, I realize that creating a healthy place for all flora and fauna to flourish is my first ideal and goal. Lately, my time has been caught up in finishing the school semester, guiding my ensemble through its spring concert and tending my garden. Bill, my husband and creative partner, has been editing and mixing the studio recording of Watershed for cello and orchestra that was premiered in late February. The CD containing the piece will be released in late fall on Three Oranges Recordings but we are far enough in the mixing process to share a few of the highlights here in this montage, thanks to Bill’s talents and generosity. (see an earlier Watershed post here).

Adam Liu, the cellist for whom the piece was written, turned in a stunning and passionate performance and our Duquesne University Orchestra, inspired by masterful conductor Daniel Meyer, was at their best. How lucky can a composer be when the artists that bring a piece to life give their creative all? Adam began his musical career playing the erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument, and suggested that he play the second movement, Sunrise on Still Water, on the erhu rather than the cello. I agreed and I love the sound – it shimmers with unearthly beauty. I hope you enjoy this short montage of highlights from the 20 minute piece.

Spring is tentatively here, with mild days alternating with snowy winter days. The weeping cherry tree is in full bloom, but ironically its cultivar name ‘Snow Fountain’ became a reality when an overnight storm coated the blossoms with white snow.

The daffodils are coming into season, even as the early small bulbs continue to bloom.

The hellebores have shrugged off the snow and cold and continue to bloom in soft pastel shades.

Wherever you are, I hope spring is coming your way and your world is filled with color and beauty. And may every day become “earth day” in our hearts and minds.

Fits and starts

“fits and starts” – with irregular movement; with much stopping and starting” ~ The Free Dictionary

Spring is dancing with one step forward and two steps back, a tango of fits and starts. T-shirt and sandals one week, winter coat and boots the next.  The week before our spring break from school, the days were mild and I hoped to spend the break in the garden.

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before…
There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare, ~William Wordsworth

 

Alas, my week in the garden was short circuited by cold rainy days and a few snowstorms, yet the flowers bloomed on.

 

Once school restarted, the weather warmed up again but only on the week days! Soon another winter storm came roaring through and left 6” of snow over the garden, captured in the video below.

While I was dismayed by the weather, Angel and our guest poodle Charlie Brown had a grand time playing in the snow, making me laugh at their antics.

 

The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart.  ~Chekhov

On this last day of March, the sun is shining and the air is warming; it is a good day to work in the garden. The snow has finally melted away into the ground, fixing nitrogen into the soil and promising a wonderful garden season to come. Each day, something new blooms or shows promise of growth. The Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) is a mass of tiny yellow blossoms and small yellow daffodils are coming into flower.

 

As we move into April, I look forward to seeing the garden come alive. Wherever you are, I hope you treasure and enjoy the beginning of spring as the earth comes to life.

In March, winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward. Something holds and something pulls inside of us too. ~Jean Hersey

All photos and text (except where noted) ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

I Will Be the Gladdest Thing

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

pink foxglovesI touched more than a hundred flowers last weekend, though with my eyes, and I didn’t pick one, except perhaps with my camera. Going to a large flower show in late winter is always a delight for winter weary senses.  Never mind the artificiality of plants forced into early growth and assembled in great halls to mimic a garden – there they are, to be seen and smelled and enjoyed.  I spent a day at the famed Philadelphia Flower Show and my senses are still reeling. It took the better part of the day to see most of the exhibit – this year’s theme was “Brilliant!” – an ode to British gardening style. Any large flower show, in the U.S. at least, is an opportunity for the green industry to strut their artistic stuff – that includes garden designers, florists, plant specialists, and various other vendors. Walk along with me through the show to sample a few of the gardens and flowers.

Living on a wooded lot in which I am trying to expand the native habitat, I was drawn to the naturalistic garden displays. I looked for the treetops in this great hall, which led me to various woodland scenes, complete with small buildings, shade plantings, and open areas filled with flowers. I found myself visiting these displays more than once, especially one that I call the “Greenhouse Garden” created by Hunter Hayes Landscape Design, a specialist in ecological designs.  Frankly, I wanted to move into this place and never leave. (Click on any photo to trigger the photo gallery viewer, click on X to close gallery)

The British garden theme “Brilliant!” was carried out in many exhibits, both in gardens and floral displays. It was interesting to see how Philadelphia area companies interpreted the English garden and floral look.  “The Scorer’s Garden” by J. Downend Landscaping featured a pink and blue cottage style garden full of roses, snapdragons and salvias. “Hidcote Holiday” was a large garden construction by Stoney Bank Nurseries with many lovely components, culminating in a gated garden view that had visitors lining up to take their photos. The floral displays were no less extravagant.  My favorite was “A Proper Hodgepodge” by Robertson’s Flowers that featured “stylistically iconic time periods” ranging from a 1960’s Mod Gala to a lavish Medieval Feast. (visit their blog to see more photos of this spectacular exhibit)

Sometimes it was just about the flowers. The Raymond Evison Clematis display featured his spectacular clematis – I put “Parisienne” on my “must get” list. The Netherlands American Business Association featured Dutch bulbs in colorful combinations and throughout the show, home growers competed for best displays of forced bulbs, including lovely groups of colorful daffodils.

Not only were visitors dazzled by the colors and scents, they were educated as well. Organic Mechanics potting soil display cleverly touted their product while educating consumers on eco-sensitive potting mixtures and the beauty of growing herbs and veggies. The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society featured a spectacular wall of brassicas anchored by a clever wheelbarrow sculpture on one side and a hanging garden of glass birdfeeders and cottage garden flowers on the other. Many schools contributed attractive and educational displays; the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades featured a vegetable kitchen garden based on 18th Century Horticulture practices in America.

I hope you enjoyed visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show 2013 with me.  Think spring!

Waters of March (Águas de Março)

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart – from “Waters of March” by Antonio Carlos Jobim

The Waters of March (Águas de Março ), written by Antonio Carlos Jobim,  reflects the end of summer, which is March in Brazil.  For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it suggests the beginning of spring, “the promise of life in your heart”.

March is here and is it full of the promise of life. As I bend again and again to weed and clear the detritus of winter and uncover the emerging blooms and greening leaves, I hear in my mind the lovely repetitive melody of this sensuous and philosophical song by Jobim, the composer and musician who made Brazilian music accessible to the rest of the planet.

The Waters of March was originally intended to list the passages and events of life that flow and ebb and culminate in the waters of March, a stormy and wet time at the end of summer in the southern hemisphere of Brazil.  In the northern hemisphere, March is also stormy and wet but also the beginning rather than the end of the growing season. As the rain and storms bring us green leaves, bird song, and early blooms, we can consider the beauty of the song and the reality of nature’s astonishing gifts of blossom and promise.  Here are a few images of new life in my garden this week, a stream of life in the waters of March.

“It’s the promise of life in your heart”

The original song sung by Brazilian singer Elis Regina and Jobim, with English subtitles, slow to load but worth watching.

A video of a recording session with Regina and Jobim in an Argentian production that is evidence of pure joy and utter musical communication.

Al Jarreau and Oleta Adams in a very lush and sexy version of Waters of March.

The written lyrics of Waters of March – Portugeuse and English

All images ©2012 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved