Like the First Morning

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~ Thoreau

sunnyhillsideWPEach morning this week began with a walk through an ever-changing garden. Spring is building up to an astonishing crescendo of color and texture and growth, all laid against a ground of fresh green. The early dawn chorus of birdsong masks the ordinary noises of  the world – robins, bluejays, cardinals, and red-tailed hawks zoom through the woods as they raise new families, argue over territory, and search for food. As I wander through the garden every day, the same song comes to mind. “Morning has broken like the first morning; blackbird has spoken like the first word.” Yes, each morning this week feels like the first morning, fresh, new, full of life.

On one particular morning, the garden sparkled in the morning sun from the previous night’s rain, and as I walked through the wet grass, more lyrics came to mind. “Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven, like the first dewfall on the first grass.”

grassbladesWP

Tulips are the rising stars. One of my favorites is ‘Shirley’, white with feathered purple edges and a stunning center of blue. White daffodils and wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) are fitting companions to its beauty. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger version)

Lilac ‘Beauty of Moscow’ is adding its sweet scented blooms to the mix as it cascades over the fence, while in the woodland, the trees and shrubs are still leafing out and shade loving peonies bloom quietly amid the emerging ferns and hostas.

Each day feels like a miracle, a new chance for new growth and life. I wish you all a beautiful morning walk in your daily life.

“Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden . . .”

Here is the 1971 version of Morning has Broken that I hear in my head as I walk through the garden (original text by Eleanor Farjeon, 1931, set to a Scottish hymn tune).

An April Day

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day. ~ Robert Frost

bentdafWPSpring has arrived with great hesitation, or perhaps I only greet it this way. Warm days abruptly end in snow or frost, pouring rain soaks the ground and triggers green growth which is then stopped short by another deep freeze. I’ve never witnessed such extreme disruption in the garden. Although many of the early daffodil blooms hang to the ground in surrender, other growing things, especially ones native to this area, are coping with the dramatic and abrupt changes and reveal their beauty to the eye.  I must admit to a deep uneasiness – will this scenario continue in the future as we grapple with climate change? How will the creatures who depend on pollen and other garden foods at crucial times cope or even survive? Here’s what the National Wildlife Federation has to say about gardening for climate change and the problems that changing bloom times create between pollinators and the plants they depend on.

AprGrdnarchWPNevertheless, each day brings new growth and beauty. The hellebores continue to spring back after the worst conditions and a few sleepyheads are just beginning to bloom now. Bird song is a constant soundtrack to my journeys through the garden and a pair of robins follow me around as I expose the earth while digging up dandelion roots. The first blooms on the weeping cherry that survived sudden sub-zero temperatures are nuzzled by a native bee desperate for spring pollen. Tiny wind anemones and grape hyacinth bloom amid the warm rock walls. Foliage in shades of green and red rises up from the ground, displacing the last of the fallen oak leaves that blanketed the beds all winter. Now is the time for cleaning up the garden, trimming roses and shrubs, and planting seeds indoors in anticipation of summer. Prolific rains have created vernal pools and streams through the woods and spring peepers have been singing their high chweeps of courtship on warmer evenings.

Shades of pink and rose – click on any photo to see a larger image or trigger the slide show (all photos ©Lynn Emberg Purse 2017, All Rights Reserved).

Spring blooms in white, yellow, and purple.

But days even earlier than these in April have a charm, – even days that seem raw and rainy . . . There is a fascination in walking through these bare early woods, – there is such a pause of preparation, winter’s work is so cleanly and thoroughly done. Everything is taken down and put away . . . All else is bare, but prophetic: buds everywhere, the whole splendor of the coming summer concentrated in those hard little knobs on every bough . . . ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “April Days,” 1861

A special thanks to The Quote Garden for a seemingly endless source of literary inspiration.

The Flower Born Today

The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are. ~Antonio Porchia

Tulip 'Apricot Beauty'Each day as I walk through my garden, I see the culmination of work that I did last year, or ten years ago. I also see what is to come, tomorrow, next week, next month. Gardeners are time travelers of a sort. This spring, I am reaping the rewards of having the paths redone last summer. To tread on firm gravel instead of sinking up to my ankles in muck as I moved through the garden in April brought to mind the last year’s path project and my hopes for the garden this season. Every tulip and daffodil that bloomed this spring arose from the bending and digging last October when I planted a thousand bulbs – a vision of floral extravaganza played through in my mind as the autumn leaves fell golden to the ground. Now as I trim the fading blooms from each spring flower, I notice the burgeoning growth of  roses and daylilies to come, and anticipate the floral fireworks of June and July in my imagination.

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I stand in a river of time as the garden streams around me, a constant eddy and flow of events in the moment, yet each dependent on the imagination of the past and the hope of the future. This week, unseasonable heat brought the spring bulb season to a sudden close but also brought on the purple lollipops of Allium aflutanense and the brilliantly colored cloaks of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Nature never stands still and the ever changing garden carries the gardener with it. Here are a few scenes from the passing spring and the approaching summer; click on any photo to enter the slide viewer. Enjoy! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

There is no “End” to be written, neither can you, like an architect, engrave in stone the day the garden was finished. A painter can frame his picture, a composer can notate his coda, but a garden is always on the move. ~Mirabel Osler

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. ~Steve Miller (Fly Like An Eagle)

Evensong

Evensong ~ 1. a daily service in the Anglican church, also called evening prayer; 2. a song sung in the evening

Iris reticulata 'Harmony'

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

This Easter Saturday, I spent most of the day in the garden. Early that morning, the bird chorus was joyous and noisy. The first day of true spring weather arrived with warmer temperatures and cloudless blue skies and the birds were celebrating.  It was the time for garden cleanup, pruning shrubs, raking leaves from the garden beds, and a general assessment of the state of the garden and its possibilities for the coming season. I grabbed the camera to record the few flowers in bloom – hellebores, crocus, Iris reticulata, and intense blue of a lonely Scilla siberica. The sun shifted through the sky throughout the day, guilding the garden with luminous golden light. I constantly refilled my water bottle and labored throughout the day interspersed with plenty of rest sessions, usually on a stone step facing south, absorbing the full face of the early spring sun.

Hellebore

As I finished my work for the day and strolled through a garden now ready for the season, I became aware of how different the garden sounded in the early evening. The raucous morning chorus had mellowed into the last songs of the fat robins sorting through the garden beds for an evening worm snack and the chirps of a chickadee who was exploring the beauty bush for a possible nest site. Their songs were separated by moments of quiet; a golden glow had descended and the song of evening matched it, relaxed and reflective.

snowdropsEvery culture and religion has a set of songs that matches the time of day.  Matins, vespers, compline, all music for a time of day. Indian musical culture has scales and songs, ragas, that are only to be used for specific times of days. I found myself wondering, as I wandered through the evening garden, if this tradition arose from gardeners, or at the least, those paying attention to nature, to the  rhythm and song of the natural world.  How different is morning song from evening song! One greets the day with joy and then later celebrates the work of the day and its attendant rest with song punctuated by moments of silence. Here is a lovely video of evening bird song in Vancouver that I discovered online that most closely resembles the sound of my garden last evening. 

Rose hellebore

Although I can capture a few blooms, I cannot possibly capture the feel of this day with my camera.  The slanting gold of evening skies, the winter sun shining on a few bold blooms, an ephemeral butterfly moving so quickly that I cannot capture it, all are etched in my mind’s eye. The camera might capture nothing more than the brown and gray landscape of an early spring garden but there was so much more, a garden of possibilities. The light shifting through the bare woods. Nascent buds swelling on shrubs and trees. The fresh smell of soil awakened from the frozen grip of winter. This day now only resides in my memory of a perfect span of time spent in the company of birds, sunlight, and the spirit of the garden. Spring has arrived quietly and nestled in my gardener’s heart. It may snow tomorrow or the next day, but for me, spring has come on an evening song and I treasure the moment.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most

All alone, the party’s over,
Old man Winter was a gracious host;
But when you keep praying for snow to hide the clover
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most!
~ lyricist Fran Landesman

A quick post in a busy week, the last week of classes. It snowed, frost descended, then spring came back in all its glory. Here are a few photos of the garden, which survived the rollercoaster weather better than expected. More next week . . .

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I love this song; here is a YouTube link to Ella Fitzgerald singing it with her fantastic grace and style.