Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Even as I prepare a series of posts about the evolution of the garden, I am drawn into the drama of March weather. This past weekend was gloriously warm and sunny, full of blue skies and singing birds.
The light through last year’s hydrangea blossoms was magical and the colorful sunset above the bare trees inspiring. But soon the wild winds of March blew in from the west, bending and creaking the bare trees. A day later, the snow began to fall, enormous fluffy flakes that coated everything in a magical layer of white. Never mind that the winter had already expressed itself in snow and ice many times, the effect was charming and worthy of a short video.
The snow melted by mid-afternoon, leaving the spring garden tasks visible once again, awaiting my pruner and loppers and shovel. And so March goes, an unpredictable yet compelling time of the year, promising so much for the months to come.
March is the month of expectation, the things we do not know.~ Emily Dickinson
Angel and I stood out under the almost full moon last night. She was restless, so was I, and the moonlit woods beckoned to us, mysterious and full of the sounds of night creatures awake and moving. I stood and watched the sky while she investigated every rustle and sigh – it was nearly midnight before we returned to the house. We were up early this morning to catch the sun.
Spring is here and the world is growing greener. I’ve been walking the garden every day, starting with the morning sun and ending at dusk and still I wish for more. Angel, at age 15, is a little gimpy, a little slower – we make a fine creaky pair as we circle the garden beds and pause for a closer look at each new flower that appears.
The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.~ Gertrude S. Wister
I finally had to admit that if I wanted to keep my garden, I would have to hire help for the heavy lifting. I called my friend Bill, who built the stone walls in my garden.
He and Ron have been weeding, pruning, moving shrubs, and mulching garden beds for me for the past few weeks. Finally, the garden that was slowly going to ruin has now re-emerged, its bones intact and eager to grow.
I can take pleasure in the easy stuff of gardening, knowing that I have able and knowledgeable help for all of the tough jobs that I no longer can manage. I designed, dug, planted and maintained this entire garden by myself for twenty years and now wonder how I managed to do that. But being forced to slow down has its pleasures. I’ve long enjoyed the contrast of the white daisy-like flowers of Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’ against the dusky purple foliage of Euphorbia dulcis‘Chameleon’.
For the first time, I noticed the pink and purple tones of the anemone’s flowers and stems when its petals close for the night, entangled in the purple arms of the euphorbia.
Nearby, creeping sedums (S.rupestre ‘Angelina and S. spurium purpureum) have mingled together in a jazzy gold and burgundy combination.
White forsythia (Abeliophyllum) has pink buds before it opens but I’ve never noticed them before.
Delicate as a ballerina’s pink slipper, the buds eventually give way to the sweet-scented white flowers that gives this early blooming shrub its name.
I had the pleasure of watching daffodil ‘Verdant Meadows’ open as a yellow and white flower before it slowly paled over a few days in the spring sun, eventually becoming creamy white.
My sisters-in-law gave me a lungwort (Pulmonaria) from my mother-in-law’s garden after she passed – its first bloom of the season opened this week on her birthday, a lovely synchronicity.
The weather is mild enough to sleep with the window open; what a joy it is to awaken to the pre-dawn bird chorus. The garden is awake and this gardener has hope that she will be able to tend to it with ease and joy, and revel in nature’s beauty. May you also have hope and beauty in your daily world as spring works it magic.
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all.
Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
Spring has suddenly unfolded herself, transforming from a few bright flowers lost in a brown sea of last year’s leaves to a rich tapestry of green punctuated by full bouquets.
Green leaves of every size and shape have sprung up, fresh and new.
Oakleaf hydrangea leaf
Lily of the valley
Asiatic lily foliage
New growth of Alberta spruce
New flowers open every day, making the morning stroll through the garden a journey of discovery.
Daffodil ‘Bella Coola’
Old fashioned bleeding heart
Daffodils and forget-me-nots
The earth laughs in flowers. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
After a long winter of dreary days and muted colors, the textures and forms of spring make me feel as if I’ve stepped into the land of Oz, from a black and white world into a land of vibrant color.
Near a birdbath set into the ground,
I found a tiny bird nest – it may have blown out of a tree during yesterday’s wild winds.
On May 1, two of my compositions will be featured on our university’s weekly A Little Friday Night Musicconcert series on YouTube. If you are free on Friday, May 1 at 7:30 P.M. (eastern daylight time), please tune in and enjoy the concert performance of selections from Watershed and Arcadian Tone Poems, both pieces inspired by my love of nature. I will be there in the live chat to answer questions and comments during the concert. The video will remain on YouTube thereafter, so you can tune in anytime.
May you enjoy the sights and sounds of spring, wherever you find yourself. Stay safe, stay well, stay strong.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. ~Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. ~Sri S. Satchidananda
The garden is waking up and I am a frequent visitor. When I cannot bear another word or warning of the world’s calamities, I step outside. A month ago, the world was white with snow.
Then the March winds came and turned the sky blue.
The robins and a pair of mourning doves are regular visitors to the birdbath and their songs ring out in a quiet world that has begun to bloom. The snowdrops appeared first, tiny clusters of white that nodded in the early spring sun and shrugged off the snow. The Tommy crocus (Crocus tommisinianus) appeared soon after, to the delight of a few early insects.
Now the hellebores are stealing the show. Some are named varieties with strong colors and sometimes doubled in form. (click any photo in the mosaic to see a full size image)
Hellebore ‘The Red Lady’
Hellebore ‘Onyx Oddesey’
Hellebore ‘The Blue Lady’
Others are chance seedlings of a few plants gifted to me by a friend many years ago. They seem to have crossed with the fancy ones and made some pretty color combinations. A few even lift their faces up to the spring sun.
Forsythia and Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry) are bearing their cheery yellow flowers while a few daffodils come into bloom.
Daffodil ‘Verdant Meadow’
I leave behind worry each time I step into the garden and embrace the serenity that I find there. May you find inspiration in the beauty around you and dream beautiful dreams.
My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ~Abram L. Urban
Blossom by blossom the spring begins. ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne
While you read and look, I invite you to listen to Craig B. Dobbins’ Appalachian Lullaby recorded by my husband Bill Purse for an upcoming album.
This was a year when winter seemed longer and gloomier than usual. The soft browns and grays of the garden were lovely in their own quiet way but I longed for color, for signs of new life.
The sky obliged with color.
And then the first signs of new life emerged. Along with the Tommy crocus and snow drops, the hellebores began blooming in pink and white and deep purple while the wine red stalks of peonies rose up from the ground. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)
Hellebore ‘Rose Quartz’
Hellebore ‘Onyx Odyssey’
For the first time in years, the forsythia bloomed profusely followed by the daffodils and mid-spring bulbs.
Small cup daffodil
Summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)
Tulip ‘Princess Irene’
Gray clouds carrying rain became more welcome as they hurried along the greening of the woods and garden.
Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps. ~Charlotte Brontë
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Waterfall’
Along with the rain and green growth came the weeds. My niece Madison showed up to help me sort out the garden beds; what a pleasant talk we had in the spring sunshine.
As the rain and sunshine dance through the garden, it has exploded with color and scent. The shrubs and trees are blooming while a few tulips and daffodils linger.
The grape and lemonade bed
Each morning, the intoxicating scent of lilies of the valley greet me as I step out my front door; the wild violets tucked in among them only increase their charm.
Lily of the valley
Under the white pines
Hosta and violet
Now the garden is full to overflowing with lush textures and colors. Yesterday I heard the wood thrush singing and a pair of robins are nesting nearby where I can sometimes catch a glimpse of a tiny blue egg.
Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’
Astilbe ‘Chocolate Shogun’
Angel and I walk the paths through the garden each day, reveling in every new blossom and scent.
To understand the journey you have to do the walking. ~Bryant McGill
Thank you for accompanying me on this journey around the garden and through the season. May you enjoy a spring rich with color and life.
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs