Tag Archives: reflections

Early May Vignettes And Blooms

Southwest Corner – Iris, Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Marking May’s mid-point I have gathered some favorite images and impressions from the May garden.

Southwest Corner – Iris, Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

In recent years summer heat encroached early into springtime’s allotted time. This year spring has held. Spring has held.

There have been some actual hot days in high 80s mitigated by temperatures dropping back into high 50s-60s for a few days–some cloudy, some sunny. If you check actual records this report may vary, but it seems we’ve had a lot of just nice 70-degree days. Today’s 82. Sunny.

Early spring was wet but rains have diminished over the last several weeks.  Rains missed us yesterday, Thursday. As a rule it rains every Thursday morning, the day recycling and waste are picked up in my neighborhood. It doesn’t take long for the garden to seem dry, I feel I may need to even water!  Enter presumptive tropical storm Arthur, likely to form this weekend and bring rain next week.

I actually tried planting seeds this year, unsuccessfully overall. A few sweet peas made it through to transplant but I don’t think they’re in a sunny enough spot. They’re making slow progress.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Beaujolais’ (Sweet Pea)

Snapdragon seeds came up but my timing was off and I didn’t get them planted until too late. Good thing I had bought some plants last fall.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Back to seeds, I’m on a second or third try at Sweet William. Now it it warm enough I have direct sowed some along with ‘Summer Romance’ Honey-Scented Alyssum. I have lots of other seeds that are going out this week, mostly zinnias. Other seeds I am trying this year: ‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe and ‘Antique Apple Green’ Heirloom Bells of Ireland.

This oakleaf hydrangea is filling out. There are a few broken branches, thanks I believe to the squirrels clambering to get to the bird feeder nearby.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Squirrels have been excavating regularly and greedily, even as they have all they can eat underneath the bird feeder. I’ve seen only a few butterflies so far, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis).

Dahlias are up, some lazily left in ground last autumn and some new ones planted out a few weeks ago. Seeing a little bunny every morning breakfast in the garden makes me feel closer to Mr. McGregor. I did get a chuckle from observing a brief encounter between the small bunny and a squirrel—both so intently feeding they were startled to find themselves suddenly face-to-face within a couple inches of each other. For a breathless pause there was a comedic stare-down as each conveyed utter shock and indignity at the other’s rude indiscretion. The rabbit caved first and scampered.

American Goldfinches are back. Cardinals predominate at the feeder although sparrows, black-capped chickadees, nuthatches and house finches find plenty of action as well. Bluebirds, robins and towhees are occasional guests. This morning a lone mourning dove has been lumbering back and forth. Birdsong and chimes form a peaceful soundtrack for the garden.

Recently I also planted in-ground Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Star’, Lily Asiatic ‘Royal Sunset’ and Dutch Iris Hollandica ‘Discovery’.  I planted in trays Ranunculus Tomer ‘Purple’, Ranunculus Aviv ‘Picotee Cafè’ and Anemone De Caen ‘Bordeaux’. This last group in the trays is looking most unpromising. I find anemone and ranunculus so luscious but so frustratingly difficult to grow. Their rarity makes me desire them all the more.

I’m trimming back Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine), visible in the back right corner of this image) as it is going to seed all around the garden. I’m too late to be effective at stopping its spread. That time passed years ago.  Similarly the stachys is a plant that takes as much space as it can.  It’s pretty for a few weeks, then I pull out as much as possible.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I’m encouraging little baby hellebores; some find them nearly a nuisance but I love the few drifts they’ve designed on their own. They provide beauty and wonder for months across winter and spring.

Hellebores beneath Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Asclepias tuberosa is readying itself. I look forward to its orange flowers each year.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ is about to burst into bloom in the meditation circle. Its strong upright form and dark leaves once enforced the turnarounds along the meditation paths, but now having long since reseeded itself it is blocking the paths themselves. I relocate or passalong some but mostly I let it be and just step over and around to accommodate it.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Despite many attempts my garden lacks those strong garden “bones” that give it structure all year round. Neighbors’ cars, play equipment, tarps have a way of creeping into many pictures. Sometimes I can block out those inconvenient objects if I carefully frame a shot from a low angle. In person I just edit those imperfections from my vision.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris) and Snapdragons

Photographing long views of the garden does not capture the essence of my experience with the garden. This year I haven’t made trips to garden centers to fill in bare spots with ‘May Night’ meadow sage or Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) and so brown hardwood mulch seems to stretch endlessly in many photos.  But viewed in person from the back porch a story above the garden or down amongst the plants, the garden this year is enough.  I am very attached to the plants. It astonishes me how many plants come back year after year.  Opportunity abounds for changes and improvements certainly, but in the here and now the garden is all it needs to be this year.

It holds that sense of place and wonder singularly unique to a garden setting, encompassing a refuge, an observatory for nature, a spot for reflection,  a prompt connection to calm and peace.

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

Clematis ‘Niobe’

2017 Garden Reflections And Seeking Balance

I had to laugh at myself for deciding to review the garden over the past year. For one thing, I came across an almost completed draft of the 2016 garden review, abandoned.

This year I have been so disconnected from working in the garden, allowing it to become overgrown and weedy, that I have been loathe to photograph it in its true state. I stopped buying plants or even visiting garden centers; stopped walking the meditation labyrinth; stopped even strolling along the borders during some parts of the year.

For much of 2017 the garden no longer called to me in that special way it once did when it truly was my pleasure and salvation. This is not by any means my first wander away from tending the garden, but this year felt different. I simply did not have time to care for it and it became more obligation and burden than discovery and joy. For the first six months of the year my husband was recovering from 2 back-to-back back surgeries, undergoing extensive rehab and therapy, and gratefully he has done well. In the second half of this year my attention shifted further to yoga. After practicing since 2005, finally in June I completed training to become a yoga teacher, an endeavor I consider a personal milestone.

One encouraging influence of 2017 was attending the Garden Bloggers Fling. The attendees were friendly and delightful people; the gardens were inspirations. After starting the year with long days in hospital and rehab settings, I found such healing simply from being in these garden settings, their beauty touched my very core.

This year I managed to join In a Vase On Monday 49 times and that brought great satisfaction, both in creating an arrangement and in seeing what others had produced each week. For the most part I avoided participating in other thematic posts such as foliage day, bloom day or share-a-view day, which in other years I had loved writing. These can be quite fun and educational. Though there was never any obligation, I found myself stressing over them when I joined in and feeling guilty if I missed one; letting go of those commitments has freed me to enjoy those memes as a reader, appreciating the contributions, ideas and insights of my fellow bloggers.

In recent weeks I have sensed a subtle shift in attitude. Especially since the winter solstice I am aware of lengthening days. I have felt those tingling urges a gardener gets when imagining possibilities for next year’s garden. And so I find myself beginning to look forward to reconnecting with my little garden world in 2018 and to finding a manageable balance between that world and the rest of me.

Garden Regeneration

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall May 25, 2014

Four years ago yesterday I posted my first entry on pbmGarden entitled, “Garden Regeneration.”  The first paragraph written then works just as well today.

The garden has been neglected the last few years. Too many frustrations: deer, noisy surroundings, drought, and life’s distractions. Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting. (January 7, 2011)

Four years later the garden has been mildly neglected for a few months, but not years. Voles are my current nemesis and instead of drought the rains have been frequent. Though details of that first post are fluid and can easily be swapped one for another, the original intention is still clear to me: Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting.

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Though I long for it, I no longer think the garden will just one day finally become perfect and stay that way. Even when the irises bloom and the garden is at its best, I know it represents only one point in the nature’s cycle and change is already taking place. But I am reassured the ebb and flow of the days and nights through the seasons will produce more opportunities for me to seize.

Some goals set in January 2011, although met, continue to challenge. The labyrinth is one achievement that brings immense satisfaction.

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design March 2011

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle Under Construction April 8, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

While documenting days in pbmGarden over the last four years, what I have known but need to continually relearn is this task of focussing and creating is a process, a long, sometimes arduous journey of personal change and development. The garden is a refuge as I work out this path. My goal of garden regeneration has really become gardener regeneration.

Meanwhile what I had not expected when starting pbmGarden on WordPress was finding such kind and knowledgeable blogging friends who brighten my days with encouragement, advice and humor. For five years prior I had diligently recorded garden observations at another site, without the benefit of knowing those of you who now stop by regularly or peek in occasionally. Once in a while I think my garden would profit from me spending less time blogging and more time gardening, but in reality the support I receive from you actually helps keeps me going.

As I say happy birthday to my little garden blog, I also wish to send a heartfelt thank you for visiting here.