As each year passes, Memorial Day is fast becoming one of my favorite days for pause, reflection, deep breathing and spiritual fulfillment. Just like last year, I am sitting in the garden writing this entry with my feet up enjoying the sites and sounds enveloping me. I have so much to do — beds need clearing, several plants are begging to be released from their small plastic cells so they may stretch their legs within the garden soil and the never ending list goes on. All these things weigh on my mind but I absolutely must sit, get this article done and really take time to be quiet. To accentuate the moment, I am listening to the beautiful music of Kristin Rule. Please click on the link and have a listen. It will add to your reading pleasure. I promise.
The dry winter, aphids, rabbits, hail, sudden heat spells but mostly lack of water. All have taken its toll on my garden paradise. What must be sheer spite, the garden is rebounding. Rather than wallow in all the things that aren’t as they should be, I shall celebrate instead.
In a large pot under the pergola, a lone columbine has thrived. Typically it is competing with the desert bluebells but this year none came up and this allowed the columbine to take over the pot.
Preface: I ordered these vintage (circa 1597) Irises from Old House Gardens in March of 2015. I tracked down these irises as they bring back some very special memories. It was very important that these bloom so I thought moving them would help — it did!
At the end of last season, I moved two large clumps of irises away from the house and planted them along the edge of the steps leading up to the top half of the garden. This is their third year in the garden and when the weather warmed this spring, the foliage took off just as it did last year — (but foliage was all I had last year hence one of the reasons for the relocation). Weeks went by, I saw no stalks forming. I feared that once again I would have no blooms.
One morning, during an atypical saunter, I nearly cried out with delight when I noticed those ever familiar little stalks forming off the sides of the leaves! Now, they are blooming and that aroma! If heaven had a fragrance, the scent of an iris would definitely be it. Just like Francis said in “Under the Tuscan Sun” — they smell of purple — a very delicate, delicious purply heaven!
I could keep going on and on about all the beauty that surrounds me now but I don’t want to take up too much of your time. 🙂 Before I close, I would like to share with you a little something I created about a month ago. I wanted to have a dedicated rose bed and I have been successful with that endeavor. When I was finished positioning my roses, I had a rather large patch that I ended up designating “to be determined”.
A month ago, I was staring at this space and weighing my options: A selection of miniature roses (they don’t really do too well in our climate), herbs or perhaps a selection of prairie flowers? I then realized what I absolutely must do. I tilled the soil so to disturb it to the point where it was very loose. I then gathered all my special poppy seed and scattered them all throughout the blank canvas. What an amazing blessing it is now to see them coming up. Soon, I will have a miniature field of them!
I have written about the Flanders poppy many times and I will reiterate that this is the one plant I will always grow. When those papery red flowers sway in the breeze, I am reminded of all I am thankful for and my countless blessings.
The poppies I grow year after year originated from a grave site in Flanders. It has been my goal to share the seeds I gather every year with all who want them. The ultimate goal being that this little red flower proudly sways in every garden around the world. Last year I sent some to my friend Gloria. She planted her seeds last autumn and has kindly shared her thoughts on why planting these flowers were important to her. I shall close with her words that beautifully encapsulate this day and the magic a bit of sentimentality can bring to the garden. Until next time, thank you so kindly for reading. Thank you to all those in our military who give so much every day selflessly so I may have a day like today.
My garden is many things to me but mainly a sacred place filled with plants shared from neighbor and friend, some specifically chosen plants which remind me daily to be grateful for those who touched my life with love and lessons. When I discovered my friend Ben had Flanders Poppies I knew they needed to be a part of my garden, and in asking, he generously harvested his seeds and mailed them to me. I sprinkled, covered, watered and wait with anticipation, while remembering those who paid with every breath, those young hearts, new to war. It is always the staring down of fear that brings freedom. Is that not reason enough to plant the little Flanders seeds, watch as they take the ground, stand honorably and remind me daily to be grateful, so very grateful.
Here is a photo of Gloria’s poppies emerging:
And finally, images from my garden. Blessings to you all!
The wind blows gently but steadily throughout my winter garden. The chimes provide the melody while the swaying dried grasses create the chorus. There are still leaves blowing about the lawn and the patio seeking a home for the remainder of the winter. I leave them wherever they end up. They will hopefully find some place nice to settle in, sleep and transform. As they decay, they will provide much needed nutrients for the worms within the earth allowing for the cycle of life to complete. All summer they cleaned the air I breathe. Bits of flowing green gathering carbon, singing and dancing allowing the odd insect to have a nibble now and again. As the days grew shorter and the nights cooler, the roots sent the signal to the trunk who sent a signal to the leaves – it is time for rest. The leaves responded. Now, there are only a few clinging dried leaves on the trees but that will change.
It is days like today where I feel the pull to garden a bit stronger than usual. It got up to 65 today and I took a leisurely stroll through the entire garden. If Alice Morse Earle were here, she would be absolutely delighted by the viola blooms. I have two of them if you can believe it! Not to mention, there is a snap dragon beneath the cluster of aspens near the house that still has green leaves. How inspiring nature can be with her tenacity and fortitude.
I wanted to include this segment from Alice’s book “Old Time Gardens”. The words are so wonderful and beautifully characterizes this humble little plant.
For several years the first blossom of the new year in our garden was neither the Snowdrop nor Crocus, but the Ladies’ Delight, that laughing, speaking little garden face, which is not really a spring flower, it is a stray from summer; but it is such a shrewd, intelligent little creature that it readily found that spring was here ere man or other flowers knew it. This dear little primitive of the Pansy tribe has become wonderfully scarce save in cherished old gardens like those of Salem, where I saw this year a space thirty feet long and several feet wide, under flowering shrubs and bushes, wholly covered with the everyday, homely little booms of Ladies’ Delights. They have the party-colored petal of the existing strain of English Pansies, distinct from the French and German pansies, and I doubt not are the cherished garden children of the English settlers. Gerarde describes this little English Pansy or Heartsease in 1587 under the name of Viola tricolor: –
“The flouers in form and figure like the Violet, and for the most part of the same Bignesse, of three sundry colours, purple, yellow and white or blew, by reason of the beauty and braverie of which colours they are very pleasing to the eye, for smel they have little or none.”
It is now nearly 4:30 in the late afternoon and I am sitting outside allowing the setting sun to wash against my face. I filled up all the bird feeders and a group of finches and nuthatches are darting about enjoying a feast of shelled sunflower seeds, whole sunflower seeds and a variety of nuts. In the distance a jay is calling out. Yes, I have food for you as well. Just come and look. I have a whole feeder of cracked corn and whole peanuts just waiting for you.
I went off topic a bit there. As I was saying, I took a leisurely stroll through the entire garden. Beyond the two little brave violas and snapdragons, verbascum leaves are popping up everywhere, the ajuga chocolate chip is also demonstrating its desire to wake from its winter slumber. Well, don’t be fooled my friend. The cold, bitter temperatures will return with a vengeance I am sure. Then again, we may get lucky as we sometimes do and the rest of the winter will be mild. The snow-in-summer leaves are gorgeous right now and they are faring wonderfully. The leaves on the early spring blooming phacelia have been pretty much evergreen. I am already looking for their gorgeous lavender clusters of flowers. Oh! Just near the ajuga and one of the small violas, I can see the tips of some bulbs! The only bulbs in this area are daffodils – unless a squirrel played gardener again. It is a bit early for them but still this provides an early reminder that spring will soon be here.
At the top of the garden in the water smart garden, the silver edged horehound is still green and of course the sedum is draping beautifully over the rocks. Under the kitchen window the dragon’s blood sedum and vinca have been enduring the cold and I know they are eager to stretch their legs a bit. At the bottom of the garden where a grove of bee balms grow, I was amazed by how perfect the creeping Veronica looks. Once those warm days and evenings arrive, I have much to look forward to with this plant.
The excitement is building and already I have visions of what I hope to see this spring and summer. Last year the anemone Coronaria provided me with some exquisite blooms. I did not remove the corms so I am hoping they will survive the winter though odds would suggest they won’t. The star attraction under the kitchen window where the vinca and sedum grow are the old fashioned irises. Last year I had plenty of foliage but no blooms. I am hoping to be greeted by fragrant blooms this year.
In my mind, I have a myriad of tasks to carry out and it won’t be long before I can get to work. In the interim, the sun is setting on this small winter garden so I should think about getting inside. I ordered some biodegradable pots from Botanical Interests today and when they arrive, I shall get some lobelia and peppers started and maybe a few herbs. I am getting a bit of a head start considering I won’t be able to put my plants into the earth until mid-May. No matter. They can grace the inside of the house with wonder as they emerge and grow all the while staring outside waiting for their day in the summer sun.
I thank you kindly for reading! Blessings to you all and happy gardening!
And now some more winter garden photos!