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!
Phacelia tanacetifolia lacy rosettes
Day lily shoots poking through in the whiskey barrels
A sun rising earlier and setting later each day
A brightness foretelling glorious warm days to come
Sweet, embracing, comforting warm air
Energy flowing through the ground
Dried flower heads crackling between the fingers to release its seeds
Soft viola leaves
The warming earth
Stereophonic bird song
Dried grasses dancing in the wind
Seed heads rubbing against the rocks
The wet earthly aroma of the ground heaving off its winter blanket
The remnants of the autumn leaves offering themselves to the earth
The tanginess of the first chives brave enough to emerge earlySpring, the vernal equinox is finally upon us and the doldrums of winter will soon be a memory. I say doldrums because ultimately this is how winter is perceived. I personally do not believe this but instead believe winter to be the necessary stillness and quiet our garden needs to prepare itself for the growing season ahead. It is a stillness and quiet we all need to restore our minds and our bodies.
The moment I walk out the door my eyes capture little leaves emerging seemingly everywhere. I walk to the pots near the outside table and already see small leaves perhaps belonging to a viola or hopefully a petunia. I am leaning more toward the viola though.
It was Alice Morse Earle who wrote about the viola being the first flower of the garden to greet you in the spring before most others. I realize this is long but here is the exact passage. I just love the way she goes on about this flower for her thoughts mimic my own as far as the excitement of seeing this flower show up seemingly out of nowhere in the bitter cold:
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 out 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 blooms 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 descendants
of 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.”
In Breck’s Book of Flowers, 1851, is the first printed reference
I find to the flower under the name Ladies’ Delight. In my
childhood I never heard it called aught else; but it has a score
of folk names, all testifying to an affectionate intimacy: Bird’s-eye;
Garden-gate; Johnny-jump-up; None-so-pretty; Kitty-come; Kit-run-about;
Three-faces under-a-hood; Come-and-cuddle-me; Pink-of-my-Joan;
Kiss-me; Tickle-my-fancy; Kiss-me-ere-I rise; Jump-up-and-kiss-me.
To our little flower has also been given this folk name,
Meet-her-in-the-entry-kiss-her-in-the-buttery, the longest
plant name in the English language, rivalled only by Miss
Jekyll’s triumph of nomenclature for the Stonecrop, namely:
These little Ladies’ Delights have infinite variety of expression; some
are laughing and roguish, some sharp and shrewd, some surprised, others
worried, all are animated and vivacious, and a few saucy to a degree.
They are as companionable as people–nay, more; they are as
companionable as children. No wonder children love them; they recognize
kindred spirits. I know a child who picked unbidden a choice Rose, and
hid it under her apron. But as she passed a bed of Ladies’ Delights
blowing in the wind, peering, winking, mocking, she suddenly threw the
Rose at them, crying out pettishly, “Here! take your old flower!”
Here are images of my own violas.
As I finish this entry, it is cold outside as a front comes in from the west bringing in cooler air and hopefully some moisture. The temperatures will warm again though and so it will go. I have completed some tasks such as spreading some prairie seed in new beds at the top of the garden and also planting my anemones. I will discuss that more in the next edition. Until then, here is what is coming up now:
I thank you for reading and until next time many blessings and happy gardening!