I go out early in my garden and wander through slowly, looking closely at the blooms and the leaves of the plants and trees. I like to watch the light breaking on the horizon. Some days I find things. It might be a tiny feather, a broken bird egg, or a dragonfly that will hover no more. I pick them up, and over time, create my cabinet of curiosities. I like this chance to look more closely at my garden residents.
Gardens are filled with moments of happiness and heartbreak. For years our garden had a wall of lush green creeping fig (fig ivy). Just two tiny plants had grown over 20 years to create a thick, dense layer of green covering the entire west wall of the back yard. It was nearly 3’thick and rose easily 4’ above the 8’ wall. It crawled over into my neighbor’s yard where it was generally the only thing green to be found there. It blocked the neighbor’s house entirely. I loved it.
I started working early in my garden today. The sky was streaked with pink, orange and blue as the sun rose between the branches of my 40 yr. Old olive tree. Mocking birds were singing, there are so many different songs from this one incredible bird. As I wander through the pathways of the garden I find the deep purple Dutch iris and pink freesias blooming, they are such a brief bit of spring color but so worth it. There is a stand of white freesias further out by the lawn, heavy with blossoms, they need a wire frame to support them.
In this week of Thanksgiving I realize again how grateful I am for gardens. In this world of war, wild weather, and wandering refugees it is hard to see solutions to such complex problems. Yet at this very moment I am lucky enough to be able to step outside my home and walk in my garden. I have a place to sit with the people I love, where I can see the sky and be warmed by the sun. Delighted by wild canaries flying through the view, a light breeze rustles the leaves on the olive trees, and a wind chime plays a trio of notes. I have clean water for my plants and for my family.
This article appears in the September 2015 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden. It features our home garden. The copyright access to the photos expired, so I’ve added a gallery of similar images at the end. Hope you enjoy the tour.
Late last November I planted two Artichoke plants in a sunny spot in one of my new flower beds. I wanted something to grow fast and add some variety of color and shape to my view. They grew beautifully! By March their silvery-green leaves spiked up vigorously at both ends of the bed providing a framework for the smaller plants between them. The end of each symmetrical leaf was punctuated with a fine thistle tip.
A single row of sunflowers is a delight in my garden! As the flowers fade and seeds form a flock of yellow canaries and some peach faced loved birds descended on the tasty seed heads. I heard them chatter, I heard their songs. They were everywhere in the garden.
When the garden was finished in early December we sat down for a minute to enjoy it. We had a party on New Year’s Eve Afternoon and shared our happiness with many friends. Then we waited for things to grow. The weather was mild, wonderful and perfect for growing.
Outside my kitchen window, a little hummingbird sits in the shade — the perch, a plant stake, the view, a nearby hummingbird feeder. I like to imagine this little bird could be the one I rescued some time ago. Pure fantasy I know, but there is a sense of kinship with these tiny creatures.
“The ongoing relationship of a human being with a certain plot of ground is at its heart a romance, for to garden honestly is to fall in love, in love with the rhythms and miracles of nature, in love with life itself.” Scott Ogden, The Moonlit Garden