There will always be work to do in a garden, but why create a bit of heaven on earth if we don’t occasionally sit and feast our eyes on the beauty right in front of us?
This fantastic spider lily (crinum) grows in my garden. The plant is lush and green most of the year. I serendipitously planted it in just the right place, so it grows nearly 5’ tall and erupts in a fireworks-like display of white blooms in summer.
As the summer temperatures rise, we have waterparks, swimming pools, and water blasters for cooling off. It is such fun to anticipate the cool plunge, the joy of the cooling water. Expecting the splash is fun; a random splash is a water joke*.
“Sometimes people go to extremes and create eccentric, fantastic, obsessive gardens that linger in one’s memory and become tourist meccas.” Diane Ackerman, Cultivating Delight
I have been at home in my garden for over 14 months. I have been untouched by the direct loss of loved ones. I’ve not been ill. I’m vaccinated, comfortable and companionable with the love of my life sharing this experience. There are many things I haven’t liked about this forced seclusion, but my good fortune has been apparent to me.
As I face another summer staycation in my garden, I am hopeful yet fearful of the weather. As much of the northern hemisphere sings the refrain of “April showers bring May flowers,” we are all wondering what the weather will bring, floods or drought?
March is unpredictable. One day it’s windy, the next day calm. Sprouts of green spring up from mud and buds begin to swell on bare branches of trees. Around the middle of the month, people cheer about their ancestry, start dancing a jig and profess a belief in leprechauns and fairies. Then when an entire hour suddenly disappears, everyone gets very emotional about it. We celebrate Women’s History during all of these disruptions, and it seems a perfect time as women often navigate these tempestuous events behind the scenes.
For years, I’ve gardened under the shade of a neighbor’s soaring pine trees, it’s branches extending far over my patio, the grill, and my orange tree. Their dark, dense canopy obstructing the light from the flower beds below. Now, the shade, the pollen, the pine cones, the needles, and the acidic air, are all gone. The change is extraordinary. The view eastward is wide open; the early morning sky, and moonrise, are visible.
Kiftsgate Courts Garden, Chipping Campden, England
Sometimes the most striking gardens are not those perfectly plotted on flat ground. Hills, valleys, and rocks may seem like less than favorable conditions, but gardeners are not easily deterred and will find a way.
Gardens are, as they always were, a retreat. Centuries ago, humans retreated from the wildness of nature, seeking protection from “lions, tigers and bears.” Today the garden is a retreat from the wildness of 21st-century life. Encouraged to shelter inside because of the pandemic it seems the world is looking out a window wondering what the way forward will be.