Garden & Sky

Archive for the month “June, 2016”

The East Garden

Although this is only June, the day begins with the intensity of late summer. The thermometer reads 73 F, and that seems reasonable enough, but upon opening the kitchen door to the garage, I’m hit with the solid denseness of an August atmosphere thick with moisture. Venturing out onto the back patio, I’m rewarded with a bit of a breeze… just enough to make doing my morning meditation outside tolerable. I settle into one of our wrought iron chairs , take a few deep breaths, and gaze across the patio to the east garden.IMG_2874IMG_2872This east garden is a lush, crowded mixture of lilies, butterfly bushes, bergamot, butterfly weed, swamp milkweed, purple coneflowers, dill, and an ever-expanding wisteria vine. Of course it wasn’t always this way. When Joe and I first moved in, there was only a fence… a basic, traditional, green! chain-link fence. Functional; but not terribly attractive. We toyed with the idea of removing it, but then thought, well, maybe one day we’ll get a dog and then we’ll be very happy to have this old fence. So, it remained, and the planting began.

It turns out that when you’ve got a bit of planting to do, and have no specific plans for the planting, you have only to get the word out to family and friends and before you know it–you’ve got plants!  I started things off with two small butterfly bushes–a white one from my aunt Caroline and a purple one from a local church plant sale. Next came a spectacular variety of day lilies, also from my aunt Caroline. [I should mention that this aunt Caroline of mine is a master gardener and former day lily collector. Her backyard is a dazzling array of flowers and shrubbery.]  Then, my mom donated purple coneflower seeds and a wisteria vine. Finally, a friend of mine was happy to share some butterfly weed seeds. Let all this simmer and bake for a few years, and you have a beautiful, if somewhat random, garden. But that’s not all.

As I became more interested in native plants and butterfly gardens, I felt the need to augment this garden along those lines. So, over the years I’ve added bergamot, swamp milkweed, and more butterfly weed. Occasionally, we plant extra seedlings from the herb garden like dill and fennel, as the butterflies like these, too.  We were pleasantly surprised this year to see that the dill had reseeded itself, making an encore appearance and doing much better than when WE planted it. Nature knows best.


The delicate dill in amongst the lilies…

So now, the east garden is a dense jungle of foliage and blooms, butterflies and bees, color and movement. I imagine that the plants might be a bit annoyed, having to constantly elbow each other for space and duck around each other for sunlight. They seem to be managing just fine, though, and perhaps we’ll expand the garden space a bit more next year. Meanwhile, I get to enjoy the wild and often surprising beauty of a garden that came together not with a plan, but with the help of family and friends. And for added value, it pretty much obscures that old green chainlink fence!


Beautiful bergamot underneath the butterfly bush…

Saturday: Meditation, yoga, herbs, and laundry

There’s really no typical Saturday around here, but the arrival of the weekend does present an opportunity for activities and mind frames that just aren’t possible during the work week. For starters, the driving question changes from “What do I have to do today?” to “What would I like to do today?”–a significant shift. The pace of life slows a bit; tasks become more mindful, more meaningful. Years ago, I began attending yoga classes with my sister on Saturday mornings. Although never what anyone would call consistent, since then I’ve tried to keep doing yoga as much as I can, adding that and  daily morning meditation into my weekly routine. I’m terrible at hauling myself out of bed early in the morning, so I can manage meditation before I head off to work, but a full yoga session usually needs to wait until evening or the weekend. Doing yoga at home instead of driving to a class helps, although sometimes there are still some logistical problems…yoga cat

The great thing about Saturday is that (usually) I can get a meditation session and a yoga session completed in the morning. Feels amazing! Then, I can venture outside to see what the gardens have to offer. As it is mid-June, things are really getting lush and the oppressive heat of late summer is still weeks away. Our vegetable garden is a veritable jungle–so many leaves of different shapes, sizes,  and greens! Tomatoes are a basic, simple green, while brussel sprouts almost glow with a pearlescent, blue-grey green. Basil has a definite yellow-green quality to it. Makes me want to get out my box of Crayolas!IMG_2828

Meanwhile, over in the herb garden, things are finally taking off, too. There was a “battle of the slugs” back in May, and many seedlings were lost. However, the larger plantings survived and are now looking as they should. Here’s today’s harvest: IMG_2832

These will go down to the dryer and be stored until this fall and winter when we’ll open the jars, take a deep breath, and be transported back to early summer. It’s amazing to be able to store a bit of summer on the pantry shelves.

But now, the laundry calls. It’s one of the more tedious of the weekend chores, but definitely not one to be skipped. Besides, this kind of chore provides another opportunity for a little more meditation, a little day-dreaming about what lies ahead this summer, this year, and next. And before you know it, the laundry is finished. Until next weekend…

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