Garden & Sky

Archive for the tag “backyard”

Thoughts & Sketches

Welcome to Sunday, a time of thoughtful reflection and last chance to get the vacuuming and dusting finished. And even though it’s hot (a sunny 86 F at the moment), I like to spend some time out in the backyard, taking in the colors of the gardens in this last part of summer. Surrounded by nature, I’m inspired to dream… write… draw…

Athena joins me on the back patio. The sandy flagstones are perfect for back scratching, and under the table, they’re cool enough for an afternoon nap.The flower patch along the back fence is looking especially cheerly this afternoon. It’s the breeze that does it. Not too much; not too little. Just enough to make the flowers nod and sway, just enough to make the cottonwoods wave hello, and just enough to create the soft, soothing, swoosh sound as it swirls its way through the branches. A dry, light breeze is a rare gift in the middle of August.

This is the month when the butterflies come. We plant milkweed (four varieties!), bee balm, dill, parsley, fennel, and an assortment of flowers, hoping to entice them into our yard. We don’t see too many early in the summer, and about mid-July I usually decide that we’re not in the fly zone this year. But in August, they arrive.

We see many black swallowtails, a few monarchs, and lots of skippers. The tiger swallowtail is rarely seen, but all the more exciting when one does make an appearance. They all love the zinnias! Even though the monarchs visit, there are not as many as I expect, and I do think that our yard is not on their usual route. We have the milkweed ready, just in case!Athena has moved out into the corner garden, finding another shady spot under the wisteria where she can keep watch and not be bothered. 

For me, I’ll spend some more quality Sunday time gazing out at the gardens, watching butterflies… writing… drawing…

As Time Goes By

Calendars and dates are wonderful things. They mark the significant events in our lives for better and for worse–the birthdays, the holidays, the vacations; the doctor visits, the tax bill coming due, and the last day to clean the house before guests arrive–helping us to look forward and backward in time as we anticipate the future and revisit the past. In between events, of course, time passes, and the challenge is to have the right balance of events and quiet time on one’s calendar. Pack in too many events and the stress levels rise to dangerous levels. But, too much “down” time leaves one adrift in a sea of generic days and weeks, rapidly losing purpose and direction.

For me, though, I like to have my calendar a little on the empty side. I need lots of time to think, reflect, wind down from work and gaze at the gardens. I want time to watch birds, plant flowers, walk in the woods, and stare at the sky. And write… not the kind of writing I do for work and will not be mentioned here again, but the more personal journal writing that helps me to more deeply enjoy and appreciate my life and is a pleasure to share with others. Like this blog…

Looking at the calendar date of my last post, I see that too much “down” time has definitely gone by where my writing is concerned. Almost a year! What has been happening since last September? I feel pretty stressed, so I must have been busy doing something.

It’s tempting at this point to write a “year in review” post, but I feel that, although there were many wonderful things about last year, I prefer to look ahead or at least stay in the “here and now.”

So here and now, as August settles in and gets serious, the flowers are the highlight of the gardens. The sunflowers are bright and bold, nodding in the breeze and growing thick and heavy with seed. We planted a mixed variety this year, and it has been such fun watching them grow and wondering how tall they will get and what color they will be. I never knew there were so many varieties! Tall and chocolate red:

Classic sun-yellow:

Stylish yellow and tan: And the windswept golden comet: I have no idea what the real names of these are, since the original seed package is long gone. I could do a bit of research, but that might ruin the fun. These playful flowers are well-loved by pollinators, too. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds visit frequently to pay them homage and get a quick snack.

I hope to collect lots of seeds and repeat the process next year.

Moving from the very big to the very small, I’ve noticed that herbs produce some of the loveliest (and tiniest) flowers. I’m not very good at cutting herb plants back regularly, so often a large part of the plant ends up bolting and going to seed. But before the seeds… the flowers:These tiny gems are oregano flowers. I could just stare at them for hours, taking in all the tiny details. And just a hint of soft pink for color. Next, the blue and beautiful borage:These blue stars always make me think of the cornflower blue crayon that was one of my very favorites (along with carnation pink and forest green)in my younger coloring book days. Then finally, cilantro:Dainty and white, they are the perfect complement to the lacy green leaves. We always have lots of these flowers because around here, cilantro bolts before you know it. One day you’re dreaming about fresh cilantro in salsa and tacos; the next day the plant is sending up tall stems with fern-like leaves, ready to flower. The good news, apart from the flowers, is that we get hundreds of seeds–the aromatic coriander that not only smells amazing but is the hope of next year’s crop. Gardening is all about making the most of the present while looking ahead to the next season.

So, as time goes by and we look ahead to the fall season (cool, dry air!), I hope to keep a good amount of emptiness in my calendar for gardening, skywatching, and writing… maybe even some drawing and painting. Doesn’t sound too empty at all.

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