“We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.” ― E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
There was a time, early on, when I gardened to make things more beautiful for myself; there is nothing I love so much in life as a nice view.
|The many hydrangeas that line the driveway go from a soft green|
to a downy white to eventually, the most delicious blush hue...
Like all people who have gone to Europe before me, I came home and realized that what I really needed was a GARDEN. Very Henry James of me...
Oh sure, I had a small garden before, but now I wanted paths, potagers, perennials.
And so, over the past six years, I have toiled away and now it is getting to be quite lovely.
|I would like to say that the pot has been artfully placed.|
It has not. In fact, it is has been lying on its side for a month.
Early on, I used my garden as a way to relieve the stress of a job that could be overwhelming.
Weeding was a meditative practice and still is I guess.
I cannot tell you what I think about when I weed.
In fact, I am sure I don't think about anything at all, but can that really be so? If it is then I am thankful, since having some time without racing thoughts is a joy, is it not?
And there is always a surprise.
|The butterfly bush which suddenly decides to bloom just as the butterflies are|
|The phlox that suddenly decides it wants to be the showgirl |
in a white/yellow composition.
Who am I to argue with a phlox?
|The glorious fragility of the white phlox buds, |
no doubt worried that Ms. Pink is coming any time now...
But something happened a few years ago and it has been creeping up on me ever since.
Around 2010 or so I realized that I stopped gardening for the view and discovered that now I garden for the birds and the bees.
Where I live, bees are not doing so well. We spend so much time putting junk on our grass and food and not enough time thinking about the impact of that junk. Our bees may be our canaries in the coal mine.
Most of my plantings are in support of them and I am happy to report that 2014 was a bit of a bee-naissance here in my garden.
Not the number of bees of my childhood, so many bees that woe-betide the child who was so stupid as to walk across a field of clover sans sneakers....
But those days are gone for now. And so I must help all that I can.
So basically, whatever the bees loved, they got.
They REALLY loved my lavender. And so I cut very little this year and left the rest to my voracious friends.
|think of the sachets that might have been....|
In fact, my whole garden has a forgotten fairy tale quality about it these days, for no weeding here till after the frosts. Everything belongs now to the birds and the bees and the butterflies, who are feasting constantly.
|I admit to a grand love affair with bee balm, |
something I share with the bees and the hummers...
I admit to being a little in love with this phase of the garden; the glorious decadence of June and July has slowly given way to a last gasp of beauty.
I stay out of everyone's way except to watch and enjoy. The weeds will still be there in a month...
|The unruly can be cut back..|
|You wouldn't think there would still be something sweet in there,|
but the bees keep finding it...
Early in the morning we see the bees resting on the flowers, so sleepy that you feel you could give their backs a good scratch. Later in the day is quite another matter.
Soon the bees will be gone.
My hummers are eating nonstop, readying for their grand adventure.
There is a metaphor here in this last gasp of beauty, allowed to age naturally and beloved for doing so.
So much in life now is about extending youth. About extending June at the expense of September.
But September is just as lovely, just as beautiful, albeit in a less flashy way.
There is a knowing in the late summer garden that doesn't exist in the June one. The tropical storm weathered, the heat wave, the pool parties, the wine in the gazebo, the visits by groundhogs and skunks and squirrels and deer. The surprise plant that suddenly showed up, uninvited. The anthill that refuses to be moved.
We give too much up if we hang on to those early days. And by allowing the garden to fade, allowing the bees and the birds the luxury of eking every last bit of life out of the plants, we ensure that next year's garden will be just as lovely, if not more so.
We ought to do that for ourselves as well. We ought to love ourselves just as much in September.
So now I garden for them: all the salamanders that I almost step on when I head out for my morning walks, the wee frogs, the hummers that perform 18 hours daily free of charge, the bees, the dragon flies. One night two weeks ago, Barry and I took Indy for an evening walk and there were hundreds of dragonflies in the air around the corner.
We believe we live in an age without miracles, but I tell you, when you have hundreds of dragon flies flying around your head, you feel like Alice through the looking glass.
I garden for all the of the creatures impacted by our wanton disregard of the world around us due to our false belief that we are separate from them.
And I can tell you that I have spent more happy hours in the company of the bees than in many of the useless meetings I was forced to sit through in my career. At least their stingers are apparent!
And in the end, I garden to make my corner of the world a little lovelier, more gentle. And if you need that respite, and I believe we all do, I encourage you to visit, or better yet, create your own.
“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,One clover, and a bee,And revery.The revery alone will do,If bees are few.”
And that, Janet, is why I garden!
Have a glorious Labour Day! Stay Safe out there!