The Big Day

IMG_3994

In the early years here, there was more of a hayfield feeling to the gardens than a formal garden feeling. This really wasn’t too much of a surprise, since we built the farmhouse smack dab in the middle of  a hayfield.

The Angels and Elementals chose the spot for the farmhouse, and much as the excavator and cement man tried to move the footprint up and away from the chosen spot, circumstances conspired to leave the farmhouse just where the Angels and Elementals wanted it planted.

Receiving further guidance from the Angels and Elementals, I divided the land around the farmhouse into garden rooms and began to plant trees and shrubs to delineate these garden rooms. I bartered my weeding services at a plant nursery in exchange for these early tree and shrub purchases. I learned a lot from the nurserywoman who made this trade with me. She was a bit of an Elemental herself and had a magic way with plants. Her nursery selection was rather unusual, something I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. Now I relish that because of Mrs. Joly I have some lovely, rare specimens. And I am grateful to those brilliant Elemental networkers that brought me to Mrs. Joly’s door.

From our very first season in the gardens together, the Angels and Elementals told me that this day, the Summer Solstice was the big day. Not THEIR big day but THE big day.

The longest day meant the most light in the gardens and the most life force in the earth and plants. But why exactly did this make it the big day?

The Angels and Elementals explained that it was the day in which the partnership between the three kingdoms, Angelic, Elemental and Human and all we could BE together was celebrated.  And they noted that it wasn’t so much WHAT we created as that we created it TOGETHER that mattered.

IMG_3995

Midsummer’s Night’s Eve.  Until I began my life in these gardens working with the Angels and Elementals, I thought this night was a hootenanny for the fairies, and a night in which humans could cheer on the sidelines or risk ending up with a donkey’s head.  But here were my Angelic and Elemental friends tell me that this day and night wasn’t about them blowing their own horn separate from people, but instead celebrating and welcoming human community into harmonious creative endeavors with them.

Much as I didn’t believe it, the Angels and Elementals told me again and again, that the thing that mattered on this day was ALL of us.

Back in those beginning years surrounded by tiny trees and young perennials, it was a little hard for me to see that what we were doing was significant. I listened attentively and followed guidance very carefully because I wanted this partnership, but why did it matter? The most beautiful things on Earth seemed to be separate from the creations of man.  I loved my Angelic and Elemental friends and I loved Nature, but I felt they could do as well without me.

The Angels and Elementals made it clear this was not the case. They spoke of this often. The partnership was everything.

As we worked together, moments of garden wonder snowballed. The tiny broken Larch tree that six year old Ben planted in the backyard outgrew the splint that held its snapped body straight and soared unexpectedly fast and true to the sky. Vegetables and annuals that I would later learn were tricky to grow grew immense and luxurious. Everything was bigger than life.

IMG_3760 (1)

In this photo taken this week, Ben’s Larch tree is just to the right of the rising sun.

Somewhere on the website is another photo of a very young Elizabeth holding a head of broccoli about 2 feet in diameter. She doesn’t look very thrilled by the exuberant size of this brassica, but I was. Everything whispered and sometimes even shouted, enjoy this adventure.

Things that went wrong also were revealed as meaningful and important.  Oftentimes I was throwing too much of a hissy fit to get the significance of the challenges and defeats when they occurred.  But year after year the harvest season gave me the chance  to see that I learned as much from the garden disasters as the bumper crops.  The bumper crops were just more fun!

Regardless of what went well and what did not, I began to know for myself that the best harvest was the partnership. The working friendship with these joyful, steadfast, humorous and infinitely kind and loving partners was beyond precious. It was a constant and also an evolving deepening experience of oneness.

Thirty years in, the gardens have the mature specimens to celebrate this day and our partnership with spectacular beauty.  It is breathtaking to walk in a garden that once upon a time was just twigs in the ground.

IMG_4009

I went out at dawn this morning to shout out my thanks. I can never quite believe the glory of Roses on the Solstice, but as I whirled around like Maria Von Trapp ( perhaps with not quite the skirt or the voice), I remembered having the very same feeling of joy when I first walked onto this land and there was no garden at all.  There was wholeness and love, unity and wonder in both moments.

I love knowing that even when the garden was only a dream, the partnership mattered as much to the Angels and Elementals as it did to me. I love that for all of us, the Angels and Elementals welcome us deeper into partnership with them, not because of what we can accomplish together (though it is truly amazing), but because we are part of each other.  No matter where we are on this precious planet, they want to deepen our experience of oneness with each other.

And no matter the circumstance of any of our lives, coming into deeper community with the Angels and Elementals of Nature is possible.  A houseplant lovingly cared for, a tree that receives our love and kindness as we pass it in park or woods, a spontaneous Maria Von Trapp moment of gratitude, any gesture of comradeship and togetherness lifts up ALL of us and our shared  world and lights us all up like the rays of the sun on this first most radiant day of summer.

IMG_4010

We Got Hacked!

Dear friends!  So sorry about the strange blog posts that were here a few minutes ago- We got hacked, and someone put up a bunch of very odd posts.  I think I found and deleted them all.  Let us know at [email protected] if you find any that I missed or more crop up.  Thank you!

This weekend as I weeded the gardens, slugs were a particular preoccupation.  Our Irish type weather with its wet, cold and overcast conditions has brought out the slugs in full force.

In particular, the slugs are feasting on the baby Flowers. No surprise there. If I was a slug I would like the tender baby plants too.  But those are for the wedding NOT the slugs, so I am patrolling non-stop.

Most growing seasons it is enough to lean on an organic product of iron coated in sugar called Slugo.  In theory the slugs eat the Slugo pellets and then die. This year Slugo seems to be a snack that whets their appetites.  Removing slugs by hand has become necessary. I find slug slime a particularly unpleasant part of handling slugs.  It just doesn’t wash off.

Hackers feel like the equivalent of garden slugs. They are the reason we don’t have a comment section on the blog.  We couldn’t keep up with weeding out the slug spam in amongst your lovely and genuine feedback, so we can’t post any of it. But we all love your written letters to us and the emails you send to the [email protected] address.  Thank you for the ones today alerting us to the online slugs.

Now it’s back out into the gardens to wrestle with a few hundred more of the outside slugs.

 

Bustling Around the Spring Garden

Spring is a wild season here. I race around with twigs caught in my hair and dirt on my knees. There is so much to do! Weeds to manhandle- Trees, shrubs and Roses to prune- So many garden beds to cover with bark mulch- Soil amendments to add to all the gardens- Baby plants to tuck into their allotted bit of earth- And the unexpected joy of broken tools and equipment to manage.

I love all the tasks of spring. Well, except for tool problems.

As I race around from job to job, there is always some Flower friend that I am happy to see has returned to its spot. And I’m always so delighted by the various vistas across the beds and the unexpected marriages of plants. It’s one thing to imagine combinations of plants after looking at a million books, but when they blend themselves in harmonious ways well beyond anything I imagined or planned- that is bliss.

Someone commented that the gardens look a bit on the wild side, and I suppose that’s true. I weed everything and know what is planted where, but a lot of time I do let plants jump around and pop up in unexpected places. There is a lime yellow euphorbia that is allowed to pick any spot it wants. It looks so great in contrast to all the Purple Sensation Allium that every baby euphorbia that volunteers in the main perennial beds is cherished and coddled.

IMG_3465

There are other plants, much as I love them, that I negotiate with, sometimes aggressively as in, I PULL THEM UP. Like Celandine. Celandine would pretty much like to dominate every bed, so I have to rein it in. I try to remember to apologize as I yank it up, but really! It would like to be the only plant on the property if it had its way! This year our ceasefire sees me leaving it under one big stretch of Lilacs but pulling it up everywhere else. This works for me, but perhaps not for Celandine.

Each spring as I get the gardens organized, there are losses to confront as well as plants that have multiplied. Our winters are so variable that I never know what is going to survive the cold. This last winter seems to have been hard on shrubs I thought were quite tough like all our Spireas. We also had a lovely old Plum tree bite the dust. There are also perennials that checked out. Sometimes they show up elsewhere as was the case with the enormous White Bleeding Heart. It vanished from its longtime spot only to have two other young White Bleeding Hearts appear on the opposite side of the Arbor Garden.

An old gardener friend once said to me that if she had a garden of all the plants she had lost, it would be quite a garden. I know what she meant! Now that I have been here 30 years, I can say the same myself. The longer one gardens, the bigger one’s garden of lost plants gets!

My garden of lost plants would have a lot of Lupine and Bearded Iris in it. I need to give it up on these two plants. I had a dozen Lupine in a lovely shade of pink last year, and this year I have one plant with one Flower stalk. That drift of dozens of yellow Lupine that I cradled protectively for many years? That too is gone with the wind.

IMG_3637 (1)

And Bearded Iris! I just can’t resist them in the catalogs, but I should! They just don’t like it here- except for one fragrant pale violet variety that somehow has adjusted itself to the place and spreads like wildfire.

IMG_3666 (1)

As far as all the gardens that get planted from scratch each year, I try to start a reasonable number of vegetables and Flowers for these gardens, but I always end up growing extras of everything. Then, I can’t bear to compost any of these babies, so once they are big enough to be planted in the gardens, I scramble to find the space for each little plant.

This year I had lots of annual Flowers for Emily’s wedding in addition to the usual Flower and vegetable friends. I searched the gardens high and low looking for spots for all these babies. There are now baby plants in places where I have never planted anything. If I found a square foot anywhere, it got planted!

IMG_3480

It was quite a moment when Sarah Porter and I planted the last flat of plant babies. There had been so many flats in the greenhouse, hoop house, cold frames and on every flat surface in the office and house. It seemed like we would never get them all in. But thanks to Sarah as well as Elizabeth, Molly Sanders and EJ, we did.

IMG_3474 (1)

IMG_3547

The last of the annuals went in the Venus Garden. The design this year is a Star of David composed of triangles of Zinnias with pom poms of white Flowers at the tips and a ring of Heliotrope and Mehera Marigolds at the center. Each triangle is a different color of Zinnias. It was refreshingly simple garden to plant compared with many Venus Gardens and looks very lovely, even now with just the baby plants in this mandala.

IMG_3486

Now we turn our attention to keeping everything watered and weeded. It’s always an adventure to see what sort of summer we are going to have and which Flowers will particularly flourish. Lets hope they will look good in bridal bouquets!