The early hours of summer mornings often find me puttering in the garden. I wish I could say that I’m out there staying on top of the weeding and what-nots. While I take note of the weeds and to-dos, I don’t necessarily feel moved to get busy. These moments in the garden have become my ‘centering time’. I observe what’s doing and what’s not doing. I watch the birds going about their business – the early birds really do get the worms. Listening to their different songs compels me to seek out where the singers are. Parents warning their babies to stay still in the nest because the squirrels are near by. The crows chasing a hawk away from their neighborhood. The cardinal calling its mate to a veritable feast of berries. Baby nuthatches squawking nervously as they test their wings. Much is happening in the many storeys of the garden.
I see that the columbines have finished scattering their seeds. The pods no longer rattle in the wind. The foxgloves are almost ready to do the same. Maybe in another week or two. The perennial geraniums are blooming and setting seed simultaneously. The amsonia and baptisia seed pods are still green. They will take it slow all the way to early fall. At that time, the purple-black baptisia pea-like pods are ready to be collected for posterity. The color contrasts very nicely with the ochre hued slender amsonia beans.
As seeds are being set and dried, they symbolize the springs to come. So full of promise and continuity. But as reminders to the season at hand, the mallows, echinacea and cleomes are madly livening up their corner in shades of pretty pinks. The elegant, white candelabras of cimicifuga are rising gently to cast a soft glow at dusk. The acanthus however commands everyones attention. The large, glossy, deeply cut spiny leaves and the spikes of white flowers tinted with reddish purple are so impressive. The phlox near by are yet to bloom. When they do, their fragrance will perfume the air from sunset to sunrise.
Way back at the bottom of the garden just beyond the ‘meadow’, the lone oak-leaf hydrangea is holding fort. Its white flowers are the only color against the all green in this area. The other mop-head hydrangea suffered this past winter. The old growth bearing buds for this year were destroyed. As a result there are no blooms this year. Thankfully, the plants themselves did not succumb. New growth has emerged from the base so perhaps next year I will enjoy their blue flowers. But here is an example of how the native (oak-leaf) plant does better than the non-native.
The Concord grapes look smugly expectant. The pale- green clusters, shaded by leaves grow big every day. If the birds don’t get to them first, I’ll be making delicious jam in late September. The preserve will brighten winter breakfasts and remind us that the cold weather will indeed gave way to spring.
Right here, right now the garden demonstrates that birth, growth, reproduction, death are all happening at the same time. No matter what happens, life goes on.
I get back to the house centered and ready to make my own contribution to the world.
(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar