Friday, May 29, 2020

Five On Friday: In The Garden

"Hydrangea"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life



" Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh,
how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. "
RUDYARD KIPLING


The perennials are up and we're hovering, watching, waiting for the first blooms of the season. Most spring bulbs have come and gone—tulips are nearing their end. The peonies are setting buds and the Peace Rose has one bud about to burst open. Two shrubs did not make it. And, like anxious parents, we've been especially hovering around our newest tree, the lovely Linden, hoping its still barren branches are only a sign of deep delay, not demise. After all it's been a cold spring. Surely that tiny bud looks a wee bit bigger today, and isn't there the hintiest of hints of green on that branch? But I begin to think I'm imagining it. And we feel sad; we were so looking forward to the Linden giving us some lovely shade from the west sun as we sat on our deck this summer.

For a moment I rail against the harshness of life, of our harsh winters, and dream of a living in a warmer clime. I think of Sandra who is already cutting baskets of peonies from her garden in West Virginia; of Barbara in Cornwall, UK, whose roses are blooming, and of Lorrie on Vancouver Island, whose garden is already in full bloom. I yearn.   

Then I shake my head, put on my lipstick, and head for the garden centre. Because our gardening season is short in comparison, we always know we have to make the most of it. And we all do. So I popped out to get my flowers. Well, popped out isn't quite the phrase to use these days. With line-ups to get in and self-distancing still part of the current Covid-19 protocol, one never just pops in anywhere. I was on the hunt for vines to run alongside our garage wall. Having found well established pots of sweet peas and lophospermum vine (happy discovery of a plant new to me), I now dream of sweet peas on one trellis, becoming a daring tangle of tendrils and pastel sweetness, with the lophospermum, with its pink tubular blossoms, spiraling up the other trellises.

We came home happy. We found not only the sweet peas and lophospermum, but big pots of Spanish lavender, verbena, dahlias, hydrangeas, scented stocks, alyssums, geraniums, pansies, and zinnias. Herbs and baskets in riotous colours to set in my two indigo ceramic pots. Many more people seem to be gardening this year, and so there's been a rush at many garden centres. I learned quickly to leave favourite lists at home; because there was the good chance that we wouldn't find all we wanted, why not let a congenial profusion of spontaneity prevail? Which then made me think of what Robin Williams once said, 'Spring is nature's way of saying, let's party!' Yes, let's....


"Lophospermum Vine"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

ONE

" Each garden has its own surprise. "
SUSAN ALLEN TOTH




"Dahlias"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

TWO

" Everything that slows us down and forces patience,
everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature,
is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. "
MAY SARTON


"Scented Stocks"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


THREE

" The greatest gift of the garden is the
restoration of the five senses. "
HANNA RION



"Zinnias"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

FOUR

" I think this is what hooks one to gardening:
it is the closest one can come to being present at creation. "
PHYLLIS THEROUX


"Pansies"
Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


FIVE

" My extravagance is my garden -- it's the first
thing I look at every morning when I wake up.
It gives me so much pleasure. "
INA GARTEN 


* * *

Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

Heart Hugs,
Brenda
xox



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fragrance, The Invisible Sweetness

Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

"They blossomed, they did not talk about blossoming."
DEJAN STOJANOVIC, The Sun Watches the Sun



The Mayday trees burst into bloom this week, and their inexplicable fragrance wafts everywhere in our community. Come to think of it, the week the Maydays bloom has to be one of my favourite weeks of the year—the trees with masses of creamy white blossoms emitting their sweet scent on a sun-warmed spring day. The first whiff on the breeze always catches me by surprise—it's not there and then suddenly it is. And as quickly it's gone again. The moment awakens such a state of happiness in me.

It makes me think of something I read by Helen Keller many years ago. As I recall, she described traveling by train from her home in the South up to Boston in the North. With her acutely sharpened sense of smell, Helen could tell when the train had moved out of the southern state; the further north they went the less fragrant the air. I'm not sure why that bit of knowledge stayed with me all these years. Perhaps it was one of those moments in my young life where I marveled that there could be such spot in this world. To imagine living in a place where the whole countryside would be so saturated with the scent of flowers and trees you could smell it for miles.

Having only lived to that point in the northern hemisphere where summers were short and it took a lot of courage for a rose and other tender fragrant flowers to grow, we thought we were lucky if we got a handful of such fragrant blooms in a season. Certainly not enough to create a fragrance frenzy in the air for any length of time. Fresh-mown hay fields would waft but only a short while. We had lilac bushes on the farm where I grew up, but I don't ever remember noticing their scent wafting on the wind quite like the Maydays do; it was more like you had to bury your nose in a branch to really catch a whiff. And, of course, you smelled them once you cut and brought some into the house.

Yes, Mayday trees make me happy. I never want to take for granted this little bit of scented heaven that comes but once a year and for so short a time.


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life

Helen, in her book The World I Live In, wrote a lovely piece about the sense of smell. Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled 'Smell, The Fallen Angel'.  As I think you'll want to read the whole chapter once you read this short passage, in case you don't have the book, you'll find the link HERE.


"I doubt if there is any sensation arising from sight more delightful than the odors which filter through sun-warmed, wind-tossed branches, or the tide of scents which swells, subsides, rises again wave on wave, filling the wide world with invisible sweetness. A whiff of the universe makes us dream of worlds we have never seen, recalls in a flash entire epochs of our dearest experience. I never smell daisies without living over again the ecstatic mornings that my teacher and I spent wandering in the fields, while I learned new words and the names of things. Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across a thousand miles and all the years we have lived. The odor of fruits wafts me to my Southern home, to my childish frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening grain fields far away."


Image by Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life


"Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch,
but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same."
HELEN KELLER


* * *

And so, I wish you a beautiful day.
Keep healthy and stay safe.

Heart hugs,
Brenda
xox 



Friday, May 22, 2020

Anne's Bower of Apple Blossoms

Image by TheFunky.pixel from Pixabay


It's Friday afternoon and I'm whiling away the rainy day by revisting my blog archives. I enjoyed finding this excerpt in a post I'd written in 2010. For you ardent fans of L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, I'm sure you remember when Anne caught her first glimpse of the lane of apple trees in full bloom that day Matthew Cuthbert picked her up from the train station and then drove home to Green Gables.

"They had simply rounded a curve in the road and found themselves in the 'Avenue'. The Avenue, so called by the Newbridge people, was a stretch of road four or five hundred yards long, completely arched over with huge, wide-spreading apple-trees, planted years ago by an eccentric old farmer. Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of a purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

Its beauty seemed to strike the child dumb. She leaned back in the buggy, her thin hands clasped before her, her face lifted rapturously to the white splendour above.

. . .It's the first thing I ever saw that couldn't be improved upon by imagination. It just satisfies me here—she put one hand on her breast—it made a queer funny ache and yet it was a pleasant ache."
L.M. MONTGOMERY, Anne of Green Gables

I've never had the personal pleasure of passing under such a vast bower of beauty, but that lovely photo above certainly gives, as Anne herself would say, scope for the imagination. Aren't you glad for the gift of your imagination? Maybe a larger question should be....have you ever witnessed something that so satisfied you in your breast with that queer funny ache, and it was so breathtaking it could not be improved upon by imagination?


I sure hope you have a lovely weekend.
Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places,

Heart hugs,
Brenda
xox