After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
~ Neslon Mandela
The American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is a lovely tree. Native to Eastern North America, it’s found in landscapes and woodlands, has smooth gray bark and glossy dark green leaves. The leaves turn bronze in fall, and stay on the tree for a very long time, making it easy to spot on a winter or early spring walk. The photo above was taken yesterday, April 5th, while on my morning walk in the nearby wood. Those leaves will persist until the buds with the new season’s growth begin to swell, knocking them to the ground. It’s a marvel the persistance of the Beech heaf to hang on until the very last minute, to be the last to fall. But for what purpose. The prize for hanging on so long, is simply to fall and let the cycle of life begin again.
The persistant effort of the Beech leaf, echos the meaning in the quote from Neslon Mandela above, and both are wonderful metaphors for the life of a gardener. Each year we cultivate our gardens, battle pests, nurtur the soil, and prune and shape. We work until the last possible moment on our cares, only to see our creations are wiped clean with the winter snows. But come spring, we are renewed, our buds begin to swell and we start climbing hills again, finally having let go of last season’s triumphs and failures.
Tell me friends, what have you let go of from last season, and what hills will you be climbing in your gardens this year? I’d love to hear about them!
My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece
~ Claude Monet
As a garden designer I often think of gardens as paintings, and the land my canvas. I don’t think of myself as equal to Claude Monet, except in the desire to create. I have enjoyed success over the years blending plant and hardscape, but have also suffered projects that have not fared as well. That is the essence of the creative arts though, the ongoing task of producing and exposing. It’s a process we all experience, whether as a professional in a creative industry or a homeowner choosing wall colorings. Each must make a choice expressive of his or her inner feeling, then set it free for others to critique.
As the ground here in Connecticut continues to warm and we begin another season of “garden painting”, I am excited to explore each canvas set before me and discover the garden the lies within each, and hopefully one day paint my masterpiece. I hope you feel the same excitement as you take on your canvas’, and invite you to share each experience with us here on Garden Sketches.
Paint on my friends!
I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.
~ John Steinbeck East of Eden
Winter is melting away here and the first signs of spring are appearing; bulbs are emerging, the ground is thawing, and buds are fattening. Soon the scent of spring will overtake the bland smell of winter. A rich earthy odor will release as frost leaves the ground, buds will open and fill the air with fragrance, and sap will run adding its own spicey flare.
Our sense of smell is powerful, and stirs our memory reminding us of times past. The smell of wild onion when digging takes me to my grandfather’s backyard as a boy, and the scent of the foliage of PJM Rhododendron instantly transports me back to a nursery I worked in many years ago, my first job in the industry. As spring awakens and we busy ourselves with the tasks of the yard and garden, I hope you find happiness in the memory of odor!
What smells spark memory in you? Are they happy memories? I’d love to hear about them!
It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
~ Mark Twain
Spring has finaaly arrived here in Southern New England, but you wouldn’t know it by looking out the window. We still have snow on the ground, and the long range forecast has the possibility of a snowstorm next week. Gah!! So, with deference to Mr. Twain, after the long winter that was I do know what it is I want, I want color!
What are you looking forward to in the coming weeks? Let’s try and forget the past few months and warms things up a bit. Share your thoughts!