Summer’s Passions

Can you see the raindrops?

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”
Claude Monet


Once again, I agree with Monet.  And I believe it is the intensity of summer’s colors which inflames my gardener’s heart.  How would we ever believe it possible for such vibrant color and intricate detail to emerge from the muddy brown Earth, if we didn’t witness it for ourselves?


Buddleia davidii blooms against a clump of fennel.


“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life.
He taught me that if you are interested in something,
no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead.
Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it
and above all become passionate about it.
Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either.
White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
Roald Dahl


I was very, very young when I discovered the wondrous possibilities that can be coaxed into life in a garden.  There was the monstrous climbing rosebush rooted in our neighbor’s yard, yet blooming with delicate, sweetly perfumed shell pink buds in ours.  I would linger by the fence, meditating on this miracle of roses.

A few years later, there was the gift of vibrant Iris magically emerging from tall green stalks and gnarly brown rhizomes we had buried in beds dug specially to receive them the summer before.  I had never smelled such fragrances as those Iris emitted from their red and purple and yellow and pink and white and blue standards and falls, all embroidered in furry golden velvet.



“Enthusiasm can help you find the new doors,
but it takes passion to open them.
If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed.
Your passion will drive you there.”
Roy T. Bennett


As soon as my parents taught me the secret of opening the Earth, and planting some small something, and watching it and caring for it and celebrating its growth; I was smitten.  We grew things together, large and small:  Rhubarb and Salvias, coleus and roses; impatiens grown under thick pine tag mulch that grew as large as the azalea hedge behind them.

My mother planted vegetables and my father planted flowers, until his hands shook so much he could barely fit the plug into the prepared pot I set before him.


Ironweed, blooming at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden this week.


“It is good to love many things,
for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is well done.”
Vincent van Gogh


And I planted, too.  And what began as a child working alongside a parent, grew into a passion for wildflowers and shrubs, climbing vines and herbs and big bold leaves and every shape and hue of flower.

What magic we can cast with spade and shears and water and Earth.  Birdsong and windsong sing incantations over the garden as it rises up from the soil, animated by the sun!


Sunflower and bees, WBG


There is no day so hot, that an impassioned gardener won’t stand out under the sun watering with sprinkler or hose.  There is no back so sore that we won’t find a way to get our precious new plants into the Earth.  There’s no February so cold that we won’t find time to prune and clean up for spring.  There is no summer evening so long and lingering, that we won’t find time for one more twilit walk around the garden.

It is another madness born from love; a passion and obsession beyond reason.  Sweat and mud, stinging insect bites and soreness can’t dim the vividness of our enthusiasm when we are truly smitten.


Hibiscus syriacus


“Everyday I discover more and more beautiful things.
It’s enough to drive one mad.
I have such a desire to do everything,
my head is bursting with it.”
Claude Monet


Butterfly garden at the WBG


How can we not be driven a little mad, when surrounded by the intense colors and perfumes of summer?  Stand in the middle of the garden, and slowly turn around, savoring every vivid leaf and petal.  It is July, and the world is intensely alive.  The buzz of life surrounds us.



It is passion that keeps us young, and obsession which keeps us energized.  But it is light and color which mesmerize and inspire our spirits.

Woodland Gnome 2018



About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

3 responses to “Summer’s Passions

  1. I love all the passion, madness and intensity this time of year! I just posted about the same in my garden – come by for a visit! ❤

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