Sunday Dinner: In Passing

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“Sit here,
so I may write
you into a poem
and make you
eternal.”
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Kamand Kojouri

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“Everything passes.
Joy. Pain. The moment of triumph;
the sigh of despair.
Nothing lasts forever –
not even this.”
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Paul Stewart

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“The only way to make sense out of change
is to plunge into it, move with it,
and join the dance.”
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Alan Wilson Watts

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“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river
and he’s not the same man.”
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Heraclitus

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“We think of life as solid and are haunted
when time tells us it is a fluid.
Old Heraclitus couldn’t have stepped in the same river once,
let alone twice.”
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Jim Harrison

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“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less,
because the point isn’t for how long,
the point is that it happened.”
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Robyn Schneider

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“Nothing in the world is permanent,
and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last,
but surely we’re still more foolish
not to take delight in it
while we have it.”
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W. Somerset Maugham

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“Of what is the body made?
It is made of emptiness and rhythm.
At the ultimate heart of the body,
at the heart of the world,
there is no solidity…
there is only the dance.”
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George Leonard

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Photos by Woodland Gnome

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“The passage of time.
That is what is eternal, that is what has no end.
And it shows itself only in the effect it has on everything else,
so that everything else embodies,
in its own impermanence,
the one thing that never ends.”
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David Szalay

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Green Thumb Tip #20: Go With the Flow

Bronze fennel foliage, wet from an early morning watering, with Verbena bonariensis

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There is rhythm to life in the garden.  Much like waves of warm briny water crashing along a sandy beach; so too waves of life appear in the garden, peak, and then quietly disappear.  Part of a gardener’s education, when working in a new garden, is sensing and recognizing a garden’s ‘waves’ of life.

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Wisdom teaches us that much of our frustration and unhappiness is connected to our desires.  There are things we want that we can’t have in the moment.  There are things we love that we fear losing.  There are things we care about that we see passing away before our eyes.  All of these concerns can become causes of our suffering, to some degree, as we work with our gardens.

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Japanese beetles have found the Zantedeschia.

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But our feelings can shift when we take the broader view, acknowledge the rhythms and challenges, and plan ahead to address them.

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When we plant early spring bulbs we know that we’ll be left with their foliage for a few weeks after the flowers fade, and then even that will yellow and fall away.  What will grow up in their place?

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Daffodils and Arum italicum fade as Caladiums, hardy Begonia and ferns grow in their place.

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When we plant roses, we can expect a glorious flush of blooms in May, followed by much that needs to be pruned away.  What happens if blackspot or Japanese beetles attack the leaves?  Will our shrubs bloom again during the season?

We can plan to have other perennials or shrubs nearby to take attention away from resting rose shrubs.

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Crape myrtles have just begun to bloom in our area.

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And what happens when a tender perennial fails to appear in spring?  Is there a gap in the border, or do we have something waiting to grow in its place?

We understand the larger cycles of the seasons and how they affect the life in our garden.  First frost claims much of our garden’s growth, and the beds lie fallow through the winter.

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January in our forest garden

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But there are larger cycles still, as woodies grow and shade out nearby perennials, or a tree falls and changes the light in the garden, or plants fill in, creating dense mats of growth.

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Crinum lily comes into bloom amidst Iris, Thyme and Alliums.

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Gardening teaches us flexibility and resilience.  Resistance to the cycles and happenstance of nature tightens us up inside.  We might feel anger at the voles eating through the roots of a favorite shrub, or the Japanese beetles ruining the leaves of a favorite perennial.  How dare they!

But these things are always likely to happen.  We can’t fully prevent the damages that come along when we work with nature.

I found a small Hydrangea shrub, that I’ve been nurturing along from a rooted cutting, grazed back by deer last week.  No matter how protected it might be, or how often I’ve sprayed it with repellents, a doe came along after a rain, and chewed away most of its leaves.

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Successful gardeners learn how to ‘go with the flow.’  We do the best we can, follow best practices, and have a plan or two up our sleeves to work with the natural cycles of our space.  Even so, we learn the lessons of impermanence in the garden.

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Working to thwart the voles, I am experimenting with planting Caladiums into pots sunk into the bed. I’m also doing this in another bed with tender Hostas.

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Every plant isn’t going to survive.  But we keep planting anyway, trying new things to see what will thrive.

Some things we plant will grow too much, and we’ll have to cut them back or dig them up to keep them in bounds.  Weeds come and go.  Insects chew on leaves and voles chew on roots.

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We stand by, observing this incredible ebb and flow of life, and take our place among the waves.

Gardeners feel the ebbs and flows, too.  We may feel energized in spring and plant lots of new roots and shoots, seeds and plugs.  But then summer heats up, the grounds dries out a little, and we are left scrambling to keep it all watered and tended.

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Suddenly there is stilt grass sprouting up in our beds and pots.  The lawn is growing overnight, and the shrubs need pruning.

As our own energies come and go, we find a rhythm to keep up with maintaining our gardens while also maintaining ourselves.  We can’t stop the ebb and flow in our garden any more than we can stop the waves crashing on the beach.

But we can lighten up, enjoy the scenery, and take pleasure in the ride.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

What I’m reading this week:                            

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“Enjoying the simple beauty of plant against rocks, and cultivating the distinctive forms of alpine plants, is the heart of traditional rock gardening, ranging from gardeners who obsessively recreate the look of mountaintop, to those who carefully cultivate individual specimens of plants into breathtaking peaks of loom not to be matched by anything else in the plant world.”               

Joseph Tychonievich from Rock Gardening, Reimagining a Classic Style

(Thank you, Joseph, for your entertaining talk on Saturday morning!)

“Green Thumb” Tips: 

Many visitors to Forest Garden are amazing gardeners with years of experience to share.  Others are just getting started, and are looking for a few ‘tips and tricks’ to help grow the garden of their dreams.

I believe the only difference between a “Green Thumb” and a “Brown Thumb” is a little bit of know-how and a lot of passion for our plants.

If you feel inclined to share a little bit of what you know from your years of gardening experience, please create a new post titled: “Green Thumb” Tip: (topic) and include a link back to this page.  I’ll update this page with a clear link back to your post in a listing by topic, so others can find your post, and will include the link in all future “Green Thumb” Tip posts.

Let’s work together to build an online resource of helpful tips for all of those who are passionate about gardens and gardening.
Green Thumb Tip # 13: Breaching Your Zone
Green Thumb Tip # 14: Right Place Right Plant
Green Thumb Tip # 15: Conquer the Weeds!
Green Thumb Tip #16: Diversify!
Green Thumb Tip #17: Give Them Time
Green Thumb Tip # 18: Edit!
‘Green Thumb’ Tip:  Release Those Pot-Bound Roots! from Peggy, of Oak Trees Studios

 

Surprises

July 11 2013 garden 020Every walk through the garden brings surprises.

Munched parsley looks like its dying back.

Munched parsley looks like it’s dying back.

A mystery vine growing out of the fern garden.  Look like some kind of squash- a surprise volunteer.

A mystery vine growing out of the fern garden. Look like some kind of squash- a surprise volunteer.

Sometimes the surprises are good ones:  ripe figs to pick, a rose bloom opened, an unusual butterfly, a damaged shrub sending out new growth.  Sometimes the surprises are disappointing:  a sage plant turned brown from too much rain, a whole network of new vole holes to crush, a fig tree bending over double from the weight of its crop, a bed full of grass and weeds that need pulling- again.

A blue dragonfly resting on a faded Buddleia blossom.

A blue dragonfly resting on a faded Buddleia blossom.

A beautiful caterpillar has been munching the parsley.  He will soon join the butterflies living in the garden.

A beautiful caterpillar has been munching the parsley. He will soon join the butterflies living in the garden.

A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on Lantana.

A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on Lantana.

Gardeners learn to celebrate the happy surprises,  fix the disappointing ones, and move on.  Our world is in continual flux.

The Dharma, or path in Buddhism, is based in  realization of impermanence.  As we tend our gardens, we see the nature of impermanence and change every day.  An attitude of  non- attachment, as difficult as that tends to be, allows us to appreciate the beautiful while letting the disappoints go.  We eventually understand that the degree of suffering we experience from our disappointments is based on our attachment to what is lost, or damaged.

Sometimes transforming a disappointment into a joy comes with looking more closely.

Deer grazed all of the leaves from this jalapeno pepper plant, but left the peppers and the ocra growing behind it.

Deer grazed all of the leaves from this jalapeno pepper plant, but left the peppers and the okra growing behind it.

Sometimes, it only asks us to see a problem as an opportunity for growth.

Three massive oaks went down in a storm this June.

Three massive oaks went down in a storm this June.

This season has been a particularly hard one for many.  We have week upon week of record rainfall, floods, wind, and oppressive heat in some areas; drought, wildfires, hail, and late snowfall in others.  So many have lost everything in the wild weather patterns wracking our planet.

I remember those who sustain themselves and their families on what they grow.  I remember those who have lost the beauty of their gardens and the harvest of their fields and greenhouses in a single storm, and hope they have the heart and the means to clean it up, replant, and continue along their path.

butterfly bush

Butterfly bush, planted last spring and then lost in the fencing and assumed dead, survived and offers up its very first bloom.

As gardeners we continue to walk in beauty, to appreciate the gifts of our gardens, to fix what can be fixed, tend what must be tended, and share our love with those around us.   And, above all, we continue to believe that more beautiful and happy surprises await, on our next walk through our garden.

A fig tree, crushed by an oak and nearly destroyed in Hurricane Irene has recovered and is bearing figs again.

A fig tree, crushed by an oak and nearly destroyed in Hurricane Irene has recovered and is bearing a plentiful crop this season.

Coleus, a gift from a friend last summer, survived winter in the garage and is thriving again.

Coleus, a gift from a friend last summer, survived winter in the garage and is thriving again.

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