Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Healing Power Of The Garden

My life, for a good part of the past month, has been governed mostly by visits to elderly members of our family who are in need of care and attention, and a few visits to friends who have been unwell, and I feel glad to have been of some help. Although the ongoing work in the garden has inevitably had to be fitted around these visits, my husband and I have managed to work our way through ten tons of gravel in renewing all the paths around the garden. Though my husband is not interested in working in the garden per se, he does help me with the heavier workload, when the need arises, as I am no longer physically able to do it by myself. After seventeen years we both agreed the paths were in great need of replenishment. Part of the reason for the renewal is that gravel makes a perfect seed-bed, and by allowing the plants to self seed onto the paths, I have managed, with careful husbandry, to stock a large part of the garden from Nature's bounty.However, in the process of digging up the seedlings, a lot of the gravel has invariably been transplanted as well, leaving the paths a lot thinner than when we first laid them seventeen years ago. Throughout the days we were occupied, the plants and flowers were continuing to grow and began to burgeon at such a rate, that strong winds were threatening to blow the taller and weaker-stemmed ones across the newly laid paths, much to our consternation, as it was very tiring work.Thus, I found myself busy for the best part of three days after laying the new paths, cutting canes of various sizes to which I attached thin green wire to make supports around each island bed in order to keep everything upright. The purple thistles above, cirsium rivulare atropurpureum, have three wires supporting their girth as they are over six feet in height.
Thankfully, though, due to the height of the flowers, the supports and wire are invisible to the naked eye, which helps maintain the aesthetic beauty and appearance of the garden.

In between visits to family and friends I have also managed to take a few charming little videos of some of the wildlife which visits and lives in the garden. I shall embed these and share them with you in the next post.

Today, however, was a lovely day, with nothing and no one pressing on my time. So, I took my camera for a walk around the garden and tried to capture some of the riot of colourful flowers. A walk in the garden never fails to restore my equilibrium and blow away the cobwebs of life.
Nothing matters while I am drinking in the scents of the roses and lupins and day lilies. Listening to the glorious birdsong, I feel so enriched and blessed to be alive, and to be experiencing such a variety of sights and sounds.
Time passes quickly, as if by magic, so engrossed am I by the intoxicating richness of texture and colour, shape and form of all the variety of flora and fauna.
With the drone of the honey bees for company, and Monster, ever by my side, I am in another world, where all is bliss, and light and carefree, and I can find solace.
When I sit down on a bench, with Monster purring on my lap, time has no relevance, the cares of the world go slipping by, and, often, due to the perfect stillness and tranquillity, I find myself nodding off.

When I awaken, all my senses are awakened too and I am drawn like a magnet to the purple anthers around the seedpod of an oriental poppy, or dazzled by the change of light reflecting on the pond, or the swishing of the giant oat grass in the welcome breeze.
Although, in my photo archive of the garden, I can look back to this time last year and see what was in bloom, there are always changes within a cottage garden, and while some plants may disappoint, others continue to flourish and amaze. Nothing is static, and each new change invariably brings with it renewed interest and delight.
Over the years, I must have looked inside hundreds and hundreds of poppies, both annuals as well as orientals, to see the various colours of the anthers, the seedpod, and, sometimes, a bee in the act of pollinating the flower. But, I never tire of the sight, for the intensity of the colours and the all-encompassing richness of Nature never ceases to grab my attention and amaze me, as first it did all those years ago when I was just a slip of a child lying on the ground studying the beauty and complexity of a humble little daisy.
For flowers do not have to be exotic cultivars to be worthy of a place in my garden here at Barleycorn, for I fell in love with the flowers of the wayside while still a child and learned all I know about plants from the study of the wild flowers growing in the fields and meadows of my youth.
I can still remember vividly where I first saw each species, and in the days before it was forbidden, we were allowed to gather some and take them home and place them in a vase, which was then given pride of place on the dining table.
The happiness which flowers transmit, has always been a tangible thing for me and I firmly believe in the healing power of plants and flowers, for we are part mind and spirit, as well as body; and the beauty of flowers has its own power to make someone smile, to help someone say sorry, to express the deepest of feelings when all words fail, and, even, to heal a broken heart.
Each is ephemeral, with its own short season of birth, growth and shedding of seed before death; so there is much to be learned about the the magical web of life and the renewal of creation, in the simplicity of a flower.
And humankind, for all its so-called progression and advancement, ingenuity and greatness thoughout the millennia, cannot replicate anything as wonderful or magical as Nature itself, with its infinite variety of flowers and plants.
As for the humble daisies - whether it be the little ones growing amongst the grass, which, in my opinion, beautify a 'sterile' lawn - or the larger ox eyes, growing amongst the grain crops - that's where it all began for me as a child.
When I look at the beautiful cristophii alliums they take me on a trip down Memory Lane to the strong smell of the little white flowers growing at the tops of my Grandad's onions in his vegetable garden at the end of the season.
I learned much from relatives too. One who comes to mind as I look at the bearded iris, is a favourite aunt who had a delightful garden with free-draining soil - perfect for bulbs - which she grew aplenty, along with beautiful yellow and blue irises, both of which I now grow in our ponds as well as in our nectar borders.
The red campion, which I grow in abundance, helps to maintain the 'wild look' I like, for it exudes an air of informality, essential to the overall appearance of a wild cottage garden and makes the wild creatures feel welcome and blurs the edges between natural and formal.
Height, created by an arch or pergola, transforms any garden, creating its own architecture and dimension, thus adding to the beauty and variety of an otherwise flat expanse.
Perfume brings out a feeling of well-being and is a 'must', of course, in any garden, never more so than on hot summer days when the heady fragrance of a favourite rose wafts in an open window and brings the garden right inside the home. What better way to fall asleep?
If you click
here on my photo blog of the garden, you can view the changes in colour of the tulips in the previous post as they grew to maturity.
If you click
here on my painting blog, you can view the latest silk paintings of flowers from the garden.
To save scrolling up and down the page, if you click on each picture you will find the common name of each flower as well as its botanical name. Below I have listed their common names as there are too many characters to fit in the labels box.
Russell Lupins with geranium phaeum.
Mixed nectar border with day lilies, poppies, campion, liriope, irises, clematis.
Poppies, day lilies, violas, red hot pokers, and geraniums.
Weigela Ruby Queen.
Yellow Monkshood.
Poppies, bistort, aquilegia.
Poppies, pokers, day lilies, and geraniums.
Purple thistles.
Ragged Robin.
Oriental poppy.
Ox eye daisies.
Poached egg plant.
Poppies and polemonium.
Poppies, bistort and geraniums.
Poppies, pokers, campion.
Oriental poppy.
Poppies, geraniums and campion.
Poppy anthers.
Curlylocks poppy.
Pink dawn poppy.
Day lilies, poppies, geraniums.
Double flowered poppy.
Double flowered clematis Josephine.
Ox eye daisies.
Alliums cristophii.
Bearded iris.
Red campion.
Clematis Miss Bateman.
Rosa Zepherine Drouhin.


Katie said...

I love the voilas among the stepping stones. Cool effect with the color contrasting.

Miranda Bell said...

This is a lovely posting and great to see all that is out in your garden - the variety of plants are very similar to here infact - Miss Bateman Clematis is gorgeous and I may just have to see if can lay my hands on some of those purple thistles - unless of course you fancy doing a seed swap for something here? Do you have many Aqualegias? I totally agree with you regards the healing power of plants and the garden - it's amazing but flowers and just being in the garden just cannot fail to make you smile! Happy Gardening Miranda

Sally said...

Beautiful - simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing your flowers with us. Have a wonderful summer W.G.

Anonymous said...

Your flowers just about take my breath away , so pretty!
It must be very relaxing to finally get back to the garden.

I have been too busy to blog also.

Bless you for taking care of the elders in your family.

Marie said...

What an amazing garden you have! So many differant flowers!
Fantastic photos!

Barbara said...

There is nothing to add with regard to the healing effects of a garden. I agree with everything you wrote...as if it were my thoughts.
You were quite busy with the big amount of gravel you distributed. That was indeed heavy work! But the result will enjoy you, I'm sure!
Lovely pictures...as always.

Jeanne said...

Beautiful my lovely friend.
So good to see you posting again.
I hope all is well.
Love Jeanne

shirl said...

Hi again Wildlife Gardener, what a wonderful posting : -)

I completely understand the sentiment here. I have friend that is bothered by her nerves and I have encouraged her to tend her garden and grow plants from seeds. She is very much a beginner in her tiny garden but she now enjoys it. She always feels better after an afternoon there. She may well be tired but her spirit is uplifted and worries disappear for a little while.

For those who have never really thought of the therapeutic aspects of tending a garden your posting explores this beautifully.

Your photos and words always make me smile. I am glad I popped by tonight. I wish you well and always love to hear about and see what is going on in your garden. I bet you will really enjoy your paths over the summer months to come and all memories of how long it took to do have gone! I am looking forward to your videos :-D

Enjoy the rest of your week :-D

G3T Films said...

Wow, what a touching post to go with such lovely photos. I'm looking forward to the video.

The thistles are fantastic!

joey said...

My what a lovely post! I have so missed visiting your amazing piece of earth, so lucky to have your artistic tending hands. I adore your poppies!

Duxbury Ramblers said...

I also had a walk down memory lane as I read your blog, I thought of the first flowers I picked for my mother in a wood with a carpet of bluebells, I still go there and relive that memory and many more among the flowers and scents.
Wonderful photos of a beautiful garden.

Green thumb said...

Lovely and touching sentiments dear W.G.
Gardening is for me the safest tranquilliser and an evening stint in the garden helps me rid myself of the blues of the day.
It sure feels great to read the feelings of someone who experiences such contentment between plants; especially when the feelings are so beautifully articulated and expressed.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi WG, I've just returned from a holiday in your lovely part of the world. Your garden looks great and yes, the therapeutic value of gardening is great. I know this from personal experience.

Great post with many lovely pics. The purple thistle reminded me of the Scotland I've just left behind. snif

Sheila said...

I've enjoyed this walk around the garden with you WG, and feeling the newly laid gravel crunch underfoot.
I can imagine sitting down and being almost overwhelmed with the beautiful pot pourri of fragrances, and the sound of birdsong, and bees humming. I shall return later to see the video.
Hope you and yours are well..?

Border Reiver said...

I can't believe you've done all that hard work and the garden looks mature and alive with a riot of colour. Great posting and great to see so many of your plants remaining upright. Our garden took a battering on Wednesday. It's windy anyway but that was something else. Not a poppy remains. But then again that's the joy of gardening, one can always start again.

Nice posting and a real sanctuary of peace.

Libbys Blog said...

You have produced with the help of nature an amazing garden. I always enjoy visiting your blog and see whats going on, or whats new!!!!
A lovely, lovely post!

Q said...

Being in your garden was healing for me as well. Thank you! Your flowers are beautiful and your spirit so full of love that it spills over and runs through to my house.
I needed some inspiration today. Thank you for giving it.
Happy Summer Solstice,

Cheryl said...

Hi wildlife gardener...I to have been busy with elderly parents and mum-in-law and the garden is indeed a sanctuary. I have a feel for the wildflowers to, and grow many in my garden including redcampion and the lovely ragged robin.
It was an absolute joy and total pleasure to be amongst the flowers at barleycorn....may your garden and all that shares your space, give you peace and tranquility always.

Nicole said...

Your garden is in its spring summer glory-such a profusion of lovely blooms0I esp like the first pic and the poppies. I have been reading John Brookes's garden design book and he is a big advocate for the self seeding gravel garden. Here I am also expanding my stock of plants from existing plants via offsets and cuttings.

The Garden Faerie said...

Wildie, I love your polychromatic color scheme, and the closeup of the poppy is fantabulous--it would make a nice painting, too, don't you think?

Glad you are back to blogging!

~ Monica

JeannieTheDreamer said...

Thank God for flowers, trees, birds and the bees. Nature is a true friend when we need her the most.

Your flowers are beautiful. Thank you for sharing ...

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Stunning photos, your blog is always such a joy to visit.

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome to you all to our little corner of paradise :)

Again, my time has been spent in looking after my 'old dears', so I'm late in replying to all your comments. Thank you for your patience and understanding :)

* The violas are so easy to look after, Katie...so, well worth having :)

* We do have a lot of aquilegias, Miranda. I save the seed and scatter it around the garden. Later this Summer we will be away on holiday when the finches come to eat the cirsium seeds, Miranda, which is the reason I grow it. But a seed swap might be a possibility :)

* I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, Sally. Happy summer gardening to you too :)

* With a trail of elderly family to look out for, the garden has had to take a back seat this summer, Becky. But it is therapeutic when I am allowed the time to be in it :)

* Thank you for the compliments, Marie. I do my best, and after 17 years the maturity of the plants helps to keep the weeds down :)

* We gardeners know about the healing powers of the garden, Barbara, don't we? Best hooby of all..fresh air, birdsong, wildlife to see and exercise :)

* Thank you for visiting, dear Jeanne. All is well, thank you, only my time is very limited at the moment :)

* As you will read in my next post, Shirl, the little videos have been postponed till the one after that post. Thank you for the lovely compliments. We understand so much about the garden, don't we?

* I like your little moving icon, G3T Films...very clever. Thanks for the compliments too :)

* Poppies press my button too, Joey. I have to admit all the annual seed I sow excites me most, and feels much more like 'real' gardening than tending the perennials :)

* Hi there, Duxbury Ramblers. I agree we like to grow flowers which remind us of happy childhood days :)

* Dear Green Thumb! My head is in danger of swelling with all the lovely things you say to me. And I so agree with you...Gardening is the best, and safest 'fix' on earth :)

* If I had known you were coming here, dear Yolanda, I'd have invited you our little corner of paradise...hopefully, another time? I have sometimes grown the annual silver thistle, but the cirsium is very easy, not invasive, and it's a perennial, which feeds the finches too :)

* In some of the little videos I will show you, dear Sheila, you can actually hear my footsteps crunching on the gravel :) That's why I like to camouflage them with a little music...though the birds joined in with that too, which is very endearing :)

* When I look back, Border Reiver, even I can hardly believe how I managed to do all of this garden :) It must be an age thing...as I can feel it now after a few hours :)

* Lovely to have your company, dear Libby. Thank you for your encouraging words :)

* Thank you for all your kind words, dear Sherry. We gardeners pass on infectious enthusiasm to one another ..don't you think?

Dear Cheryl, I can return the compliment, for I always love vising your wildlife sanctuary. We are soulmates I think ...certainly on the same wavelength :)

* Nature is kind to us, Nicole, with all the seed and seedlings we get each year. I am very thrifty and save as much as I can. Family and friends are always asking for something or other..and my gardening friends like to swap seed too :)

* Many of my paintings are of poppies, Garden Faerie...you know me too well :)

* I agree with all your sentiments, Jeannie. The world of nature has been a huge part of my life :)

* Thank you so much, Iowa Gardening Woman. you are very gracious. I love all your photography too :)

Kathleen said...

Your garden is beautiful! It's my first visit back in quite a while ~ so busy outdoors I haven't made my normal blog rounds ~ but I'm glad I came by today tho. I love to visit your blog and see what's happening at Barleycorn.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for paying me a return visit, Kathleen. you are most welocme at Barleycorn :)