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.