31 October 2018
The Landscape Between Two Seasons
I felt so happy one afternoon in the early days of Autumn, as I walked with my granddaughter, Angel.
We strolled down an old stony sidewalk that was beside a new garden my husband and I created over the summer months. I pointed out the metal sculptures that her grandfather made many years ago when he used to do work in our garage. Bob made the sculptures to assist him when he was working on cars. The welded steel objects had a functional purpose. One by one, Bob carried his creations out of his garage and placed them among the plants. This long plot of land became a living work of art – a “happening,” of sorts.
The garden was not something I had planned. Not at all. In fact, this sixty-foot strip of land had once been beautiful. There was a little pond surrounded by stones in the center of the blooming flowers. Gold fish lived in the pond in the summer months and we brought them into the house for the colder seasons.
During the years of raising our 5 children, I used to begin all my days with an early morning walk. And later, I worked in my flower gardens. Gradually, my routine changed. The children grew up and my life changed significantly when I decided to go back to the university to pursue my career. The flower beds were neglected. As I reflect on this now, I realize that the past thirty years of my life was consumed by pursuits in education and in working.
Finally, in retirement, I am able to be at home again and I love it because I can devote my body and my thoughts to revitalizing our home and surrounding property.
I have come full circle and I am thankful I am strong and healthy and I can now do what I always loved doing. I no longer go jogging or walking for 5 miles each morning, as I did back then, but I am back to working in my flower beds with renewed zeal. Gardening is a great way to exercise and get some sunshine. My spirits are lifted when I go outside and begin working with the plants.
“Angel,” I said, “I love to walk out here at twilight. It’s so magical as the little solar lights begin to turn on. I tell Grandpap, ‘Let’s go out and take a walk along the path and see the garden at night with the lights on.’ I take his arm and we stroll together in the darkness as the little solar lights twinkle.”
Angel and I paused at the end of the path and gazed down the old concrete stairway that was built at the same time as the house. It is nearly one-hundred years old.
“Oh, this is so pretty,” Angel said.
“I just love how it looks with the white stone sculpture on the top step and the yellow flowers in the pot.”
Angel and I turned left near the top of the stairway. We both looked up at the snarled and graceful Rhododendron bush that I planted fifty years ago. The deep forest green and leathery leaves towered over us. In the early summer the bush transforms into a wall of delicate, but large, magenta flowers. This bush makes a grotto-type of space in which I planted green and yellow Hosta’s and a single orange lily. The ground is covered with Periwinkle – deep and thick, down the hillside. The deep green vines are like a blanket beneath the bush. Bob and I placed a vintage bird bath in the grotto space – it is made of concrete. We painted it a vintage green color. We bought that birdbath our first summer at this house in 1967.
So, at the end of the summer season, as I stand with Angel and we look over this entire side area, I am happy with what Bob and I accomplished. We are working at bringing back the beauty of the little plots of land here and there, on our property. We’ve worked together on this little bit of heaven-on-earth for over half a century.
A few days ago, Bob came into the kitchen carrying a package from a mail-order nursery. I’ll plant the Asian Lilies and Dutch Iris bulbs next week when Autumn is officially here. I am already imagining how beautiful our Magic Garden will be in the spring. And, I can’t wait to see how it looks when snow is covering it later in the year.
In addition to the Magic Garden, I uncovered the large flat stones that lead to the garage. We put the stones there when we built a stone wall nearly fifty years ago. The heavy stones were nearly covered over with grass and dirt. I began to dig them out and solid stepping-stones are now fully exposed. Thay look like someone cares about them, I thought.
In another area that runs beside our Zen garden, I worked all summer to make a narrow horizontal garden. It is about 3 feet deep and it is inside a weathered plank fence that gives privacy and protection between our house and the road in front of it. I set a little white bird bath there and solar lanterns that light up at twilight. In the yard, just under the Ginkgo tree, is a tall, large birdbath made of brass – it has a bird setting on a branch over the water. In this space is my Father’s red rose bush, which is growing this year. I accidently cut it off a few years ago and thought it was dead – but this year, it is growing again. Perhaps, it will bloom again one day. I’ll be planting some Japanese Iris’ in this area as well as some day-lilies, too.
This was a hot summer of sweat and labor and as Autumn is now here, I am pleased with it all. I have my eye on some other areas that I will begin to work on next summer.they are on the top of my list.
Normally, I have thought that summer is not my friend. I’ve never been able to tolerate the heat and humidity. But today, I sit in the Amish rocking chair on our wraparound porch and I feel energized because the season is changing and I feel the cool breeze that sweeps over the landscape of my private world.