Saturday, May 18, 2024

Garden Musings


Gardening has this embracing quality in that it colours
the way you look at the world.
Penelope Lively - Life in the Garden

Most of the columbines in my garden are of the pale variety, but these dark violet ones popped up in a dark corner. I'll be saving the seeds to strew elsewhere in the autumn. Pink and white peonies have so many fat buds and I'm longing to see them open. Yesterday evening I watched a bumblebee going from one tight bud to another search for pollen. He didn't linger long and soon moved on to more likely fare, such as the chive blossoms.  

We planted a new fig tree last summer. The one we had was not suitable for our climate and produced few fruits on the first crop and many on the second which arrived too late to ripen. Our new tree is a Desert King which supposedly produces a large breba crop that will ripen. On the four spindly branches there are over a dozen figs fattening nicely. Figs are a fruit I've learned to like over the years. My first introduction to figs was via store-bought Fig Newton Cookies and I didn't like them at all. But a fresh fig with blue cheese, or roasted figs with honey - so delicious!

I've just finished reading Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively, featuring gardens as related to art, literature, and life in general. I especially enjoyed the section on gardens in literature in which she references Rebecca, The Secret Garden, Elizabeth and Her German Garden, among others. Lively also suggests that gardening is somewhat genetic - the desire to garden runs in families. 

I have to laugh at my attempts to grow a garden in the jungle of Ecuador. Early on, Tim found someone selling rose bushes and purchased two of them for me. I planted them in front of the covered porch of our house. They gave few blooms for whenever leaves grew, the leafcutter ants would march in and strip the bushes in a matter of hours. I soon gave up planting anything. Instead I enjoyed the wild and bright impatiens plants growing in massive heart-shape around a tree that overarched another home. How upset I would get when the hospital maintenance crew would regularly mow them down. Then I'd wait for a few weeks until the blooms reappeared. 

In my present garden in Canada, now over 20 years old, things constantly change. The yellow poppies appeared several years ago and show up faithfully every May, growing in profusion each year. The birch tree is filling out nicely, but the buddleia died over the winter, and I lost my large rosemary bush. This week I cleared part of one of my flower beds for a small asparagus patch, digging in compost and spreading out the corms with their long tendrils. It will be a couple of years before we harvest, but I can wait. Gardening is a hopeful activity, one that looks to the future. 

As Monty Don says, "A garden is not a place. It's a journey." On that note I'll end here for today, still thinking about gardens. Do you enjoy gardening? 


  1. I really like flowers and gardens.
    First time I see yellow poppies Lorrie!
    They have a very bright and beautiful color!
    Your figs look delicious!
    I think the garden is almost therapy and also I have never met a person who loves flowers so much and is not kind!!
    Have a nice Sunday!

  2. I think I would slightly change the words of Monty Don as a garden IS a place but it’s a place with a very interesting journey. And sometimes that journey can be disrupted, either with the weather or with pests etc. And anyone who has a garden, has a different journey from the next person..and that’s what makes gardening so interesting!

    I would love to step into your garden! And your journey must be very different from mine in my South Devon U.K. garden! But I bet that we have similar things too…such as your poppies. It’s a shame about your Rosemary and Buddleia! I always hate it when something doesn’t survive the winter.We inherited an amazing tree fern when we moved here two years ago. Thus, I’m very careful about protecting it throughout the winter months, even though it’s sited in a sheltered spot.
    Have fun in your garden! Sal

  3. Dearest Lorrie,
    Oh, we used to have Columbines but they all vanished, either eaten by the voles or due to fierce competition by tree roots. We're on this property now for 33.5 years and trees do grow!
    There is one fig tree with very juicy and sweet figs, an Italian variety and that too has lots of fruits on the branches when a sporadic frost appears in November... Too late for harvest.
    Dreaming of a garden in different areas of our world is easy but actually growing things is different. Our paradise like garden in Indonesia was so different from here.
    We did grow veggies and all but for years had to quit doing so as it was too labor intensive for old age.

  4. I love gardens. Other people's. And yours is a gem. It's a lot of work and thought and I can tell you've put that into it. I try. But I fail miserably. I'm a bad weeder and things get overgrown. It's not hopeless but I think now a bit more than I can handle with my back. So most things go into pots. I was pleased that the geraniums I wintered are coming back, one even has buds and the other two look pretty healthy, just not blooming yet. And I'm pretty good with the herb garden but the rest gets more than a tad out of control! I am in awe of yours.

  5. That is a great intense color on that Columbine! Your garden is looking beautiful and lush. I'm not a gardener but I can really appreciate gardeners!

  6. Your columbine is a wonderful dark purple - I have it in a dark red in the garden - it blooms incredibly :-))
    You can't beat a fresh fig from the tree, I was able to eat it many times in Italy... once you've enjoyed it, you won't eat it from the supermarket anymore.
    I have a small garden that I cultivate mainly with flowers... I also really love wild flowers, so I spend a lot of time in the forest.
    Many greetings to you. I wish you a happy weekend.

  7. Your garden is like a dream! Beautiful!
    Love from Titti

  8. You've done a great job in your garden! The violet columbines, the pink peonies, the yellow poppies - are mesmerizing!
    A good gardener must indeed, have patience from planting to harvest. I very much like your thought that 'gardening is a hopeful activity, one that looks to the future'.

  9. My Butterfly bush didn't survive the winter either along with several other perennials. Columbines all came back, thankfully. Yours is a lovely dark colour. Hopefully the new fig will produce lots of fruit ( in plenty of time to ripen before Fall).

  10. Loved the peek into your garden, Lorrie -- the purple columbine is a stunner. Also appreciated a glimpse of what you enjoyed reading in Penelope Lively's book "Life in the Garden". Haven't read it yet this season, but it's on my 'to read' pile. I do enjoy Fig Newtons, and I think I'd really enjoy a fresh fig accompanied with blue cheese or honey. It's a rainy day here, and it makes me happy to see green finally coming out on nearly all trees and shrubs - still a few stragglers in the bunch.

  11. I love gardening! It is my therapy.
    You have such a different climate than ours! Hooray spring!

  12. The fig is looking great! Hope the tree produces! The columbines are gorgeous!

  13. A garden is a wonderful place.
    For those not fortunate to have a garden I think it's so important to find some local green space.

    All the best Jan

  14. Interesting garden memories, Lorrie, and lovely images from your present garden.
    Your happy-looking fig tree impresses me; I have seen them in Italy but believe that in Finland they would survive only as potted plants wintering indoors.
    I couldn't imagine a life without at least trying to garden. :) The results are not always great but already the effort is important. It's a (self-improvement) journey.

  15. I don't have much of a green thumb, so I am always thrilled when the low maintenance plants bloom in my garden.

    I also have peonies. The ones in the back have blossoms, but the ones in the front don't ( and they didn't bloom last summer).

  16. Yes, I do enjoy gardening. My mom introduced me to it at a young age and I was hooked. My sister is a master gardener, so I suppose it does run in our family.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your garden musings. Interesting how challenging it was to garden in Ecuador.
    I was surprised to discover the difference in a fresh fig compared to the fig newtons which were my only experience with them too. My son inherited a huge fig plant with his home. He has no interest in them. Last summer I would bring them home and try to come up with ways to eat them before they spoiled. I did make a salad with arugula, figs, walnuts and grilled haloumi. The haloumi was another new to me ingredient so it was fun to try some new things in the kitchen.

  17. I definitely think gardening is genetic. Such a wonderful endeavour. Always sad when plants don’t make it through the winter but the empty spaces give us chance for something new. Lots of beauty in your garden at the moment. B x

  18. I love the artistry of gardening, although I am not a gardener myself. I love to meander through different towns and notice the landscaping and beautiful plants through the seasons. Of course, your own garden is always a feast for the eyes (and tummy, I am certain) and your garden photography is beautiful!

  19. I do love gardening but I have a constant battle with critters around here. Your memory of Ecuador and the rose bushes and the impatiens made me smile.
    In a previous post, I loved seeing your red cabinet that Tim made. How pretty that looks in your hallway, Lorrie. Also, your pesto in the freezer will be something to look forward to one day. I have to make sure to keep mine up in order that it’s not devoured. My rosemary that’s down low, already is gone 😢.

  20. I can’t do gardening anymore now my husband does it, but I enjoy flowers. We have lost many during the dry and hot summer and my husband sometimes takes a plant out believing it’s a weed!

  21. Marilyn M.5:10 PM

    Love the yellow poppies and the columbine. So very pretty! Enjoy the figs. When we bought our house 22 years ago someone gave us a fig tree. I don't like the figs on it; so usually leave them for the birds. I do like some varieties of figs, just not that one. Hopefully when we sell our house one day the new owners will like them.

  22. Your garden sounds delightful!
    Bumblebees must add such charm.
    Sorry about your buddleia and rosemary bush.
    Winter losses are tough, but they bring new opportunities.

    Have a great weekend, Lorrie!


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