Eight years ago I introduced my blog with a photo of sweet peas from my garden. I’m growing those aromatic favorites again this year. I took the photo below right after I had cut almost all of the flowers I could reach for a bouquet. At this point the only other things in the vegetable beds are a few basil plants, but pole beans are going in, any minute now.
Back in 2009, I didn’t own an olive tree. Now I have two, and they are blooming right now.
I also didn’t have a feijoa (which Jo reminded me is another name for pineapple guava) until my recent re-landscaping. My big bush is blooming much more than during its first spring here. I think it only had one flower last year.
If the fruit tastes as fancy as those blooms look, we are in for a treat!
This afternoon was a healing balm, flowing from the mild-weather waking to breezes coming in at open windows, and Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women. I was celebrating and extra-blessed along with all of the Marys and Susannas and Salomes, plus Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Our Sisterhood at church also counts this as our Name Day.
So after all the spiritual food and agape meal, when we finally arrived home, all three of us (my two housemates and I) spent some time out in the corner of the back garden enjoying the sun while working or reading.
The photo below was taken two weeks ago after a rain, but it gives the rare wide view. The table where we like to sit is off the picture to the right.
Kit talked to us as she added some emitters to the irrigation lines that serve the pineapple guava. Last summer many of its leaves got sunburned, probably because it wasn’t getting enough to drink.
At dusk I went around taking pictures as I seem to do most days. The abutilon is a somewhat gangly adolescent right now, and it was near impossible to take its picture with a nice scene in the background, but each bloom is exquisite, hanging down bell-like so that one has to point a face or camera skyward to see inside. This view is also toward the street, and the lightpole near the corner of my property.
If I stand near that light pole and point my camera back toward the house,
this is what I see:
Do you see the abutilon at the far left? I have yet to finish filling in the asparagus beds on either side of the walk, though I spent a few hours on the job last week. When that job is finally completed I plan to dedicate a blog post to the topic, but by then I might be too done with it all.
Here is one of the showy milkweeds I planted a week ago – I still have narrow-leaf milkweed to put in the ground, plus tomatoes, basil, succulents, pipevine… Tomorrow is May 1st. When I took a look at the weather forecast for the next ten days, to see how hot it might get, I was quite surprised to read that we are expected to get more rain showers. This spring I have several times been mistakenly comforted in “knowing” that we have seen the end of rain. I guess it’s too soon to start leaving my tools and toys out of doors at night.
And now, a poem, which I posted at least once before — but it does seem like one that bears repeating, with its simple and obvious truth about days such as the splendid one that for me is coming to a close. For many of you, it is already the merry month of May.
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
When I walked up to the open doors of the church this evening of Bright Thursday, the flower scents streamed out and welcomed me to Paschal Vespers. Inside, the altar doors are wide open all this week, and after the service the decorated bread called Artos was placed before them. It stays in the church all through Bright Week, representing our risen Lord, the Bread of Life. This Sunday we will cut it up and eat it together.
Pots of lilies and bouquets are all over the place, and many icons are draped
with flowers carefully and lovingly arranged.
I want to back up and show you some scenes from Pascha, starting with the midnight service and our procession around the property, after which we arrived back inside the church to sing “Christ is risen!” by means of many words and melodies. We did this for a few hours, ate our joyous agape meal, and got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.
I was battling a cough that kept me from many services last week, but I managed to come back for Bright Monday Liturgy. This service always has a lighter and sweeter tone than Pascha, perhaps from the daylight that warms our bodies and reveals the beauty of the church. And of course, we are rested a bit, and not so wired as we were Saturday night.
Tuesday I drove a couple of hours to “Silicon Valley,” to attend the funeral of a dear uncle. I spent that night with an old friend, and we walked in the afternoon along the Guadalupe River Trail, a refreshing green space in the middle of urban and suburban sprawl.
Wednesday I was heartened to spend some time with my husband’s cousins and pray at the grave of a man of prayer. He had included me and my family in his prayers for decades.
Now I am back home, and taking care of my garden again.
Flowers are bright here, too, of course!
Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain.(This and all quotes in green below are from G.K. Chesterton.)
I had another title for this blog post, something about pollinators, but when I saw the preponderance of green in the images, it made me think of Tuesday’s poem, which could be talking about my own garden that is wild with leaves and flowers popping out at a mad rate. All the glory does make it hard for me to hold a thought, and there are many I should not let go of — starting with all the outdoor tasks that won’t wait: feeding and weeding and trimming and tying….
But going back to the poem, I’ve been thinking about how it describes the way the most common natural occurrences — after all, “the world comes back” in spring year after year — can confuse and even shock us if we really pay attention. In my yard it seems that between the time I walk from the front garden to the back and return again, a new weed has sprouted or an iris has emerged.
Why have I arrived on the path by the salvia? I don’t even take time to ponder, but I immediately start pulling weeds. Then I return to the fountain and see a honeybee on a flower, and must go into the house for my camera and “waste” a few minutes attempting to record one of the thousands of thrilling things happening here, right outside my door.
There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.
This road leads to the heart from other sensory “gates” as well. My garden seems primarily visual, but also the rich scents of osmanthus and daphne and lavender have their own direct routes to my heart, as do the bird songs. I don’t have to think about them or know their meaning. In the poem about the “Deciduous Spring,” sounds of words are used to mimic the visual symphony or cacophony that all this burgeoning creates.
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.
It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
This week I will be adding more plants to the mix, and several of them will be of the sort that the hummingbirds and bees and other insects like. Last fall I planted five types of seeds that did not sprout: poppies, milkweed, prairie echinacea… So — I found a native plant nursery where I was able to buy two species of milkweed plants, orange Moroccan poppies, and penstemon. Visions of Monarch butterflies fill my head.
In the picture below of the waiting plants, the milkweed is mostly in the foreground, two types that are native to the western us: Asclepias fascicularis and Asclepias speciosa
The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it
for us to be interested properly in any of them.
To mention a pair of not-green things: The orioles are back! Not in the group that I am trying to attract with certain flowering plants, their preference is sugar water.They are very shy, so I’m not going to try to take new pictures of them. This one is from my great photographic effort last spring.
The snowballs on the viburnum are little green things so far. Green fruits are on the fig tree. I ran into a Painted Lady butterfly over there, and bumblebees, but their interest was the lithodora blossoms.
Even the tiny flowers of the Euphorbia myrsinites are swallowed up in their green leaves.
Nearly every day I fall in love again and try to capture another poppy with my camera.
This time my toes got in the picture. At least they are not green.
The whole order of things is as outrageous as any miracle
which could presume to violate it.
And below, I used a clever jar-vase that Mrs. Bread gave me for my birthday, and made a colorful bouquet that will give your eyes respite from green. It is like a little canning jar with a ring that screws on the top, but into the ring is set a florist’s frog, making it perfect for arranging odd little blooms with their often short stems that one finds in a garden like mine.
That’s my show-and-tell for today! How does your garden grow?