Monday, May 20, 2013

Keeping in Tune

By now, those of you who are regular readers are probably aware that I am a rather proud nerd. I have no problem telling the world that I do, in fact, recite poetry when I'm out in my garden. Actually, I can be found quoting snippets of poems in just about any venue, which can sometimes make others feel a bit uncomfortable, I've found. At least, it occasionally draws a raised eyebrow or two. No matter. I recite on, undaunted. But there's something about being in the garden, in particular, that calls to mind a few of my favorite poems.

This past weekend was an absolute source of delight, and I might add, real succour. I found myself frequently exhaling deeply, as I spent almost the entire weekend outside. Some people do not have any interest in gardening. I get that. Plenty of activities don't interest me much at all. I must admit, however, that I am suspicious of people who do not derive any pleasure from being in gardens or seeing flowers. Sitting on the swing in the secret garden this weekend, I began hearing Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much with Us" in my head. I was quite relieved not to feel implicated by his words in the first several lines: 

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. (Lines 1-9)

One might argue that my garden is too much with me, late and soon, but I find such joy and comfort by being out in nature and being more in tune with it. I like being moved by the smallest changes in the garden, and this weekend really started revealing many more transformations.

It seems as if everything is happening at once in the garden, but I know that it can't be, because I know there are so many other things still coming on. I'm in a constant state of anticipation. The hydrangeas are now blooming in the front garden, joining the roses, salvias, Euryops, and Gaillardias that have been flowering for some time now.

The first hydrangea flower of the year
Still to come, though, are the 'Emily Mackenzie' and 'Lucifer' Crocosmias and the 'Bishop of Llandaff' and 'Sneezy' Dahlias. The Bishop of Llandaff plants are still only putting on height and leaves. But Sneezy is starting to make himself known, something I happily discovered this morning when I walked out front with my camera. He's meant to be 1-2 feet tall, but here he is at 6 inches today, and already he has a bud. 

Dahlia 'Sneezy' looking a little shy
In the back garden, the fig tree is now absolutely full of little baby figs, six weeks after I photographed the first leaf (see earlier post). I love them in this state, tiny, but full of promise. They are safely tucked under leaves, protected from bird attacks. I also love them when they are swollen and sweating beads of sweetness. I love them, if I'm honest, almost continuously because they always put on some kind of show, however modest, and I get to marvel at every phase of their growth.

Four baby figs on this branch alone!
The plumeria, which, like the fig tree, had put on its first leaves just a short while ago, is now blooming. I cheerfully picked the flowers and handed them to our house guests this weekend. Seeing them walk around with a tropical flower tucked behind an ear filled me with deep satisfaction and made me smile. Even better, we were visited all weekend by a host of butterflies, and my house guests seemed to enjoy them as much as I did.

Another plumeria flower unwinding
As I sat on the secret garden swing on Saturday, I was amazed by all of the 'Jackmanii' Clematis flowers that had opened in just a couple of days. Sitting there, taking in the whole of the garden, I thought of lines from Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem "God's Grandeur":

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things (lines 9-10)

And that's it. That's the great miracle of nature. It moves me every day. 

The 'Jackmanii' Clematis bursting into flower

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