Summer is the season for watering, weeding, and wondering what needs to be added, subtracted, or simply altered. It's a time of lists and listlessness (and alliteration). Sometimes it feels like I'm deadheading more than delighting in (no more alliteration, I promise.); I see more spent blooms than I do fresh ones. And weeds. Need I say more?
So I gave myself a day off: No pruners, kneeling pad, bucket or spade. Even carrying a tripod and a heavy, macro lens seemed like too much, too focused (I didn't say there'd be no puns). So armed with only my walk-around lens ( 17-85mm) and sunscreen, I took a stroll in my own garden.
On my way to photograph a giant Common Mullein, two butterflies formed sailors' knots around the Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low' ) and Lavatera thuringiaca.
Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low'
It's funny. Often I plant flowers for the birds and butterflies, but I don't often take time to watch them enjoying the garden I planted for them.
Oh yes, I'll look up from my weeding when one flutters by, but the sweat dripping into my eyes makes me turn my head back down to my task.
Today I simply got to watch them garland the garden, vibrating along with the flowers in the breeze.
After they flew off, I moved on to this year's curiosity. I know, I know, Common Mullein is called that for a reason. But it wasn't common to me. It began as just some fuzzy leaves at the base of a Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima). At first I thought it was
Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina), but the color was a bit too green.
I left it there for two years to see what would come of it. The first year, it was just a rosette of leaves. But the second year, it shot up with a flower stalk, just shy of eight feet and still growing! For something so common it's pretty darned impressive. I did pull it out though. The Feather Grass is prettier and the mullein is a weed that will spread. But seeing it evolve was worth the time, much better than simply reading about it.
Further on was the new Rockrose (Cistus × dansereaui 'Jenkyn Place' ). Even without a macro lens, I could get close enough and crop tightly enough to really get into the design. There's something so "Southwest" about that red area, like a hand-woven rug or a hand-painted skirt. This was nothing I noticed when I bought it.
I ended the morning with a stubborn Meadow-rue (Thalictrum 'Elin' ). A Douglas Fir branch had blocked some of the sun and all of its growth trajectory, so it bent, swerved, and looped its way up to seven feet, and then (and only then) it flowered in one big AHA! I didn't see the spider web until I uploaded my pictures into Lightroom. There's something magical about Meadow-rue. I always seem to see more once I'm looking at the shots on the computer screen, as if the plant continued to evolve digitally.
My stroll took me all of ten feet into one of the beds (probably about a third of the circumference). I don't know if I learned more about letting go of plans and expectations as a photographer or about letting go of the gardening as a gardener. But both work.
I think it's important to remember the joy of having as garden as opposed to always just immersing ourselves in the task of creating beauty. If we don't step back to enjoy it, then why create it at all? I your love meadow rue and the asymmetricalness of the red splotches on that cistus bloom. My rue stops blooming in late spring.ReplyDelete
Absolutely! And thank you. I think the Elin is a later (and taller) variety. It's new to me this year. My others stop blooming in late spring too.Delete
You are finding a balance, and what a treat for us. You got some amazing shots, the Thalictrum is my most fav...I miss mine.ReplyDelete
Jen, that's so kind. Thank you. Is your Thalictrum gone or just past blooming? I love photographing them, so I think I'll need to collect at least a few more.Delete
Those swallowtails are wonderful. I have been missing butterflies this year, they have been pretty rare. Today I did see a monarch, maybe the fourth sighting of the year. I hope she lays some eggs on my milkweed.ReplyDelete
Thanks! We've been getting more of them of late. But I want to get my hands on some milkweed.Delete
Good job with just enjoying the garden. You put all that work into it after all! Love the butterflies and spider web!ReplyDelete
Thanks Dee Dee! Sometimes just remembering to enjoy it is the best of all.Delete
Hi Emily, the picture of the meadow rue is just beautiful and I'm really glad you caught it with the spider web there, it really makes the image perfect.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Sunil! The web was a surprise, and I agree that it "makes" the image.Delete
I so love that last image of the spiderweb. It is funny how on upload things we miss magically appear. I like your idea of letting go too. We need to do that sometimes, both for the inner calm and the creative spark.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! Yes, the camera sees more than we do at times.ReplyDelete
Beautiful, beautiful butterfly pictures and wildflowers. You were wise to step away from the garden chores, I need to make more of an effort to do the same. I am always fretting about what needs to get done, not taking enough time to enjoy what is all around me.ReplyDelete
Thanks again Jason! I used to take a pad of paper or my I-phone with me as I walked around the garden so I could record each new chore that occurred to me. Now, though I still have to fight the urge to note what needs doing, I can more freely just enjoy my (and nature's ) efforts.ReplyDelete