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Enjoy ethereal delights of well-tended garden

Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005 - 9:57 am


By Durant Ashmore
GUEST COLUMNIST
durantashmore@aol.com



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I hope you have had time to spend in your garden this year. The feelings and emotions that landscape gardening produces provide an abundance of life's simple pleasures.

I hope you have been surprised by unexpected blooms. It is delightful to experience a show of color that you had forgotten you had planted. Behold in awe a burst of color from a grouping of plants straining with all their might to flower, flower, flower as if their very existence depends upon it (as indeed it does).

I hope you have seen the sunlight strike a tender new leaf. The glow this produces rivals any special effect the movies can produce. Watch the color change in this leaf as it transitions from delicate pale green, orange or red to vibrant dark green.

I hope you have been able to be in your garden at sunrise. Sunrise produces an ethereal light in a garden. Flowers drip with dew. Morning fog casts a pall of spooky intimacy. Animal activity is abundant.

I hope you have been able to be in your garden at sunset. The weather is cool and relaxing. Manual labor is easier and more rewarding. The setting sun shining on that new leaf can produce a halo.

I hope you have been able to stay in your garden until the sky is pitch black. Stay until the lightning bugs emerge. I hope you can still be amazed by a lightning bug the way you were when you were a child and noticed for the first time that such a creature could produce a brilliant glow by some mystical means of internal combustion. The light of a lightning bug defies all sense of logic. It is scientifically impossible to explain. Magic is the only answer.

Notice your white flowers in the moonlight. They possess an entirely different character when the moonlight glints on their petals. Some gardeners have purely white gardens solely to enjoy this effect. It is rumored that the effect is quite romantic.

I hope you have been able to be in your garden when the birds are singing. Perhaps I have been imagining things, but it seems to me that this year the birds have been singing absolutely outstanding arias. Please pause and listen, and see if you agree with me. Is it only imagination?

Gardening and bird-feeding go hand and hand. My wife's perennial garden at the front walk is bursting with color. When you combine that with the brilliant whirlwind of activity that yellow finches, bluebirds and cardinals provide it becomes a color palette in motion. A pair of mourning doves has taken up residence at the bottom of the finch feeder. We enjoy their soothing sounds throughout the day, yet with wandering minds we forget they are there when we walk past. Invariably, a raucous explosion of flight rattles us as we intrude upon their space.

I hope you have heard a hummingbird whiz by the back of your head. It will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck as you slowly realize that sound was only the portent of a delightful visit if you just settle back and wait for the hummer's return. You will soon be rewarded. The sight of the sunlight on a hummingbird's wings and the reflection off of its ruby throat rivals the sight of the sunlight shining on a new leaf. Take some time to ponder the difference. Decide for yourself which sight you find more attractive.

I hope your garden is a haven for butterflies. Talk about a color palette in motion! Butterflies are a blessing. Whether it is the slow, ponderous beating of the large monarchs and swallowtails or the frantic energy of the smaller skippers, butterflies are a major contributor to enjoyable gardening. Plant butterfly bushes (buddleia) or other butterfly plants scattered throughout your yard. You will have convoys of butterflies flying about 6 feet off the ground from one plant to another. If you have children, butterfly plants are a must. Four-year-olds seem to be particularly enthralled (this is also prime lightning bug age).

I hope you realize that landscape gardening is not just a sweaty chore. I hope you realize that there are many feelings and emotions involved. I hope you realize that I have only scratched the surface of what those feelings and emotions are. Be 4 years old again.

Editor's note: Columnist Durant Ashmore, MLA, of Fountain Inn, is certified by the South Carolina Nursery Association. He can be reached at 243-3446 or at durantashmore@aol.com.

Thursday, November 23  


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