Taking Center Stage: We love the interplay of airy stems and boldly colored blooms against the backdrop of dense, bushy foliage. The flower colors pop smartly against the gray-green foil.
With Labor Day fast approaching, Jill Nooney and I strolled around the gardens to capture a few of our favorite late-summer stars. We hope you find them as entertaining as we do.
Chorus of White: Galtonia candicans, or summer hyacinth (a hardy, late-blooming bulb); Cleome hassleriana, 'Sparkler White'; Nicotiana sylvestris ‘Only the Lonely' and N. langsdorffii ; Gaura lindheimeri (a naturalizing perennial); Ammi majus, or Bishop's weed; Callicarpa dichotoma f. Albifructa, or Beauty berry (which produces stunning clusters of white berries); Buddleja davidii 'White Profusion', or Butterfly bush; Eupatorium perfoliatum, or Boneset, among others
Back-Up Singers, All: Jill's been trying to create a white palette in the Parterre Garden for more than six years. "It's very hard to find white-flowering plants that will bulk up," she explains. This spring, in a last-ditch effort, she scattered annual seed heads from the past two years' growth among the perennials. The effect is very different from that of the previous photos in that no one plant or flower stands out. Instead, it is delightfully meadow-like. Kudos to the lichen adorning the bench for lending their complimentary silver-gray-green coloring.
I BORE WITNESS to a family’s sorrow recently, and so, went to Bedrock to find solace. As I stood on the expansive lawn looking out at Grass Acre, the slightest breeze whispered among the grasses, creating a mosaic of moving color. Behind that, the stately trees of the Swaleway offered a multitude soothing greens and blues, while the sunlit hayfields of the neighbor’s horse farm lay beyond.
Despite myself, I began to feel peace. I could breathe deeply again. The mid-afternoon colors were soft and muted, as if to say, ‘Now is not our time, but we are here for you.’ Bird song was drifting down from the treetops, and a new hatching of brown moths flitted erratically around us, careening into things, seemingly without any control over the direction of their short lives.
“I lay down weeping on the grass just now and was thankful for the quiet and the finches and the sky.”
How does nature soothe and heal? Physically, at first. Being outside embraced by fresh air, with beautiful sights, smells and sounds engaging all of our senses, we can’t help but be “in the moment.” The gardens at Bedrock make this easy for us: Jill and Bob designed them to draw us in, bit by bit, to move us away from the surrounding roads (and civilization) and toward our inner selves. Even the physical act of moving through the gardens is meditative, says Jill. “Walking is calming. It’s the pace of a heartbeat.”
There are long, serene vistas here. (Gardens teach us patience.) There is water. (Gardens allow for reflection). And all along the way, there are places to sit, “to come to a full halt,” explains Jill. “It is an immersive experience where you can lose your bearings, and not mind.”
As a good friend reminded me, “We are nature.” When we allow ourselves time to truly be in her presence, we open ourselves up to her gift of healing. Our gardens are open-air houses of worship, offering us easy, daily access to a mental and spiritual life. The key, explains Peter Cock in Gardening: Good for Our Soul, is to humble ourselves before her rhythms and to accept that we are in partnership with nature--interdependent--not lords and ladies over her.
Call it “faith,” if you will, but it is in these spaces that nature shows us there is a meaning to and purpose for everything. The little brown moths? Scientists tell us that such lepidopterans detect currents of scent in the air and veer toward them, constantly readjusting their course. Their ultimate destination is a flower, for its nectar; their ultimate purpose for nature, pollination. In that certainty, there is solace.
Sparkling ocean vistas, the warm hues of a New England sunset, or the earthy, mossy scent of a pine forest: These natural experiences of a grander scale certainly engage our senses and fill us with harmony. But it is in our gardens that we can truly see ourselves in the mix: “Gardening attunes us to life’s struggles for renewal, richness and balance,” says Cock.
Life can be messy, unpredictable, and unfair, our plant scapes say. Flowers blossom when the sun is shining, and tilt (and sometimes fall) when the storms come. But life will go on, in one way or another. When we partner up with nature in our gardens, she enables us to persevere through it all--not just doggedly but with beauty and art and music.
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