The Mystical Gardener

About


The Mystical Gardener will take you on a monthly visit through my garden where I will share observations, everyday miracles and transformations. My writing and photography are an invitation for you to enjoy the earthly and spiritual refuge that is my garden, a living palette, in design, texture, color and light.
All photos & writing by Lorri (LB) Goodman 

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Late August into Sept 2018 - As Passers-by Crunch Remnant Filbert Shells

A morning game of chess with Lev Yaakov, almost 8,  his Dad Joaquin and Grandpa David (Papa D) cozy and cool in our little shelter as the hot weather finally wanes.


It’s early Autumn and a gardener’s thoughts turn to refining her garden!  I contemplate what is merrily working and what is not, that can be redesigned. Too much sun on some plants, too little on others, it takes incessant tweaking to keep the evolving balance of the garden. The magnificent maple in the NE corner is shading too many dahlias so the showing is meager this season.  Do I move the dahlias or trim the tree? Another option occurs to me. These dahlias have been in the ground for over a decade so I will let them die back, separate their overcrowded bulbs, give some away and move the rest to a sunnier, more aerated spot.  One of many keepers is the lovely Callicarpa 'beautyberry' harbinger of Autumn with it's striking purple berries.

 


Recently my Portland family moved in for about 10 days!  Here are two garden scenes that showcase the everyday joy.  Planting a Sarcococca 'confusa' Sweetbox in the ultra shady area beneath the lilac tree was aided by Esther Rivkah, almost 4, and eager to dig, water and assist in any way.  Sarcacocca is an evergreen bush that promises fragrant flowers in late winter to sweeten the sometimes dreary season.



Again it’s the perennial moment, hearing passers-by stepping on filbert shells as they walk on 20th Ave, crunching the left-overs from a squirrel picnic.  As I get older some of these reminders come ’round more often and I work at accepting the passage of time and celebrating the benefits as opposed to wasting my precious days, disappointed that my youth is long over.  Who would have thought?!  When we were young, it just felt like we’d stay that energetic and lithe forever.  Natures’s lesson with a twinkle in her eye and joke on us!  Still there’s wisdom, a different rhythm, gratefulness and acceptance in being older.  We know what we love and are more discerning. Happily my garden sanctuary continues to be part of my landscape!


Pictured here is an earlier summer bed of Achillea 'moonshine' Yarrow, Penstemon & Jupiter's Beard (Red Valerian). 


This garden at the coast was a refuge by-the-sea during the inland heat where we reveled in cloudy days, jackets and sweaters, while counting our refreshed blessings.

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Summer Solstice - Wafting Fragrance & Bears in Breeches


With the lengthy sun filled days I am especially enchanted with the evening light show.  After dinner I find myself in my most comfy garden spot listening to a book and watching the golden sunbeams sparkle against the undulating plants. Every time I look up, the rays have drifted and are illuminating different colors and shapes before me.  What luxury!





All the extra garden care my husband David and I put in for our son’s wedding has led to a most splendid garden feast!  Now the sweet peas are in full bloom, wafting their delicate, irresistible scents. Campanula cups have become bells for fairies to land on and hydrangeas are spreading their wings announcing summer days to come.   Foxgloves are almost spent so the little foxes will have to wait for colder weather to find their gloves again. The glorious dahlias are budding and will soon become the garden centerpiece.



I love roses and grow many. One of my favorites I have dubbed my King Louis XIV rose because somewhere in France I recall seeing portraits of Louis X!V surrounded by this type of  curled pink round rose.  Whenever they bloom I imagine I’m floating along the Loire, in the lovely French countryside:) (See above on trellis.)



Bear’s Breeches aka acanthus mollis, with their tall stalks and wide fringed leaves are another plant that conjure up an image of our forest friends romping about, this time with short trousers. We can only guess what really goes on in the deep forest….


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Early Spring 2018 – As the Earth Yawns and Awakens


This cloudy day in March, I am thrilled to be back in the garden preparing the sacred earth for what is to come! Winters are generally short and mild here in the Northwest despite the occasional cold and heavy rains. For those of us who know what that inclement weather brings, we just slosh on through and anticipate the burgeoning signs of growth. March has all the potential of a tight bud with just a hint of color. All of Spring and Summer are hiding in that bud as the earth yawns and awakens to another glorious season.



On my inspection walk this afternoon I am reminded of the plants I transplanted last Fall when Spring seemed so far off.  Now they surprise me and I am happy I had the foresight to move them.  I see the plants from 2 seasons ago that are now multiplying.  First they sleep, then they creep, then they leap is a wonderful and true expression I learned from Susan Jerde several years ago.  It is just so apt for many plantings.  They simply take time to establish and exhibit their splendor.

Funny how the weather forecast is often quite off here in the great Northwest.  It may say cloudy or rain but the sun comes peeking through and surprises us.  Today is one of those days.  I call the sun-rain-sun rain days rainbow days because not only may rainbows appear, but the shifting weather patterns bring joy in an unanticipated way. Below we see my grandson in unabashed river ecstasy.


My younger son Eli is marrying his beloved Raya this coming May.  So as any gardener/mother would do, I’m spiffing up some tired beds with new plants scheduled to bloom in time for the wedding.  It’s always marvelous to have a justifiable excuse to create a new design. Here you see native and hybrid lupines, delphiniums, western columbine aquilegia formosa and two of the myriad varieties of campanula, the versatile bellflower; campanula glomerata 'superba' and campanula persicifolia ‘telham beauty’. Overwintered are the spire like foxgloves the name of which suggests foxes placing their paws in the layered buds. The bed will be covered with fragrant, sweet alyssum.




 


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January 2018 - Turn of the Year (at least by the Roman calendar☺)


I don’t know about you, but as much as I’ve made my peace with the December holy days that are too often not so holy and during which I hold joy, community and light in the darkness, I am thrilled and relieved when the “normalcy” of January sets in.  It ‘s just my nature to prefer the quiet joys and miracles of life that spontaneously present. There’s something about forced gaiety that makes me feel awkward and pressured! I prefer to celebrate when I’m inspired, not on demand!

Solstice has come and gone and is pointing us towards Spring even as nights freeze and winter coats relax expectantly on chairs so we may don them quickly. How fortunate we are, many of us, to have warm and cozy homes and plenty to eat. 

Pictured here is a frozen beautyberry (callicarpa), one of the stars of the winter garden, leaning on a sturdy rose trellis.

Although the garden is resting and I can happily take a break, there is still preparation at a leisurely pace in anticipation of Spring 'o' glorious Spring! 


My grandchildren (little garden sprites) were here recently and got out with all their youthful vigor to cut, rake and collect!  Guided by myself and their beloved PapaD, a good time was had by all and some of the winter goop got cleared!  They treasure being in ‘Safta’s garden’ all year long and I love to show them everything from overwintering parsley, baby grapes on the vine to emerging shoots that will later become gorgeous flowers.  The teacher in me loves the innocent excitement on their faces and their expanding awareness of nature’s magic.

Last year we had a mighty freeze and are joined here by our son Eli and his fiancee Raya in an outdoor fire amongst the frozen branches. We have been warmed by outdoor winter fires for decades.  Coming together beneath the clear, starry winter night has become a family tradition, reminiscent of native Americans passing the winter in their teepees.  Many years ago I spent a summer with friends who lived in a teepee and they commented that instead of watching the various TV channels like their neighbors, they reveled in the company of alder, oak and beech burning and crackling in the evening.

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November 2017 GRATITUDE in the face of troubling realities

Winter’s Cauldron

Autumn rolls in like a cleansing wave
And all is awash in transformation
My garden displays a ‘grande finale’        
Nature’s synchronicity receives  a standing ovation


Why do I love this season so?
It’s the forecast of overstuffed comfort
Introverted thoughts by the fire  
Where dreams like dormant seeds
Release like old-fashioned popcorn
Filling the air with ideas & possibilities


The heat of summer left me sticky and spent    
Now my mind awakens in the brisk air.
Leaves twirl on smoky, chilled winds.
I take in earthy scents of rotting wood, apples and pear  
The North Wind stirs Winter’s Cauldron


Candles in the evening
Gently beckon former generations    
To my parlor
Glazed butternut squash      
Glitters fresh from the oven
The magic of cooking warms my soul
As multiple veggies dissolve in the soup


Angels guide us earthly beings,
As best they can from afar  
Reminding us of all that is good
                                                                   Autumn 2013
                                                    Revised Autumn 2017











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October Winds - 2017




October bursts in with colored streamers, glorious sunshine and departs with molding fruit, flowers & broken pumpkins.  The wind tossed, cascading leaves are as delightful as cherry blossom snow in spring but with a melancholy twist. The rain is welcome but has reaped havoc earlier than usual on my garden this year.  I relish the chilly morning air that warms by afternoon.  We know autumn is upon us and for some that is relief, for others sadness as we move towards winter.  I see neighbors cutting wood and tucking plants into their cozy beds with blankets of freshly fallen leaves.



Earlier in the month we had Succot, a Jewish Holy Day that follows the Jewish New Year . For many this is a time of deep personal reflection. Jews around the globe built succahs, huts or temporary dwellings outside and eat and even sleep therein.  It’s fun and festive and at the same time mystically significant.  “This is demonstrated by the permeable roof, offering protection while still reminding us of the infinite cosmos of which we are a part. Our health, our sanity, our peace, indeed our very existence depends on a defined ordered finite realm of relative stability. In this "limited reality" we can carve out a meaningful life. But if we make too strong of a roof we will lose touch with our real nature as part of the infinite, connected and indeed one with the whole of creation.  Being close to Nature gives us perspective about our lives.  We camp out or walk by the shore, visit a park or nature reserve.  Still others meditate or practice the yoga of cleaning out their gardens!

I love seeing squirrels store their nuts in the garden.  They remind me I am part of the instinctual cycles of all creatures. 







I appreciate the few tenacious plants that are surviving the cold nights and plentiful rains. It is only natural that we go inward to our homes and our hearts as many plants also hibernate to replenish as the nights get longer. Dazzling fires and candles bring us closer to the mysteries of the earths turning.




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Late Summer - September 2017



I awake to the wind moving the branches and give thanks for the advent of Autumn.  Days are shorter and the rain brings relief from the hellish wildfires and smoke.  The coolness refreshes my soul and enlivens my body to action.  I am reminded of projects that I have put off and have a renewed appreciation of simple pleasures.

My garden is opening to the rich harvests that were promised.  Seed to fruition like those of us getting older and realizing we’re in the vintage years of our lives (with some added creaks and restrictions!)

Morning Glories, Anemones and Dahlias take center stage. Deepening ornamental purple berries ‘Beautyberry’(Callicarpa) will soon brighten the oncoming season of the next few months. This year I have 3 varieties of Morning Glories blooming as I continually search for a display that will please me.  One self-sowing ‘Heavenly Blue’ and two new varieties, ‘Blue Star’, white with a faint blue star and ‘Feringa’ - deep violet and rose-pink. They are all tangled up and I am impressed by their extraordinary twining habits that rival even the best African baskets.










Japanese Anemones are the faithful of the late summer crop. The whites are especially riveting.  White flowers often have their own regal luminescence, in a garden amongst all the extroverted showstoppers. 




Fuchsias breathe easily in the cool September days and come happily back to life.  That’s exactly how I feel as the season turns to a refreshing afterglow.

                                                                                    

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The Revenge of Summer’s Heat - August 2017


After the heat of the last few weeks, the garden looks weary and forlorn.  It’s time for a long, deep watering as well as getting a jump on September plant changes.  Anything not doing well is ripe for a new, improved location. 

So far three hydrangeas, one climbing rose and one small tree have migrated. One was temporarily heeled in near some glorious dahlias and is now the autumn star behind the garage where late summer display was needed.  Another is rejuvenating, (I hope), in the front of the house.  This is traditionally a tough spot so I knew it was daring of me to put it there. However a large, white Hydrangea paniculata will be so inviting and I’m a sucker for visions of grandeur.  Overflowing drifts in an English cottage garden always get me dreaming. It’s a bit shady and the ground is quite hard from impacted perennial impatiens bulbs. Still after hubby worked it hard, I’m giving it a lick and a prayer, plus organic root stimulator!

I was thrilled (as only a gardener can be) to recently buy some wood sorrel (oxalis oregana) and 2 deep purple coral bells (heuchera)The two-toned purple plus the soft, emerald green tickled my fancy for a neglected spot by the front that could not handle either the anemones or foxglove I planted there years ago.  Could be a lack of watering since it’s under an eave…so heave ho, another risky venture coupled with my vow to water adequately!  The coleus in pots are a favorite and magnificent as usual.



Another poor placement, in too much sun, is a marvelous small tree, Japanese Stewartia, (pseudocamellia), purchased two years ago. It just got resettled near a gate with better drainage and shade. I remind myself location and soil are everything, as I dig out the grass and weeds and congratulate myself on getting to it so early. And luckily with a capable hubby, shovel in tow, following my directions!


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