Intimacy

In the last three weeks, our lives have got smaller. Our circles have contracted to the immediate environment.

The spring foliage of the English rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, with pear blossom behind.

At this time of year, I always take a morning walk and an evening walk around the garden. After the winter, it is a gift to reconnect with every detail.

Pear blossom, fully open

The pear blossom started us off, but the apple is readying itself. I love it at this stage of pink.

Apple blossom, at its most pink.

The pear and the apple and this crab apple stand over the rose garden, like protective presences. The crab apple has the darkest maroon leaves, and the darkest, deepest pink blossom.

Crab apple blossom

I’m not sure of the variety, because, like the apple and the pear, it was planted before we moved here. It is similar to Malus ‘Royalty’, but I think darker.

Crab apple blossom

The blossom changes from day to day, hour to hour. Truth be known, I can take several slow walks around the garden each day, and note each minute change.

Intersectional peony foliage

Peony foliage seems to grow by the inch each day. I have grown to know each clump intimately. ‘Coral Charm’ is always the first up, the quickest to grow strong, and the first to put out bed-knobs of buds. But the intersectional peonies are my favourite for foliage. They are the most feathered, the most sculpted, the most elegant.

I take the long walk down the bright border, through the vegetable garden, to the very end of our garden. In this tapering triangle, we have planted four more apple trees, and I have made an attempt at a meadow.

Last year, when emptying the raised beds of spent tulip bulbs, I didn’t know quite what to do with them. It seemed wasteful to just dump them. So I re-planted them around the apple trees. They have re-emerged more delicate, but also more wild-looking than before. I like them like this.

Plants, like people, can surprise you, when planted into a new environment.

Tulips ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Slawa’, Narcissus ‘Thalia’ and Snakeshead fritillaries, in the (very) mini meadow.

I planted the fritillaries for my daughter, Caty. I know she loves them. I wonder if she has noticed them? Just having planted them for her gives me pleasure, because they remind me of her each time I see them. A little moment of intimacy.

Fritillaria meleagris (Snakes Head fritillaries)

These raised beds in our vegetable plot are Stevie’s domain. I note that he has raked them to a fine tilth, something I rarely have the patience to do. It is the differences between us that I appreciate. An often unspoken intimacy.

Raised beds, waiting for vegetable seedlings

Like peonies, I love rose foliage in April. I love all foliage in April. The way is catches the light and shows its luminous translucency. It shows its vulnerability. It has not yet toughened; it hasn’t been nibbled by creatures. It is its own pure self, taking up its own space, knowing how to be.

Rosa rugosa hedge in April

I walk back around, coming back into the flower garden, my domain. This is one of my favourite views, with the morning sun filtering around the corner of the house.

Raised beds with tulips, in the morning light

If I stand under the cherry tree, I can appreciate both blossom and tulips together.

Cherry blossom, with tulips behind.

Oh, cherry blossom. I love how it dangles. I love how the sun shines through, and you see the shadows of the stamens on the petals.

cherry blossom

It is my favourite blossom to look up through. Blossom against blue sky.

Cherry blossom

I have been visiting the tulips every day, patiently waiting.

Raised beds with tulips

I plant this bed with different tulips each year. It is my biggest extravagance.

Tulips ‘Orange Cassini’ and ‘Attila’s Graffiti’

I play with new varieties and old. ‘Orange Cassini’ is a new favourite, ‘Attila’s Graffiti’ an old one.

Tulips ‘Orange Cassini’ and ‘Roussillon’

‘Orange Cassini’ is beautiful in every light. It has subtle gradations of warm pink-peach and coral in the morning light, and vibrant orange in the afternoon and evening light. I love it just touched with dew, a little blue.

Tulip ‘Orange Cassini’, just opened, in the morning light.

I love it in the afternoon, with its petals relaxed, allowing the sunlight to shine through. Its pink is more pink, its orange more orange.

Tulip ‘Orange Cassini’ in the afternoon sun. (‘Cerise Parrot’ and ‘Showcase’ behind).

This is intimacy. When you can be with someone, something, yourself, in all lights, in all moods. You can sit with the feelings. You can be blue, you can be tickled pink. You can show your tender parts. You can open to the sun, or bow with the moon.

Tulips ‘Showcase’ (foreground) and ‘Cerise Parrot’, shaking its feathers.

Tulip ‘Cerise Parrot’ has bed hair. Like many human beings right now, it is looking a little shaggy. I love how it flecked with green and purple. It has scars. It has a few rough edges. That’s ok, we like those. It makes things interesting.

Tulip ‘Cerise Parrot’ with ‘Orange Cassini’ behind.

Here is the tulip bed in the evening, with the light pouring through the greenhouse. I love how the light shines though the tulip leaves. Light and shadow; transparency; intimacy.

Tulips ‘Rousillon’ (foreground) with ‘Showcase’ and ‘Orange Cassini’ behind. In the evening light.

I am getting to know these tulips. It takes time. We have that. We can sit with one another, with ourselves. Accept the imperfections; offer kindness.

There will be dark times, there will be light. There will be time to open up, time to close down. We’re all learning.

I hope that you too take time to walk around your space, and get to know the minute details and the changes. You might find things you don’t like. That’s ok. Offer kindness. We don’t have to be perfect.

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30 Comments Add yours

  1. Rupali says:

    Thank you for sharing beautiful images and positivity.

    1. Thank you Rupali; I always appreciate your comments.

      1. Rupali says:

        It’s a pleasure to visit your garden.

  2. With this delightful post you have extended the range of intimacy. We, too, have Emma Hamilton, Ballerina, Snakeshead, Thalia, and several crab apples and cherry blossoms.

    1. Ah! What excellent taste! ‘Ballerina’ might just be my favourite tulip. Though there are about ten varieties vying for that position!

  3. Mrs Jane Halvey says:

    I too enjoy my slow walks around my garden although it is nothing like the size of yours. You would not believe the joy I felt when the tiny green shoots of my spring planted shallots started to show, I now stop to count how many are showing every morning and evening. I now have pots and tray of seeds to watch on a daily basis. These too will bring joy as they germinate and bring promise of colour and future harvests of fresh vegetables. How I would cope with life without my garden I don’t know It keeps me grounded and sane.

    1. I am with you there. Seed-sprout watching is a favourite pass-time. I hope that more people might discover the joy of seed-sowing and growing vegetables this summer.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Your garden is beautiful, Ali. It must be so soul-pleasing!

    1. It is, Eliza. I hope that you too are finding solace in your garden. Where would we be without it? I suspect sitting under a tree somewhere, claiming it as a little patch of paradise!

  5. Cathy says:

    I enjoyed my mindful walk round your garden, Ali. Tulips look even better when there’s a lot of them, don’t they? So yours of course look wonderful, and I am pleased you have found somwhere to replant yours, although presumably that area will reach tulip saturation point at some time… Must think again if there is somewhere for my rejects…! I am surprised Stevie did not leave space between his veg beds – do you think he will regret this?

    1. I do love a whole swathe of tulips. Raised beds seem like less fuss than pots to me; I am always on the lookout for a cheat’s way!

      We did used to have spaces between the veg beds, and found we didn’t have enough growing space. One by one we filled them in. It does test the balance, doing a tight-rope walk along the edges to pick beans in the summer!

      1. Cathy says:

        Haha – I am imagining it now! 😁

  6. Ali, your garden is luminescent. The details that you share make me look closer at my own garden, thank you for that inspiration. “bed-knobs of buds’ – well, that is the best description of peony buds that I’ve ever heard 🙂 Enjoy the beauty of your garden, thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. That is lovely to hear, Lynn, and I am delighted with your appreciation of peony bed-knobs!

  7. Brian Skeys says:

    Some beautiful pictures of blossom and tulips, the very essence of this time of year.

    1. Yes, they compete for my attention! I found an amazing avenue of different crabapples on a walk today. They were truly stunning. One of the best things about blossom is that you really appreciate trees in other people’s gardens. You couldn’t possibly ever collect all the trees you admire (although I guess you could try). I have really been enjoying all the different flowering cherries too.

  8. This fritillaria are amazing! They look handcrafted. I love the title of this post: Intimacy. It is a wonderful reminder that as hard as this time is, we can use it as a time to cultivate a greater intimacy with the things and people in our life. Thank you for this reminder.

    1. Thank you, Shelly. Yes, it is an opportunity for greater intimacy with ourselves, isn’t it? With fewer distractions, I am trying to see this as an opportunity.

      1. Yes, that is such a good way to look at it. It’s a tough time, but I am learning good things.

  9. Ann Mackay says:

    I enjoyed the walk around your garden – makes a change from mine! I think we’ll all be a lot more familiar with our gardens by the time things go back to ‘normal’.

    1. Yes, I have been thinking the same thing! Last summer I feel the garden got away from me a little, because I was so busy with work. I feel a sense of satisfaction that I am back to noticing every weed, and able to notice every change. I do love this space we inhabit.

  10. prue batten says:

    Love the tulips even with bed hair. Love the garden. Love your posts.

    1. Thank you so much Prue; I really appreciate your support.

  11. M.B. Henry says:

    Awww, thanks for sharing your garden with us. Tulips have always been one of my favorites and yours are looking lovely! And I really liked this line – “Plants, like people, can surprise you, when planted into a new environment.” 🙂

    1. Yes. It always amazes me what my garden can teach me about people as well as plants.

  12. Absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE the fritillaries! They look unreal, like something you’d find in a fantasy children’s book. Nobody does gardens like the English! Seems a nice spot to ride out the virus. Stay well!

    1. They are weird and wonderful, aren’t they? Yes, it is a peaceful and distracting spot. I am very grateful for it.

      1. My husband is the gardener in the house. It’s only our second year here so his creation is still taking shape. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Fun to have surprises each year, but there’s nothing like an old, grown in garden. We were lucky to have many mature trees surrounding our 100 year old home (old for U.S.!)

      2. That sounds lovely, Michele. Mature trees are a gift.

      3. Oh, yes! Really it’s a big part of why I love my new neighborhood. 100 year old sycamore trees.

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