It's daybreak at our house on the mountain above Peacham Pond. The snow is still deep and the sun is bright with a line of pink at horizon level showing through the hardwoods. The crows are noisy at the tree line that meets the lower field. They are pestering something—probably an owl.
When I hear them I always wonder why we cannot all be at peace. Then my thoughts always seem to turn to a line by Minnie Aumonier, “There is always music amongst the trees in the garden but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.”
Gardens, no matter how big or small they are, can have a special place of peace. This is something you might consider adding to your garden this spring. It need not be a large place, an expensive place or a time consuming space. Think of a place with a couple-three chairs and a small table. A view into the trees or nearby forest, a view down the mountain or towards a meadow, or a view from the border of one of your gardens into another. It need not be complicated but instead a place where you can sit, hear the birds, watch the bees and other pollinators work, and notice the small animals that sneak into your gardens without permission but provide entertainment of sorts. Just a simple garden room, an area with no real designation other than the peace it provides and the colors that encourage relaxation….your “go-to” place when you need to get away from a busy day.
There is something peaceful about watching birds visit a bird bath to bathe or drink. A hummingbird feeder brings in one of our smallest but fastest flying birds who are instant entertainers and usually bring friends in short order. A bird house added to a post or tree, heading south, brings its own entertainment that lasts only for a few weeks but serves as a reminder that generations of birds visit what we enjoy as their source of food, privacy and temporary protection as they raise young.
Trees, shrubs and perennials can be added over time. Once you have an opportunity to sit and watch and perhaps “read” the surroundings you will think of additions that, over time, will encourage more life to your garden. Four or five years ago, I added a 25-foot line of mixed winterberries to a portion of our hosta display garden. I had already added a table and two chairs to a space that was made somewhat private by a mixed row of Japanese fantail and also curly yellow willows. When I planted the winterberry, I had no idea they were admired by both cedar waxwings and Bohemian waxwings and that American goldfinches would flock to them to eat the bright red berries as summer ended and fall temperature changes announced winter was coming.
The perennial monarda, remembered more often as bee balm, is now offered in many, many varieties from 18 inches to six feet tall. It’s a member of the mint family so it’s a vigorous grower but not an invasive plant. It’s a pollinator magnet and that plant alone can provide entertainment all summer long. I like Jacob Cline as it’s a nice red and five feet tall. Some gardeners prefer Raspberry Wine, Pink Lace, Gardenview Scarlet, Fireball, Grand Marshall or even the shorter varieties such as Leading Lady Plum or Petite Wonder. For minimal expense you can be guaranteed to have “plant” company that hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love too.
Give yourself time to think through a place of peace on your property. If the design or flower combinations leave you with questions, snap a couple pictures and stop by the flower farm any time after Mother’s Day when we open and we’ll be happy to assist. Really…that’s what we do…because peace in the garden makes us all better gardeners!
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where about 40 evening grosbeaks are having breakfast at the feeder.