June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Create quiet garden corner with bench and blossoms

Garden Nook

August heat has arrived. For avid gardeners, that means working in the shade. But for me, the gardening stops and effortless bliss begins. At this time of year, I allow myself time to admire the garden spaces. In my view, a gardener nourishes self in that time, stepping back, sitting down and viewing each little nook of the garden. These past few weeks and through August, I will find comfortable destinations in the garden that are quiet and reflective.


Each year in the heat of the season, I confess I get lazy in the garden. I don’t want to weed. I don’t wish to plant new flower beds. I don’t enjoy filling the watering can. When it’s hot, I just like to admire the garden’s blossoms. Stick my nose in the flowers. Watch the bumblebees buzz. These are some of my favorite and most important tasks in the garden, digesting the simple garden intricacies.

Sometimes I’ll stop at my hanging baskets filled with petunias, examining each flower to pluck the seed-bound blooms. Maybe I’ll carry garden shears into the colorful daylily patch, selecting the reds, purples and pinks to put in a water-filled vase. While taking this time a few days ago, I discovered the tiniest green frog, the size of my thumbnail, who had found his own comfort inside a yellow daylily. These are the moments I enjoy as my eyes, mind and spirit realize the bliss in the garden.

Inevitably, I always take extra inspirational steps each week to visit other gardens, for new ideas, unusual plants and design elements. Some gardens I visit may be large; recently a friend showed me the beautiful landscape of roses on a visit to a campus of The Ohio State University. Some gardens I see are rundown and crumbling, like a Port Clinton park left untouched this year. Because it’s scheduled for renovation, all its uncut perennials have gone to seed. Other gardens I viewed this week included an old brick post office planted with a perfect patch of purple coneflowers — very charming.
And just yesterday, I viewed a home garden with wonderful curb appeal; masses of red and pink verbena effortlessly spilling out of big pots, sitting happily atop their porch entry.

A bench garden

These past few weeks, I have been inspired to create many gardens simply because of my quiet moments and garden visits. Of course, I’ve planned a few future gardens such as a small wildflower garden, a Shasta daisy patch and a perennial rock garden.

But I’ve also decided to create a little garden with a bench. Oddly, I was inspired by the rundown, shabby little park garden. The weed-filled park space gave me a place to sit for a moment. And when I looked closer, I found the stone bench, though worn and tired, had beautiful cherubim with harps carved into the stone. Blue-flowered and fragrant catmint (Nepeta) covered the ground at its base. As I sat on the bench, the unkempt garden was abuzz with some of my favorite garden creatures — birds, yellow butterflies, lady bugs and bumble bees. Unexpected inspiration.

To re-create such a space for the fall or for next summer, I’ll save pennies (or dollars) for a second-hand or new bench. Ideally, the bench will be tucked into an existing garden with late-summer wildlife bloomers like purple coneflowers, heliopsis, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers and yarrow. I’ll need to add some catmint, too.

How will your own bench garden grow?

Barnett is a greenthumb gardener from Westfield Center.