By LORRAINE BARNETT
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 donâ€™t want to weed. I donâ€™t wish to plant new flower beds. I donâ€™t enjoy filling the watering can. When itâ€™s hot, I just like to admire the gardenâ€™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 Iâ€™ll stop at my hanging baskets filled with petunias, examining each flower to pluck the seed-bound blooms. Maybe Iâ€™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 itâ€™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 â€” 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, Iâ€™ve planned a few future gardens such as a small wildflower garden, a Shasta daisy patch and a perennial rock garden.
But Iâ€™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 â€” birds, yellow butterflies, lady bugs and bumble bees. Unexpected inspiration.
To re-create such a space for the fall or for next summer, Iâ€™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. Iâ€™ll need to add some catmint, too.
How will your own bench garden grow?
Barnett is a greenthumb gardener from Westfield Center.