from the garden no. 1 ~ woodland greens & lily whites


“Sita closed her eyes and breathed into her cupped hands. Before she left, she had remembered to perfume her wrist with Muguet. The faint odor of that flower, so pure and close to the earth, was comforting. She had planted real lilies of the valley because she liked them so much as a perfume.

Just last fall, before the hard freeze, when she was feeling back to normal, the pips had arrived in a little white box. Her order from a nursery company. She'd put on her deerskin gloves and, on her knees, using a hand trowel, dug a shallow trench along the border of her blue Dwarf iris. Then one by one she'd planted the pips. They looked like shelled acorns, only tinier. "To be planted points upward," said a leaflet in the directions. They came up early in the spring. The tiny spears of their leaves would be showing soon.

Lying there, sleepless, she imaged their white venous roots, a mass of them fastening together, forming new shoots below the earth, unfurling their stiff leaves. She saw herself touching their tiny bells, waxed white, fluted, and breathing the ravishing fragrance they gave off because Louis had absently walked through her border again, dragging his shovel, crushing them with his big, careless feet.

It seemed as though hours of imaginary gardening passed before Mrs. Waldvogel tiptoed in without turning on the light.”

Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen


Hello dear friends! Here we find ourselves at the end of May and I am keenly aware that the Lily of the Valley has finally started to bloom.  This quiet beauty of the garden usually comes and goes, sometimes without anyone noticing.  Life can be hectic, and in our hurry, we forget the smalls gifts of the garden.  A few weeks ago, there was nothing in that little garden bed in the north side of the house. But today, as I was getting into my car-- that waft of a scent I recognized! The lily of valley is in bloom! 


It is a faint perfume that brings me memories of my mother's Yardley's hand cream.  The little pips peaking at the world from between the dark emerald spears of their leaves, protecting them.  Through the winter, they laid sleepless under the frozen soil.  If you saw that garden bed, you would think nothing would grow back there.  But alas! Spring has arrived and with the warm temperatures, everything is blooming.   The white tiny bells, with their scalloped edges, making you wonder about nature and its design.  I breath in the scent so familiar, and cut a few of the fragrant flowers, for my bedroom.  In a small glass hobnail cut that I love to use for flowers, I place the dark green leaves of the lily with the with bell-shaped flowers.  I add some wax flower and ferns, and for some interest-- a few of leaves of Dusty Miller go in.  I just love the contrast of the deep green with the silvery leaves.

This garden bed area is our woodland bed.  Turn on the sound on the video below for a little garden magic courtesy of the little birds singing and the wind.All the plants here remind me of woodlands inhabited by fairies, sitting atop the Bleeding Hearts sprinkling their magic, and urging the white little lily of the valley to come and join the spring dance... if only for a few days.  Before I know it, the lily of the valley will be gone and with them that brief moment of woodland magic.  But there is always the promise of next spring.