April 30, 2014

Oklahoma Memorial Marathon 2014

I was trying to think of a way to frame this post...as in "gardening itself is a marathon...for the truly dedicated".....or..." spring is more like a sprint; summer is the true marathon, requiring physical and mental toughness...".  

But that would be inappropriate. Nothing should be so casually compared... to the heroic constitution it takes to run and remember the victims of  the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon: 

The Run to Remember!
"Voted one of the 12 ‘must-run’ marathons in the world by Runner’s World magazine, the 26.2 miles of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon are packed with cheering supporters and the most beautiful neighborhoods in Oklahoma City.
Compete against some of the top runners in the region, and join more than 25,000 participants on the starting line running to remember the 168 people who were killed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. This race serves as a testimony that good can overcome evil.
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is a Boston qualifying USATF sanctioned race, but it is also a fundraising event to support the Oklahoma City National Memorial and  Museum. The Memorial’s future depends on our runners’ fundraising efforts. Today, Oklahoma City stands as a symbol of hope and resilience. Recovery after the bombing was a marathon in its own right, and our runners and donors are the driving force in making sure this story is told forever."

My neighborhood, Crown Heights, is one of the lucky communities that these athletes pass through in their quest to honor the victims of April 19, 1995. Those of us who do not participate athletically, show our support by cheering, high-fiving, making signs...

(Brooklyn Bergstrom, Layne Cates and Marly Berry ~ Harding Fine Arts and Harding Charter Prep)

or hosting a giant blow up gorilla to motivate runners as they suffer up the long, steep incline of Gorilla Hill that anchors our neighborhood.

( I am guessing the giant dressed up bananas are there to support the gorilla...)

While the rest of us are rooting and cheering and smiling in encouragement...the firefighters, dressed in full uniform as they walk and run, remain somber...

I recognize April 19 and the 168 people who died in my own way...working in the quiet of the garden...reflecting and remembering. Gardening gave me comfort in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy nineteen years ago...

as it does today when I need comforting and sustenance from Mother Earth. 

April 27, 2014

Columbine Season

So, my darlings, now that tulip season is over...what next? I long ago quit categorizing the complexity of my garden's yearly metamorphosis...

into simple seasonal definitions like spring-summer-fall and winter.

Instead, I began to see it as a series of seasonal and floral premieres. The tulips
open the spring season with show stopping garden theater: blockbuster color and texture (and to great reviews this year).

But their performance is over and Spring II, Columbine Season, begins. The columbine bloom overlaps that of the tulips for a bit. Their color - a lilac blue - echoes the color...

of the pansies and violas, blooming ajuga, and the remaining delicate faces of the paler Emerald Blue Creeping Phlox (find it here).  

By the time they begin their display, the spring-fresh chartreuse actors -  golden feverfiew, Lime mound spirea, small leaved euonymous 'Emerald 'n Gold (find it here), and the ubiquitous golden creeping money wort are in full form.

I do ADORE this marriage of colors...my favorite combination in the garden.

Columbine demands little to nothing of this director. I provide spare discipline or intentional staging. Over the years I have let it self-seed with abandon. Unlike other rampant self-seeders, I have found no downside to letting it have its way...wandering, scattering, fluttering about where it is so inclined.

 And flutter and dance and preen it does! 

Ever so delicate periwinkle heads...almost insect-like in detail...are suspended on stick straight tall stems...that sway in the breeze (okay, WIND!)...dancing charmingly while looking down at the earth and their shorter garden companions...without a hint of condescension I must add.

Delightful as individuals...glorious in great sweeps...they have become one of my favorite flowers. 

There are other colors of course...but only my beloved lilac and the sparse few pale yellow...

are permitted to reside in my garden. I am not a fan of the more strident hues. I cannot give you many particulars about my columbine...

save that the pioneers were sown from seed I 'borrowed' from a Munich beer garden on a visit to Germany ever so long ago. 

They have not seemed to mind their forced immigration to America's heartland and being pressed into my servitude here.

They seemingly don't resent being a constant reminder to me of their happy acquisition and introduction to my home on the prairie.

 Indeed, I feel they know they are loved, adored, and ever so welcome here.

April 24, 2014

When The Tulips are Gone

And then, before I knew it, the tulip season was over. Though that's not really true. It was an exceptional year for these glorious flowers. Their performance in my front beds lasted for a good month...despite the exceptionally windy conditions of this spring. Maybe it was the relatively cooler temperatures...

or maybe it was just good spring karma...

but they peaked, along with the azaleas, on Easter Sunday. 

The last gasp of bloom...of the latest blooming varieties...

especially the pure white of the lovely tulip, 'Maureen', seemed to float above

the fluffy chorus of phlox, pansies and ground covers. I was asked often how they always looked so fresh and seemed to age so well over the passing weeks.  The answer:

each day, as I surveyed the garden, I would remove those that were spent...had been blown to bits, fallen over, turned soft and refused to 'stand up and fly right' any longer.

I will pull out the last of them tomorrow...(yes, I pull out and compost/discard the entire collection of tulips each year)...noting

what changes/improvements/modifications I want to make for next year.

 Believe it or not...when their time is past...I am usually ready for them to go.

My color appetite for the front landscape has been sated. As the tulips fade, as the pansies get leggy and the phlox overgrown...I find that they are weening me naturally from their boisterousness and sometimes, overblown, color.

I begin to crave a more restrained, nuanced landscape. More subtlety and restraint and gradations of fewer colors with more texture.

The delicacy of the purple columbine, scattered and nodding throughout the from beds are taking center stage now...coming into their own just when I will appreciate them most. The contrast of their airy delicacy to the tulips' more weighty chalice shape makes for a splendid overlapping transition as the one fades and the other


So I thought we could enjoy these images and gorge on their colors one last time...before I try to answer what three people asked me today as they passed by...

what happens now that the tulips are gone?