Flowers have always brought joy to the human heart. They speak wordless volumes of cheer, peace and warm feelings. To sit in the late summer garden surrounded by them, as I do now, is a foretaste of heaven.
As if reluctant to let go, summer seems to have rediscovered a new lease of life for a late encore to the season’s performance. It’s a fine September day and I sit on our front bench with my head amongst rudbeckias, calendulas, antirrhinums, zinnias and cosmos, and much else. There is a gladdening hotch-potch of colours, enriched by the uninvited guests, the pink Valerian, the sky blue Chicory and the self- sown Verbena bonariensis. These mix enchantingly with regal Salvia ‘Amistad’ (overwintered under cover) – the commoners rubbing shoulders with royalty. The display is not quite as good as last year’s, the summer drought put paid to that. Nevertheless this year’s is still very satisfying.
With a dark background the back-lit flowers joyfully radiate in golden yellows and deep reds like warm reflected suns. Apart from the Salvias, these bright annual flowers were grown from a few packets of seed. I bask in the warmth with the accompaniment of insects busily foraging from flower to flower, as if excited to have discovered a welcome late season bonanza. They can afford to be choosy, for there is something for each one here. The warm air is filled with the rich scents of plant oils and nectar, a relaxing potpourri – a feast for the senses. It wafts about my head giving me an insect eye-level view and scent of the world.
Cabbage whites. sadly the only butterflies, add their white colour to the purple honey pot of the Verbena bonariensis. Bees are everywhere, two of them buzzing a duet as they forage near my ear. The sunlight catches the gossamer threads of the webs of spiders also keen to join the party! There is a continuous, contented, background hum from numerous other insects in the air.
“Consider the flowers of the field they do not toil or spin yet even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
Matthew’s Gospel 6
So much beauty at so little effort from me. A few packets of seeds, sowing, planting and watering and then nature does rest. But there is still some work that needs to go on. The gardener need never be bored, gardening is an all the year round pleasure. You are in charge of your own garden, largely self-sustaining, perennially satisfying, a plot you can call your own place truly rooted in God’s good earth.
“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” Socrates
Last summer I wrote about Christopher Lloyd’s book ‘The Adventurous Gardener’. I like to think of myself as a Contented Gardener. As I sit and view these flowers I can’t wish for a more fulfilling and satisfying hobby. I know thousands of others would say the same. After all we were made to be gardeners !
“Whatever prosperous hour Providence bestows upon you receive it with a thankful heart..that in whatever place you are, you may have lived with satisfaction. They change their climate not their disposition who run beyond the sea; a busy idleness harasses us; by ships and by chariots we work to live happily. (while) What you seek is here (at home) if a just temper of mind is not wanting you.”
From The Epistles of Horace
Indeed, home is best. Mine will need to have a garden with a garden seat too!
The lovely Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is summed up in the Bible picture of a time when in peace ‘everyone will sit under his own vine and fig tree’ Micah 4 verse 4. I relax here, a contented gardener, with the warm colours, the scents, and sounds of the late summer garden all around. These annual flowers have a short but glorious life. When all else is closing down these late performers have become the joy of my September garden.
This is peace, a beautiful precious moment to be enjoyed to the full, captured by camera and remembered in the colder days to come. I sense some of God’s shalom here. Every time I open the front door it puts a smile on my face as it does for visitors, including the delivery men! After all, that’s the purpose of a garden.