Saturday, November 15, 2014
The last rose of summer - and some changes
On Tuesday, I went out to see Margaret Moseley. I had already been a few days earlier, but without my camera. I didn't have much time then and needed her to sign books.
There she was, sitting at the kitchen table, opening each book to the correct page and signing confidently. At 98 and a half, she is sharp as a tack.
All the while I was there, I kept looking out at the garden. Her daughter Carol and her high school friend W.M. have been working like Trojans, pulling weeds (most of the weeds are actually plants that some of us would love to have - they've just gotten out of hand in the garden). Meanwhile, Margaret goes out and finds it almost unbearable that she can no longer bend down and pull out anything undesirable. Also, she laments the fact that a lot of what she planted has disappeared. This might have happened anyway, given the way things do fade away over time. We are all familiar with that phenomenon.
Still, the magic and beauty are still there, even in early November. It's the way the garden is planted. If I had had a 3/4-acre rectangle, you would be able to step out of the back door and see the entire back yard. But, Margaret didn't plant her space that way, with borders on the edges and lawn in the middle.
Instead, she planted around trees (many are no longer there) and included evergreens that grew up to anchor these beds that were expanded over time. So, what you have is a series of secret gardens. Grass paths wind through the garden, past sasanquas and camellias that are 25 feet tall. This evergreen backdrop creates a series of hidden allees and secret gardens within a garden.
I am so thankful that I was able to capture just some of the wonderful plants and scenes in Margaret's garden in the book, Margaret Moseley's A Garden to Remember. In it are photographs of some of the best plants you can have in areas with similar climates to Atlanta. You can also see how Margaret had something in bloom every day of the year and delighted in every flower and leaf through all the seasons.
I've gotten off-base here. What I wanted to say is that if someone were to follow Margaret's methods, and say, you don't have deer or that you have some barrier against them, I'm thinking you could add years to your life. The peak of Margaret's fame came when she was in her 80's and early 90's. I may not live that long, but I would like to have that joy Margaret found in going out every day working in her yard and every night dreaming about what she was going to plant next. I still love her words, "I wish everybody could have a garden."
Note: My computer is slowing down, and one of the causes may be that I have 30,000 photographs - most of them of gardens and plants, a lot from flower arrangements at church, and only a few of family and friends (shameful!). What I think I'll do is try to post more often with just descriptions of what you're seeing. Then, at least once a week, if something merits a story, then I'll attach it to the photograph, just as I do now. What is happening is that life is getting in the way of my spending an entire morning writing and editing. That is what I like to do, not run errands or see to things that are broken and need repair or spend hours on the phone changing insurance companies that seem to take away the medicines you need just when you'd gotten used to having them, hassle-free.
If you find it annoying to receive so many pictures under this new format, just zap your e-mail. At least you won't have to spend time reading my long ramblings. Let's see if this works, as it's hard for me not to launch into detail or tell a story about a plant. I'm realizing, though, that I can't possibly live long enough to show you even a fraction of the pictures I've taken through the years. I don't want to see them go to waste, as one or two might spark the imagination or introduce you to a plant you may want to hunt down. I think for Margaret, part of the fun was the thrill of the chase. If you don't have time or space to garden, you can perhaps just enjoy seeing the beauty others have created. That's sort of what I've done.
Above: An unknown rose that came as a bonus when Margaret ordered her collection of David Austin English roses. It is so reliable, with the most beautiful buds, followed by this lovely open flower. It's in bloom from spring until the first freeze, which happened two days after I took this photograph earlier this week.