I’ve been meaning to join in with Donna’s “Word for Wednesday” meme for weeks now, but I never seem to get myself organised. This week’s word, ephemeral, was just too good to miss though. I started out thinking I would talk about the plants in my garden that give ephemeral pleasure. The ones that are only around for a few days, a week or so at most, but which are so delightful that you wouldn’t be without them. I was sure I must have some, because I have valued that concept for years now. Oriental poppies are the flower that spring to mind, here one minute, gone the next, but lighting up the borders while they are around. I don’t have any. I’ve always planned to, but never got around to it. And I started to realise that for years I have selected plants for the garden with a long season – or seasons – of interest. The best I could come up with that meets the criterion of “lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory” was the larger flowered crocuses.
These pop up with slender strap-like leaves from the bare soil with tightly furled, jewel-like petals…
… then the flowers open…
…and you get to enjoy the flowers for a few short days before the petals are strewn across the ground. OK, so often this is because the birds have massacred them, but that counts!
Thinking about it some more, I realised that one of the things I most love about gardening – about the natural world in general – are those fleeting moments that you capture. It could be a favourite plant starting to emerge from the ground in Spring.
Catching the bluebell woods at their best.
Spotting a tree in a clearing, perfectly lit and with no one in the way.
Light and weather play such a big part in gardening, and can transform a scene from one moment to the next. I love the way that sometimes a photo captures a moment in a way that brings it back when you look at it again, maybe years later. Looking at this photo of one of my Miscanthus catching the winter sun transports me back to the day I glanced out the window on my way to make breakfast and spotted what the light was doing. I rushed out in my pyjamas and spent ages, sometimes taking photographs, sometimes just standing and staring, until my battery ran out and I realised how cold I was!
Another time I spotted a leaf, all frosted up, just lying on the table, made beautiful by light. Definitely ephemeral.
These are the moments when, for me, gardens and plants become truly magical, and it makes it all the more important to be open to those moments, to taking the time to notice the temporary beauty, camera in hand or not. I suppose this is particularly true for me at the moment as I start the process of saying goodbye to my garden. So I will be looking out fortimes like this last year, where the light shimmered on the grasses, since the grasses will be moving to a bed where the light just won’t be the same.
And I will enjoy the memory of the combination of the plants I bought at the Malvern Show this year, because by the time they flower next year the pond irises will be gracing someone else’s water features, the geums and aquilegias will be potted up or planted elsewhere, making different pictures.
I realise that this suddenly sounds a little melancholy, but it truly isn’t, it is more about celebrating the ephemeral, embracing the transitory nature of so much of the beauty of any garden, and looking forward to making some new memories of ephemeral beauty in a new garden.
Thanks to Donna for hosting, and do pop over to her blog and follow the links to see how other people have interpreted her Word for Wednesday.