peeking around a tree

“Spring has returned.  The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ll bet you imagined it was an animal or bird that you would see peeking around the tree in this photo.  In fact, it is me, trying to get closer to a sweet and shy hellebore in bloom — without leaving the path.  I was very nearly on tiptoe by the end.

I do try to respect the rules at the Botanical Gardens, even when the most gorgeous flower is just out of reach of my point-&-shoot and no one is there to see me step out of line.  Sometimes this calls for enormous reserves of willpower.  And sometimes, as today, it results in an unusual effect in a photograph.  In this case, the thick, grey bark of the tree blocking my way became a textured edge that I actually liked once I saw it on the screen.

It made me think of how our very personal obstacles in life oftentimes become a pleasing part of the art we are creating with our lives.

But for heaven’s sake don’t tell me this when I am facing the obstacle, itself; I will just be annoyed.  Focused as I am on balancing on tiptoe, or busy considering where to place my feet next in order to somehow sneak by, or contemplating bending the rules a little to get to where I desperately want to be, the idea that I will find this particular challenge somehow soul-beautifying in retrospect will not be appreciated.

I hope I remember precisely that last part the next time a friend asks me for my honest advice about a tough situation she’s facing.  And I hope I remember the first part when I’m the one in the hot seat.

Other than these thoughts, I have nothing more exciting to report than that spring is definitively here.  (That’s quite exciting, actually.)  I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow.  But it is here, really and truly… even though a deep chill still holds the land, too.

After a frost-bitten morning, I bundled up in a heavy coat and layers for my visit to the gardens, not expecting much to have changed since five days ago.  Yet plump buds and newborn blooms were lisping poetry wherever I looked, and the fierce winds began blowing away the cobwebs that winter had allowed to grow up in the corners of my soul.

Can both seasons be happening simultaneously?  Yes, I think they can.  Well, they are, no matter what I think about it.  Reality is so markedly subtle, continually defying categorization, despite everything we were taught in school.

I’m glad it does that.  It makes life so interesting; don’t you think?

21 Responses to “peeking around a tree”

  1. Hey Meredith,
    Hellebores are everywhere in the garden blogging world right now! And I have never even seen one around here!

    Re: your question about crocosmias. I don’t know whether each corm only has the capacity to produce a single flower stalk. My crocosmia has never flowered all that well… I usually throw a whole bunch of corms in a big hole, get a lot of pretty foliage and one or two flower stalks. Flower issue aside, I don’t think crocosmias look right spaced out. But to each his own!

    • Well, that is disappointing about the crocosmias, Ginger. I’d read that they do very well in the Deep South, and you’re even deeper than I am there. 🙂 That answers my question then, and I so appreciate you taking the time to follow up!

      As for the hellebores, I suspect they are in fashion in certain circles. My sister sees them all around her rather posh suburban neighborhood — and has developed a need to collect them, herself, as a result of familiarity these last two winters. Perhaps the hellebore obsession is catching, like a very happy virus passed between gardeners. 😉 I do find them pretty. But I’d rather have heucheras, I think, if I were planting a border in that kind of dappled shade.

  2. Nature is so wonderfully amazing. It is a miracle, really. And you capture it so beautifully.

  3. Ah, but as I’m learning here, five days can make ALL the difference! Although, I must admit, we have a paucity of hellebores here. I have found it an interesting challenge though to take my camera for a hike, once per week, every seven days…and you’d be surprised at what pops up!!!

  4. I’m slowly learning the difference between obstacles that can be safely negotiated (after much bending and twisting) and obstacles that truly should be more like flashing neon warning signs “Don’t Go There!” – lol!

    I love the photo. It might not have been what you initially envisioned, but the delicacy of the bloom is perfectly captured.

  5. Dear Meredith, I thought this to be a wonderful picture of the hellebore and, like you, I found the texture of the bark of the tree added additional interest. In fact, it made one linger on the image.

    Surely now we cannot wait much longer for spring although I never feel winter is really behind us until the end of March.

    • I think we can’t even count on winter being behind us, securely behind us, until April, Edith, as I’ve seen snow here in April. 😦 But I’ll take all the spring I can get, in the form of hellebores and whatever else blooms!

  6. It is my experience that crocosmia likes to be planted deeper than you think necessary, and dug and replanted every year or two, as the corms grow themselves out of the ground. It will put on secondary bloom stems sometimes.

    Having said that, I need to get out and dig and replant 345,678,123 corms if I want to see blossoms of any importance this year.

    • Thanks for the heads up, Nell Jean. I was considering planting some bulbs in a large tub planter, but the idea of only seeing six or eight blossoms there (depending on the correct spacing) for a short period in the summer, was making me hesitate. Hearing how finicky they are, and how unsure the bloom spike, I think I’m going to put a small butterfly bush in that planter instead. It blooms all summer, even the first one, attracts hummingbirds, has a lovely fragrance, and I can pass it on to my parents or my neighbor if our move necessitates it go to another home. It’s not the bright scarlet which is one of my favorite colors, but oh well. (Of course, a “small” butterfly bush is still four to six feet high and four wide, LOL.)

  7. Hi Meredith – I was sure when I clicked I would see a little veggie poking its head around a tree! It looks like a lovely colour of petal and the tree is just added interest. I am one for bringing texture into a photo and you have achieved colour and texture in such a beautiful composition.

    • Isn’t it pretty? Thanks so much for your kind words, Rosie. No veggies are yet poking up much of anything. Well, aside for the radishes and lettuce seedlings and garlic shoots — and I’ve pictured all of those. Don’t want y’all to get bored in the off-season. 😉

  8. Isn’t it wonderful that the first signs of spring are there for us to see, just as we are beginning to despair of winter never ending?

    • Yes, Noelle. I wasn’t even aware you were experiencing a true winter over there in AZ. 😉 But I suppose it’s not the height of the season of bloom there, either.

      Loved your lilac vine! That pea-like blossom is a surefire way to get me every time. It got filed away in my memory as a wisteria for the desert.

  9. Hello Meredith, that little Hellebore does indeed look shy, sheltering it’s beautiful face with a leaf!

  10. Very beautiful photo – well done. I like even more how you’ve taken your capturing of it and made it a metaphor for something each of us faces in our lives. Well done!

    I like too that quote from Rilke. Google nor I can’t seem to locate the original poem, prose or letter. Do you know the source?

    Cordially –

    • Hi, Jack! Rilke is one of my favorite poets. I believe this quote is from Sonnet 21 out of Rilke’s *Sonnets to Orpheus* collection. Hope that is helpful to you.

      Thank you for the kind words and compliments. Sometimes I look back on one of my essays and think, “Did I write that?” 😉

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