Magic in the garden is a broad topic, too broad for one to get a proper handle on it. Magic and gardens are synonomous, for the act of growing in itself is a miracle. Better to narrow the range a bit, make it more personal, for each being has their own idea of what is magic. To me, magic is in the unexpected, the surprise. Like finding spider webs outlined with dew. The webs are always there, they are just not visible. Moisture can reveal the artistry that was there all along.
Magic is a way of looking and seeing, adjusting the blinders to things we see so often that the details might be missed in the rush and hubbub of modern life. It is the revelation of something profound and important in something you may have once seen as ordinary or routine. It is slowing down and getting on hands and knees and really looking at our surroundings. It is in the detail of a curved branch, the stamens that cannot be seen except from below of an Erythronium ‘Pagoda’, in the light of an early morning sunrise.
Let us talk about that light. We are early risers, up well before dawn even in the long days of high summer, waiting for the power of the sun to fall across the land, section by section. We look to the east for the moment that the intense light appears in the horizon. There is magic in the light of every single day as it illuminates our world to start a new beginning.
We cannot stress enough the early morning light and the magic it holds. It bathes the plantings of the garden in warm tones like watercolors that have spilled across a painting, blending golden yellows across the page.
This is still somewhat vague in the quest for magic and its meaning. So far we have mentioned surprise, looking, and light. Now let us talk about plants, in particular, those plants that are surrounded with ancient lore and myths. The primrose, Primula veris is said to preserve youth and beauty when worn or carried, or restore those traits if they have gone. It was used medicinally and also as a protection against evil, including ne’re do well fairies who might upset a farmer’s cows. They are said to be favored by the good fairies, who use the flowers as umbrellas for their wee babies. Our plants were grown from seed and have been divided over and again to provide plenty of good magic here.
Magic can arise from the happiness of seeing beautiful plants thrive under our care. The flower form of bearded Iris germanica ‘Cinnamon Girl’ holds us under its spell.
All flowers have magic, the power to hold our imaginations and give delight. The intense blue of these volunteer morning glories blind our eyes to the unsightly chain link fence that they are twining upon, unless someone points it out. The white centers look like a gateway to another dimension, and perhaps it is, if one could only unlock its secrets. Magic lives in our imaginations.
Any discussion of magic in the garden would not be complete without the mention of the wild visitors. Pets are welcome, children are precious, but it is the guests that come to dine that are untamed yet freely visit that offer the touch of the wand. Butterflies and birds, insects large and small, furry critters and…
In every season, spring into summer, fall into winter, the magic is there to see, if one only knows how to look for it. It is training our eyes and our minds to be open and astonished at every single thing around us that allows the magic to find us.
But the most magic of all can be found in nature’s own garden, where the touch of man has altered that power the least.
(Photo taken at the most magical of spots on earth, Christopher’s North Carolina mountainside.)
This post is in response to an assignment given by Dave of The Home Garden. He wanted to make sure that his offspring will be able to find the magic in his garden and their own someday. My belief is that he has already shown them the path to finding it, and the way to see that path. Having your children be able to see the magic and to keep the torch passing from generation to generation gives life meaning beyond measure.