Postcards from the Garden (2)


As the magenta blossoms of the Hawthorne begin to fade, they’re replaced by the even deeper crimson tones of large Peonies. Is it my imagination, or is everything blooming more abundantly this year? The Philadelphus is covered with tiny buds, as are the clambering roses on the pergola. Only a week or two to go before the garden entrance from the house is filled with white and pink flowers and delicate perfume.

The juvenile Greenfinches have grown during the past few weeks and no longer beg from their parents. They still mob the feeders in groups of 4-5 birds, though. The males are splendid with their bright green plumage.

As the days warm up, more and more Green Frogs appear. Their favorite spot to bask is on a bed of ugly yellow-green pond algae, so the photographer in me is quite frustrated. I head to the garden center to talk with the pond expert. A few water tests and a dosage of minerals should do the trick. Then the algae won’t feel quite as welcome. But where will the frogs soak up the rays then? Maybe I should add a waterlily.

Early this spring I saw a female Mallard appear from around the side of the house, loudly quacking and followed by eight little balls of fuzz. They made their way through the garden and disappeared into the bordering canal. That was the only time I saw the ducklings; I have no idea if they survived. But I often find the Mallard basking somewhere in the garden, usually not far from the pond. Occasionally one or two drakes join her.

As I sit out in the sun, a cautious brown field mouse appears from the underbrush. He scurries back at the slightest movement. Then I see another one emerging, and another one! I’m suddenly ‘blessed’ with an entire family! My cat used to keep the numbers down. What are all those night-prowling feral cats doing in my garden if not catching my mice? Where are the owls?

In the fields, the hares scamper through the grass. The farmer harvested the grass for fodder a few weeks ago, leaving the hares unsheltered. But it has grown back, and when they lay low, I can’t spot them, just an occasional ear tip sticking up. But sometimes, especially in the shimmering dew, they play: leaping and boxing like small children.

Some stray crimson Snapdragons have settled into cracks on the terrace and even at the doorsill into the house. They get accidentally stepped on all the time, but don’t seem to mind; growing supine and then curving upwards again.

Another stray, bright red-orange field poppies, pop up in odd places. I sit outside with my morning coffee, admiring the way a single poppy lights up against the dark background of the willow tree. I keep thinking that it would make a very nice photo. Finally, I go get my camera, and after trying out several exposures, I get the effect I want. Usually I go out to find photographs. This one found me instead. Influenced by Jan van der Greef’s delightful little book, Limitless Life, I muse on the way that this illustrates the Tao principle of Wu Wei: non-doing.

Note: Postcards from the Garden started as a simple email exchange with friends and family. When considering a second installment, I decided it would be a fun topic for my blog, which has been gradually moving away from its original intention as support for my (no longer active) counseling practice.


  1. Mary-Lou Gillette

    It is always a pleasure to wander with you as you step outside with your coffee, Maddi. Thank you!

  2. Beautifully written Madeleine. For a moment I thought I was in your garden. Just change MALE Mallard to DRAKE and it will be perfect.

  3. Pingback: Pay Attention – Madeleine Lenagh

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