Writings about

the many life lessons

unearthed when we dig

in the dirt . . . and pursue

a range of other interests

in the constantly evolving

garden of life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bringing in Buds, Blooms, Branches – a Vow

Over and over, I tell myself there’s something bad wrong with working as hard as I do to create a good-looking garden and leaving all of it out there – not bringing enough of it in to be enjoyed in the house. And, over and over, I promise to do better, to bring more plant beauty inside on a regular basis, display something fresh from out there. Whether it’s a bud or a bloom or a branch.

Oh, I cut a few blooms in spring and summer, but too few to mention. Then, come autumn, I clip a little fiery foliage for the table. But, too often, flowers and foliage make it inside just on special occasions, not as everyday pleasures.

The late Maynard Jackson, who was mayor of Atlanta when I lived there in the 1990s, made sure that cut flowers were always in the house, a niceness that he and his wife Valerie enjoyed daily. When he told me that years ago, I told myself that if he, a non-gardener, took the trouble to buy flowers as often as he did, then surely I could keep my wife Lyn and me in a little something-something indoors by merely walking out the door and snip-snipping.

So, each year, I’d vow to do that. Then, I’d slack off. This time I’m sticking to the vow. And, I’m starting early. The other day, I clipped a sprig of azalea to go with pine candles. And, later I brought in two ferns unfolding, along with a small maple branch. As the year unfolds, my offerings will multiply.
A Little Piece of My Garden: Azalea, Pine With Candles

Like a garden itself, these pieces that come from the garden stand as unique representations of the garden and the gardener. Too, they amount to a time stamp on the garden’s appearance at a given time.
Japanese Maple 'Butterfly', Maidenhair, Cinnamon Ferns

Over the years, when I’ve visited gardens and homes, I’ve had the feeling that every gardener but me always kept indoor displays, while I’ve left most of my hard-earned beauty outdoors.

Carol Pruitt, a gardener friend in Preston, Connecticut, for example, is consistent about bringing some of her garden indoors for herself and husband George. Carol, who has studied Ikebana and photography, and who has taught art, puts her exceptional talents to good use in every season.

Her reasoning on creating indoor displays centers on their bringing nature and art together, and, similar to potted plants, greening and coloring up the indoors: “They enrich our time spent inside, as expressive interpretations of nature.”

To be sure, in places with long, hard winters and hot, stormy summers, a little bit of the outside can help dispel that cooped-up feeling.

I asked Carol to send me the exquisite images below. I will use them for inspiration.

Fresh From Carol's Garden, Iris With Hickory Branch

Japanese Maple 'Bloodgood', Daffodil, Dried Grass

White Bleeding Heart, Curving Over Quince Blossoms


  1. Really beautiful arrangements. It's clear that you seek peace and harmony. I'm afraid I am just as guilty about not bringing my garden inside. Usually, I do this on three occasions. In the late winter/early spring, I'll cut some branches and force them to flower indoors. In summer, when company is stopping by. And in the fall, when I try to save every flower before the first frost.

  2. Thanks, Kevin. You're exactly right on peace and harmony; they amount to a driving force in my gardening. Hope you join me in bringing more of the garden indoors.

  3. Vita Sackville West wrote about walking around her garden, and picking a sprig of this to try it next to that, and plan replanting next season. She was also the one who favoured just something tiny, on your desk, or near your reading lamp. And I aim at something flowers or green in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen as well as the livingroom. Why not enjoy? We have a gardenful!

  4. Certainly makes sense on every level, yes? Amazing that it took me so long to *do* it, instead of just knowing it. Ahhh, well, better late than . . . . Glad you already bring in some of the garden's pleasures.

  5. So very true . . . I have lots of non-living natural things around my house to bring a sense of the outdoors in. I can imagine what a bright sprig of greenery would do to liven up a rock arrangement. Then add an owl feather and you have art! And the arranging . . . it would be very calming for the soul – almost meditative, if I would take the time to just do only that. All it takes is a little nudge in that direction . . . thanks for the nudge, Lee.

  6. Janice, I'm happy to nudge. I know, however, that your love of nature means you're always just a heartbeat away from putting together an absorbing piece of natural art.

  7. Pleased to hear your readers liked your piece and welcome the idea of capturing nature's art inside.
    It brings to mind an image of a survivor of the recent tsunami in northern Japan. It was that of a woman in a huge, impersonal, make-shift shelter for displaced refugees. She had placed a small jar filled with a few sprigs of flowers and a branch on a cafeteria-like table before she ate. It evoked a sense of harmony and peacefulness in an otherwise chaotic and traumatic time.

  8. Wonderful example of the power and the beauty of nature's art, Carol. Gardening on any level – making arrangements, digging in the dirt, provides peace and solace like nothing else.


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