I’ve been writing a lot recently but it hasn’t been here on my blog. So many words now fill up my time and space that I’m seeking out the garden more as I continue to pick up the pieces and move on with my life. Removing the weeds, editing the garden spaces, and tossing out plants that have not been successful has never felt so good, but I am finding it difficult to speak with flowers.
A Year of Ikebana is the blog I started last September just after my Grandma Virginia passed away. At the time my marriage was already being examined under a microscope and it was clear that something in that relationship had to change. As this blog had been so successful for me, I thought that actually trying to practice Ikebana on a daily basis—much as I used to exercise—could somehow calm me enough to get through whatever stormy waters I’d have to face in the coming months.
I wanted to feel beautiful again since that had been lost in my marriage and I wanted to make beautiful things. There was that need to build something as something else was falling apart around me. But I never had any idea how deeply those little arrangements would work their magic on me, and in time, I’ve sat in awe at the power the practice of Ikebana can have since it has the ability to transform something hidden inside of all of us.
Yes, it is said to be a therapeutic and spiritual practice. The life energy of the plants flow through you just as your emotions touch them. Sometimes you can speak through one another, and sometimes it just doesn’t click. It’s a marriage and a relationship that means a lot more to me than I’d ever thought it would and when I was confronted with the separation and then divorce from my soon-to-be ex-husband my arms became heavy.
They were so heavy when I went to think about Ikebana that I couldn’t lift them. My arms refused to move and my hands were conspirators. They are slowly coming back now though, but it’s been in jumps and starts. I’m seeing too how my arms need to be held and coaxed into the practice again, cherished in the way they always should have been I suppose since I use them, along with my hands, to speak. They’re part of this instrument called voice too.
The image above is a recent effort and I was deeply touched by it when it came together. A lot of what’s going on inside of me came out and I’m sad that my arms have become heavy again but tomorrow that might change.
|Himalayan Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum venustum) and Primrose ‘Gold Lace’ (Primula x polyantha ‘Gold Lace’).|
|Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum).|
|Dutchman’s Breeches, (Dicentra cucullaria).|
|Primrose ‘Sunset Shades’, (Primula veris ‘Sunset Shades’).|
|White Inside-Out Flower, (Vancouveria hexandra).|
|And because this is Oregon, we just have ferns pop up randomly…|
|Rosa “Golden Showers”.|
|Japanese Snowbell Tree, Styrax japonicus.|
|Pacific or Western Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa.|
|Trees in the Columbia River Gorge.|
|Evergreen Huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum.|
|Leopard’s Bane, Doronicum orientale.|
|Entrance shade garden near the street and sidewalk.|
|Columbine, Aquilegia vulgaris.|
|Me with box.|
|Macavity—the old lady black cat.|
|Peace Lily, Spathiphyllum.|
|False Yucca Seeds, Hesperaloe parviflora.|
Usually on Friday nights kids don’t want to watch me sitting at the table sifting through seeds. Our kids are usually fairly emotional and like to have us right there with them, watching a program with them, or participating in their play.
|Cardinal Flower Seeds, Lobelia cardinalis.|
Last weekend I was left alone in the evening. It felt kind of odd and a twinge of guilt crept up, but then I squashed it because I liked being able to work quietly after dinner without any major interruptions.
|False Freesia, Anomatheca laxa.|
I was sorting and sorting and didn’t notice when the room became silent.
|My little helper hiding behind the lamp to preserve his anonymity.|
Then I felt his eyes on me and he drew nearer. There were a few questions about how to do it, and why I do it, and then he sat his toys down. He was mesmerized by the process and before I knew it he was sitting beside me sorting too.
And that was Friday night! Ahhhhh…..
|Elms in the Park Blocks of Portland, Oregon.|
Due to his anxiety issues, running errands for my upcoming trip required some planning, but all that really meant was that he needed park breaks in the city so that he could forget about all the people. Near Powell’s he as able to run around in this playground in the park blocks. I admired the elm trees while he let it all out.
|Licorice Ferns, Polypodium glycyrrhiza.|
Before we left to go to the store I showed him how the epiphytic Licorice Fern grows on trees whenever possible in our area. He stood there on the sidewalk staring up at that tree for much longer than I’d expected.
|This lily at a flower stall captivated my little weekend visitor.|
At the market in NW Portland we stopped to buy flowers for my daily Ikebana.
|Pumpkin Stick Tree, Solanum integrifolium.|
I let him pick what he wanted for a Halloween theme and we talked about the flowers he really liked.
|Monkshood, possibly Aconitum carmichaelii.|
This was the first Monkshood he’d ever seen and he couldn’t stop looking at it. He wanted to call it a Hoodie Flower and that made me laugh.
Once we were back home he posed with our purchases and then we started working on Halloween cookies. Until he left on Monday he continued to sort seeds with me and he asked me many questions. He opened up a lot during this time and when he left it was hard for me to say goodbye. Part of me felt ashamed though to have been so biased in my feelings for him just because he loved seeds but I totally fell for him.
I am currently still sorting outdoor plants before I take off for my next plant and seed hunting trip in California.
I wanted to post that I have many winners and losers and these are examples of each. Both are hard to find plants, but only one made it. The Dicentra would have made it if I hadn’t neglected it, but so it goes…
|Bat Face Cuphea, Cuphea llavea.|
|Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum.|
|Dainty Daisy, Daisy Fleabane, Oregon Fleabane, Erigeron speciosus ‘Grandiflorus’.|
|Dianthus plumarius ‘White Lace’.|
|Dianthus plumarius ‘White Lace’.|
|Yellow Onion, Golden Garlic, Allium moly.|
|Columbine ‘McKana’s Giant’, Aquilegia ‘McKana’s Giant’.|
|Rosa ‘Julia Child’.|
|Common Rue, Ruta gaveolens.|
|Rosa ‘Sweet Chariot’.|
|Goat’s Beard, Aruncus dioicus.|
|Dianthus superbus ‘Rainbow Loveliness’.|
|Spanish Snapdragon, Antirrhinum braun-blanquetii.|
|Western Labrador Tea, Ledum glandulosum.|