Friday, August 30, 2013

Hauntingly beautiful parasite

As you wander through the murky Maine forest, its damp air heavy with the scent of pine, you stumble across a ghostly cipher, pushing its way up through the soft ground. Indian pipe is utterly without chlorophyll, unable to perform photosynthesis. What fluke of circumstance and shared need brought about this unusual relationship? How did it evolve to be totally dependent on its host plants? How did it find the fungal partner that connects it to its source of nutrients? Why up here in Maine? 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Irresistible Dahlias

Got lost yesterday in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. I ran into these irresistible Dahlias. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our incredible world

I walk out into the morning garden. Hushed, shadowy, still. The many details in breaking light are monuments of softness. Realities made of paper fiber, stretched to impossibly gracious shapes. 

One form stands out, brimming with life and life's activity. This form tells us everything about the plant world. Everything about the world we live in. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Garden action

The Jerusalem artichokes are putting on their last couple of unbelievable inches before they burst into flower. The gigantic eupatorium is a huge collection of blossoms and bees, who orbit like electrons around a giant molecule. The pumpkin vine pushes out a new leaf each day while the leaves near its base are covered in powdery mildew. It seems like just yesterday it was summer. But the warmth is fragile and easily broken, unless we sink slowly into pillowy nights of balmy breezes. 

Every plant has its pollinator, often more than one. I catch two bees sleeping in a sunflower. A third comes in and rouses them temporarily, then it falls asleep too. 

There are predators for every insect, more spiders than I've ever seen, wasps of every stripe, and a surprise return to our garden, a praying mantis. Sighted again this year, just like last year, by Julia. 

Morning glories spread in the dewy morning while the potato plants grow a bit too tall, just that extra ray of sunshine is what they lack. The brave bee balm, better than ever now that it's established and trying to become weedy, puts out an extra whorl of flowers. A late season treat.  

The lizard-like heads of black cohosh aim for the sun like periscopes, while weeds that hid all year, like the epilobium growing in someone else's pot, make a brash appearance. Quiet comes with the muted light, I let the dry spaces be, the cat takes a sip from the fishpond, and the plants wait.