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Sitting in the Garden
by Denise Schreiber - posted 11/21/11

Our lives are so hectic anymore, working late, attending functions, running children to softball, hockey, dance and wherever they need to be that we have forgotten some of the simple pleasures of life that make us happy. My simple pleasure is sitting in the garden. Not ripping out weeds, deadheading or dividing, just sitting. It’s my form of yoga. I sit on the bench below the magnolia whose canopy shades part of the garden, overlooking my vegetable garden and the fruits of my labors. It’s sitting in the dark on the deck with just my tiki torches burning to light the way through the yard inhaling the fragrance of my ‘Casa Blanca’ lilies perfuming the warm summer evening while the lightning bugs do their Morse-code dance. There is the extra bale of straw that always seems to be somewhere in the garden that acts as seat when you are tired and watching the butterflies fluttering all over the zinnias in the garden.

I too had forgotten this simple pleasure until I attended the Garden Writers Association’s annual symposium a few years ago at Chanticleer in Wayne, Pennsylvania. It is known as a pleasure garden. And what a pleasure it is! There is the Bog Garden, the Asian Woods, the Serpentine, the Tennis Garden, the Vegetable Garden and much, much more. My friend and I spent the entire time photographing everything we could from every angle. There are chairs everywhere at Chanticleer. They are part of the landscape but they invite you to be part of the landscape too. Crafted by the staff, they are for the most part, Adirondack style chairs. They are painted in lime green, soft blues, purples, yellows, leaf designs, animal prints all the way to the Alice in Wonderland bench. That’s what I call it. That’s the bench in the vegetable garden. It is carved and has a pumpkin and beets forming the back of the bench with arms of celery and legs of carrots. There was however, no large white rabbits hopping through the garden.

Our favorite spot, though, was the Ruin. The Ruin is a structure that was built to resemble . . . ruins. There are fountains spurting out water along with a reflecting water table of black granite, smooth like glass. There are marble faces peering from just below the surface of the water. Just beyond the Ruin is a sofa and chair, complete with remote control. Made of granite and the local Wissahickon Schist, the furniture invites you to sit down. There is a smoothness to the stone that makes your hand slide it back and forth across the sofa. I’m amazed that something so hard and cold could be so warm and inviting. The remote control has just four buttons that I assume represent the four seasons. Sitting on the sofa, I could overlook the valley of mixed garden beds. I want to sit here for an eternity so that I could view the ever changing landscape.

But we were called to dinner under the big white tent and while the speeches droned on, we slipped away for a little more exploring. We found a glider under an arbor facing the steps. But instead of glaring lights or landscape lighting they used the simplest of all tricks. Candles. To be precise, votive candles. They were on every step, twinkling like little fairies providing light and ambience. We sat and went back and forth for a long time just gazing at the lights on the stairs, making plans if we would ever inherit Chanticleer. But mostly we just went back and forth on the glider in silence, enjoying the quiet summer’s evening.

Do you need a fancy chair to enjoy the evening? No, a simple deck chair or even sitting on a step will do the trick. Listen to the owls and crickets. Listen to the wind. Listen to the silence.

 


Denise Schreiber is the infamous Mrs. Know It All of “The Organic Gardeners” on KDKA radio and the author of Eat Your Roses by St. Lynn’s Press.