The Cathedral

The Cathedral

Redbud under-canopy of new red heart shaped leaves
Redbud under-canopy of new red heart shaped leaves

Three years ago, I planted a Redbud in an open area of the woodlands, under some oak and pine. I wait for its tiny pink blossoms and feel relieved when a few appear. They say Redbuds are slow to establish themselves. Cultivated by the Wampanoags for their edible flowers and leaves high in vitamin C, they are reputed to do well in the undercanopy. This tall, dark open space feels like a Cathedral. The primrose planted by Our Lady still bloom.

Our Lady of Pawkechatt with purple primrose still blooming

The Fish Ponds need plants. The lily winters over, but is just now leafing in. Perhaps there is some green ferny underwater crop called Oxygen Maker by the pond store, but I can’t see it. Water plants cannot go in early, because they hate the cold, and are easily stunted. I picked up six tiny water cabbages and six tiny water hyacinth at Kenny’s yesterday, $3.50 each. I wish I knew how to cut that expense.

Plants block sunlight, which encourages algae, which is not only murky looking, but chokes the fish and frogs. A layer of floating plants takes up nutrients in the water, makes oxygen for fish, keeps the water cool and clear, provides seating for frogs, gives fish some entertainment, and is very attractive to look at.

The little 25 gallon pond serving as Persephone’s Portal to the Underworld is something LL and I reconditioned last week. Persephone did not go to Garden last year, and the neglected pond filled with leaves and gunk. LL and I bailed it out, pulled the cheap plastic liner out of the ground, hosed it vigorously, set it back in its hole, and topped it with the decorative stone ring from a fire pit.

To make the Fish Pond, we filled the 25 gallon pond liner with rainwater, and added 8 twenty-three cent goldfish from Petco, some orange, some black. Over the course of a few days, several floated to the surface, probably due to the cold. Petco calls them feeder fish, so they were not really cheated out of a better life. Now, I can see three vigorous swimmers, one gold, and the others bluish black. One blue is a lot bigger than I recall. I think they will be very happy with the new plants added today. And that is it. Those fish are likely to live for years, through the winter, without additional food. They are happy. And I am happy, because these ponds draw bug-hunting, slug-guzzling frogs, and the fish keep the ponds free of mosquitoes.

New water hyacinth and water cabbage in the fish pond.
Flower Wall Last Day of May
Flower Wall Last Day of May

The Flower Wall is thickening in. Soon, I think the chamomile will blend together. I can hardly wait for white flowers and tea. If life is a buffet table, and I chose these three photos to blog — what am I saying? Aha! I think I am saying gardening utilitarian way to raise food and beauty. It is also about creating sacred spaces, for others, like fish and frogs; for myself, like the Hidden Blue Chairs, where I can enjoy luxurious privacy; and for the unseen guest, who I hope is ever-present.


Barbie Burr

Barbie Darwin Burr was born in La Jolla, California into a Navy family. Moving every year made gardening difficult, but not impossible for her father, a disciple of Scott and Helen Nearing and a man with a vast ability to imagine and create.

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