Green Healing ~ Recalling a Horticultural Summer

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The last days of Summer are obvious.  The light has changed coloring the sky a deep blue.  The clouds are big, fluffy and milky white.  Horticulturally, we’ve planted several seed beds for Fall harvesting. 

The wildly stimulating grand symphony of color and life that the excited Swallowtails, Fritillaries and Skippers performed has slowed to a soothing and reflective melody, with the pretty ‘Little Yellow’ and the cautious, interested beautiful Buckeye.

The Sunflowers are gone, along with the melon patch.  I was absent the day our volunteer group cleared that garden, but my son went.  

I spent the time in the parking lot lying down in my car due to exhaustion.  (I may add a personal note about that at the end of this post). 

“You should have come today,” my son said after volunteering with the Horticulture Therapy group.  “We had a great time.  You missed out.”

I was happy that he had fun and especially to see his smile.

“Smell my breath!” he exclaimed.  “Smells like Basil doesn’t it?”

The fragrance was strong, I thought.  Whatever they ate must have been good.  “How are the Sunflowers?” I asked him.

“We ripped them up and cleared all that out,” he answered, referring to the space where the plants had lived.

“What did you do with them?” I asked.  It was a futile question, I realized.  I knew they were in the compost, along with the dozens of caterpillars on the Fennel plant that I had hoped to see become Butterflies.

“Yep,” he reiterated, “They’re gone Mom.”  His tone sounded of a time and place when men must tell women of particular actions that simply had to be done and only by men.

He’d been perspiring and had dirt on his clothes.  He looked satisfied.  I gathered that his physical strength and abilities had served the group’s work efforts well, which I believe is good for a young man.

I did feel like a part of me had gone to wherever the Sunflowers went.  I wished, in one way, that I’d been there for a proper parting.  I loved the Sunflowers.  Upon reflection, I figure the compost is as good a place as any to be with Mother Earth.

The next day I stopped by the gardens alone.  I wanted to sit for a while, remembering my Sunflower Summer.

Each had unique differences.  There were the giant yellow ones, which did demand first greetings from onlookers.  Some were stunningly bright with pointed petals, while others were softer, with petals that looked like long blond locks of hair.  The pale yellows were almost transparent in a particular light of day.   I smile every time I remember the one with a head so big ‘she’ had to be tied to Bamboo.

Most surprising to me were the red Sunflowers.  The wonderfully rich colors are worthy of any camera!  They were beautiful.

There was one Sunflower still standing.  My son had planted it down below the main gardens against a tall cement wall.  His Sunflower was always different from the others in the most interesting ways.  A corner of the bloom’s circle of petals curled around the large spiraled center.  I often thought it looked like the small hand of a shy child, perhaps covering her face after a compliment, but mostly, the beautiful flower reminded me of my son.

In the brightest Summer days the plant stood tall.  As the days went on, it started bending forward, as though to watch over the smaller plants blooming closer to the ground.

One day I visited the gardens when my son wasn’t feeling well.  His flower was leaning so far over that the petals almost touched the tops of the relatively short Zinnias.  I couldn’t believe it was still standing.  I inspected the stem thinking the plant might need to be staked.  Surprisingly, it was thick, obviously strong enough to handle the form it had taken.

A garden and the life it brings is a continuous source of metaphors and personal reflection.

The critters who visited, along with the more permanent residents in the gardens, are treasures in my heart.  I remember my first ‘Green Healing’ garden friend, the little Lizard who lived in the Cabbage patch.  I fell in love.

My next Green Healing friend was a Ladybug.  The Horticulture Therapist pointed her out to me as we were walking to the Greenhouse on a chilly Spring morning.  She was sitting pretty on a leaf in the unforgettable garden of Crimson Clover.

The therapist knew I had enjoyed my camera and encouraged me to take a picture.  I snapped a few shots of the little ladybug.  Returning home, I uploaded the photos.  I saw what I loved.

That little ladybug was absolutely incredible, at least to my eyes.  I couldn’t believe the details in the photograph.  I couldn’t believe I took the photograph!  The morning dew spiraled down beside my new little friend like a tiny string of graduated pearls.  She’s my Lucky Little Lady who got me hooked on nature photography.

I’ve enjoyed all the wildlife in the gardens, most recently a new baby Turtle rooming with the Frog in the Pond Garden.  I love their photos, but Baby Turtle doesn’t like posing for the camera.  I try not to disturb him.  I guess, in my heart, I feel most connected with the Butterfly.  Everything about them is amazing and beautiful.

I’m not surprised that the Buckeye was the most prominent of the winged friends during my most recent visit to the gardens in the last days of Summer.

These beautifully winged wonders have an average life span of only about ten days, but their flight period is year-round in the southern United States.  The Northern ones do not overwinter and many return southward in great migrations. 

A small patch of the orange Mexican Sunflowers are still thriving.  I imagine they had a lot to do with the delightfully high number of butterflies in the gardens this year.

There are several other flowers blooming that obviously produce nectar, but I’m not familiar enough to know their botanical names.  I love the big white ones.

Nectar Producing Beauty for Hummingbirds and Butterflies

The hummingbirds and butterflies like them too.  I’m sure there is plenty of nectar for the late Summer and soon to arrive Autumn winged visitors. 

Sulfer Butterfly on Nectar Flower

Personally, the Summer was for the most part, difficult.  I’m grateful for my time with the volunteers and in the gardens.  It was time away from the harsh parts of my life.  People in that group care about people and those are always good kind of folks! 

I’m also glad to have spent time watching and being with the Butterflies.  On that note, I’ll recall the pretty Painted Lady who put on the most colorful show of the year with the orange Sunflowers and pink Zinnias.  ‘She’ showed up during my recent visit, but I didn’t recognize her.

After taking several photos, I asked a staff member to look and tell me if she knew the Butterfly.  “I’m pretty sure that’s a Painted Lady,” she said.

Ha!  I thought to myself.  “I don’t think so.  Look at the wings,” I replied.  They were jagged like those of a Question Mark or Comma.  I was confused and thought she didn’t know her butterflies all that well, which surprised me.

Again, it wasn’t until I saw the images on the digital screen that I realized the woman had correctly identified ‘my lady’ painted pretty.  She may have had a difficult summer too.  Her wings told of predators, but mostly of survival, because she’s still flying free.

Painted Lady with a few marks of a butterflies life

On a more personal note, I have pneumonia.  I knew I felt terribly bad, but I attributed the worsening of my health over the past six weeks or more to stress and possibly, utter exhaustion.  Also, living with chronic illness means it’s hard to know the difference between your normal way of feeling and a nasty infection.  According to the doctor, the large pills she prescribed should get me well.

Along with the medication, I’ll look to my jagged beautiful Painted Lady!

Thank you for visiting DogKisses!  Pardon the lengthy post.  It took me a while to write and there are probably grammatical errors.  I hope to be back to myself again soon, which would include having energy to read my favorite blogs.  Until then, I hope you are having your own Green Healing moments this Summer.

Peace and Pass it on.

15 responses to this post.

  1. Michelle thank you for your visit to my other site, And Im so hoping you are feeling better and stronger my friend…
    I could feel your sadness when the Sunflowers were gone.. Mine are still blooming, but windswept, I want to get a photo of them all in a row before they die off altogether..

    Time is running away with us isn’t it? but its good you have your photos.. Loved the Butterfly ones.. so good you are with your camera..

    There is nothing better than nature to give us Healing as you well know.. I so am sending my Healing thoughts to you Michelle.. and so Happy that you thought to pay Dreamwalkwer’s Thoughts a visit..

    Good to know too that your Son is enjoying his work in the Garden too…

    You know as to that post.. ~’Letting GO!’…. that too is what you need to do.. surrendering sometimes is the only option.. And I have no clue as to your worry my dear friend,,. But Life often reflects back at us.. and so too your illness is reflecting your worry as your Lungs are your chambers of Breathing, and I feel your stifled thoughts as you feel caged in and restricted in some way.. Not knowing where to turn to..

    Once you release and let your burdens go… and Trust that the Universe will sort them out.. Like your beloved Dog and why she came to your heart ~Free~ she is telling you even from the world of Spirit as your thoughts were lightened as you thought on her.. Let them go Free and all will be well… Know the Universe Will sort it.. But remember to ask it.. and know it is done.. and Not let your thoughts rest on negative outcomes.. only positive outcomes…

    Remember what we think! we create.. Ive had this proven so many times.. Now is a time when we manifest even faster our thoughts… Think only that which you Need and require… do not dwell upon the negatives…

    Thinking and sending you TONS of Energy… as I beat my Drum this evening.. Love to you Michelle… ~Sue xx

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hello my friend. Thanks for your reply. I enjoyed my quiet visit to your other site.

      I am still tired, and my thinking isn’t all that clear. If you feel like it, send me another photo of your sunflowers. (yes, I was sad that they disappeared while I was not there. The botanical gardens must keep things looking good though, so I understand. One day I’ll have my own). The photos help a lot though. I love browsing my photostream on Flickr. I am my biggest fan on there 😉 –which is fine lol.

      I’m doing the best I can, but honestly, I’m pretty irritable about being this sick and fatigued. I can’t stand it. I’m going to try and walk at least a little when my son takes the dogs out, but if I don’t, I guess it is a good time to practice letting go.

      Free did come and speak to me didn’t she? She is awesome, even in Spirit. My girl Ruthie is barking suddenly. She wants to play and Tiny can’t anymore, so she gets frustrated. Tiny has arthritis pretty bad. He’s doing well on his meds though.

      Thanks for being there Sue. I always, always love my visits to your Sanctuary and your other site. They are beautiful, moving, thoughtful and inspiring. And, so are you my friend.

      Thanks for the drum beats Sue. Today, I forgot to let go. I just couldn’t and it wasn’t such a good day as a result, but there is tomorrow and some acceptance I’ll have to do. Letting go of some things is really hard for me lately.

      Sending you my love, and giant virtual hugs,



  2. Posted by LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words on September 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    my husband “helped” me with my sunflowers, fennel and dill too…and many more…
    I tried explaining as each plant goes back into the earth it feeds the new ones coming to life…he looked as if I were nuts, and said, only trees feed their new ones from their roots…*sigh* I love watching the flowers return to begin again and the caterpillars, butterflies, ladybugs and more take part in that transition….beautiful photos, my white Texas star hibiscus is blooming beside the the red star…I have so many butterflies and hummingbirds , I love watching them start their day early in the morning as I sit and have my coffee under the trees…
    Thank you for this “green-healing-moment”
    Take Care…

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi maryrose,

      What a lovely comment, Thank you. It makes me feel very nice when people tell me of their gardens or their own ‘green healing’ moments. Again, thank you! (Also, I like your ‘sigh’ regarding your hubby’s comment).

      Peace and Hugs,



  3. Reblogged this on Green Healing Notes and commented:

    Michelle’s Reflections on the Summer’s beauty and gifts from the Gardens. Originally posted on DogKisses, a blog.



  4. I’ve heard of the imagination project, too. Your photos would certainly inspire a short film.

    I really liked your story about summer in the therapy garden. Unfortunately, some of your photographs wouldn’t load on my computer — all that appeared was a blank block with an x in a circle in the top left corner and the title of the photo. From your descriptions, I could imagine how the photo must look.

    I hope the sunflowers, if they had edible seeds, were visited by birds before the compost. If there are edible seeds, you can also take off the flowers and dry them — but I don’t quite remember how we used to do this — and feed the birds in the winter. If you get chickadees, they will fly down and land on your outstretched hand if you fill your palm with sunflower seeds.

    I’ve enjoyed your summer in the therapy garden and am glad that it was a good place for your son, too. Sorry to hear about your illness — hope that clears up soon. I know from my bout with pneumonia, it takes a lot out of you!

    Thanks again for bringing the therapy garden into my heart. I miss gardens, and your posts made me feel like I was surrounded by the beauty, wonder, and light gardens bring to all your senses and your soul.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Phy, I couldn’t stay on the page for the project. It just kept closing.

      I had to edit the post and reload the images. Had deleted them by accident before posting. It was a long post, so thanks for reading. It took me a long time to write, so I may have to take a break from writing. I just can’t think very well lately. It is so frustrating. After I recover, which I hope is soon, I sure hope the cognitive issues get better.

      The Botanical Gardens couldn’t leave the Sunflowers as they were in a main part where many people visit. The public wouldn’t enjoy the flowers in their last days, which is sad really because the birds were crazy about them. They have saved many seeds though. I would love to feed a bird from my hand. I know some are crazy over Sunflower seeds.

      Yes, the summer Sunflowers sure brightened my life. We will continue to have interesting plants and veggies too. Already planted greens and more lettuce, so the Green Healing days will continue.

      I had a great time sharing the Butterflies and Flower photos, and of course the Frog and Baby Turtle too! I love all of them now. I have never felt so connected with Nature as I do since becoming a volunteer for the Horticulture Therapy group.

      Thanks for your well wishes too. I should have listened to my doctor a month ago, but I didn’t and ended up really, really sick. I am a little worried. It hurts, and I thought it was fibromyalgia pain around my chest. Sigh… I’m taking the antibiotic though, so hopefully I will have a full recovery soon.

      Big Hugs and Love to you,
      Your friend, Michelle.



      • I’m a bit fuzzy, so I may have said this here, or there. Just to say your photos are contest worthy any where! Nature magazines, Canon contests, online butterfly and horticular sites, etc.
        I still hope to see your book some day — the pictures stunning, the words soulfuly and expressive.
        Thanks so much for sharing — I feel like a have a garden again.

        Liked by 1 person


        • Thank you so much Phy. I’m fuzzy too, and it just doesn’t seem to be going away. I’m having a hard time with memory, vision and concentration. I hope to get a healthy break soon, but I’m starting to wonder if that will ever happen. If I ever have time and energy to focus, then I’m sure I would enjoy publishing something. Even if I can’t right now, it is pleasing and nice to hear encouragement, You are very kind to take time here to read and comment. Thanks for being a friend to me 🙂

          I hope your evening is peaceful and you are doing okay. Sending ‘Virtual Green Healing’ Hugs (((4u)))
          xoxoxo Michelle.



  5. These are some really pretty shots! You should enter some into Canon’s Project Imaginat10n:



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