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Sunday
May022010

Sounds I Hear in the Lady Garden

Have you ever concentrated on the sounds you can hear in your garden? Sometimes I sit in the swing in the lady garden, close my eyes, then identify all the sounds I hear. Without visual cues, sounds become more prominent and interesting. 

So here I am, in the lady garden, eyes shut. It is late afternoon, not quite sunset. Earlier there was some rain, and the temperature is refreshing. The damp air brushes against my face. The rushing sound it makes sounds like a far away waterfall.

I hear the  music of wind chimes. I have four different wind chimes in this one area, and they all make different melodies, from the perfectly tuned chimes of the blue Corinthian bells to the loud clang of a heavy copper and brass bell behind me. I have been enchanted with wind chimes since childhood, and four is not enough.Overlooking the arbor and lady garden: All the plants in this new garden are still small. On one side there is a row of tea olives, and on another there are boxwoods. Someday this will be an enclosed garden room.wind chimes in the lady garden

Cars. A reminder the highway is just over yonder.

A branch snapping in a tree. A clatter along a limb. I take a peek. It is a couple of squirrels, chasing each other.

Children playing. I think there are two of them. They are hollering at each other, but not in a bad way. They are playing a game of some sort. Tag?

Music from a radio. Down the road a neighbor is playing country music in his workshop.

The prolonged whistle of a train, sounding like horns harmonizing in a symphony, the beat of wheels on the tracks like drums. You can't get in or out of Helena without crossing railroad tracks. The community that became Helena was first established by the L&N railroad. Before we moved here I wondered if I would dislike the trains. Not at all, except for the rare occasion I get stopped by a slow moving train when I'm already running late for work! But I like the sounds of the trains; and I like to watch them go by, when I'm not in a hurry.Set of train tracks near Buck Creek in Old Town, Helena. This photo was taken last fall.

Birds. Lots and lots of birds. Chickadees. Cardinals. Bluebirds. I am sitting close to the bluebird house. That must be daddy bird, warning me to keep away.  

There were eight baby bluebirds in this house!

The piercing cry of a hawk. We have had a nesting hawk family for several years now. Recently I was startled by a hawk who swooped to the ground not far from me and grabbed an unfortunate chipmunk. The little ground squirrel made one cheep and that was it. The hawk carried his meal to a tree above me, and I was slightly horrified to see him pulling intestines out with his beak. I remembered my oldest son saying, long ago as he fed a grasshopper to a lizard, "It's the food chain, Mom." Lou has identified our particular hawk as a red shoulder hawk.

Crows. The harsh call of a crow is answered by another. Now more crows join in. They are making a racket. Hawks and crows are natural enemies.

Whoo-whoo! Who-hoo-hoo-whoo! The deep, otherworldly call of a barred owl. The owls live in the woods near our vegetable garden. We have a lot of predatory birds. We once were overrun by chipmunks, but not any more.

whoo-whoo! who-hoo-hoo-whoo! My eyes pop open and search the woods. This was a high pitched, juvenile version of the other one. A baby owl! But I can't find him in the trees. I think it is the strangest, cutest sound I have ever heard. I make myself close my eyes again.

Somewhere, a siren. An ambulance or a police car. Someone is having a bad day.

A door slams. Kids going inside for supper?

Bugs in the trees. The sound rises and falls with a regular rhythm. Soon summer will be here, and the sound will be deafening, if one stops to pay attention to it.

Ouch! That was a mosquito bite.  I hop out of the swing and take a quick tour of  the lady garden. I need to sweep the stone path and pull weeds!  I yank a handful of weeds, but I will save the rest of the work for another day. The hostas and ground covers are growing nicely, and although the lady garden is in its infancy, the lushness of the surrounding woods gives it a tranquil feeling.Hostas in lady garden clockwise from top left: Sum and Substance; Blue Angel; Francis Williams; Royal StandardRecent images from the lady garden

I inhale the cool air and head for the house.This is the hillside beside the steps leading from the lady garden to the patio.

Happy gardening, and I hope your garden is filled with sounds that please you.

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Reader Comments (18)

I too love to sit in the garden and listen! I try to do a lot to add to the 'music' in the garden by adding plants with movement, bird attractions, everything but windchimes - they drive my DH crazy!

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

That was a great read ... I was hearing all those sounds as you mentioned them. This is something I do too here in my garden. I'm lucky enough to be out in bushland where you don't hear the hustle and bustle of humankind much through the day ... just lots of birds and the bush itself.

Wind chimes are something I've longed for in my garden ... must get some! I love the deep tones, not much of a fan of the high pitched tinkly ones.

Your lady garden is looking great .... and so is the hillside leading to the patio.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBernie

Great pics and post. I love the hosta.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim Groble

I love your gardens! I also love to sit and listen sometimes in my garden. I have a freeway nearby so we have car sounds too, but it has become like the sound of surf: a background noise that never stops. I almost never really "hear" it anymore. I just hear the birds, and animals, and my wind chimes! I have several also and I, like you, don't think there is such a thing as too many! Thanks for the visit to your garden! Sandy

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandy

All of these sounds please me very much. I was right there with you on the swing listening. It is such a big part of the garden that sometimes we don't notice the sounds and they are so important.

Thanks for sharing about your boys. They do grow up too fast.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertina

Deborah this was a most relaxing read - I could picture in my head the sounds as I read your post only some are new to me. What a beautiful part of the garden - I don't think I have come across this bit of it before. Hopefully some day soon I will get the chance to relax in the garden - I am looking forward to it.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

It is fun to just sit and listen some days. Except for the occasional racket from neighborhood chainsaws, I love the sounds in the gardens here. The ravens are a bit loud and bothersome, but otherwise, the rustling of the leaves in the trees, the chirps of various songbirds, and the faint crow of a very distant rooster are part of our symphony in play here most days. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

How calming and soul-refreshing, I could hear all the sounds with you as if I were there. I wish you had found the baby owl, but your daddy bluebird made up for missing the little owlet!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

We hear dogs barking, cars going by, squirrels arguing, mourning doves cooing, jet planes, crows, mockingbirds, and numerous birds of all descriptions...

Must get wind chimes...

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

I love your garden! It looks very natural and peaceful.
We have a mockingbird that sits on a tree on the other side of our fence and we hear him all the time. I used to think there were a lot of birds outside. We do have a lot of birds, however I think it is him a lot of the time.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Fantastic post ! I love to close my eyes while outside and enjoy everything around me.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertammy

Great post Deb - a great reminder to stop and enjoy. I tend to work feverishly until I can't see straight and don't take enough time to smell the flowers, um, I mean listen to the sounds. I'm doing that tomorrow!

Your lady garden is looking very lovely. I love the accents supplied by the planters and colors of the chairs and birdhouse. We have Barred Owls and Red-Shouldered Hawks here too; a couple of times I have been startled by the screams the owls sometimes make before calling.

I worked in an ornithology lab years ago and became hooked on birding then, so I'm always listening to the birds when I'm outside. We can hear trains from our house too; there's a line that runs a mile or so south of us. I love the sound of a train whistle.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Bay

This was a wonderful post. I could imagine the sounds as I read along. It reminds me a bit of something I try to do on my walks, a type of meditation called, I think, mindfulness. It's such a good way of getting your mind off your worries and into the present moment, just as your post has done.

We must be twins. I too did a post about garden sounds, slightly different to yours though!

As an aside, on this side of the pond, a 'lady garden' is a euphemism for the vagina!

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Idiot Gardener

You have a beautiful garden. Like you, I enjoy the sounds in my garden too. I like the sound of the windchimes and how I wish I have enough space in my garden for a swing.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAutumn belle

I kept waiting for you to say "the manic screeching/trilling of an indigenous hummingbird..." which is a sound I'm growing VERY tired of hearing every time I step foot into the garden. LOL Beautiful photos, Deborah.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

What a beautiful and relaxing post. My father built us two of those swings, they are so relaxing to lay on and listen to the world. I love the pergola that it is hanging from, I don't think you have given us a picture of it before.

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