nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘garden escapes’ Category

abandoned gardens: wildflowers take over

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Finding abandoned house-sites where the house has been burned, rotted or torn down is not difficult. Sometime bits of the house are still visible. Sometimes the house-site is the only un-mowed part of a hayfield. Sometimes there are shrubs or flowers, remnants of the plants that once grew there.

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After a few years of abandonment, wildflowers and other plants that colonize disturbed or waste areas gradually take over. In our travels we have seen bedstraw (Galium spp.), spreading dogbane (Apocynum andossemifelium) and other invasives.

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7 old homestead Debec area

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On our drive to the area west of Woodstock, we saw lots of rough bedstraw, with its leaves in sixes (Galium asprellum), sprawling over abandoned areas. It forms a tangle across low pastures and ditches. The tangle looks springy and comfortable, the perfect mattress stuffing, but feels rough and sticky when rubbed backwards from stem to flowers, due to the plant’s rasping, hooked prickles.

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On Wednesday, we took a drive to the area north of Stanley to Centreville, a community settled in 1890 and then abandoned.  We revisited a property we saw in 2018, to try and identify a plant I had seen there. Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androssemifolium) has taken over the front of the property and is gradually spreading into the field.

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Not a very pretty name for a fragrant, nodding flower, pink and bell-like, with tiny red veins inside each flower.

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Although my project is about garden escapes, I think I need to mention the wild species that move the other way, from wild areas to areas that have been abandoned! It’s all about competition and so often, the wild species, adapted to living in our soils and climate. are the successful ones!

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This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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All my best.

Stay safe.

Wash your hands.

Jane 

Written by jane tims

July 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

abandoned gardens: flowers, out of place

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A flower common in flower gardens is the yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia punctata). It is prized for its perennial nature and its whorls of bright yellow flowers. A closely related species, garden loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris), differs a little in the arrangement of its flowers and in other characteristics.

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These flowers occasionally persist at abandoned home sites, or spread by the roots. As escapes, they look out of place, a bright spot in the green landscape.

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We went for a drive in the countryside west of Woodstock in Carleton County last Friday and found two escaped patches of yellow loosestrife, one on the edge of a field along Green Road and one in the ditches in Watson Settlement.

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16 green road lysimachi distance shot

a patch of yellow loosestrife in a field on the Green Road

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large yellow loosestrife

Lysimachia punctata

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slash of yellow

blooms in the crease

between sumac and hayfield

campion, Timothy, bedstraw and vetch

ladders of golden flowers escaped

from a garden now gone

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10 green road lysimachia close-up

closeup of the patch of yellow loosestrife

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At Watson Settlement, while I was photographing the flowers, a truck stopped to make certain we were OK. In the back of my mind, I was thinking about COVID-19 and social distancing, so although I chatted a bit, I didn’t ask the woman any questions. I could have talked to her about the history of the community and asked her about other garden escapes.

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29 watson settlement road lysimachia

a patch of yellow loosestrife in a ditch in Watson Settlement

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yellow loosestrife escape

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In the ditch,

in the angle of two roads,

armloads of yellow loosestrife.

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“Are you broken down?” she says.

“Hardly picked a cup

of wild strawberries this year.

But the Devil’s paint brush

is blooming again.”

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I am afraid to ask,

in these days of social distancing,

about the yellow loosestrife,

about the community,

about garden escapes.

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She smiles and drives on.

Unasked questions

unanswered.

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28 watson settlement road lysimachia

yellow loosestrife in the ditch at Watson Settlement

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 This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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All my best,

please stay safe,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

abandoned gardens: a pantoum about lilacs

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Over the years, faced by change, some communities continue to thrive. Others, once vigorous, may decline and disappear. Sometimes, communities may hang on but individual homes may be abandoned. Abandonment can occur if the owner moves away or dies, or if aspects of the home become unsustainable (for example, a water source dries up).

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When a home is abandoned, what becomes of the vegetable garden, so carefully tended, or the flower gardens, each plant chosen with love and care?

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Annuals are usually the first to go, although biennials may continue to grow for a year and some plants, like sweet William or pansies, may reseed. Perennials may thrive, sometimes for years. Rhubarb, chives and berry crops often continue to grow in a vegetable garden. In the flower garden, peonies, day-lilies and phlox may bloom year after year. Trees and shrubs often persist.

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63 rhubard Dugan Road

rhubarb persisting in an old garden

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In my poetry project about abandoned gardens, I want to learn more about various poetry forms. The poem below is written as a pantoum. A pantoum consists of four line stanzas. The second and forth lines of the preceding stanza are used as the first and third lines of the next. The first line of the poem may also be used as the last.

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The poem below is written about an abandoned house in central New Brunswick. Keep in mind, these properties are still owed by someone and the owners may care a great deal about them and perhaps use the property if not the house.

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lilac bush next to an old house

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lilacs persist

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delicate scribble of winter wren

lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

props the abandoned house

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

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lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

at night leaves peer in windows

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

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at night they peer in windows

stare, front windows to back yard

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

scented panicles of purple bloom

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stare, front windows to back yard

noses tuned to lilac sweet

scented panicles of purple bloom

lilacs persist and thrive

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noses tuned to lilac sweet

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

lilacs persist and thrive

delicate scribble of winter wren

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lilacs~

This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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Perhaps we can learn from the lilac …

persist and thrive.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

garden escapes: starting a project

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This summer, one of my main occupations will be to work on a collection of poems about garden escapes.  Specifically, this means abandoned gardens, plants left behind when homes or communities are abandoned. This work is being supported by a Creations Grant from artsnb.

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I have a short mantra to refer to these abandoned plants: “die, thrive or escape.” In a way, the project theme can be used as a metaphor for any abandonment. For example, when someone abandons a relationship, the one left behind can languish, or pick up and start over, or just leave, find a place to start over. I will be watching for these metaphors throughout my project.

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For today, I have to arrange my materials and get started with a plan for my project.

  • To start I have my grant application (outlines what I intend to do), a bit of reconnaissance work I did in 2018 to develop some ideas for the project, six blog posts from that time and eight older poems that fit the theme.
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orange day-lilies, found in many of new Brunswick’s ditches, are escapes from older gardens

  • To identify abandoned communities, I can refer to information sources and databases developed by others:  the Facebook pages Abandoned New Brunswick  and New Brunswick Upon Days Faded where interested people post photos and short anecdotes about abandoned houses and buildings; the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website called Place Names of New Brunswick: Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/Communities/Home.aspx?culture=en-CA; additional information on communities will be available in Census Records at https://www.ancestry.ca/; various maps including the New Brunswick Atlas (Second Edition); Google Earth and the associated Street View; maps posted in the Facebook page New Brunswick Upon Days Faded; the Walling Map of 1862 which I have used in other projects, F. Walling, Topographical Map of the Counties of St. John and Kings New Brunswick: From Actual Surveys under the direction of H. F. Walling (Publishers W.E. and A.A. Baker, New York, 1862); and, the Monograph about place-names in New Brunswick, Ganong, William F. A Monograph of the Place-Nomenclature of the Province of New Brunswick. Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada: Second Series 1896-97, Volume II, Section II. 1896.
sample Walling map

a sample of the Walling Map for an area in Kings County, New Brunswick. The map shows individual buildings and houses from 1862.

  • For anecdotal stories about the gardeners and their gardens, I plan to use the resources of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick since often diaries and other documents contain amazing bits of information about New Brunswick history. Obtaining anecdotal information about abandoned gardens is tricky during the time of COVID-19 since social distancing means ordinary interviewing is not easy.  I will use the websites above to obtain some information and, where possible, talk to people I encounter. I will create a Facebook Page called Abandoned New Brunswick Gardens to obtain some of these stories.
  • For plant identification, I have my own skills as a botanist and my trusty guides: Harold R. Hinds, Flora of New Brunswick, Second Edition: A Manual for Identification of the Vascular Plants of New Brunswick, University of New Brunswick, 2000; A. E. Roland and E. C. Smith, The Flora of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Museum, 1969; Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny, A Field Guide to Flowers of Northeastern and North-central North America, 1968; and the website The Plant List: A Working List of all Plant Species (this is to verify plants names since I use older plant guides). http://www.theplantlist.org/

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My methodology is simple:

  1. identify possible abandoned homes and communities and create an efficient plan to visit these places
  2. drive to these locations and look for plant species that may be garden remnants
  3. photograph the sites and plants
  4. make notes about the sites, the plants encountered and various sensations encountered (sight, smell, taste, touch and sound)
  5. do pencil drawings of some plants and locations
  6. obtain any anecdotal or archived information about the former communities, their gardens and their gardeners
  7. write the poems using all the information collected

I am going to write mostly free verse but I will also use some poetic forms, for example the ghazal and the pantoum.

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Sounds like fun!

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Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) is an introduced plant in New Brunswick.  These are plants found on the New Ireland Road in Albert County, New Brunswick. In 1866, there were 68 families in the community (Source: NB Archives); today all the houses are gone.

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I will keep you up to date on my adventures and show you some of the plants I find. If you know of any abandoned gardens in New Brunswick, or abandoned communities, please let me know! I will acknowledge you in my book!

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This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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All my best,

stay safe,

Jane

garden escapes: abandoned gardens and what becomes of them

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I am so happy! I have just won a Creations Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board). The project is to write a book-length poetry manuscript on the subject of garden escapes from abandoned New Brunswick houses and communities.

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The landscape of New Brunswick is changing. As demographics shift towards populated areas, communities are abandoned. When gardens are left behind, some species die out, some thrive and some migrate, finding favorable conditions in adjacent properties.

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foxglove Williamsburg

For example, in Fredericksburg, an abandoned community near Stanley, foxglove crowds the ditches; and near Carroll’s Ridge south of Canterbury, no homes remain, but forget-me-nots turn the woods blue. Although local people are aware of these escapes, the stories of the gardens and gardeners are mostly lost.

forgetmenots and lupins

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The subject of abandoned flower garden escapes is the matter of poetry. The names of abandoned communities and of plants, common and scientific, provide a lexicon of poetic words. Abandoned and escaped gardens involve all of the senses: sight (pink of the foxglove flowers), sound (calls of birds who find new habitat), smell (scent of flowers), taste (sour stem of an abandoned rhubarb plant) and touch (the thorniness of escaped raspberry).

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I am looking forward to taking you on my adventures this summer as I search out abandoned houses and communities, look for remnants of the gardens left behind and capture these remnants in poems and images.

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So, I won’t be staying home as much,

but I am still going to be staying safe!

All my best!

Jane

 

 

 

Written by jane tims

July 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

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