With all the stress of politics and depressing news and war, we need to find, in our minds, a place of peace and beauty. The flowers that bloom in the spring are a good place to begin.

“I love my garden. I am writing in the late afternoon loveliness, much interrupted by mosquitoes, and the temptation to look at all the glories of the new green leaves. Two owls near me are having a conversation. The gentleman owl sings a chord, and she answers with another chord.”

This is the first page of a garden book published in 1900, “Elizabeth and her German Garden” about the joy of the May garden. Elizabeth “sits in her garden and glories in the peace and beauty of her spring happiness.” She “loves to be alone. Reading. Under the bird cherry trees, so wreathed just now with white blossoms and tenderest green that the garden looks like a wedding.”

I have read many, many garden books, but this elegant Victorian prose poem seems to capture the love of a garden. And the lilacs. She can not have enough of them, walking outside, or in vases in each room of the castle.

It’s a book about Women’s Liberation too. Reading was not for ladies. Only embroidery, sewing or cooking. Or talking to other do-nothing ladies about their cooks. Elizabeth was a titled English Lady, married young to a German Prince, whom she always refers to as the Man of Wrath. It’s Downton Abby but for real, written by a person actually living it.

The charm of the book is the love she has for her garden, and the escape and joy it gives her from the life she must lead as a titled Victorian wife. And her joy is contagious. I look at May unfolding and feel the beauty and joy through her eyes.

Never mind the work that I see that should be done. Or the lawn. Curse the lawn. She waxes eloquent about the dandelions blooming with their cheerful yellow faces along her path and in the meadow. I see my dandelions smiling at me, along with the purple myrtle, the daffodils, the tulips, the flowering trees. Especially the weeping cherry, which explodes just as the magnolias begin to fade.

The first week of May is always the most glorious week of the year because everything comes out, announcing the end of winter. There is one magical day called, “The Turning of the Leaves” when all the overhead canopy is suddenly green. Two weeks ago our trees were leafless. Then came bits of red or brown or yellow. Today they have exploded bright green.

The timing of the leaf expansion is determined by weather, more specifically by a very scientific measurement called “Growing Degree Days.” This tracks the amount of heat each day from March first and produces a daily number. (It’s around 150 right now.) This CDD number also tells when each flower will open, when each bug hatches, when each fungus appears, and when to plant.

Elizabeth says of her German Garden, “I feel protected and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover.” This may be a bit heavy for you, but with terrorism, wars, and even our local politics, we all need some peace and beauty. A garden of flowers that bloom in the spring.

Credit: Ruth S. Foster