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Hearing a Healthy Garden

Articles: Hearing a Healthy Garden

A hybrid monkeyflower (Mimulus) in a container at Venzano. Author’s photograph

We arrived for a week’s stay at Venzano just past sunset following an eight-hour drive from Provence. It was too late to see the garden that evening, but we all gathered in the garden the following morning for breakfast. Sunlight warmed the stone walls and terraces and, soon, the California poppies and blue flax opened and welcomed an array of insect visitors.

After such a long drive, it felt good to relax in the garden for most of the day. With increasing warmth, the garden came alive with the sounds of buzzing bees in countless shapes and sizes, of scurrying lizards iridescent in the bright light, and of swallows swirling and whistling overhead. Smaller birds, mostly sparrows, chirped nervously in the shrubbery and bay hedges. Distant cuckoos kept rhythmic time to an unseen clock.

That evening brought new sounds to the garden. An old stone horse trough, now used as a water-lily pool, proved home to a chorus of small frogs, whose coarse croaking echoed through the courtyard. Below the garden, a cattail-edged pond was even ...


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