Thursday, April 22, 2010

Visitor to a Green Cathedral

Hey! That's a lot of lawn there, lady. Shouldn't you be ripping it out and replacing it? Oh. You never water nor fertilize it? How does it survive? It goes dormant when the weather is dry? But in California -- oh, this isn't California, you are correct. What kind of grass is it, anyway? Centipede and Bahia and weeds and wildflowers and whatever comes up, like those pastures surrounding you?  Snake! Where? Oh, you have wide paths on account of of rattlesnakes being common in the south.

"I know a green cathedral,
a hallowed forest shrine. Where trees in love join hands above
to arch your prayer and mine.
Within its cool depths sacred, the priestly cedar sighs.
And the fir and pine lift arms divine
unto the clear blue skies.

In my dear green cathedral
there is a quiet seat.
And choir loft in branched croft
where songs of birds hymn sweet.

And I like to think at evening
when the stars its arches light.
That my Lord and God treads its hallowed sod
in the cool, calm peace of night."
-- song popular in the early part of the last century.

What's that fluttering along the ground? What! A Zebra?

Oh, a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. Nectaring on yellow wood sorrel Oxalis europaea? Imagine seeing that so early in the spring. I guess you wouldn't see it on a lawn that was sprayed with pesticides, would you? Oh, look, there's wild geranium all in your lawn too and some violets!


  1. The song A Green Cathedral was written by Carl Hahn and Gordon Johnstone in 1921. When we visited the Butterfly Lady she remembered singing it in school.

  2. A beautiful place and a beautiful song.

  3. What a beautiful view. You have so many different and interesting places in your garden. That is a pretty song, too.

  4. Beautiful, beautiful! A lovely post for Earth Day!

  5. What a beautiful post Nell.

    Thank you for sharing from your beautiful bit of paradise here on earth.


  6. A beautiful garden, and I love your meadow too. The rattlesnakes...not so much. We have a few that lurk here. Don't see them often, but in spring we do have to be wary. Happy Earth Day Nell Jean.

  7. I'm glad I'm not the only one that leaves wild things to grow for the birds, butterflies, and bees. I don't hunt down every weed or invasive plant. I'm just not that strict. If it blooms, I leave it, usually.

    Great post. Great pictures.

  8. How lucky to see a Zebra so early in the year! Buffy looks so relaxed, I need to know her secret :-)

  9. A very timely post for Earth Day, Nell Jean. I do so agree with you about lawns. We just mow the weeds. If it's green, it's OK. The song is beautiful.

  10. Hello Nell,

    I love your 'green' lawn and the fact that it is low-maintenance. I wish more people would adopt this practice as well. It is beautiful.

  11. Wow, that is beautiful! The rattlesnakes, not so much :)

  12. I love how you garden Nell! Beautiful views to enjoy...not everything has to be pristine and in a formal do it to perfection.

    Rattlesnakes! Yikes. I think Missouri has them, but I have never, ever seen one....hope to keep it that way.

  13. It's wonderful, Nell Jean, a true church of the woods. Love the commentary! :-)

  14. What a wonderful example of how you can have the green space of a lawn in an environmentally beneficial way. A great model for others to follow! -Jean

  15. I love your green cathedral...what a sanctuary it is for you and the wildlife that visit.

  16. Beautiful and peaceful, and I love the song! The lawn sets off the shrub borders to perfection.

  17. It sure is a beautiful place! We do nothing to our lawn either, in fact I mowed it the other day and noticed it's more moss than grass now, and that's fine with me. The birds come and take the dried moss for their nests.

  18. My yard used to be a cow pasture, so it is full of pretty wildflowers as well as grass. If it doesn't have thorns, I let it grow:)

  19. Beautiful view from your cathedral, Nell Jean! I have a large expanse of lawn, too, and I do love grass--where else would the grandkids and our dog romp and play? But mine is filled with lots of yellow flowers that someone would think of as weeds:) One of our MG instructors recently said that pesticide runoff from home lawns contributes much more to water pollution than all that used by farmers. I wonder if homeowners realize that in their quest to have the perfect lawn.

  20. I'd visit your cathedral anytime, Nell Jean. I had not thought of making the paths wide because of rattlesnakes. Yikes! But we learned early on that when walking in tall grass or pine needles we had to watch out for copperheads. I guess the South does have some drawbacks, but you've handled the challenges beautifully. :)

  21. Ooh - a cathedral with flying zebras! I so enjoyed this post!

  22. The poem and pics are beautiful...Try to resend your email, I accidentally deleted it...I wanted to send you a reply within the next few days.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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