55 Years Cradling Plants

I use a variety of interesting containers in my backyard garden. Along with standard clay flowerpots, I make use of metal buckets, wash tubs, tree stumps, and even a toolbox. One of my favorite containers is a green and white pot handed down to me from my mom. It has spent 55 years cradling plants.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Container for house plants

I’m not sure what the exact age is, of this vintage container. As a small child the southwestern style flowerpot sat in various corners of our Tulsa, Oklahoma home, and I am 60 now. My mom always grew a species of plant within it commonly known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. This tough house plant is easy to grow and thrives with little care.

First cultivated in China, the snake plant was treasured because people thought it bestowed eight virtues on those who grew it. Those virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health, and strength. The plants were kept near the front doors of the home so that the eight virtues could circulate throughout the house.

I wonder if Mom knew this? Our snake plant most often resided in the foyer.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Cherished flowerpot for my plants

When we moved, this flowerpot moved with us, to fresh houses and new towns in different states. Eventually the container came to me. Mom knew I would keep green beauties growing within it.

And I have.

I switched out the snake plants for colorful portulaca, also known as sun roses or moss roses. These plants are just as easy to grow and care for. For years the old pot sat on my covered front deck or rested solidly among flowers growing in beds around the house.

Five years ago, when I created my backyard paradise, I moved the container to the area just inside the garden gate. It lends color with its spill of blooms and it anchors the area, filled primarily with ground covers such as creeping jenny and phlox. It’s an anchor for my heart and soul as well. Every time I see the now vintage container, or water the plants tucked inside, I think of my mom and my childhood. This pot has stood as a silent witness to many events and changes. It is dear to me.

55 Years Cradling Plants The container’s most recent home. Photo taken before the ground cover filled in the area.

New location new plants

As I watered and pulled weeds this evening, I knelt down next to this vintage container and rested my hands upon it. The setting sun kissed the rounded sides, warming them and creating a soft reflective glow. Energy hummed beneath my hands.

Because of its age, I made the decision to relocate the flowerpot indoors this fall, where it will be protected from the cold weather. And just as suddenly, I knew what to transplant into the pot.

How appropriate it feels to grow snake plants in the container again, bringing the flowerpot full circle. Inspired by my research tonight, I’m delighted to plop my freshly planted container near the front door where, feng shui style, the eight virtues can be unleashed within my home. I’m smiling already, thinking of this change. My old container…55 years cradling plants…and counting.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Twilight in the Garden

After rain almost every day last week, and more thunderstorms moving in tomorrow, a window of opportunity presented itself today to do much needed work in the garden. I put in necessary time weeding and trimming and tidying up, while Greg mowed the yard and helped out where he was needed.

I motivated myself to keep going with the promise that I would enjoy the fruits of my labor by lighting a fire in the fire pit and scattering a few candles around the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

As the sun set behind a bank of gray clouds, I stretched my weary back and called it good. I have more to do, however I accomplished so much today. My backyard paradise resembles a garden again, a wild one after a week of rain, but a garden nonetheless. Tired, I almost passed on building a fire. A job well done brought me great satisfaction and for a moment I considered heading indoors and taking a much needed shower.

The beauty of the garden in summer, the peace and invitation to rest, won out.

Here are pics, from an evening in the garden.

Twilight in the Garden

The fairy garden is all filled in and makes me smile every time I look at it.

Twilight in the Garden

I continue to monitor the mystery plant, which is looking more and more like a cantaloupe after all.

Twilight in the Garden

I love candlelight in the garden! It’s important to use safe containers and keep flames away from grasses and plants or anything combustible. The metal lantern was a gift from my son and daughter-in-law. I have no idea what the metal cylinders are usually used for but they make interesting candle holders. I purchased these at a 2 Friends & Junk show. The rusty table was in Bob Moore’s backyard. I was happy to transfer it to mine, after he passed away.

Twilight in the Garden

More candles, with a backdrop of ornamental grasses that are beginning to tassel. The bistro table and chairs were another 2 Friends & Junk find several years ago.

Twilight in the Garden

This…this was the beauty that called to me. I’m so glad I listened. Greg and I carried out bowls of madras curried lentils that had been simmering all day in the slow cooker. (Recipe HERE) Night fell as we ate and candles flickered in the garden, their flames tiny echoes of the fire dancing in the fire pit.

And that small fire was perfect. I watched the leaping and twisting flames, mesmerized. John Geddes said “Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller.” We told stories tonight, primarily around work we’ve both been doing on our family trees at Ancestry.com. It was the fire though that was the main storyteller. It spoke of ancient quests and ever changing mysteries and the power of Light to illuminate the darkness.

I listened, with gratitude.

Twilight in the Garden

Circle of Life…in My Garden

I was working on another blog post early this evening, when I decided to take a break and water the containers in my backyard garden. Earbuds in, listening to music while I watered, I was humming along with a song when my eyes were drawn to a plant near my meditation garden.

It’s not the first time in recent weeks that I’ve paused to look at this particular plant, but tonight the wonder of it and the beauty of the gift offered to me caused me to drop the watering hose and crouch down to gently touch the plant. I spent several minutes plucking away a few weeds and feeling gratitude for this, another precious and unexpected gift from the garden.

Circle of Life in My Garden

This Sedum plant is a perennial that has returned to my garden five summers in a row. It has never grown in as it has this summer. Normally this succulent type plant forms a rounded mound of green leaves. As fall approaches it produces pink clusters of flowers on stubby stems.

But…look at it! Located near a tall ornamental grass that somewhat overshadows the Sedum, the plant has grown in this year in a perfectly formed circle with a hollow center. It looks like I dropped a wreath and it sunk roots into the ground.

Circle of Life in My Garden

These kinds of mysterious gifts keep appearing in my garden. The brown eyed Susans formed an equally perfect heart shape one year. Vegetables and fruits grow amid the flowers, even though I did not plant them nor have I ever had veggies or fruits in this part of the garden. Garden cranes called to me, insisting that they belonged in my backyard sanctuary. Then, after purchasing two metal cranes, I discovered my ancestral castle in Lauder, Scotland had a pair of the graceful birds near the massive front door.

Thomas Moore, author of The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, writes:

“Gardens work powerful enchantment as they take us body and soul out of the busyness of life and into a place set apart. The garden is a proper place of the soul, where concerns of the soul for beauty, contemplation, quiet, and observance take complete precedence over the busier concerns of daily life. There you will likely see the butterfly, an ancient image of the soul, and the bee, representing the kind of work the soul does…unheroic, hidden, mysterious, and sweet. The garden is full of mysteries.”

Circle of Life in My Garden

I deeply appreciate the way Thomas views the garden as a spiritual place, full of beauty and mystery and lessons for the soul. My backyard paradise certainly inspires me, even as it surprises me and teaches me life lessons.

Back inside, I abandoned my other blog post idea and looked up the symbolism for the wreath. Wreaths have been used for thousands of years. Early wreaths in Roman times were made of laurel leaves and they were worn as crowns that represented victory.

Used often at Christmas time, decorative wreaths represent the Divine, eternity, completeness and wholeness. Their circular shape is symbolic of timelessness, infinity and eternal life, as there is no beginning and no ending with a circle, with a wreath.

I don’t know how the Sedum plant formed such an amazing and symbolic shape, or why. However, I accept this latest gift from my garden. I am ever so grateful for these reminders that Life is so big, so mysterious and magical. These messages are Divine in nature, and part of an ongoing conversation that continually delights me and raises my awareness ever higher.

As I read about the symbolism for the wreath, another aha leapt out at me, that made me laugh. Eternal life, without end. Do you know what nickname the Sedum plant has? It’s the name I originally knew this perennial by, earned because Sedum is so easy to grow and care for.

Sedum is also called Live-Forever Plant. How incredibly beautiful and extraordinary is this living wreath from my garden.

Circle of Life in My Garden

My Idea of a Great Night Out

The gorgeousness of the evening lured me outdoors. Which was perfect, since this is National Great Outdoors Month. I only intended to pull some weeds in the garden. However, the temperature was too perfect, the yard too beautiful, the breeze too inviting. I wanted to linger.

My Idea of a Great Night Out

For some, a great night out includes dinner and a movie…or shopping at the mall…or having drinks with friends. There’s nothing wrong with any of those activities. They just didn’t appeal to me tonight. My idea of a great night out was simply to be out, as in outdoors.

I prepared a healthy meal…gluten free brown rice pasta and marinara sauce with organic veggies. The green pepper in the sauce came from my garden. I sautéed it along with an onion, garlic and a yellow squash.

My Idea of a Great Night Out

While the pasta cooked and the sauce simmered, I used my campfire girl skills to start a fire in the fire pit. This was the first one this season. I knew I was headed in the right direction, idea wise, when I found a feather on the fire pit. The feather quill is my symbol this year, and I’ve been collecting feathers, signs of Divine guidance and synchronicities. Greg, who played golf today out of town, brought me a handful of feathers that he found.

My Idea of a Great Night Out

My Idea of a Great Night Out

We carried our pasta bowls out to the brick patio, or brickio as we call it, and enjoyed dinner al fresco before a cheerful, crackling fire. Staring into dancing flames has the same peace inducing effect as sitting near the ocean or listening to a gurgling creek. The fire mesmerizes and soothes. I can stare into one for hours.

I enjoyed my night out, seated amid the beauty of flowers and grasses and herbs. The invitation to dine in the garden, and start a fire in the pit, was so easy to accept. It’s great indeed, being outdoors.

My Idea of a Great Night Out

Creating a Fairy Garden

This is the fifth season for my backyard garden. Because the in-the-ground plants are all perennials, the garden returns, year after year. This means that although I weed and water and divide plants, as needed, and plant annuals in containers, the garden takes care of itself. It shifts each year, as plants fill in an area or pop up across the yard, however the garden no longer requires my creative input like it once did.

Therefore, my creativity turned this year to creating a different type of garden, one I’ve been thinking about for years. This afternoon I at last turned my vintage metal wheelbarrow into a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

The old wheelbarrow has been in my garden for a couple of years. I’ve used it previously as a large container, holding neon colored portulaca. Last fall, as I cleaned up the garden and prepped it for winter, I eyed that wheelbarrow and knew it was destined to become a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I received my first miniature for the fairy garden as a Christmas gift. I purchased several other items in early spring at Michael’s Craft Store when cold weather kept my garden slumbering. I picked up a Dwarf Alberta Spruce recently during one of Sutherland’s half price sales, and the rest of the miniature plants this afternoon.

Today, I finally got to bring everything together…and have fun creating! And as with everything else in my life, the fairy garden is full of symbolism for me.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Because it was the largest piece, I planted the Dwarf Alberta Spruce first. The beautiful craggy rock next to it was in my herb garden, and originally came from Leta Moore’s garden in Arkansas. It caught my eye a few days ago as I watered. It’s interesting shape appealed to me so into the wheelbarrow it went.

Creating a Fairy Garden

After figuring out where the miniatures would go, I removed them and planted an assortment of sedum called the “carpet collection”. These plants will fill in, horizontally, but remain close to the soil. I used 12 of these plants in the wheelbarrow, plus I transplanted a hen and chicks plant set from another location in my garden. All of the plants thrive in full sun.

Next to the larger rock I planted a Danica Arborvitae, another miniaturized plant that is perfect for a fairy garden. The photo above shows the area behind the tree and rock.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I used a small terra cotta saucer as a shallow pond. The saucer is stamped with the words Made in Italy. I have never noticed that until today. How perfect! The saucer represents my love of traveling. And exactly one year ago today, I was in fact, in Italy, exploring the Tuscany region with my daughter and grandson.

I wondered aloud about placing small stones in the saucer, just as Greg came outside to inspect my work. He said he had a jar of polished stones. He let me use them and they look great in the saucer. I added a couple of small rocks to the wheelbarrow, to create balance. And then it was time for the fun pieces…the miniatures.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Daughter Elissa gave me the dwarf in a canoe for Christmas. It represents two things to me. The river and the canoe were my symbols for 2016, symbolizing the Flow of Life. The dwarf is a nod to The Hobbit story and ties in with other items in my fairy garden. I added water to the saucer and placed the canoe with its adventurous passenger in the “pond”.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I selected each miniature because of the story it tells. The castle tower connects me to my beloved Scotland, and also to the Lord of the Rings, and JRR Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth. When Greg brought me the jar of polished rocks, I found a tiny ceramic butterfly mixed in with the stones. With Greg’s permission, I hot-glued the butterfly to the tower. The butterfly was a symbol for me, in 2011, representing Transformation. It is also a nod to a scene from Lord of the Rings, when a moth visits Gandalf as he is held captive atop a tower. Moth…butterfly…close enough for me!

Creating a Fairy Garden

And speaking of Gandalf…my fairy garden has a little wizard, complete with a hat and a cloak and a long beard. I used three flat rocks to create a path for my wizard to stand on. The owl perched on his staff reminds me of another series of stories that I love…in the world of Harry Potter. And look at that little house behind the wizard! The words Once Upon a Time connect to my theme this year, of Story. The wizard also fits perfectly atop the tower, if I want to play and move him around.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I am extremely pleased with my fairy garden. It looks and feels complete to me. And yet, if I find something else that draws me and connects to me, I have room to add more items.

I enjoyed this form of creative play this afternoon. And I love that each piece tells a part of my story, representing things that I identify with and appreciate.

Fairy gardens are a trend that began in the US with fairy doors. There are now many miniature items that can be purchased to create customized gardens. Here are three easy steps to create a fairy garden of your own:

1. Decide on a container for the garden. Possibilities include a large clay flower pot, a metal bucket or container, a wooden half barrow or a corner of an existing garden.

2. Decide on a location and note how much sun the garden will receive. A shady spot will require shade loving plants, whereas a sunny location needs plants that tolerate full sun. Purchase miniature plants accordingly. Lowe’s Garden Center has a great selection of plants that are ideal for fairy gardens. Be sure to read the care instructions for the plants and water them frequently so the fairy garden lasts all summer.

3. Pick a theme and purchase miniatures to support that, or go with an eclectic mix. This is your time to play and create. Have fun with the process. Miniatures can be purchased online through Amazon or at craft and garden shops.

My fairy garden is located in the backyard, near my back door. I’ve popped outside several times this evening, just for the delight of catching sight of that miniature garden. I look forward to seeing how it thrives this summer!

Creating a Fairy Garden

Growing Clematis Babies

I only lost one perennial in the garden this spring, due to freezing temperatures. I had six clematis vines that were trailing up their trellises when the cold pinched them. Five came back. One did not. Losing one plant out of hundreds isn’t bad. And yet, there’s a gap where that clematis should be. I considered purchasing a new plant, but the perfectionist in me was concerned I couldn’t match the color of the other blooming vines in that area. And besides, I could use four or five new clematis plants.

I decided to try propagating clematis plants for the first time.

Growing Clematis Babies

There are several methods for creating new plants from existing ones. I decided to go with the easiest…growing new plants from cuttings in water. And I had the perfect container for rooting the vines in.

Growing Clematis Babies

My daughter Elissa passed on these unique bud vases to me, several years ago. I confess, I have a difficult time cutting flowers to use for display. I’d rather have them growing in my garden than dying in a vase, so I rarely gather flowers. However, these little vases would make perfect incubators.

Growing Clematis Babies

These are the four beauties that I took cuttings from. Here are the easy steps I followed.

1) Prepare containers for rootings. They need to be tall enough to hold the cuttings. Dissolve aspirin in water and fill containers. The aspirin helps the cuttings to root. I used one low dosage aspirin in about 6 cups of water.

2) Cut a 6-8 inch section of vine from the top of the plant. Remove any leaves that would be below the water line, as they will rot. Clip off any blooms or buds so that energy is directed to rooting and not producing flowers.

3) Place cuttings, in water, in a bright window without direct sunlight. A north facing window is ideal. Use a grow light if a suitable window isn’t available. Change water daily, to prevent stagnation, and add a low dosage aspirin with each water change.

4) Once roots are 1/4-1 inch long, begin adding a tablespoon of potting soil a day to the container, so roots adapt to soil. When the container has mostly soil in it, transplant vine to a pot. Acclimate the vine to the outdoors by increasing the amount of sunshine it receives each day. When plant tolerates being outdoors for 24 hours, it’s ready to transplant into the ground.

Growing Clematis Babies

I love creating, whether it’s a drawing or a recipe or a new plant. And I enjoy using what I already have on hand. It’s also important to be adaptable. Cleaning the containers with a bottle brush, I accidentally broke the bottom of one of the tubes. Greg used a silicone sealer to attempt fixing it. I’m letting it cure for 24 hours. If it seals and holds water, great. I don’t mind the wabi sabi look…beauty in imperfection. And if it doesn’t hold water, that’s okay too. I still have five tubes.

It was as I was washing the containers that I recognized the irony of their shape, and laughed. These are large glass test tubes. I’m growing baby clematis vines…in test tubes. I have test tube babies. I couldn’t have a more appropriate container!

Growing Clematis Babies

The Glory of Gardening

I experienced the incredible joy of being in gardening mode all day. My mom and I visited Sutherland’s Saturday morning, for their final half price sale. We arrived at the store’s garden center at 6:43…and there was already a long line of customers, eager for the gate to open at 7:00. We joined the crowd…and found all we were looking for!

I got very little done over the weekend, with those colorful flowers. However, I was up early this morning, ready to get everything planted before thunderstorms roll into the area tonight. What a full and beautiful day in the garden.

The Glory of Gardening

My garden lagged behind this year, hampered by a cold early spring. I learned much about patience and accepting what was this spring, as day after day I inspected the garden for signs of life. Just as plants began to emerge, and a few buds appeared, another cold weekend with below freezing temperatures shut the garden down. I was afraid I had lost plants. I had to be okay with that.

The Glory of Gardening

Today I couldn’t tell that the garden overslept. Colorful blooms are appearing at last, the empty patches of ground are filling in and although I was delayed in planting in the many containers scattered about, I remedied that today.

Here’s a peek into my personal paradise.

The Glory of Gardening

This ancient azalea bush, transplanted from Greg’s parents’ house in Arkansas, was budding when the cold touched it. Those early buds shriveled up. I am so grateful it survived. It’s putting on a spectacular show now.

The Glory of Gardening

The beauty of using annuals in the containers is that I can totally change the look of the garden each year. I opted for lots of color this season, focusing primarily on yellows, oranges and pinks. It feels very celebratory, an acknowledgment of perseverance.

The Glory of Gardening

All the containers were filled. I used zinnias, snapdragons, portulaca, and vinca. The potted plants on the metal shelf beneath the workshop window were moved to the rusty wire basket across the yard, where they will receive less sunlight. Potted vincas took their place.

The Glory of Gardening

The hostas are huge this year and filling in nicely. I used colorful flowers in the meditation area for the first time, instead of white blooms. And the southern border looks amazing. It will be a sea of purples, pinks and yellows soon.

The Glory of Gardening

For five years, I’ve used an old picnic table, made by Grandpa Moore in the early 60s, as a potting table. It has served me well, although the height was a bit low for me. To ease my back, I’d end up sitting on one of the attached benches as I worked.

Today, Greg finished a special project for me. He made me a potting bench, cleverly repurposing wooden pallets that he’s saved. I love it! Although Greg kept apologizing that the potting bench wasn’t fancy, I think it is absolutely perfect for my needs. And I appreciate that he recycled materials that he had, rather than purchasing new boards.

The Glory of Gardening

The potting bench looks adorable, with my hand tools hanging conveniently across the top. I now have a place to display two vintage water sprinklers that are so cool looking. I’ve yet to try them out in the garden, but I will!

I am grateful for Greg’s generosity. He has contributed greatly to the backyard garden. In doing so, he has been a supporter of my dreams and vision for this sanctuary.

The Glory of Gardening

I completed all that I set out to do today. I have a whole flat of flowers left over, that will go into various containers that are currently tucked away. In the meantime, those bright blooms have the perfect resting place on my new bench.

English poet Alfred Austin wrote, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”

I experienced all of those nurturing things today, and by the end of the afternoon I was a sweaty, dirty, happy mess. It was glorious, indeed.

The Glory of Gardening

Signs of Life

I mentioned in another post that the cold spring we’ve had in the Midwest has greatly delayed my garden. I’ve had to make peace with that fact, more than once! This is my backyard garden’s fifth season, and never have I watched it so closely, for signs of life.

Signs of Life

Freeze warnings and temps that dipped into the low 20s continues to plague us this month. I lost plants that I potted, even though I had them on a protected, covered front porch. Perennials that bravely pushed through the mulch, expecting spring, got bitten by the frost and disappeared. My garden has remained empty long past what I considered normal, and I had to release, over and over, a tendency to fret about it.

It didn’t help that on Facebook I was getting notifications about previous posts. Those photos of the garden, in my Memories Feed, reminded me just how far behind my garden really was. It wasn’t my imagination. Plants, flowers and herbs were lagging weeks behind.

Signs of Life April 2016.

Signs of Life April 2018.

Finally, we have the promise of a gorgeous, and warm, weekend ahead. I spent time in the garden this afternoon, pulling the weeds that are popping up, and welcoming that task because at least the earth is stirring. I noted what I have lost: one clematis vine, that did not return after a cold snap, and I have a large bare patch in the border garden that should be full of primroses. A few more minuscule plants are peeking at the sky. I know I can replant that section if I need to.

Signs of life are present though and I am grateful. The herbal garden is filling in. The mint I thought I had lost is reappearing, its tiny leaves fragrant when I brush them with my fingers. Perennials are slowly pushing through the ground, a fraction of their usual size this time of year, but they are alive. The containers are all still empty, but I believe it is safe to plant in them again.

Signs of Life

Signs of Life

As it always does, the garden teaches me about life. I’ve learned this season about trust and acceptance. The garden is what it is. It changes every year, and this year is no exception, even if I don’t particularly like the changes. I must accept the reality of what is.

I’ve learned to believe more deeply in the unseen. It was tempting, more than once, to dig up a plant to see if the roots had survived the cold. How counterproductive that would have been! There was life beneath the surface, and things happening that I could not see. I learned patience watching a garden that did not appear to be doing anything.

Signs of Life

I learned about loss. A few plants did not survive. The majority did, however, and I practiced more acceptance and gratitude as I puttered in the garden this afternoon, observing the changes that have occurred in the last few days. All of these lessons apply to life. Part of my journey the last few years has been learning acceptance, patience and trust, and expressing genuine gratitude.

And I can compare the life sustaining work going on in the plants, beneath the surface and out of sight, with my body’s healing process. Although I have many visible signs of improved health, the deepest healing is happening at a cellular level. As health is restored there, it manifests outwardly. I love the mystery of that process of rebirth, in my body and in my garden.

Tomorrow I am buying annuals to fill containers and veggies for the raised bed garden. I’ll purchase a few new herbs. Before planting more perennials, I’ll continue to watch the bare places, for signs of life there.

All is well, my garden assures me. All is well, my soul agrees.

Signs of Life

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

A month ago I shared a post about waking the garden up. On that day, after a cold and dreary February, it was promising to see signs of life stirring in that barren space as I prepared the garden for spring. However, standing in the garden today, I could see very little change from 30 days ago. In spite of the supposed arrival of spring, winter continues to pop by, crooning lullabies to my garden so that it slumbers still.

With temperatures that have periodically dropped into the low twenties, and bouts of ice, sleet and snow, not only has the garden barely stirred, I’ve lost plants. All the flowers I tucked into pots three weeks ago fell casualty to icy conditions and sub freezing temps on Easter Sunday, even though they were on a covered porch. With below freezing nights in the forecast for this weekend, I dare not plant anything. Winter, it seems, is reluctant to move on.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

The warmer temperatures this afternoon had me in the garden. But other than more tidying up and a bit of weeding there was not much that I could do, with the threat of freezing temps ahead. Walking around, inspecting the garden, I couldn’t help but note the lack of growth. I thought last year spring was slow to escape winter’s grip. This year, spring seems locked still in a tight cold embrace.

I thought the garden looked forlorn. Then I realized perhaps it was me feeling forlorn because of the condition of my backyard paradise. And that wouldn’t do. Gardening is about trust and faith. I needed to do the tasks I could and allow the garden to be exactly as it, trusting the cold spells will come to an end exactly when they are supposed to. As a result of this mental shift, I began to find gifts from the garden, little reminders that all is as it should be.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Creeping phlox and creeping jenny greeted me near the garden gate, the first plants to show signs of being fully awake. These phlox plants were transplants from Leta Moore’s garden. Although she has been gone for 19 years, these hardy plants continued to thrive in her front yard garden with little care. I am grateful for their perseverance.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

As I turned soil in the raised vegetable garden bed, I discovered kale growing! How amazing, as I scattered these seeds early last summer. Not only was this little plant incredibly encouraging, it reminded me that there are vegetables that do very well in cooler temperatures. I may not be able to do all the planting that I am longing to do, but I can start lettuce, beets, cilantro and onions for an early harvest. That will satisfy the desire I have to get plants into the ground.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

In the herb garden, the thyme, which stays green all winter, was flourishing. Tender shoots of lemon balm, while way behind their normal spring growth, were putting on more leaves. I took these hopeful signs as an invitation to create fresh thyme/lemon balm tea. I’ve used dried herbs during the winter, so what a treat to steep freshly picked leaves. I carried a bowl of fruit and avocado slices into the garden, along with my steaming cup, creating a spur of the moment afternoon tea.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Sitting there, sipping tea, I felt peace. The impatience I felt earlier to get going in the garden was replaced with acceptance of what was. To argue against reality creates stress. I did not create this garden to cause stress. This is my gym and my meditation center, where I ground myself and free my spirit. It’s where I can lose myself and find myself at the same time. My garden is my sanctuary.

The most precious gift that I found this afternoon, beyond peace and acceptance, caught my eye as I pulled weeds. A solitary grey feather lay upright in the grass nearby, as if growing from the earth. The feather quill is my symbol for 2018. Finding a feather carries great significance for me. I picked it up with care, marveling at its beauty. It felt like a sacred moment.

Feathers are a sign from spirit. And the color of the feather brings with it a message. When a grey feather is found, it signifies peace and faith, and promises that all is well. I took a deep, cleansing breath and smiled as I surveyed my sleepy garden. Indeed. All is well.

Winter’s Continuing Lullaby

Wakey, Wakey

I awoke this morning, with this children’s nursery rhyme in my head…Wakey, wakey rise and shine. You’ve had your sleep and I’ve had mine. I smiled, remembering the sing-sing chant. And glancing at the sunlight streaming in through the window, it was fitting. This was Wake the Garden Day, a celebratory holiday of my own making. It falls on different dates each year, depending on the weather and the severity of the winter. After a cold February with more than usual rain, snow and ice, Wake the Garden Day landed in March…on March 9, apparently!

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

I love this day for several reasons:

Although spring isn’t here yet officially, it’s rapidly approaching. This day of prepping the garden for the return of grasses, flowers and herbs signals that we’ve made it through another winter. The cold temps will soon be behind me and warmer, longer days are approaching. In fact, we switch to daylight savings time this weekend.

It’s great to spend the day in the garden. I leave up dry ornamental grasses and dead flower stalks, to create interest in my backyard paradise. The garden in winter has its own beauty. The brown, gray and tan remnants of last year’s season contrast with the snow or glisten with ice. That means as spring nears, there are many tasks to carry out: cutting back grasses, clearing away dead stalks, dividing plants that have grown too big and general clean up. It’s messy, hard work…and it is so rewarding!

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

As we worked, I was grateful for bright sunshine, sturdy work gloves, the right tools for the different jobs, and Greg’s assistance. The ornamental grasses were trimmed back and the bigger ones, divided. I left volunteer grasses growing in the garden from last fall. Those were all dug up today and bagged. I have 20 or more plants to give away.

Wakey Wakey A Gardening StoryOrnamental grasses nursery!

Wakey Wakey A Gardening StoryAnd a huge pile of trimmings to burn, on a less windy day.

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

I love this day because the results from our work are so immediate. It feels wonderful to clean up the beds and inspect for new growth. And it was evident. As we trimmed and cut away and raked, bright green shoots were uncovered. Tiny leaves are appearing on Russian sage plants and lemon balm and bee balm are pushing through the mulch in little clusters. The garden is stirring and that makes my heart sing.

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

As I observed the bare ground and tidied beds, after hours of work, I realized what I love most about singing wakey wakey to the garden. It teaches trust and deepens my faith. The straggling, messy remains from last summer are gone. The garden appears to be very empty. But I know, tucked beneath the earth’s surface, the roots of plants are awakening, gathering nutrients and strength, preparing to grow.

Every spring, I witness the miraculous…the return of life, of beauty. No matter how long the winter seems to last, it gives way, with grace, to spring, to rebirth. And where there appears to be nothing…in a couple of months there will be lush growth and riotous color. It’s never the exact same garden, as it shifts year to year, and yet it is always gorgeous.

Wakey Wakey A Gardening StoryLast year’s garden.

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story

I am moved every year by the transformation.

I have a few more tasks to complete tomorrow…a lilac bush to trim back and the raised vegetable garden bed to prep. And then I wait and I watch. I’ll walk through the garden daily, softly singing wakey, wakey…and greet each plant, each flower that awakens into life with a joyful smile. Welcome back, my garden.

“Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.”

Thomas Berry

Wakey Wakey A Gardening Story