Category Archives: Gardens

Garden Snapshot: Clematis

My beautiful new Clematis “Prince Charles” is in full bloom. I planted it this spring as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 ….  just because … Prince Charles just turned 70, too! I know that sounds very silly, but silly is good sometimes!

It’s a beautiful Clematis and seems to love where I planted it. I am so enjoying its beauty, and I’m having a lot of fun with my year of embracing and celebrating turning seventy!

The Magic Apple Tree and Sunflowers

The Magic Apple Tree, by Susan Hill, is a magical memoir about her years living in the English countryside. I loved reading it, and will enjoy rereading it again before too long. One of the passages I highlighted from the book was about summer and sunflowers. It reminded me of my own sunflower garden from a few years ago, and I’m sad that I didn’t plant any sunflowers in our yard this year. Next year, for sure!

Summer means sunflowers – better called by their exquisitely apposite French name, tournesol. It is folly to try and grow them very tall here, of course, the wild winds of the early autumn nights bend and break their thick stems and bow their great shaggy heads to the ground, but I do try nevertheless, because I love them so, their bright faces and open-golden look, and the way the bees swarm about them, I should like a whole marching line of them up against the wall near the woodshed.

My sunflower garden from 2015.

Summer

Happy Summer Solstice, my friends! It’s a coolish day here, just right for picking cherries this morning and then reading on the porch this afternoon. I’m going to spend some time today rereading one of my favorite books on my garden shelf: The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden. I pull this old volume off my shelf quite often to enjoy once again her beautiful artwork of each month or season in a gardening year.

The Lost Garden

The Lost Garden, by Helen Humphreys, has been sitting on my book shelf for years. I love the cover, have looked at it many times just sitting there waiting for me, but it certainly took me a long time to get to the book. I don’t know why because I’ve liked every book I’ve read by this author! And this one did not disappoint me.

It is a wartime story, a story of sadness, loss, renewal, and the healing power of gardening. It was beautifully written, very poetic, as is every book Helen Humphreys writes.

from the publisher:

This word-perfect, heartbreaking novel is set in early 1941 in Britain when the war seems endless and, perhaps, hopeless. London is on fire from the Blitz, and a young woman gardener named Gwen Davis flees from the burning city for the Devon countryside. She has volunteered for the Land Army, and is to be in charge of a group of young girls who will be trained to plant food crops on an old country estate where the gardens have fallen into ruin. Also on the estate, waiting to be posted, is a regiment of Canadian soldiers. For three months, the young women and men will form attachments, living in a temporary rural escape. No one will be more changed by the stay than Gwen. She will inspire the girls to restore the estate gardens, fall in love with a soldier, find her first deep friendship, and bring a lost garden, created for a great love, back to life. While doing so, she will finally come to know herself and a life worth living.

Shortly after arriving on the estate, Gwen found a secret, long-neglected garden. It became her refuge, a place of solitude, a place where she could process the losses in her life and her hopes and dreams. As she slowly began to restore the garden to its original state, it became clear that it was a garden of love, designed for someone deeply loved.

What I’ve always found interesting in gardens is looking at what people choose to plant there. What they put in. What they leave out. One small choice and then another, and soon there is a mood, an atmosphere, a series of limitations, a world. I would not have chosen the same plants as the anonymous gardener if I were planting a garden of love, but there are some flowers we have in common. Peonies for loss. I too would choose the breaking wave of peonies for loss.

Although this is primarily a story about the healing power of gardens and coming to terms with loss, it is also filled with ruminations on writing, which I found fascinating.

When a writer writes, it’s as if she holds the sides of her chest apart, exposes her beating heart. And even though everything wants to heal, to close over and protect the heart, the writer must keep it bare, exposed. And in doing this, all of life is kept back, all the petty demands of the day-to-day. The heart is a river. The act of writing is the moving water that holds the banks apart, keeps the muscle of words flexing so that the reader can be carried along by this movement. To be given space and the chance to leave one’s earthly world. Is there any greater freedom than this?

This is a very interesting multilayered book which contains so much emotion and growth. I will certainly read it again.

 

 

 

I’m so glad I finally read this book for my 2019 TBR List challenge. I also chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from United Kingdom.

Gardenlust

This last week I have been immersed in garden dreaming, garden planning, and garden reading!  This is clearly a reaction to the cold and snowy weather here in the Pacific Northwest!  My current book from the online digital section of my library has an appropriate name for my state of mind: Gardenlust!  Written by Christopher Woods, Gardenlust, A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens, is a “A beautiful tour through some of the loveliest gardens in the world!” ~ Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus at Missouri Botanical Garden. It was published by one of my favorite publishing companies, Timber Press, and is really an interesting book to read, especially in the middle of a cold February!

The photography is gorgeous and the information about each of these botanical gardens is very interesting to read. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I will be giving it a very good rating on Goodreads. What a pleasure to read on this snowy/icy weekend!

 

Gray Day Reading

Living in Oregon means long months of dark gray skies and rainy days. I don’t mind the rain. It doesn’t stop my walking routine. “We’re waterproof,” says my walking buddy. But the endless days of gray are harder to bear. One way I deal with the grayness is to read gardening books. It’s a fun and educational gray-season focus for my reading, and I love the colors these beautiful books bring to gray days!

A Year in the Big Old Garden

What a delightful book! A Year in the Big Old Garden, by James D. Witmer, is a treasure to be shared with young and old. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are full of fun humor, kindness, and lots of good information about the natural world of the big old garden. Although the stories were written for children, they are both timeless and ageless, and a must read!

From the author:

I write about adventure, small woodland creatures, and what happens when you realize there are no ordinary places.

This book is available for Amazon Kindle, or as a printable PDF.

Click here to read an interview with the author, James D. Witmer.

The Butterfly Garden

This is the shady part of our butterfly garden…

While we spent the last three weeks with my mother, our daughter watered our gardens and kept everything alive despite the 90-100 degree temperatures. It was a huge job, but we were delighted upon our return home to find our butterfly garden in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies!

I want to share with you a poster I saw and just loved at Red Butte Garden, in Salt Lake City, where we have my father’s memorial bench, and where we will soon hold my mother’s Celebration of Life and add a plaque to the bench in memory of her.

Blogging, Friends, and Lots of Life

Book blogging buddies

There has been a lot of LIFE happening in the last few months, some of it difficult and some of it absolutely lovely but also time-consuming. As a result I have gone missing from my blog once again! But  I have continued with my reading, just not with writing about it, and have quietly visited many of your blogs when time allowed.  But after meeting two lovely blogging friends for lunch yesterday, Les @Coastal Horizons, and Kay @Kay’s Reading LIfe, I am inspired again to return to my writing and sharing about books and life. Thank you, Les and Kay!  But before I tell you what books I’ve been enjoying (I promise another post devoted to the books I’ve read since April), I must tell you what LIFE has been like around here recently.

The major focus for me in the last few months has been my mother’s health. Those of you who have followed me over the years, know that my mother is a great reader, my mentor and best friend, and my reading buddy. Since we live in different states, this blog was started as another way to communicate with her and share what we are reading. My amazing and resilient mother is turning 99 years old in August! And she continues to be an avid reader. We always talk about books  during our daily phone conversations, but recently she has begun to have some more serious health problems, so we fully realize that these days and our daily conversations are precious.

In the last six months, I have made a number of special trips to see her. On one trip, I took my daughter, and then a few months later, I took my son and grandson to see her. Each trip was wonderful and full of special memories. My husband and I visited her in May, and we are heading out next week for another, longer, visit with her. My brothers and their wives will all be there as well, so it will truly be a celebration of family and an early birthday celebration for her. She and I will definitely be talking about books during that visit and I will treasure those moments.

The other focus in the last few months has been on my garden! Yes, gardening is definitely therapy for anxiety and anticipated loss, but it is also my new passion. My husband, my daughter, and I all share in the work on these garden projects, and it’s been a delightful way to spend our time!

The garden project we’ve been working on (started last Fall) is my “Butterfly Garden,” a project inspired by the butterfly garden built by the 2nd graders in my school before I retired. We have turned a narrow piece of our property, on the south side of the garage and along the alley way, into a beautiful garden! We can’t see it from the house, so we’ve put chairs out there so we can sit and watch the flowers grow, the bees do their thing, and a few butterflies that are finding their way to a place designed specifically for them. I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the butterfly garden as it has progressed!

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A Book Obsession

 

I have a confession to make… I have a serious book obsession. Gardening books are my passion these days and I keep finding treasures that I must have on my shelf!

When we retired and moved to Oregon, we culled our book collections and donated many many books to the local library. Also with retirement, my book buying has slacked off considerably, except for ebooks and audiobooks. But when I see a lovely gardening book, I can’t help myself. My collection is growing, and the photo above is of the two shelves I started out with, but it has already taken over another shelf in this bookcase. Yes, I’m reading them … slowly … but I love looking through them, and love learning and dreaming about gardens.

My 2016 vegetable garden…